Pearl Drums – The World’s Most Popular Drum Kits

Pearl drums have the first Japanese drum related brand to penetrate the US and UK.

Pearl drums, manufactured by the Pearl Instrument Company, are the most widely used drum kits today. Katsumi Yanagisawa, the founder of Pearl, started his company in 1946 in Tokyo Japan. He did not start out by making Pearl drums and drum kits, but music stands. (Once Yanagisawa got into the percussion business, the music stands were redesigned into cymbal stands.)

In 1950 Yanagisawa realized a deficiency in the local Japanese percussion market and started manufacturing percussion instruments under a new company name, Pearl Musical Instrument Co. The first Pearl drum kits and hardware were mostly copies of American models.

In 1956, after solidifying itself as a percussion instrument supplier in Japan, Pearl started exporting its percussion instruments to the United States. Fueled by rising demand for rock drum kits, the demand for Pearl drums continued to increase, and Pearl opened two new factories in 1961 and 1968, both in Chiba, Japan.

In 1966 Pearl introduced the first professional drum kit under the Pearl name, the Pearl President. Until then Pearl drums were sold under their distributors’ labels. Pearl then became the first Japanese drum brand to penetrate the United States and UK.

The ’73 Middle East oil crisis sent the economies of the US, UK, and other western countries spiraling down and created an opening for many businesses in Japan, which was still on the rise from WWII devastation, to make strong international headway. The Japanese drum companies, Tama, Yamaha, and Pearl, knew this was a great opportunity to gain great international market share, provided they would improve the quality of their products. They all started producing more professional drum kits, improve quality, and invest heavily in R&D for new innovations.

The boom in Japanese manufacturing increased the cost of production in Japan, and in 1973, Pearl moved a great deal of its manufacturing operations to Taiwan. Today pearl drums are manufactured in the United States, Taiwan, and Japan, with a corporate headquarters in Chiba, Japan. Pearl drums are also among the most widely copied models among drum manufacturers.


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