9 Best Pearl Drum Sets 2024

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Pearl has been one of the leading drum brands in the world for many years. Most non-drummers even know of the brand due to the sheer popularity of the Pearl Export kits in the early 2000s. If you want a good, solid, and reliable drum set, Pearl is one of the best companies to stick with.

In this guide, I’m going to show you seven of the brand’s best drum kit options. I’ll also explain what to look for when deciding whether to buy a Pearl drum kit or not.

Pearl Masters Maple Pure – Best Overall

Pearl Masters Maple Pure

The Pearl Masters Maple Pure (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the newest additions to the popular Masters line of Pearl kits.

This all-maple shell pack boats incredible tones with pristine hardware that keeps the drums feeling fantastic at all times.

One of the standout features is that the rack toms have Pearl’s new R2 Air Suspension mounts, which came from the brand’s high-end re-imagined campaign. The mounts attach to L-arms, which is something that has never been seen on Pearl kits before.

The drums also have 4-ply internal reinforcement rings to keep their tones as accurate as possible for long periods.

The Mastercast die-cast hoops tighten up the sounds, and do a further job of holding each shell’s tuning.

While this isn’t the most high-end set from Pearl, it easily competes with flagship kits from other brands.

Shell Material: Maple

Sizes: 10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum

Snare Drum: No

Pearl Reference Pure – Premium Option

Pearl Reference Pure

The Pearl Reference Pure has been one of Pearl’s flagship drum kits for decades. Owning a Reference Series kit is a dream of many drummers, as this drum set offers everything you could possibly want.

All the drums have been made from a mixture of shell materials to optimize them to sound as good as possible. The rack toms are made from maple and birch to give them warm tones that are vibrant and punchy.

The floor toms are made from maple and mahogany to get warmth with extensive low-end. The bass drum is made from mahogany to get deep and meaty low-end tones.

This mixture of shell materials is something that you’ll only get from Pearl drum kits, and it’s a great reason to consider the Reference kit over another expensive option.

Just note that all Reference drum sets are very expensive.

Shell Material: Maple/birch/mahogany

Sizes: 10” & 12” rack toms, 14” & 16” floor toms, 22” bass drum

Snare Drum: No

Pearl Roadshow – Best Budget Option

Pearl Roadshow

The Pearl Roadshow (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an entry-level drum set designed for players that have just gotten started. It comes with everything you need, including drums, cymbals, a drum throne, sticks, and cymbal stands.

It’s not the best-sounding kit, but you can get it to sound decent with a bit of fine-tuning. The cymbal are the only things that you can’t change, so many drummers swap them out when they can.

However, beginner drummers don’t tend to notice sound quality, so this kit is perfect for them. There are a few other entry-level kits available from other brands, but none of them offer the same value as the Roadshow, in my opinion.

So, it’s an excellent choice to get as a first drum kit! Just don’t consider this kit if you’re more experienced.

Shell Material: Poplar

Sizes: 14” snare,10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum

Snare Drum: Yes

Pearl Decade Maple

Pearl Decade Maple

The Pearl Decade Maple (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a great intermediate kit that comes available in a number of size options. It’s one of the best Pearl kits for drummers that are interested in using 7-piece setups.

The maple shells are warm and well-rounded, but they still sound quite explosive with the smaller drums of the kit. You can happily use this set for styles like gospel and metal, where several drums are often needed.

You can also happily use this set in any professional setting, as the drums sound more than good enough. You’ll just need to swap the stock heads out, as those are a bit disappointing.

The hardware that holds all the shells together also isn’t as good as what you get from professional Pearl drum sets.

Shell Material: Maple

Sizes: 14” snare,8” &10” & 12” rack toms, 14” & 16” floor toms, 22” bass drum

Snare Drum: Yes

Pearl Midtown

Pearl Midtown

The Pearl Midtown (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the one kit that Pearl offers as a compact option. Compact kits are sets with smaller and shallower shells than usual. They’re aimed at drummers that need smaller setups for traveling and gigging in tight venues.

Other brands offer much better compact drum kits with maple shells and pristine hardware, but I’m still a big fan of the Pearl Midtown.

This kit has poplar shells that sound punchy and vibrant, and the 16” kick drum has a surprisingly deep tone when you tune it low.

It’s great for playing gigs where you don’t need the full impact of a large kit. I also know a lot of drummers that use this kit for their kids to learn on.

