Pearl vs. DW Drums Which do you prefer?

PaisteGuy

Well-known member
Is there a lot of drum envy within the DW drum owners community? Do the collectors series guys scoff and look down at the performance and dare I say the Pacific guys? It's like Mercedes they make real junk and real nice cars. If you buy a c-class ( the pacific drums by DW) you may as well buy a different brand but the s-class is amazing. The e-class( Performance series) is ok but your just saying "I couldn't afford the s-class"( Collectors series).
I would always feel inferior if i bought something less and thats not how I view Pearl. To me it seems like there are more divided camps in DW than Pearl. Pearl makes drums for everyone, DW makes them via a class system. I like both brands, I own Pearls, never played DW but don't dislike them.
I can’t speak for Others, only myself. No, I don’t look down on anyone for what they play. The same could be said of most major Drum Companies. They all have their entry level, mid level and upper level offerings. A person who owns a Masterworks could scoff at someone who owns an Export Kit, Star Kit to Imperial Star, Yamaha Pheonix to Rydeen kit, Gretsch USA custom to Catalina etc. The analogy You used could be said of all of them. I do understand what Your saying, and I think most of that is a bit of Pretentiousness from how JG comes across.
 
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Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Is there a lot of drum envy within the DW drum owners community? Do the collectors series guys scoff and look down at the performance and dare I say the Pacific guys? It's like Mercedes they make real junk and real nice cars. If you buy a c-class ( the pacific drums by DW) you may as well buy a different brand but the s-class is amazing. The e-class( Performance series) is ok but your just saying "I couldn't afford the s-class"( Collectors series).
I would always feel inferior if i bought something less and thats not how I view Pearl. To me it seems like there are more divided camps in DW than Pearl. Pearl makes drums for everyone, DW makes them via a class system. I like both brands, I own Pearls, never played DW but don't dislike them.
I wouldn’t read too much into what I just said. I’ve played DW when all there was was the Collectors series, so that’s what I know works and can take any abuse out there. I’m also budgeted for it so that’s just where I go. I’m impressed with the Performance and Design series, good solid drums, I just don’t need to play them. But I don’t think there’s a hierarchy, that’s just how I worked it out for myself. But it is funny when you see DW use Stephen Perkins and Abe Laboriel Jr to show off the PDP drums, but whenever those guys are out with their acts, they’re playing DW Collectors.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
Hummmm. What should I do with my hard earned dollars? Support Americans or some sweat shop assholes in Asia? Let me think about that for a while. I'll be playing my DWs until I decide.
 
I've come to that realization too. Most of the Collector's series demos don't sound that great to me. Could it be because of the re-rings? They bring the pitch up higher than the Design and Performance series.

I recently got a PDP MX kit (100% North American maple, said to be factory seconds from DW), and I think it may sound a little better than the Collector's series. I love it this kit.

Do you think it could be the re-rings messing with the frequencies and fundamental pitch?
After owning a DW Collector's for many years, and now listening to recordings of other DW players, I believe that the mounting system dampens the resonance a bit too much. The thin shells have a beautiful, warm maple tone, and the re-rings give them great punch/attack. But the tone dies off too early. That has been my greatest concern with DW for a while now. Excellent design and construction, but the mounting system (which is my favorite because it isn't bulky) just kills off that quality maple tone. Just my $.02
 
I would probably opt for Pearl drums. I have a MCX snare drum that I love, and I play it with whatever kit I have out at the time. I would budget for different tom mounts though.

One of my "things" with DW shells is that I feel like I would go through a really weird FOMO outbreak in my head if I had to pick out what kind of shells I wanted from them. They have 5 different grain orientations. In addition, they have 5 different shells in regards to the "Pure" series. Then there are the hybrids. There's NO WAY to be able to hear all of these different combinations outside of YouTube. If I ordered some DW's, I'd be so afraid I'd obsess over things like, "Maybe I should have done ABC grain orientation over XYZ" or "Doesn't one of their lower lines have XYZ grain orientation too? Did I just spend too much money on a custom kit that sounds just like one of their lower lines?" etc. This is a prime example of the paradox of choice.

