Drum Set Reviews
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The Pearl Masters Custom MCX is the little brother of the Masters Premium Series. The Masters Custom doesn't have all the options of the Premium Series, but it still has a lot of the quality.
The Masters Custom offers you the chance to own a set that has a very in-demand sound and looks the part, but at lower price than you might expect.
It's mainly sold as a shell pack, but some decent pearl hardware is also available if you want it.
The set I tried for this review was just a shell pack. It included a 22"x18" bass drum, 10"x8" and 12"x9" rack toms, and a 14"x14" floor tom. Ok, let's get started...
Staying with a very popular material, the tom and bass drum shells have been constructed with 6-plies of Maple using Pearl's SST manufacturing technology. A lot of other Maple shell sets out there are thinner than this, with the aim being a more resonant drum. We'll see what the effect of this thicker shell is a bit later on.
The snare drums, although part of the Masters Series, are usually sold seperately from the rest of the set. The Masters snare drums include 6-ply Maple or Birch shells, or 4-ply shells with an added 4-ply reinforcement ring around the inner top of the drum.
Looking at the tom and bass drum shells up-close, all the shells seem really well finished, smooth, and don't have any flaws that I can see. They have been cut with a 45-degree bearing edge which again is perfect. It's clear to see that they are very well made. An attractive looking Masters badge on the outside finshes off the look and adds to their appeal.
All the toms have die cast hoops and bridge type Masters lugs which look neat, understated, and they work vey well. The rack toms are positioned using Pearl's OptiMount suspension system which gives a good amount of freedom to put them just where you want. It attaches to the top and bottom lugs allowing the shells to resonate more fully. As a whole, the shell hardware is up to scratch and performs very well.
As for the look of the drums, there are 5 finish options available - 2 high gloss lacquer finishes and 3 vintage wrapped finishes.
They all do a great job of making the set stand out and grab your attention. The Chesnut fade finish on the set I was reviewing was really classy and I would be very happy to be seen playing it.
So, do they sound as good as they look? As you'd expect from 100% Maple shells, the drums have a fairly warm rounded tone, and project the powerful sound well. The thicker 6 ply shells really add to this and increase the volume of the set. The rack toms, in 10"x8" and 12"x9" sizes, sing out with a clear voice and have a good amount of punch to get their message heard.
Playing the 14"x14" floor tom also gives that nice Maple tone, and it doesn't disapoint as far as volume and projection goes either. I managed to get an attacking, bright sound from all the toms once they were tuned up. I think this was increased due to them being smaller sizes, instead of larger 12", 13", and 16" sizes.
Trying out the 22"x18" bass drum gives a big and powerful sound with plenty of low end. It was a little boomey (As the Masters Series are), but after adding some dampening I had it a bit more under control.
Overall, the Pearl Masters Custom has a really good quality sound about it. Loud and projecting, but not too loud. Warm, but bright and clear as well.
Tuning this set was quite straight forward especially with the die cast hoops. The rack toms were easy to get a great sound out of, and the bass drum with it's 20 lugs didn't take too much work either.
The 14"x14" floor tom didn't offer the same tuining range as the rest of the kit, but this is more due to the size of the drum. If you wanted a deeper sounding floor tom, the 16"x16" drum would be a better choice.
Overall, the Custom MCX really impressed me. It looks great, sounds great, and performs great. So does that mean it's great? Definately. The build quality is excellent, it's functional, and it looks fantastic. Pearl have worked on all the details like rubber isolation gaskets on the lugs and bass drum claws, and a steel plate for the bass drum hoop to stop the pedal from scratching it.
Comparing the Masters Custom to the Masters Premium Series above it, there are only a few differences. The Masters Custom has Pearl's standard OptiMount, spurs, and floor tom bracket/legs. Where as the Premium Series has the aluminum OptiMount, and the Masterworks & Reference class spurs, and floor tom bracket/legs. Also, the Premium Series has a huge 30 finish options to choose from....the Custom Series has only 5.
Also, the Premium Series does have more shell types to choose from, for example a Birch option. But, the 6 ply Maple shells used here in the Pearl Custom Series are just the same as the 6 ply Maple shells used in the Premium Series - they both sound great!
Any Downsides? This kit is pretty damn good as far as the sound goes. It doesn't have all the finish and hardware options of the Premium Series, but you don't necessarily need those to have great set. I couldn't say there is anything particularly bad about the set other than it being a little on the heavy side.
What about the price? These drums are certainly pro-level and therefore do cost a bit more, but you do get your money's worth - a superb quality set. Where's the cheapest place to buy? Here's the cheapest site i've found. They usually have the lowest price and sometimes free delivery too, so I recommend checking them out for the best deal!
The final word: if you're looking for a great quality pro-level set, you could do much worse than the Pearl Masters Custom MCX. I'd only go for the more expensive Masters Premium Series if the extra shell choices, hardware improvements, and finishes are important to you. The Masters Custom would make most players very very happy.
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