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Pearl Export Standard

5-Piece Drum Kit

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Best Budget Drum Kit

Pearl Export Standard

  • Don Makoviney
  • Last Updated: August 29, 2016

When I asked my drummer friends to suggest a great drum kit for a novice, the model each one mentioned in their list was the Pearl Export Standard. User reviews on music sites, forums, and other online communities seem to agree. They like the build quality, and how it sounds as good as many more-expensive competitors. If I needed to get one tomorrow, the Pearl Export Standard is what I would get.


What makes a great budget drum kit

A great drum kit that won’t fall apart after we beat on it for a few months. We want hardware that won’t break, or threads that won’t strip out.

In short, we want a drum kit that will last and grow with us as a player. We want to be able to gig with it.

User reviews, professional reviews, and hands-on testing should bear this out. This means we’ll probably want something that has been around for awhile so we’ll have lots of reviews and experiences to draw from.

Pieces of a drum kit described

Picture via Reverb.com

If you’re really new to drum, we’ll be selecting from the most common type of drum kit, the ‘5 piece’ drum kit. This is what is most commonly used to teach drums in schools. A 5-piece set will consist of:

  • Bass drum
  • Snare drum
  • 3 Tom drums (generally 2 mounted on top of the kick drum, and 1 floor tom)

Things to keep in mind

When you buy a drum kit, they typically come in a few different ways:

Shell pack: This means you just get the drums. Nothing to attach them to, nor any hardware such as foot pedals, stands, or anything.

Shells and hardware: The hardware means the stuff the drums and cymbals attach to.

Shells, hardware and cymbals: Everything mentioned above, plus cymbals. To keep costs down, most drum manufacturers generally include crappy brass cymbals. What you should get is some great budget cymbals made from B20 bronze.

With our pick, which we’ll get into below, we suggest getting the shells and hardware only. We have some better cymbal options at the bottom of our guide. They’re not terribly expensive either.

Our pick

The Pearl Export Standard 5-piece fits all our criteria for a great drum kit for most people.

I asked three drummers who gig regularly to help me pick something out that I could get from Guitar Center for around $750. They each picked a few, and the one they all had in common was our pick, which is generally around $650 for the shells and hardware option.

Pearl has been making the Export line since the mid-1980’s, so this is a constantly refined kit that has only gotten better with time. You’ll see this borne out in online forums, where people who started with an Export kit in the 90’s, are amazed at how great the new models are. In fact, Music Radar noted this is a serious drum kit marketed as a budget one:

It may be the budget kit in Pearl’s range, but it is what we always expected from the Export moniker, a bargain kit with the latest refinements. This is not just a re-badged Forum. No, we have upgraded shells, new lugs, new tom bracket and a superb, improved hardware package.

You can grow with this kit by adding any individual drums. This includes other available additional sizes: 24″x18″ bass, 18″x16″ floor tom, 10″x8″ and 12″x9″ toms. That’s a great option for budding drummers.

Regarding the shells, one of the major upgrades of the latest Pearl Export kits is the addition of Asian mahogany into the mix. The previous incarnation was poplar only. Poplar doesn’t sound bad at all, but that new inner lining of semi-hard red wood adds warmth and depth to the shell tone.

To reinforce the quality of the poplar/mahogany blend, this Drummer World forum user noted:

The poplar wood issue always comes up, and although they’d disagree with me, most of the detractors would never tell maple from birch from poplar from basswood in a blind test. Plus, for many, many years poplar was the wood of choice for high end jazz kits. And poplar is certainly not inferior to the Philipine Mahogany and basswoods that many of the competitive kits are made from.

In that same Drummer World forum, also loved his Export:

I had a Pearl Export for seven years. It took serious punishment and always held up. I had it for three years before i got cases for it and nothing ever happened to it. The hardware is very solid and practical.

Available Pearl Export configurations

You can buy a Shells, Hardware, Cymbals configuration of the Export, but the cymbals are of the cheap brass type, which sound terrible. You might want to just get the “shells and hardware” and go for our pick for best budget cymbal pack.

There’s also a double bass option. So if you’re going to be playing metal, consider this option.

Other things to consider

If you spend much time in musician forums online you’ll get lots of conflicting advice. Some drummers say never buy new drums. Other drummers will say they’ve played new kits, like Tama Rockstars, or our pick, and got them to sound super nice. None of those drummers are wrong.

Our pick is flexible. You are able to configure it to play many different styles by adding or removing pieces as you grow. It will also make a sturdy backup kit or quality hand me down should you decide to pay it forward.

Really, the best kit you will get for your money is the one that you play often. You can become a great drummer on a good used set, or a brand new set. So get a great kit that seems closest to the style you want to play, and after some time you’ll start swapping stuff out as you grow as a percussionist.

Happy drumming!


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Best Budget Drum Kit

Pearl Export Standard

Best Budget Drum Kit

Important Specs

Shells Blended poplar and asian mahogany
Shell construction SST
Tom and bass shells 6-ply
Snare shell 6-ply with matching finish
Mounting system Opti-Loc
Kick drum 22 x 18"
Rack toms 12 x 8 and 13 x 9"
Floor tom 16 x 16"
Snare 14 x 5-1/2"
Hardware pack HWP830
P-930 Demonator Pedal 1
BC-830 Convertible Boom/Straight Stand 1
C-830 Straight Stand 1
H-830 Hi-Hat Stand 1
S-830 Snare Stand 1
TH-70I Tom Holder 2
more specs

Synopsis:

When I asked my drummer friends to suggest great great drum kits for a novice to grow with, the Pearl Export Standard was mentioned every time. User reviews on music sites, forums, and other online communities seem to agree. They like the build quality, and how it sounds as good as many more-expensive competitors. If I needed to get one tomorrow, the Pearl Export Standard is what I would get.

- M

Sources

  1. gosgood73, Reddit, 20160201
    Beginner Drum Kit
    “Pearl Export is probably the best starter kit. The poplar model I had years ago sounded every bit as good as a mapex maple meridian, and I say that because I literally had them in the same room. I bought the meridian, with a black panther snare no less, and was shocked when it sounded literally the same as my export.”
  2. Geoff Nichols, Rhythm, 20130712
    Pearl Export Series Kit review
    “It may be the budget kit in Pearl's range, but it is what we always expected from the Export moniker, a bargain kit with the latest refinements. This is not just a re-badged Forum. No, we have upgraded shells, new lugs, new tom bracket and a superb, improved hardware package.”
Originally published: February 26th, 2016

Important Specs

Shells Blended poplar and asian mahogany
Shell construction SST
Tom and bass shells 6-ply
Snare shell 6-ply with matching finish
Mounting system Opti-Loc
Kick drum 22 x 18"
Rack toms 12 x 8 and 13 x 9"
Floor tom 16 x 16"
Snare 14 x 5-1/2"
Hardware pack HWP830
P-930 Demonator Pedal 1
BC-830 Convertible Boom/Straight Stand 1
C-830 Straight Stand 1
H-830 Hi-Hat Stand 1
S-830 Snare Stand 1
TH-70I Tom Holder 2
more specs


“It’s not so much the equipment as how you use it. I’ve heard people with really cheap studios do great recordings.” —Frank Gambale


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