1980's Pearl confusion

wackjob

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Hey. I have been looking at Pearl kits recently (amongst others). Trying to piece together how good the pearl kits from the 80's are and their hierarchy.

So bottom of the pile is the export ? I have an early 80's coffin lug 16" floor tom in bad cosmetic condition but sounds good to me. Luan mahogany shell and quite thick. Don't know what kind of bearing edges are on it.

There is a world series kit for sale about 10 miles away from me. I believe this is the next model up from the Export. Is that right ? The kit is a late 80's in natural birch satin and has the newer lugs (not the coffin ones) and the floor tom mounts which open up. I believe the shells were improved for this incarnation ? Not sure how this model would sound.

Then there is a DLX kit again in natural birch but lacquered. Was this kit top of the Pearl range in the 80's ? Worth a look at ?

Then there is the BLX all birch and maybe others i don't know about.

Can anyone help with helping me understand the hierarchy and maybe a bit about the relative merits of each set ?

Many thanks. Stu
 

edge

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I have an early 80's all maple shell bop kit, the tom arm goes through the shell. I am amazed at the sound of these drums, they can hold their own against any other great kit. I sold a Tama Star maple after getting these drums.
 

wackjob

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I have an early 80's all maple shell bop kit, the tom arm goes through the shell. I am amazed at the sound of these drums, they can hold their own against any other great kit. I sold a Tama Star maple after getting these drums.
So you sold a multiple thousand pound/dollar kit for an early 80's MLX (is that what they are called) ? Amazing. That is a heck of a recommendation. What did you do with the money left over ? I would have bought more drums or cymbals.

Stu
 

AustinFitz

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You're correct on the Export being entry level, and the World Series being mid level. I believe the top of the line in the early to mid '80s were their lacquered Maple shells. They started off as the G-Series/ET-Series, but they changed the name to MLX around '83 or so. I don't have any personal experience with them, but I've heard nothing but good things about the BLX and DLX Series kits as well. I think they're right up there with the Maple shells.

I play a 1980 G-Series kit in Walnut lacquer and I honestly wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING. It's the best sounding kit I've ever played! There is just something special about they way they feel... They have some mojo lol. They were definitely professional level kits then, and they still are now. They weren't cheap either. The list price on my kit when it was new was $2,123!
Screenshot_2018-04-13-18-39-34-1.pngIMG_20180510_205833.jpgIMG_20190331_172556.jpg
 
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Tama CW

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MLX, BLX, and DLX all great kits. Often they come in power tom size though. It helps keep the price down. I have a BLX/DLX for sale near me - 5 piece with power toms - hardware and entry level cymbals for $400. Not a bad looking player's kit. The MLX's are tougher to find and probably cost more. I bought a Pearl Export kit new in 1976. I thought it was pretty decent. For some reason I think the Pearl Exports of the 70's and 80's were a better build than the 1990's and later versions. With Pearl, Tama, and Yamaha in the 1970's to mid-80's, you'd be hard pressed to find a kit that was not made well as well as sounding good....even their entry level kits (Exports, 5000's or stage series, Swingstar). The Pearl World series was a step up from Exports. I see a number of Worlds, and BLX/DLX for sale on CL. Wouldn't mind finding a nice MLX like Austin Fitz did.
 

JDA

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Hey. I have been looking at Pearl kits recently (amongst others). Trying to piece together how good the pearl kits from the 80's are and their hierarchy.

So bottom of the pile is the export ? I have an early 80's coffin lug 16" floor tom in bad cosmetic condition but sounds good to me. Luan mahogany shell and quite thick. Don't know what kind of bearing edges are on it.

There is a world series kit for sale about 10 miles away from me. I believe this is the next model up from the Export. Is that right ? The kit is a late 80's in natural birch satin and has the newer lugs (not the coffin ones) and the floor tom mounts which open up. I believe the shells were improved for this incarnation ? Not sure how this model would sound.

Then there is a DLX kit again in natural birch but lacquered. Was this kit top of the Pearl range in the 80's ? Worth a look at ?

Then there is the BLX all birch and maybe others i don't know about.

Can anyone help with helping me understand the hierarchy and maybe a bit about the relative merits of each set ?

Many thanks. Stu
Could always do a catalog "study"

here and here..





 

wackjob

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The dlx i have seen are 16x22, 16x18, 8x12 & 8x10 in aged natural lacquer. $670 USD inc postage. That may be reasonable , i dont know. I was particularly interested in the 18" ft. Dont get many of them coming available.

There is also a wlx kit very close to me for $325 also in natural birch. That has 16x22, 16x16, 11x13 & 10x12. I thought about putting the 18" dlx on the end of the wlx
 

Castnblast

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There was also the GLX maple shells with quick release lugs. Thin shells, lacquered inside and out. I had 10x8, 12x8, 14x12 and 16/16 they were great f’n drums. Solid and sounded great
 

edge

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So you sold a multiple thousand pound/dollar kit for an early 80's MLX (is that what they are called) ? Amazing. That is a heck of a recommendation. What did you do with the money left over ? I would have bought more drums or cymbals.
Yes I did and just kept the money, Don't get me wrong the Tama Star was a great kit, the build quality was second to none, The Pearl kit smoked them in above all, the feel of the kit is just there. The Tama kit just seemed like they had a narrower tuning range and choked when tuned up higher. To my ears the Pearl kit sounded better and felt better. paid $300 for a 12, 14, 18, added a matching 8 and 10 by luck, all standard depth drums. They are definitely sleeper drums, I bought mine after buying an 18" floor tom on a whim to check them out, this was after watching an Art Blakey video with him on these same drums.
 

