|Tradition of Excellence |
Post-war Japan was a time for reconstruction but it also a time for new influences such as Jazz and American-style music education. This created a new generation of musicians who needed affordable musical instruments which, unfortunately, were in scarce supply. Recognizing this need, Katsumi Yanagisawa started Pearl in a small factory with less than 28m2 and 2 employees in Sumida, Tokyo on April 2, 1946.
By 1953 Pearl was producing basic drum sets, marching drums, concert drums, timpani, Latin percussion instruments, cymbals, stands and accessories for the Japanese domestic market. The company now had 30 employees and was enjoying rapid growth in the Japanese markets.
In 1957, Mitsuo Yanagisawa, Katsumi's son, joined the company and immediately formed an international export division to meet the growing demand from other countries including the U.S.
In 1961, with the popularity of rock'n'roll and the demand for drums increasing, Pearl purchased 4015m2. of land in Chiba and built a 4090m2. factory to meet this demand.
Starting in 1965, under Mitsuo's leadership, Pearl implemented a long range plan to 1) increase the number and variety of product lines, including the development of new high quality products designed to meet the needs of top professionals throughout the world; 2) to assemble the highest caliber Research and Development staff; 3) investment in the latest automated machinery in the Chiba factory and build a new factory in Taiwan; and 4) reinforce its worldwide distribution network to give the best possible service and support.
In 1966, Pearl introduced its first "for the professional" outfit, named the "President" series. Japanese professional players liked the originality of sound and design, and visiting drummers from other countries such as Art Blakey, J.C. Heard, and many others, were exposed to the new Pearl "President" drums while in Japan. These drummers offered suggestions and based on the input from these top pros, Mitsuo continued to upgrade equipment and perfect production methods to improve quality and performance. The success of this formula of listening to playing artists and then utilizing R&D to develop and improve product was evidenced by the high acceptance of Pearl combo drums in the U.S. markets. In later years, Pearl used this same formula to enter the world of Marching Percussion and flutes.
In 1972, Pearl introduced the "Artist" kit with fiberglass/wood shells and shortly after introduced the "President Export" with 100% fiberglass shells. The following year, the "Crystal Beat" with seamless acrylic shells was introduced. Impressed by the diversity of shells and the quality of Pearl products, artists such as Louis Bellson, Shelly Manne, Ed Shaughnessy, Cozy Cole, Larrie Londin, Peter Criss, Russ Kunkel, and Butch Miles (just to name a few) made the switch to Pearl.
In 1976, the "Giant Step," Pearl's first all-Maple shell kit, made its debut in Japan followed by the "Giant Step Artist" with fiberglass lined Maple shells in 1978. These kits received critical acclaim and helped solidify Pearl's reputation as a top global brand of drums.
In 1981, Pearl introduced the "Blues Flavor" with 100% Birch shells followed by the ground-breaking "Zenithal Resonator" kit in 1988 with 8 ply 10mm and 10 ply 12.5mm thick shells to satisfy the demands of studio drummers who were seeking the massive sound that only the "Zenethal" could produce.
In the 90's as digital technology attained sound reproduction with accuracy never before possible, drummers sought more traditional, natural sounds from their drums. Always responsive, Pearl met this demand with the "Classic Maple" shell with thinner Maple shells with reinforcement rings for a full-bodied, natural sound ideal for recording. This was closely followed by the "Masters" series with Maple, Birch, and African Mahogany shells for the broadest spectrum of sounds available to fulfill the needs of drummers of every musical genre.
In 1999, Pearl introduced "Masterworks" Pearl's completely custom, 100% hand-made drums. With Masterworks, the player for the first time had total freedom to create the drumset of his/her dreams: freedom to choose the type of wood--either the same wood or blends of Maple, Birch, and African Mahogany--the thickness and depth of the shells, hardware and color to create a one-of-a-kind instrument custom-tailored to the player's exacting requirements.
In 2002, Pearl began a massive project to determine the optimum thickness, optimum wood composition, and optimum bearing edge for each drum in a drum kit. Dozens of prototypes (incorporating lessons learned from Masterworks) were made and painstakingly evaluated by a panel of professional drummers through "blindfold" listening tests. Final testing was done in actual recording sessions where the sound was overwhelming praised for its incredibly balanced sound from lows to highs that could be recorded without electronic enhancement. After two and a half years of research the "Reference Series," a drum set like no other where each drum was an instrument unto itself with thickness, wood blend, and bearing edges optimized for each size, made it's debut in 2005 and immediately won the prestigious Musikmesse International Press Award for "Best Drum Set".
Since 1945, Pearl's mission has been to be the absolute best: to have the best quality, the best functionality, the best durability, and the best sound. Research is constant and development is uncompromising in the pursuit of being the best, and when it comes to sound, Pearl determination to explore new and innovative shell materials and develop innovative new shell-making techniques (such as our Superior Shell Technology) is relentless. Pearl commitment to quality, innovation, and sound has set the direction of the drum set industry of today and will surely dictate where the industry goes in the future.