Founded in 1952, the Pearl Musical Instrument Company is one of the most popular brands of drums and percussion instruments for beginners and professional players alike. Their unique construction technique is known as SST or "Superior Shell Technology," and all Pearl drums feature this construction. Each ply is placed into a cylinder, and pressure is applied from both sides. While in the press, the shell is heated to bring the glue to a boil, thus forcing it through the wood grain and fusing the shells very tightly—thus creating a drum shell of incredible strength.
The world-renowned Pearl collection includes:
Rhythm Traveler – A smaller kit with shrunken drum depths intended for traveling, that includes cymbals, throne, hardware, standard heads, mesh heads and cymbal mutes.
SoundCheck - Pearl's entry-level kit. These drums are extremely affordable, made from nine plies of mahogany and are finished with a high-gloss wrap.
Vision (VB, VBA and VBL ) – The successor to the Export series, Vision drums are six-ply drums, and all Vision series drums come equipped with Remo heads (Pinstripe on toms and Powerstroke on bass drums). The VBL is the highest-end of the Vision series.
Session Studio Classic (SSC) – Introduced at Winter NAMM 2012, the Session Studio Classic drums are made six plies of birch and kapur (referred to by Pearl as their "Session Formula" shells), and feature Remo drum heads (Pinstripe on toms, Powerstroke 3 on bass drums), OptiMount tom mounts, and SuperHoop II hoops. These drums are made in Taiwan.
Masters Custom (MCX) – These drums made from six plies of maple and feature die-cast hoops, Masters Series lugs, Masters Series OptiMount tom mounts and Remo heads. The Masters Custom series is available in five finishes with chrome hardware. These drums are made in Taiwan.
Reference (RF) - Made from blended wood types (maple, birch and African mahogany), the Reference is the highest quality series that Pearl offers that is not custom-made. The drums come in a wide array of finishes with chrome, black or gold hardware. This series is also made in Taiwan.
Reference Pure (RP) – This series features the same wood blend as the original Reference series, but with thinner shells (each ply .9mm thick), new Fat Tone hoops, and Masters Premium-style swivel tube lugs, all of which are designed to reduce the overall weight of the kit and to create a more open, resonant sound.
Masterworks (MW) – Pearl's flagship drum line. Everything—including the plies of wood, style, hardware and finish—can be selected by the customer. Masterworks drums can even be ordered with an exotic wood outer ply (such as tamo or bubinga), which enhances the finish. All Masterworks drums are handmade.
As well as drum kits, Pearl is a renowned producer of snare drums. Most entry-level kits come standard with snare drums, while higher-end series have snares that must be bought separately. Individual snares—such as the SensiTone, Ultracast and Firecracker series—as well as artist signature snares are also available. A few artists with Pearl signature snare drums include Dennis Chambers, Joey Jordison, Ian Paice, Chad Smith and Tico Torres.
Hardware and Pedals
In addition to producing drums, Pearl has also produced hardware for its drum kits, as well as many popular pedals. One of Pearl's major improvements was the introduction of the Uni-Lock tilter on their tom mounts and cymbal stands. The Uni-Lock uses a frictionless, gearless tilter, allowing the player to make very precise angle adjustments to their toms and cymbals.