I’d say that the snare drum is the one weak point, as the whole set would sound a lot better if you used a higher-quality snare to go with the toms and bass drum.

Shell Material: Poplar

Sizes: 13” snare, 10” rack tom, 13” floor tom, 16” bass drum

Snare Drum: Yes

Pearl Crystal Beat

Pearl Crystal Beat

The Pearl Crystal Beat (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is Pearl’s acrylic drum kit option. Acrylic drums have transparent shells, allowing people to see through them to watch you play.

While acrylic drums offer a lot when it comes to aesthetics on a stage, they also produce much louder sounds than drum kits with wooden shells.

So, this is a great kit for drummers that are looking for volume. It’s mainly rock, pop, and metal drummers that benefit, as this kit would be far too aggressive in a jazz setting.

The kit has most of the same shell hardware as the Pearl Decade Maple, so it feels quite similar to play. It just doesn’t come with a snare drum to match the rest of the kit.

Pearl does make a Crystal Beat snare. You just need to buy it separately if you want to have a full-on acrylic setup.

Shell Material: Acrylic

Sizes: 10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum

Snare Drum: No

Pearl Session Studio Select

Pearl Session Studio Select

The Pearl Session Studio Select (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of Pearl’s professional drum kit options that falls on the more affordable side compared to kits like the Masters and Reference.

You get a full studio kit here that costs just over $2000, and these drums sound fantastic in both live and recording settings.

The drums are a mixture of birch and mahogany, which is a unique blend that gives them boosted low-end tones that sound very vibrant.

The kit has excellent hardware features, and you get several epic finish options to pick from. It has amazing value for the money, and I’d say that it’s a true working drummer’s kit.

You just need to get a separate snare drum to go with it. You may also want to consider getting a higher-end kit if you love the premium hardware fittings that Pearl offers.

Shell Material: Birch/mahogany

Sizes: 10” & 12” rack toms, 14” & 16” floor toms, 22” bass drum

Snare Drum: No

Pearl President Series Deluxe

Pearl President Series Deluxe

The Pearl President Series Deluxe (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a beautiful drum set with vintage inspiration. Pearl designed the President Series kits to look like the drum sets that were popular in the 60s.

While it looks like a vintage kit, it has all the benefits of modern shell construction and hardware. The shells are made from lauan, which makes them sound very dark and punchy.

You can tune them high to get musical resonance for jazz, or you can tune them low to get booming sounds for rock.

These President Series kits have become very popular in recent years, and I’d say this set is a great option if you’re looking for something different from the norm.

Shell Material: Lauan

Sizes: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum

Snare Drum: No

Pearl Export EXX

Pearl Export EXX

The Pearl Export EXX (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the most sold drum sets of all time. Pearl Export kits were the best beginner kits in the early 2000s, as there was nothing better for the money.

Several drum brands have managed to make even more affordable sets now, but I still think there isn’t much that can beat a Pearl Export for beginners.

The key feature that boosts this kit’s quality is that the poplar shells also have mahogany plies. This makes the drums sound a lot more musical, along with having a bit of boosted low-end.

Unfortunately, this kit doesn’t come with cymbals like the Roadshow. It does come with a full set of hardware stands, though. For many drummers, that’s a better deal, as you don’t need to pay for cheap brass cymbals that you may not like.

Shell Material: Poplar/mahogany

Sizes: 14” snare,10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum

Snare Drum: Yes

What To Look For When Buying a Pearl Drum Set

Shell Material

Shell material refers to the type of wood that is used to make the drum shells. The wood type affects how the drums sound, with different woods offering various tonal qualities.

The Pearl brand has made drum kits with every popular wood that you could think of, so there are options for everyone. The custom Masterworks line even allows you to individually choose the wood that is used to make your set.

Here are a few short descriptions of different shell materials and the sounds they bring out:

Maple – Warm tones that are well-rounded across all the frequencies.

Birch – Boosted high-frequency tones that make the drums sound livelier.

Oak – Softer highs with standard mids and lows.

Beech – Sensitive drums with sharper highs and mids.

Mahogany – Warm and powerful low-end tones with slightly muffled highs.

Acrylic – Transparent drums with very loud and powerful sounds.

Size

When determining the size of a kit, you need to look at the dimensions of the drums, along with how many drums come in the set.

A standard drum kit is referred to as a 5-piece kit, as it has a snare drum, two rack toms, a floor tom, and a bass drum.

