Pearl World Series WX-22D-5D
Bob Henrit takes on the World; Pearl's new mid-range five-piece acoustic kit
'World Series' is a title far more evocative to the Americans than it is to us. For them it conjures up a 'best of seven' sequence of baseball games where the winners of different leagues play each other for the championship of the world. For us, though, it will come to mean a set from Pearl which is made in Taiwan and designed to fit neatly in between their down-market Export sets, and their decidedly up-market DLX sets. It would appear to have all the fitted hardware options of the professional, made-in-Japan sets but with ever so slightly less sophisticated stands and pedals.
The set under scrutiny this month goes by the name of WX-22D-50 and comprises five drums: 22", 12", 13", 16" in diameter (all powerised), a 6½" deep metal shell snare, and the usual collection of hi hat and bass drum pedals, snare drum stand, double tom holder, and one straight and one boom cymbal stand.
World Series' bass drum measures 22" in diameter and is 16" deep. In common with all the shells of the set it is constructed from seven plies of Mahogany, Birch and something mysterious called Super Lamin. The different plies are cross grained but their joins are set at right angles to the bearing edge; these days, expensive shells have their joins set at an angle to reduce the stress from head to head.
Pearl fit 20 of their cast nut-boxes to the drum together with an equal number of 'T' handled tension screws and pressed steel claws. All these serve to keep the heads and hoops in place. This set has metal bass drum hoops which used to be fitted to Pearl 'pro' sets but which have recently been superseded by wooden ones. These hoops have a channel all the way around their inside, so unfortunately one is forced to fit a piece of rubber into it to hold one's bass drum pedal. Of course this block is supplied but I'd advise you to super-glue it into position. At the bass drum pedal position on the hoop World Series has four square headed tensioners instead of 'T' handled ones. This allows the pedal to fit better with no handles to interfere with it. It also allows the drum to sit on the floor better and gives more accurate tensioning.
Like many other drum companies Pearl no longer fit a felt strip damper to their bass drums. Even though many of us pad the drum with pillows and things, it's nice to have the immediate ring killed by the strip against the head. The front head is new too and features a pre-cut hole: it's made from black plastic film and boasts a much larger than usual logo. I understand that this has become 'de rigeur' for all Pearl drums.
The spurs that are fitted are exactly the same heavy duty ones used on the DLX, GLX and MLX sets. I can't ascertain whether these are actually made in Taiwan or not, but they look identical. They're telescopic with optional rubber or spike tips which swivel backwards and forwards on a cast block that is attached to the shell. A stop is cast into the block to arrest the spur's frontal movement at just the right point and a large cast wing bolt locks it into position. In the backward position (to put the drum away) the spur also hits a stop. As far as I am aware there are absolutely no problems with these fittings. Pearl's usual double tom holder block is bolted towards the front of the drum and consists of a pair of open jawed clamps to locate the down tubes of the tom holders. Not Pearl's most sophisticated ones but they do work well and they last. The desired angle is held by a large 'T' screw and the tubes are all fitted with memory clamps.
This particular World Series set has two mounted toms measuring 12" x 10" and 13" x 11". The floor tom is the more usual-sized 16" x 16". (I really can't understand why manufacturers don't elongate their floor toms too. Answers on a postcard please!) The two smallest drums have six square headed tension screws per head and the floor tom has eight. All drums have medium gauge, triple flange hoops and Pearl's ubiquitous nut boxes. These 'boxes' are cast and have a foam insert to kill the noise of the spring. (Pearl have used these for as long as I can remember, but just recently introduced a 'high-profile' swivelling model which is used on the very top of the range sets.)
In common with everyone else's deep toms, Pearl don't fit any internal dampers. Of course both of the small toms have a tom tom arm receiver block bolted to their shells while the floor tom has Pearl's 'pro' tom leg holder. These are cast and have 'eye-bolts' inside (to retain the leg), and large wing bolts to lock them tight. The legs themselves are made from substantial, double-bent steel and have large cone-shaped rubber feet. All the drums have airholes and all are fitted with Pearl's own newly developed heads. They look and feel like Mylar, and have a new system to lock them into their collars. The film is actually locked around a square section insert which is then clamped inside the collar. The batter heads on the toms have a see through spot in their centres, while the bottom heads are simple see-thru Ambassador-weight ones.
World Series' snare drum has a metal shell which measures 6½" deep and resembles their old 'work-horse' which used to be supplied as standard with all their original 'Rock' kits. This one though, it must be said, is not quite so salubrious; it isn't finished off really well inside and has roll over flanges instead of the more accurately formed ones which have an inverse 45° flange. But it does sound good.