I know what I'm getting with a Pearl Reference, a Classic Maple, or a Broadcaster. There's a certain level of consistency there that I prefer.
I think that you make make fair point here. DW is doing a lot of "shell innovation", but where is it that a drummer can really test the tonal qualities of these shell designs? This is an area where I believe that DW is mastering the marketing game, but with limited evidence of the sonic differences these designs produce. To be fair to them, I haven't tested all of their shell designs, and I do believe that John Good discovers some interesting things regarding grain orientation and the tone/pitch impact of the same. I'm just not convinced, as a long-time DW owner, that these recipes deliver much beyond the tonal qualities of the woods used.
 
Monster player Shannon Forest said he sold all his Gretsch recording kits when Pearl came out with maple/gum - but his are MasterWorks drums - a bit out of my league.
Those videos of him playing the Maple/Gum shells are very impressive. I know that Gretsch originally designed the Maple/Gum shell, but Pearl has it dialed in beautifully. If only it had a bit more bite on the attack I would seriously consider purchasing a set. It's certainly on my radar as I love the full warmth of the tone, just want more punch on the top of the sound curve. This combination is why I went with DW years ago. However, I think that other manufacturers (like Pearl) have better sounding shells days.
 
I can’t speak for Others, only myself. No, I don’t look down on anyone for what they play. The same could be said of most major Drum Companies. They all have their entry level, mid level and upper level offerings. A person who owns a Masterworks could scoff at someone who owns an Export Kit, Star Kit to Imperial Star, Yamaha Pheonix to Rydeen kit, Gretsch USA custom to Catalina etc. The analogy You used could be said of all of them. I do understand what Your saying, and I think most of that is a bit of Pretentiousness from how JG comes across.
I agree with PaisteGuy on this point. I was a DW palyer for many years, but I can honestly say that I never held a superior or arrogant position against other DW lines - or the more "affordable" lines from other manufacturers. It truly comes down to personal preference and what sound you want for your hard-earned cash. When I bought my DWs, I had a good friend who was also in the hunt for a new kit. He liked the Tama Starclassic maple drums, and that's what he bought. I was always envious of his kick drum because it sounded better than mine! And he paid about half of what I paid for my DW kit. Anyway, if there were no equipment variety or options for the many ears "listening" on this forum, life would be drab indeed. I am a huge believer in sampling everything, finding what fits you, and going for it. YOU are the only person who will hone in on every stick hit on every shell of your kit. You are the ultimate customer, so don't settle for anything less than that sound which represents your voice to the world. </offsoapbox>
 

MusiQmaN

Platinum Member
After owning a DW Collector's for many years, and now listening to recordings of other DW players, I believe that the mounting system dampens the resonance a bit too much. The thin shells have a beautiful, warm maple tone, and the re-rings give them great punch/attack. But the tone dies off too early. That has been my greatest concern with DW for a while now. Excellent design and construction, but the mounting system (which is my favorite because it isn't bulky) just kills off that quality maple tone. Just my $.02
I always loved the RIMS on my vintage DW because of that. I tried the STM too on that kit, but the RIMS was victor enough to warrant it in the studio.

But the RIMS were much heavier, so for live gigs, I would still go STM.

The thicker and re-ring-less Maple/Mahogany nullifides that sustain “problem”, and are killer drums in every way.
 

Dirtysticks

Senior Member
I have played DW Collectors, Performance, and currently a Design Series 7pc at my church and they all were top quality and sounded pretty similar (all were all maple). I don’t feel like anyone who buys Performance or Design “couldn’t afford” the Collectors but rather they may not have felt the need to spend the extra money based on sound and not the additional finishes or clout of having a Collectors kit. If I were looking for DW and a used Collectors was the same price as the others then yeah I’d probably get the Collectors but no reason to look down on the others.

Same goes for other brands as well. Some like the sound of Session drums over Masters or just as much so they but the Session. Some like Renown just as much as USA Custom. Some like Starclassic as much as Star. So on and so forth.

I must admit though that I do still laugh at drummers who put DW heads on PDP kits. To me that is like putting Lexus emblems in a Toyota, Audi or Porsche emblems on a Volkswagen, Infiniti emblems on a Nissan. Toyota,Volkswagen and Nissan are great in their own right but aren’t Lexus, Audi or Infiniti.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Same goes for other brands as well. Some like the sound of Session drums over Masters or just as much so they buy the Session.
My position entirely. The simple fact is that I could buy ten Pearl Reference kits if I wanted to. I don't want to. I play Pearl's Session Studio Select not because I'm settling for it but because it's the exact line of drums I want. Its quality is excellent; its sound is superb. I need not look further, and I don't.
 

