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Pearl Masterworks Drums

I don’t believe I have ever seen more attention paid to detail in construction than Pearl has given to its outstanding Masterworks custom drums. Even the way the drums are packed for shipping-meticulously-is impressive.

Since the Masterworks series are completely custom and handmade, you can order the exact hardware, drum sizes and types of wood and number of plies that suit your fancy. Wood types include maple, birch and mahogany. You can combine any of these three woods into one shell to create your own unique blend of wood design. The review model was a small combo kit in a groovy, ’60s-era, blue-sparkle finish consisting of a 17-inch by 20-inch bass drum, 8 by 12 tom and 14 by 14 floor tom, all made of 6-ply African mahogany. The toms shipped with coated Remo Ambassador heads on top and clear Remo Ambassadors on bottom. The resonance and tone was warm and responsive. The bass drum, equipped with coated Remo Powerstroke 3 heads on front and back, was devastatingly deep and resonant. Even tuned up to a higher pitch for bebop and straightahead playing, the low end dominated the higher pitch of the drum. There was no need for internal muffling with the Powerstroke 3 heads, which is a beautiful thing for jazz.

The mounted hardware on each of these three drums is impressive. The top and bottom hoops of both toms are die-cast metal. The bass drum claws are also die-cast. All of the low-mass tension lugs include solid brass swivel nuts and have limited contact with the shell for greater resonance. The free-floating mounting system on the 8 by 12 tom is Pearl’s own Optimount system, which mounts to the tension rods with isolated rubber cushions to allow maximum resonance from the shell. The floor-tom legs also include unique air suspension rubber feet with a similar design to many of today’s running shoes with air pockets in the rubber to cushion the shock.

The versatile snare stand, multiclamp tom/cymbal stand and cymbal boom stand were all solid in construction with double-braced legs and memory locks. But the exciting stuff was the Eliminator hi-hat stand and the Eliminator bass-drum pedal. The Eliminator series offers many unique features allowing optimum performance for your particular needs in a foot pedal. One of the coolest features offered by both hi-hat and bass-drum pedal is the interchangeable cams. This includes four color-coded cams that can change the power and feel of the pedals. Both pedals also offer reversible traction plates with rubber grips adjustable for low or high foot placement. And the PowerShifter heel plate allows you to adjust the position of the footboard forward for a stronger feel, back for a lighter feel or centered for a normal feel. There are many other adjustable parts to each of these smooth pedals that allow you total control of your technique, and I like that most of these adjustments are made with a standard drum key.

Saving the best for last, the most impressive drum in this kit was the 5 by 14 snare drum. This drum was a gem right out of the box. Visually, with its solid construction utilizing die-cast hoops, and the classic old-world look of its tubular lugs combined with the psychedelic finish, this beauty is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the ear. The articulation and resonance are spectacular. The drum was made of a 6-ply combination of woods including an outer layer (on the inside of the shell) of African mahogany. Its high-end definition works well with all styles of music. I used this drum for a funk-gospel recording session as well as an acoustic jazz trio club date. I was complimented on the sound of the snare on both occasions. As with the toms, this drum was dressed with a coated Remo Ambassador head on top and clear Ambassador on bottom.

There’s no escaping that you get what you pay for when it comes to quality musical instruments. The Pearl Masterworks drums and the Eliminator hardware are high-end items. It’s up to you to decide what your sound is worth. If you’re willing to invest in quality gear then you owe it to yourself to check this stuff out.

Originally Published