Pearl offers many 5-piece sets, but the brand offers just as many sets with other configurations. You need to know what you like so that you know which configuration option to get. For example, jazz drummers like to play on 4-piece kits, while metal drummers commonly play on 8-piece ones.

You then need to look at the dimensions. A standard 5-piece set would have a 14” snare, 10” rack tom, 12” rack tom, 16” floor tom, and 22” bass drum.

If you want a smaller kit, you can find Pearl ones with smaller sizes. You can also find a few with larger sizes for heavier players.

Hardware

One of the best things about a Pearl drum kit is the hardware. All Pearl kits are known to have incredibly good hardware quality, making the drums feel stable and secure to play on.

The hardware stands from Pearl are also amazing. Even the ones that come on entry-level kits tend to stand the test of time.

However, not every Pearl kit comes with hardware stands. The ones that just come with drums are called shell packs, and most of the kits costing over $1000 are packaged like this.

So, you’ll need to buy hardware separately. You don’t need to get Pearl hardware specifically, but I highly suggest you do. It’s just so good!

Snare Drum

Most of Pearl’s high-end shell packs don’t come with snare drums either. While this can be frustrating, Pearl has a seriously wide range of snare drums on offer that are much better than any stock snare drum that may come with a kit.

The brand has dozens of snare drum lines, including the Stave Craft, Sensitone, Hybrid Exotic, Signature, Free Floating, Modern Utility, and Drum Set Series snare drum lines.

You have dozens of world-class snare drums to choose from within those lines, with the brand making everything you could possibly think of. 

Even if you don’t own a Pearl drum set, I’d suggest getting one of these snare drums to experience the high-end Pearl quality that drummers have come to know and love.

Finish

Different drum kits come with various finish options. A finish has no effect on how a drum kit sounds or performs, but it gives each drum kit a personal touch.

I always suggest getting drum kits that you love the look of, as you’ll arguably be more likely to play. You don’t want to be stuck with a kit that you don’t like, simply because the color doesn’t match your preferences.

Everyone is different, so drum companies try to offer a wide range of finish options with each drum set to cater to all kinds of tastes.

You’ll find that lower-priced kits have far fewer finishes than higher-priced ones. For example, the Pearl Roadshow has about five finish options while the Pearl Masterworks has dozens.

With that said, I think Pearl offers an impressive number of finish options with even their lower-quality drum sets.

Price

The best way to understand pricing with Pearl kits is to learn about the brand’s product range. You can divide all their kits into beginner, intermediate, and professional options.

Prices will differ in the brand’s pro range of kits, as it will depend on how many drums come in the box. But you can get a general idea of cost when looking at different lines.

Here are all the drum set lines that Pearl offers that increase in price as the quality gets higher:

Pearl Midtown – Compact drums with inexpensive poplar shells.

Pearl Roadshow – Entry-level drums for beginners.

Pearl Export – Affordable drums with poplar/mahogany shells.

Pearl Decade Maple – Mid-level drums for more experienced beginner players.

Pearl Crystal Beat – Acrylic drums with plenty of volume.

Pearl Session Studio Select – Base-level professional drums with excellent value.

Pearl President Series – Professional drums with vintage appeal.

Pearl Professional Series – Professional drums with high-end shells and hardware.

Pearl Masters Series – The brand’s most popular pro-tier drum kit line.

Pearl Reference Series – High-end drums with all the best features.

Pearl Masterworks – Premium drum kit line with completely customizable features.

Artists

The last thing to do to help with your buying decision is to check out Pearl’s artist roster. These are drummers that endorse Pearl products, often using a wide range of kits that the brand offers.

You can see some of your favorite drummers using the kit that you’ve been eyeing out, so it’s good to see what the performance quality is like.

With Pearl being such a big brand name, some of the best drummers in the world are on the artist list. This includes names like Omar Hakim, Dennis Chambers, Todd Sucherman, Ray Luzier, and Dexter Hercules.

You can find plenty of studio-quality recordings of these drummers playing Pearl kits, so I highly recommend checking those out.

Top Pearl Drum Sets, Final Thoughts

As you can see from this list, Pearl has a sizeable roster of products that are all top-quality instruments.

The brand is commonly mentioned as one of the best when looking at shell hardware and hardware stands, but the drums themselves are just as good.

Whether you’re looking at the entry-level Roadshow or the flagship Masterworks, you can’t help but admire the work that the brand puts into their products.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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