The shell itself seems a little lighter too and the usual snare bed is formed into the bottom bearing edge. Trenches are formed into the side of the shell to stop it from buckling and the usual 10 double-ended nut boxes are fitted as well as Pearl's medium gauged triple-flange, pressed steel hoops. The snare strainer is cast and heavy with the usual adjustment for snare pressure against the bottom head; a plastic strip holds the 20 strand metal snares in place, and this strip is held firmly by a screw-operated jaw. Pearl have a new butt-end clamp for this drum (which I expect to see on their other models); it's cast, substantial, and about time! This drum is the only one to fit an internal, under-batter-head-operating damper. It's the old Pearl one which they've used for years which is constructed from spring steel and with a notched control knob outside the shell. Another of Pearl's 'own brand' heads is fitted to the batter side. It's brush coated and presumably made from the same film as the tom heads.
The stands appear to me to be basically 800 Series stands but with a few refinements. (The revelation to me is that only last year I was reviewing the majority of this equipment when it was supplied as standard with the 'top of the range' GLX sets.) All the stands have double braced tripod legs and a height arrest clamp based on adjustable jaws which have plastic/nylon wear-resisting inserts. Two cymbal stands are supplied and numbered C-800W and B-800W. Both are three stage units with cast and very substantial tilters whose progress is arrested by a large locking screw which pushes against a cast cylinder into which the long tilter rod is tapped. The tilter drum itself is free to rotate inside a 'U' shaped frame affixed to the top of the stand proper. This rod is usefully long and uses the usual collection of metal and felt washers as well as plastic tubes and a nicely made wing nut to finish the whole thing off.
This tilter is known as 'Unilock', and is to be found on the boom stand too. What Pearl do is to graft a block which swivels in the same way as the tilter to the top of the third stage. It is made from three pieces which join together via a very large 'T' bolt; there's a hole cast into the 'sandwich' to grasp the boom firmly. The non-tilting end of the boom has a rubber foot fitted and the whole thing is long enough to work well without needing to have a counterweight fitted. I understand that some people are even cutting down the booms to save weight.
All these 800 Series stands have large feet. They're made from some sort of squashy substance and do their job. The hi hat has these too. It's known affectionately as H-800W and is made from wide bored tubing with a centre-pull action and a two piece cast footplate. This plate is brand new from Pearl and is to be found on their P-800 bass drum pedal too. It has been made smoother than before with a shallower toe-stop (with two positions) and the linkage between heel and foot portions now has squeak resisting nylon ferrules. The plate itself is joined to the centre rod by a motorcycle-type chain, and the action of the pedal itself may be changed by means of a large plastic nut which runs down a plastic thread fixed just below the adjustment blocks of the legs.
I have no quibble with the action of old H-800W, but I find that the spurs tapped into the framework below the unit don't really arrest it enough for me. I prefer the 900 pedal which has the spurs in the legs; but in the real world you get what you pay for. That small criticism aside, this pedal has a really smooth action and is eminently portable. There's a large bottom cymbal cup which is made from plastic/nylon and is adjustable in angle. The top cymbal uses the fluted clutch which we've talked about before. It features a large locking screw with adjustable screw-washers and adequate felt washers.
I've also commented upon the P-800 bass pedal before. It's been around in various guises for a while, and this latest one uses the new footplate. It has twin posts with a single expansion spring and uses Pearl's wheel drive action. This is a very large boss which is fixed to the centre axle and retains the beater. This serves to 'gear down' the action and the fibre strap is fixed around it. The expansion spring is, as usual, joined via a cam to the axle at one end and to a curved attachment at the other. This curve has a slot formed into it with some teeth below, and this locates the other end of the spring. By moving the spring position within the slot one can change the 'attack' of the beater relative to the drum head. The pedal has a fluid action and attaches to the bass drum hoop by an open-jawed clamp which has just been 'breathed on'. A brass ferrule has been fitted to the top jaw to stop the retaining screw from stripping the thread. (Presumably one can replace this ferrule when necessary?)
World Series' snare drum stand has a complete new playing angle arrest fixing. The stand still has the usual basket arms sheathed in rubber; these may be locked to the drum by a capstan nut which screws up a cast threaded centre section and ultimately presses against the basket arms. The tilting mechanism is unusual in that it joins that cast threaded portion to a solid cylinder at right angles. This cylinder then locates a cast block fixed to the top of the second stage and a screw closes jaws around it. It's simple, it works and gives you all the angles.
All the necessary tubes which need memory clamps have them; they're fitted to tom arms and hi hat, but I feel the snare stand would benefit from one also. Pearl's clamps are cast and have a drum key operated screw to lock them where you desire. A tongue is cast into them to locate into a groove machined out of all the holding blocks.
There's no doubt that Pearl have cut a few corners with these sets, otherwise World Series could never be sold at this price. But, I think we can safely say that no critical ones have been cut. All in all I couldn't spot any difference in sound between the WX-22D-50 and the DX drums which are roughly one third more expensive. If you pressed me I'd have to say these drums had more 'bang'. But, is this a bad thing? After all, bang invariably equals penetration and audibility.
Be that as it may, you can buy WX drums in Black, White, Red and Smokey chrome; but for a little more, you may have it in very professional looking piano black, ivory or wine red natural wood finishes.
Review by Bob Henrit
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