Pearl 'Rock Kit'
Argent's Bob Henrit takes a Pearl kit apart
Test Report on: Pearl 'Rock Kit'
Date: August 1975. £333.33 ex VAT
My introduction to Pearl Drums came many moons ago when someone began to bring a very cheap, and ostensibly inferior kit into this country. However, just recently on trips to the States I was interested to see that an awful lot of, normally patriotic, American drummers were switching from their home grown sets to the Japanese built versions. I had heard these people, like Ed Shaughnessy, and Frank Zappa's drummer, Ralph Humphrey, playing their Pearl kits but I had not had an opportunity to investigate them. So, it was with mixed feelings that I approached my first drum check for International Musician.
The fibre glass drums had the brightest sound and would definitely be the loudest. Next came the wood and fibre which were, in turn, brighter than the wood. Their "wood/fibre" shells are five-ply with an approximately two-ply coating of fibre glass inside. The wood shells are seven-ply with what looks like a white polyurethane finish inside. The re-cycled paper which looks to me like bakelite, again produced a bright sound but, each alternative had its own unique timbre. So, it's very much a matter of personal preference. You pays your money and you takes your choice. I must say it makes a refreshing change for the drummer to have the opportunity to be discerning in his choice of shell-material. Especially since it's just one manufacturer offering these options.
The 24" bass drum is fitted with twenty business-like nut boxes and very solid looking tymp-type tuners. The spurs are really unusual, certainly unlike anything available in Europe before. Attached to the drum by a knurled thumb-screw, they are easily adjustable on a screw-thread and secured in position by a locking nut. They do not need to be removed for disassembly, merely revolved backwards on the knurled screw. Metal counter hoops, inlaid with plastic, are fitted as standard on all the bass drums. Pearl supply two strip-type felt dampers which, in my sample, weren't quite long enough to stretch down the centre of the drum. However, even with the felt strip in an off-centre position on the batter head the drum had a really creditable solid thump.
The small tom-toms of the "Rock-Kit" are one size larger than normal and possess a very bright musical sound. All the drums have a batter-head damper, solid sounding counter hoops and American-style square-headed tension screws. I am not too sure about the mating-fit of these screws to the nut-box inserts.
The floor tom-tom is, like the other drums, larger than normal. It's 18" x 16" with a correspondingly deep satisfying tone, it's unusual in that it is fitted with three legs instead of the normal four. However, it didn't seem at all unstable and, I understand, just one extra leg would put £3.00 on the retail price.
Pearl's snare-drum has its own unique sound and my example needed very little work short of putting a couple of turns on each of the 20 tension screws and slight adjustment of the seemingly fool-proof and un-fussy snare release. A 20-strand snare is attached to this strainer American-style by a thin plastic strap. I would attribute the drum's clear, bright sound to its light gauge shell, which I am pretty sure is the only brass production model being manufactured today. The new deeper snare-drums with their 6½" shells have become very popular over the past couple of years; mainly because they retain the crispness of the slightly thinner drum but also add a lot of depth. This results in a more modern sound, perfect for latter-day rock. Pearl are to be congratulated on producing this drum at such a reasonable price. However, allow me one slight criticism: Since the shell is uniquely made of brass it would be nice if it were more obviously so. Why not lacquer the brass instead of chroming it? After all... "If you got it, flaunt it."
So much for the drums themselves, now let's move on to their accessories.
The double tom-tom holder is extremely heavy-duty with lots of adjustments, certainly more lateral adjustment than on any other available model. A large-section hexagon rod fits into a six-sided slotted holder which damps very securely with an extra large wing-bolt. The fitting has the well known ball and socket type angle adjustment, which gives complete control of tom-tom placement with four substantial locking screws to eradicate any playing movement.
The Company make a strong looking, cast-footplate, centre-pull, high-hat stand with an adjustable expansion spring. It comes with sensible big wing-bolts for height and leg adjustment and features an adjustable spur, a thick metal strap and a cup-tilter for the bottom cymbal. This robust stand is topped off with an adjustable heavy-duty dutch.
The bass drum pedal, naturally enough, matches the high-hat stand and looks a splendidly efficient affair, basically the same idea as its West Coast American competitor. It has quickly adjustable stroke and spring tension, a unique screw attachment to the metal counter hoop, built in spur, moveable toe-stop and thick webbing strap. I consider this a good feature since it gives the pedal a built-in weakness. If anything is going to break it will be the easily replaceable strap rather than something more serious.
The "basket-type" snare-drum stand has Pearl's usual giant wing-bolts for leg, height and angle control. The legs can, in addition, be set up for either a flush-based or tripod configuration. Replaceable nylon bushes at the top of each section are a sensible feature of the snare-drum, high-hat and cymbal stands.
The "high-rise" cymbal stand is a most professional and solid stand, a real bargain at £10.00. Each "Rock-Kit" comes complete with two of these monsters with extra wide spread legs for stability and a strong, unique filter which adjusts from vertical to horizontal on a knurled drum. However, the tilter would greatly benefit from a much larger wing-nut with a large washer underneath it to enable the cymbal to be damped more efficiently when necessary. As a matter of fact, all of the wing-nuts on the kit could be twice the size. It's strange that they fit such silly little nuts, especially since all the other adjustment screws are so sensibly hefty.
No stool is included with the "Rock-Kit" but I understand the Company manufacture an excellent heavy-duty model at their usual reasonable price.
The appearance of the set is very good and, in my opinion, is only marred by the damper control which is very tinny, and the rectangular, plastic name-plate which is really cheap looking. Pearl would do well to change this to match their material designation-plate, which is a whole lot more professional looking.
A pair of sticks, a pair of brushes and several spare bits and pieces completes the kit. They also supply two keys which are, unfortunately, very painful to use because of the raised Pearl logo stamped onto them. My fingers really smarted when I tightened the locking screws on the tom-tom holder. However, the key does have a hole in it so you could wear it round your neck if you really didn't want to lose it. The sticks, whilst they were very lightweight, had a really good feel to them.
To sum up, the "Pearl Rock-Kit" is a very impressive drum-set indeed. I felt comfortable as soon as I sat down and everything was accessible to me without undue effort. The sound of the drums was very good and could only be bettered, for my money, by fitting Remo's C.S. Heads instead of their perfectly acceptable Ambassador Heads. The price, too, turned out to be something of a revelation. The five drum Pearl set, as described, with its modern large sizes, sells for £360.00 at its dearest. Whereas the Chicago-built competition, with only four drums in the smaller sizes sells for about a hundred pounds more.
Review by Bob Henrit
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