Beatnik

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There was also the GLX maple shells with quick release lugs. Thin shells, lacquered inside and out. I had 10x8, 12x8, 14x12 and 16/16 they were great f’n drums. Solid and sounded great
I had set like that, even the bearing edges were laquered. This set had the standard lugs and were labeled maple on the badge. Very nice drums.
 

equipmentdork

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I find it very hard to understand Pearl drums. Take the Sessions series(which I love). They have been Sessions, Prestige Sessions, Prestige Session Select, Session Studio Classic. Tomorrow, Pearl will probably make Sesssions Royale with Cheese. I just about understand DX vs DLX and all that. It takes effort to get it. I have 2 MLX kits and one Session, and I may check out a DX at some point. There are treasures to be found.



Dan
 

AustinFitz

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Pearl was also making fiberglass shells back in the '80s that I've heard nothing but great things about. I've yet to experience them personally, but it seems everyone who trys them describes them as some of the best sounding shells they've ever heard.
 

Bri6366

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It's an open ended question. Pearl had different lines in 1980 than they did in 1985 or 1989. Pearl, Tama and Yamaha all revamped their lines every few years, especially the middle lines as they were all in competition for that market. There are plenty of catalogs to track how they evolved over the decade.
 

SKSMITH

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Pearl was also making fiberglass shells back in the 70's & early '80s that I've heard nothing but great things about. I've yet to experience them personally, but it seems everyone who trys them describes them as some of the best sounding shells they've ever heard.
Added some info to AustinFitz's post.
Steve
 

wackjob

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I just bought another Pearl export drum. He must be mad i hear you say. At this rate i am going to end up with a full kit.

It's an 18" floor tom from late 70's early 80's. It has the little coffin lugs and a brand new evans level 360 batter head. Got it for £45 GBP including postage ($58 USD). I think the head would cost nearly that much.

It's in poor cosmetic condition ie rusty but i don't really care. Some elbow grease will get it looking the best i can. One thing about having cheap drums like this is i am not worried where i take them or what happens to them. This will go on the end of my hobbled together kit - 20,10,12,14 1990's premier genista + 1980's export 16"ft + 1980 export 18"ft. I'm gonna be rockin but need more big drums. Bidding on an export 14x10 and then will get a 22" or 24" if i can find one. Just the little toms to sort then.

Stu
 

wackjob

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Export 18" ft arrived and i gigged it last night. Woah, i never really realised how much i have been missing with large diameter toms. My biggest was a 14". Now i have a premier elite 12 x15 (very nice), export 14 x 16 and export 16 x 18. I was missing so much of the frequency range and i am really enjoying my playing with my extended kit. 18" has an almost new level 360 hydraulic head on it - very nice head.

I am going mad on ebay. Bought an early 80's export 10 x 14. That is going tobe my 2nd tom after a 12" sxport that i am yet to purchase. I am purposefully getting all the exports from the early 80's with coffin lugs. Once i have the 12" i will only have a 16 x 22 bass to get.

Gonna refinish them all to the same color eventually but for the time being i will be sporting a jelly bean kit. They are all a bit tatty but hey at least i wont be worrying about keeping them mint.
 

wackjob

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I am now the proud owner of an early 80's 10 x 14" export tom in red. Just 22" bass and 12" tom left to get to create my 12. 14. 16. 18. 22 vintage export kit. I know these are only exports but they sound acceptable to me and they pop up for sale everywhere at cheap prices and are more than good enough for gigging. I will keep the 90's genista's with added elite 12 x 15" tom for recording.

Might get the 12 and 14 cut down to 8" depth as i like my toms low down and will check all the bearing edges and roundness of the shells.

Stu
 

thejohnlec

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My early 1980s MLX kit is still my main gigging rig. While I use a 5-piece currently, the whole kit is in the Porcaro sizes in black lacquer inside and out, with the original Porcaro rack as well (I use regular stands, rack is in storage). This kit still sounds amazing every weekend and the tuning range is really wide. It's been all over the US and overseas, and has never let me down sound-wise or mechanically - just fantastic quality from a great company.
 

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wackjob

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Hey.

Could anyone kindly date these drums and what model they are ? Seller says maple but i can't see any maple shell badges on them.

SEE HERE

Many thanks, Stu
 

Kevaruka

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I was a Pearl endorser in the late 80's/early 90's. I was given an Export for touring with & a World Series for recording. I lost this though somewhere & was replaced with an MLX. The Export served me extremely well over the years & never once let me down. It was literally thrashed all over the World many times. The MLX was a thing of pure beauty but incredibly heavy to cart around. I only sold this a couple of years ago since having it from 1995. I now have a Masters Premium Maple "Redline" kit (MMP) which I also love. The MLX though will always be my favourite Pearl kit :)

MLX loveliness :)

Heavy Metal of Jazz? by Kevin Frost, on Flickr
 

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