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The Pearl Sensitone is Pearl’s mid-level snare line coming in just over $300. Since 2011, Pearl has presented a line up of Sensitone snares made out a variety of materials—from maple to bronze, and everything in between.
The Sensitone Steele Custom Alloy has been my main snare for the last six months. It is a 14″ x 5.5″ eight-lug snare. On the other hand, recently I picked up a 1994 Ludwig Rocker.
Just like the Sensitone Steel, it is a 14″ x 5.5″ eight-lug steel snare. In this article, I will compare the two snares 20 years apart from the perspective of a working musician.
|Ludwig Rocker||Pearl Sensitone Custom Alloy|
|Size||14 x 5.5||14 x 5.5|
It’s more than solely a comparison of specs—I want to point out the pros and cons of each drum and where I feel each snare can shine.
For starters, there is no doubt that regardless of the model, Pearl & Ludwig’s quality control is excellent. Both drums feature steel rolled shells. The bearing edge (even the 25 year old Rocker) is smooth, and heads sit well.
The first difference between both drums is the weight. The Sensitone is noticeably heavier than the Rocker. To my ear, the weight difference allows for a tighter and more focused sound on the Sensitone, while the Rocker has a brighter tone.
The brighter or focused sound does not equal better or worse; it is more of a sound choice. The Ludwig Rocker’s weight makes it my favorite when I have to use NYC trains. I tend to keep the Sensitone in my practice space and recording sessions.
The downside of the Ludwig Rocker is the throw-off. Being a 25-year-old moving part, you can feel the yankiness. There is some rattling, primarily when the classic P85 throw off is not engaged.
At times it tends to give up on the tensioning, so periodically, I have to adjust the tension—nothing that cannot be solved by replacing it for a new P85 throw off.
P85 throw-offs are easily accessible at around $24, and many brands offer alternatives that do not have to drill or retrofit screws.
On the other hand, the Sensitone outperforms the Rocker in the throw-off department. The mechanism is t and even allows us to change the direction of the strainer.
You can set it to disengage toward the outside of the drum, or you can pull it toward you to turn the snares off. I prefer the second option.
To change the throw off position, remove the top head, and use the included hex key (purchased new) to make the adjustments.
In the following video, you will be able to listen to both drums. No EQ or Compression has been added. Both drums are tuned as equal as possible without any dampening such as Moongel or tape.
About the Author: Harold Agosto is a Drummer & Music Educator based in New York City. Harold is the host of the podcast Drums: En Español (available on all major podcast platforms), the only drumming podcast in Spanish. His YouTube channel offers gear reviews, tips & best practices for drummers and drum lessons.