Acoustic Drum Set Reviews

Pearl Roadshow Review

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Up there with names like Gibson, Yamaha, or Fender, Pearl has been one of the most consistent names in the music world. The company has served drummers in various ways—with more than just drum kits—hardware, accessories, and more.

This article will dig into one of my favorite and most versatile drum kits–the 4-piece Pearl Roadshow.

What do you get out of the box?

As with many of our favorite kits, the Pearl Roadshow comes in standard colors: Jet Black, Pure White, Red Wine, Charcoal (Metallic), Bronze (Metallic), and Aqua Blue Glitter. The shell material is poplar, which helps keep the cost lower.

The shell sizes are one of the most exciting parts of this kit. With the 4-piece, we get a [width x depth] 13×5 snare, 10×7 rack/high tom, 14×10 floor/low tom, and an 18×12 bass drum. The drums come with stock batter and resonant heads. An additional rack tom mount is used for a cymbal arm, but this could easily be switched out for a 12″ tom or something different.

Pearl Roadshow Boom arm
The boom arm fits into the bass drum mount

One of the best parts of this drum kit is that it comes with all the accessories needed to play it right out of the box. This includes a bass drum pedal, hi-hat pedal/stand, the aforementioned bass-drum-mounted cymbal arm, a throne, and the 14″ hi-hats and 16″ crash cymbal.

This kit retails for $559 at most major musical instrument suppliers.


The Pearl Roadshow is undoubtedly an excellent choice for beginners. From the sizes to the fact that the kit is ready to play after assembly. The bass drum, hi-hat, and snare (plus hardware) are sturdy and responsive enough for any drummer to write and practice. The build is not cheap, and you can trust that a name as big as Pearl put a lot of effort into this design. And if anything goes wrong, you have the tremendous benefit of Pearl’s lifetime warranty. 

The kit is easy to set up, and the hardware is simple enough that many beginners can figure out how to adjust things quickly. The individual drums have between 6-8 lugs/tension rods on each head, enough that the heads fit snugly on the shells without adding too much extra time and effort every time you change a head.

I’ve used my 4-piece Roadshow as a professional musician for gigs in many environments. It’s held up quite well, even in rock gigs, and other musicians always appreciate the power and tone I can get out of such a small kit.

Pearl Roadshow behind
A shot of the Pearl Roadshow from the drummer’s seat

The size of this kit, especially packed up, is just small enough to fit in the trunk of a Prius! This is incredibly convenient for musicians who are on the go and need to get set up and playing quickly. Because of the shell sizes, many would consider this a bop kit, and it is well suited for jazz, small gigs, and especially for busking! 

Another critical aspect of the kit to mention is the bass drum. At an 18″ diameter (which is pretty standard for jazz playing), it has enough depth (12″) that it doesn’t sound like a cannon, but it doesn’t sound too shallow or weak either! Many of the similarly sized kits on the market have 16″ bass drums, which will produce a lot more of a “pop” than a “boom”– what many studio engineers look for in bass drum sound. 

The combination of the size and depth on the Roadshow makes for a tastefully punchy tone, even with just the stock head (the stock batter head for the bass drum has a dampening ring as well). And we can always trade a little resonance to get more attack by placing a blanket or small pillow inside the bass drum! 

A bonus is that the bass drum has a hole on the resonant head already cut out for us, which makes it ready to go for a bass drum microphone in either live gig or studio settings. 

The Bad

As with most full drum kits, the stock drum heads and the cymbals leave much to be desired. The tone on the drum heads could be described as “unrefined,” and the cymbals quite “clunky” or “piercing,” and not the controlled sound we look for with higher-grade gear.

As mentioned before, for a beginner, this kit has everything you need for your first few years of playing.

But for somebody more experienced? We will need a bit of customization to achieve a desirable sound. Read on, and we’ll go a little deeper into how we can do this!

The cost of almost $600 could be better, as many comparable kits retail for significantly less. A couple of competitors to the Pearl Roadshow are the Questlove Pocket kit ($350), the Ludwig Breakbeats kit ($499, shells only), and the PDP New Yorker ($449, shells only). It’s worth noting, however, that It’s possible to find this kit for $300-400 if searching for a used/open box deal and waiting for the right sale.