Lee-Bro

Senior Member
IMHO DW's Performance and Collectors (maple) series drums are siblings, nearly twins (if you will). They come from the same parents: Their father, the wood supply, is the same. They are birthed from the same mother, (shell molds), and are dressed in similar clothing (hardware) from the same factory. They even get their makeup and hair (paint/finish) done at the same place.

The difference between the two really comes down to shell plies and lay-up. There are other shells that don't have re-rings in the Collectors series and DW could have easily called put the HVX shell under the Collectors series, slapped on Collectors badges and full-size lugs, claws, etc. as well as the Collectors price tag.

So to me, and it's just my opinion, the Performance are HVX-Collectors w/ slightly smaller (preferred IMO) lugs & claws, and a better price tag. :)


Re: Pearl drums, they make great sounding kits. Their finishes on their mid to upper lines are sharp too. I recently picked up a lacquered Export for a project that fell through and if I didn't already have a good rehearsal, backup gigging kit, I'd use it for that too. I already have 2 DW Collectors kits but if I was shopping for a new similar top of the line kit, I would consider Pearl in the mix. If I ended up buying Pearl, I'd use a different tom suspension system as I don't care for theirs, but that's a personal preference.
 

RickP

Gold Member
Masterworks is on a plane unto itself. I wouldn't go that route unless Pearl offered to craft the kit of my choice for free. But if I were to take the mammoth financial plunge and order a Masterworks lineup, I doubt I'd have the courage to leave home with it. It's not a pragmatic option for a gigging drummer who isn't fully funded through endorsements.
I don’t get this train of thought . I had a Yamaha PHX kit for a few years and I took it out to all sorts of gigs . Outdoors , bars , clubs , weddings etc . Drums are to be played not to gather dust in some basement . If you can afford a nice kit , take it out and play it . Being afraid to take a kit you own out just baffles me .
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I don’t get this train of thought . I had a Yamaha PHX kit for a few years and I took it out to all sorts of gigs . Outdoors , bars , clubs , weddings etc . Drums are to be played not to gather dust in some basement . If you can afford a nice kit , take it out and play it . Being afraid to take a kit you own out just baffles me .
It's not a hurdle I'll ever need to overcome, as I have no intention of custom-ordering a $10,000 Masterworks set. The price wouldn't be worth the reward in my value system. For me, there's a point of diminishing returns when it comes to equipment "upgrades." Only the buyer can define that demarcation, just as only the owner can determine how he chooses to use his gear. It's not really an issue anyone else needs to "get." Each drummer should shepherd his flock however he sees fit. If one drummer opts to expose a $10,000 kit to a rainstorm, while another prefers to limit his luxury kit to studio work, who should care other than the two players in question?
 

NackAttack

Well-known member
I don’t get this train of thought . I had a Yamaha PHX kit for a few years and I took it out to all sorts of gigs . Outdoors , bars , clubs , weddings etc . Drums are to be played not to gather dust in some basement . If you can afford a nice kit , take it out and play it . Being afraid to take a kit you own out just baffles me .
I don’t know, I feel like this train of thought applies to a lot of material possessions. People buy supercars all the time and don’t use them as daily drivers. I don’t wear my nicest shoes when it’s raining. If I had a 10k-ish set of drums, I would only take them out for special occasions/events.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I don’t know, I feel like this train of thought applies to a lot of material possessions. People buy supercars all the time and don’t use them as daily drivers. I don’t wear my nicest shoes when it’s raining. If I had a 10k-ish set of drums, I would only take them out for special occasions/events.
Depends on the person. If I had a Ferrari it would be my daily driver. It's a car, that's what it's for. If I cant thoroughly enjoy my $250,000 purchase in the way I want to, why even bother?

It's just stuff. Do with it what you want, it's yours. Who cares what other people think?
 

NackAttack

Well-known member
Depends on the person....
It's just stuff. Do with it what you want, it's yours. Who cares what other people think?
Exactly my point. He wouldn’t let it leave the garage, I’d be particular where it went, and you’d be doing burnouts in front of the courthouse. But I am baffled that someone else would be baffled at keeping something nice at home. It might not be what others would choose but it’s definitely not confusing.
 