In the $500-800 range, one could also purchase a mid-level, full-sized drum kit (the full-sized Roadshow retails for just $100 more).  

While a great pick all-around, the compactness and quality of the build (good, but not great) make the Pearl Roadshow not the best choice for hard hitters or folks playing regular hardcore or metal gigs.

But wait, didn’t you say you use this kit on rock gigs?

I sure do! This goes back to the point of customization. The hardware and shells are solid and better quality than expected from most beginner drum kits. The versatility of the configuration is vast.

Pop on some new heads and switch out the cymbals for some B20s, and you’ve got a VERY functional kit. The only noticeable difference from a more standard kit is the shell sizes. Don’t get me wrong, because that 10″ tom can really sing in the right environment! 

In my case, I’ve switched out the stock batter heads for Remo Emperor Ebony heads, as they are double-ply and quite warm in tone. This does a great job of balancing the higher pitches and punchiness of the small-diameter shells. Being double-ply, they can also take quite a bit more force–perfect for many funk and rock gigs. A pair of 13″ thin hi-hats and an 18″ crash/ride make for a well-rounded kit!

We have plenty of other customization options–kick patches work wonders for getting some extra definition without investing in a brand-new head. As mentioned before, we could use the extra bass drum mount for a 3rd tom or even forgo rack toms for tambourines, cowbells, roto toms, and more. 

It’s already a tiny kit, so making it smaller is easy. But it’s also easy to make it a bit bigger by adding other accessories while still having a relatively small footprint overall!

Should I get this kit? Who’s the Pearl Roadshow best suited for?

The Roadshow sits comfortably between a starter and a mid-range drum kit. It’s not small enough for a very young child (shorter than 4 ft), but it should be great for students aged 6+. 

Though the stock drum heads and cymbals are not the best, they should be able to handle 1-2 years of regular pounding from most young drummers. That’s good when you consider that heads are best changed out every 3-6 months of everyday use. 

That being said, this is an excellent kit for a long-term investment! It has a lot of room to grow, especially for a young student taking lessons and playing drums into adulthood.

While it’s expensive for a kit of its range, the pricing is still reasonably competitive. One of the major selling points for a kit like this is size–drummers often need something compact and easy to use rather than a drum set that’s slightly better sounding. 

The Pearl Roadshow is perfect for drum lessons or rehearsals where we’re more focused on producing notes than the sound quality of those notes.

That said, should you purchase this kit for studio time and recordings? I would recommend against it, but I would love to be proven wrong! While a beautifully functional set, it’s made of cheaper 6-ply (poplar) wood rather than higher-grade shells like maple, mahogany, a combination of 2+ wood types, or even acrylic.


Pearl is a well-known and well-respected company in the music industry. The 4-piece Pearl Roadshow is an excellent kit for various drummers and musical situations. 

Beginners will find this a solid kit for/with everything they need without needing to upgrade after the first year of playing. However, the price point may make it an unreasonable purchase for many beginners.

Pearl Roadshow 4-Piece Drum Set with Cymbals

4-piece Drum Kit with 18" Bass Drum, 10" Mounted Tom, 14" Floor Tom, 13" Snare, 14" Hi-hat Cymbals, 16" Crash/Ride Cymbal, Hardware, and Throne

View Price at Sweetwater View Price at Guitar Center
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Yousef Shami

Yousef is a professional musician and music teacher born and raised in the DC area, and now living in Tacoma WA. Yousef is known for their aggressive, but tasteful approach to drums, having played in various rock groups and in public parks around the DC area.

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  1. I’m 67 years old started when I was 8 playing drums. Coming up I ended up with a few nice sets of drums we all started with low quality sets like I had a Sears & Roebuck set straight from there catalog from there it got some better Slingerland, Gretch., Roger’s, Ludwig and Pearl .
    My years of playing music is over now and starting back up again from a period of not playing, I just bought a new set of Pearl Roadshow with 1 ride 2 floor toms bass and snare with Evan 2 heads, found a old complete set of zildjian cymbals got them tuned an I’m having a blast with them I have a sound system I play with in my shed .Man wish I had these when I was 8 . Hope this helps someone starting out or over the set sounds great would play any where with them just remember to have fun it will all come around in the end.


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