NackAttack

Well-known member
Anyways, regarding the OP, it seems like a majority of the people hate the lugs on DW. I never minded them personally. Not my first choice, but sometimes it’s nice to have something different. The only drums of these brands I’ve had is some Pearl exports. I thought they were great for the money, but I’m not really qualified to compare the more expensive kits. Does anyone else feel like DW is the Apple/Mac of the drum world? People love to hate them it seems.
 

Juniper

Gold Member
Is there a lot of drum envy within the DW drum owners community? Do the collectors series guys scoff and look down at the performance and dare I say the Pacific guys? It's like Mercedes they make real junk and real nice cars. If you buy a c-class ( the pacific drums by DW) you may as well buy a different brand but the s-class is amazing. The e-class( Performance series) is ok but your just saying "I couldn't afford the s-class"( Collectors series).
I would always feel inferior if i bought something less and thats not how I view Pearl. To me it seems like there are more divided camps in DW than Pearl. Pearl makes drums for everyone, DW makes them via a class system. I like both brands, I own Pearls, never played DW but don't dislike them.
DW makes drums for a class system? Divided camps within the community? This is the first I've heard of this even being a question personally but from your own Mercedes comparison I think you are projecting a little maybe.

Drums are drums. I may own a Collectors Series set but I didn't buy the drums as some sort of class or status symbol, that would be ridiculous. I bought it as I loved the sound, it's very well made, it sounds great and is versatile in the studio...etc and it happens to be the top range of DW's offerings.

Certainly don't look down on any other offering from DW or any manufacturer and I couldn't ever feel inferior over any sets of drums I own. I had a Pearl export for years as my first kit and I loved it, still own it! It doesn't sound as good as the DW but it's not inferior nor do I feel inferior when I've played it since having my DW. It's a drum kit.

I also love Gretsch, Sonor, Ludwig, Pearl.....etc. Drums are drums and quite simple things we drummers only tend to overthink.

You buy what sounds good to you and the application you are using it for.

Well, personally speaking anyway.
 
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Bo Eder

Platinum Member
IMHO DW's Performance and Collectors (maple) series drums are siblings, nearly twins (if you will). They come from the same parents: Their father, the wood supply, is the same. They are birthed from the same mother, (shell molds), and are dressed in similar clothing (hardware) from the same factory. They even get their makeup and hair (paint/finish) done at the same place.

The difference between the two really comes down to shell plies and lay-up. There are other shells that don't have re-rings in the Collectors series and DW could have easily called put the HVX shell under the Collectors series, slapped on Collectors badges and full-size lugs, claws, etc. as well as the Collectors price tag.

So to me, and it's just my opinion, the Performance are HVX-Collectors w/ slightly smaller (preferred IMO) lugs & claws, and a better price tag. :)


Re: Pearl drums, they make great sounding kits. Their finishes on their mid to upper lines are sharp too. I recently picked up a lacquered Export for a project that fell through and if I didn't already have a good rehearsal, backup gigging kit, I'd use it for that too. I already have 2 DW Collectors kits but if I was shopping for a new similar top of the line kit, I would consider Pearl in the mix. If I ended up buying Pearl, I'd use a different tom suspension system as I don't care for theirs, but that's a personal preference.
I concur with this on the Performance and Collectors. But I believe the biggest factor to their price difference is the limitations. Collectors are custom - you can almost get any size and any finish you want. You can request whatever ply lay up you’re interested in, and you get a choice of hardware options. Performance offer specific parameters that the customer must stay in. Eliminating options makes it easier to keep things on hand to make them, takes less labor since it’s more of a cookie-cutter process. Labor, especially in CA, is the most expensive thing and that drives most of the prices around here.
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
I concur with this on the Performance and Collectors. But I believe the biggest factor to their price difference is the limitations. Collectors are custom - you can almost get any size and any finish you want. You can request whatever ply lay up you’re interested in, and you get a choice of hardware options. Performance offer specific parameters that the customer must stay in. Eliminating options makes it easier to keep things on hand to make them, takes less labor since it’s more of a cookie-cutter process. Labor, especially in CA, is the most expensive thing and that drives most of the prices around here.
It's a little frustrating to me about the Collector's endless options that in a way you're paying for what you could buy, rather than what you did buy. I'm not saying that's bad, just frustrating. On the other hand that's the beauty of the Performance I suppose.
 
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