Pearl Roadshow Review – Best Entry-Level Drum Set?

There are hundreds of drum kits available on the market. One particular one that always seems to come up often is the Pearl Roadshow. A big reason for this is that it’s fairly affordable considering everything that it comes with.

So, we’re going to see whether it’s worth all the hype. We’ll also take a look at some competitor drum kits that are similarly priced so that you have a few options to choose from if you’re looking to get a new kit.

Pearl Roadshow Review

What is the Pearl Roadshow?

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The Pearl Roadshow is the entry-level drum kit from Pearl. This means that it’s the cheapest kit they offer, and it’s primarily aimed at new drummers who are looking to buy their first drum set.

In the drum buying world, you get full sets and shell packs. Shell packs only come with drums, excluding things like hardware, cymbals, and accessories. Full sets come with everything you need to get started.

The Pearl Roadshow is a full set from Pearl. It even comes with drum sticks and a stick bag. While it’s not the highest-quality kit compared to drums that come as shell packs, it’s definitely one of the better kits for beginners.

Key Features

Here’s a full breakdown of everything you get with the Pearl Roadshow kit.

Drum Shells

  • 22×16” bass drum
  • 14”x5.5” snare drum
  • 10”x8” high tom
  • 12”x9” middle tom
  • 16”x16” floor tom


  • 14” hi-hats (no-name brand brass design)
  • 16” crash (no-name brand brass design)


  • Hi-hat stand
  • Cymbal stand
  • Snare drum stand
  • Rack tom mounts
  • Bass drum pedal
  • Drum throne

Extra Additions

  • Drumsticks
  • Stick bag

You won’t find as many features and tools packed onto any other drum set for the same price. The value here is immense.

Let’s take a closer look at each feature and see what they’re all about.


The drums are made of 9-ply poplar shells. Poplar wood is typically used in cheaper drum sets as it’s easier to find and work with. The depth of tone you get from a poplar kit will never be as diverse and extensive as the higher-quality woods like birch or maple.

However, I’ve found that the drums on the Roadshow can sing beautifully if you spend some time tuning them correctly. When tuned low, the toms sound like cannons firing. You’d just need to buy some higher-quality drumheads to achieve that sound.

They don’t sound as good when tuned higher, although most beginner drummers don’t have the need for higher tunings anyway.

The snare drum is surprisingly responsive, and it’s the one drum in the set that sounds much better when tuned higher. If you want some tips on tuning a snare drum, check out this guide.


Pearl Instruments

The hardware is always my favorite part of any Pearl drum kit, no matter how high-quality the drum shells are. Somehow, Pearl manages to equip all their kits with some of the most durable and sturdy hardware you can find.

It’s common to buy an entry-level drum set with flimsy hardware. Every drummer ends up upgrading that hardware down the line. It’s often the opposite case with the Roadshow. The double-braced stands that you get will last years, and you may find yourself keeping the hardware when upgrading to a better kit.

The hardware included with the Roadshow gives you an incredibly solid base to play drums from, making it feel more comfortable whenever you’re playing.


The cymbals are the definite weak point of the Pearl Roadshow. The cymbals that are included are made of brass, and they’re not labeled as any brand. Essentially, they’re a cheap and easy solution for a beginner to have some cymbals when they buy this kit.

They work decently well for anyone who’s never used cymbals before. If you’re completely new to drumming, you’ll be happy with these cymbals, to begin with.

They’ll be the first thing you’ll want to replace, though. I have a few students who use Roadshow drum kits. I ended up helping most of them find some better-sounding cymbals to upgrade their kit. They never looked back after that.

Pros of the Pearl Roadshow

  • Impressive value-for-money
  • Includes everything you need to start playing and learning the drums
  • Heavy-duty hardware that can be used even when you get a new drum kit
  • Excellent for beginners
  • Toms sound surprisingly good considering they’re poplar shells

Cons of the Pearl Roadshow

  • The cymbals don’t sound great and will break quite easily
  • The stock heads aren’t good

Alternative Drum Kits to Consider

Tama Imperialstar

Tama Imperialstar

The Tama Imperialstar is another entry-level kit that is fairly popular on the drum market. It offers much of the same as what the Roadshow offers. However, it’s a bit more expensive, and it comes with much higher-quality cymbals.

The shells are made from 6-ply poplar. They’re a bit thinner than the Roadshow shells, meaning they’re slightly more responsive. This also means the drums are lighter.

The hardware that comes with the kit is also double-braced. It’s not as sturdy as Pearl hardware, but it’s sturdy enough to keep the drums feeling solid when you’re playing.

The Meinl HCS cymbals are a massive bonus of getting this kit. They’re also entry-level cymbals, but they’re far superior to the brass cymbals that come with the Roadshow. You also get 3 cymbals as opposed to 2. The crash is 16”, the hi-hats are 14,” and the ride is 20”.

Each cymbal has a shimmering tone. They respond very well to hard playing and not so well to soft. However, beginner drummers won’t notice the dynamic nuances that are missing from the cymbals.

Key Features

  • 10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 14” snare drum, 22” bass drum
  • Meinl HCS cymbals – 14” hi-hats, 16” crash, 20” ride
  • 6-ply poplar shells


  • Included set of Meinl HCS cymbals
  • Innovative tom mounting hardware
  • 7 finishes to choose from


  • Stock drumheads aren’t good

Alesis Nitro Mesh

Alesis Nitro Mesh

While the Pearl Roadshow is one of the best entry-level acoustic drum sets, the Alesis Nitro Mesh is one of the best entry-level electronic drum sets. It’s a good alternative to consider if noise levels are an issue. This kit is a fair bit cheaper, leading it to be one of the most popular beginners electronic drum sets on the market.

The kit comes with 40 preset kits on the module, giving you plenty of content to toy around with. Some of the preset drum kits are studio-quality samples, while others are eclectic electronic sounds. A module like this will keep you occupied for hours.

On top of all the sounds, there are several practice features to utilize as well as 60 play-along tracks that cover a wide variety of musical styles.

My favorite aspect of this kit is that the pads have mesh heads. A few years ago, you would have only found mesh pads on the most expensive electronic kits around. Technology has made it possible to have these in lower-priced kits. You can tune them to adjust the tension, making them feel fairly similar to acoustic drumheads.

Key Features

  • Alesis Nitro sound module
  • Mesh pads
  • 5 drums and 3 cymbals


  • Very affordable
  • Tunable mesh pads
  • Plenty of things to do on the module


  • Doesn’t offer the authentic experience of playing an acoustic kit

Ludwig Element Evolution

Ludwig Element Evolution

The final kit I’m going to suggest considering is the Ludwig Element Evolution. It’s the most expensive drum kit I’ve mentioned so far, but it borders on an intermediate level of kit. It still costs less than $1000 and comes with everything you need to play, including hardware and cymbals.

It also has poplar shells. However, the shells on the Ludwig kit are incredibly resonant. They tend to sing much more than the shells on the other kit. The downside is that Ludwig kits have a bit of a bad reputation for not staying in tune as long as most other kits do. So, you’ll need to regularly tune these drums to keep those resonating tones going.

The kit comes with Zildjian I cymbals. These are the reimagined version of the popular S Series cymbals. They’re intermediate cymbals, sounding great in rock and punk settings thanks to their bright tones. They’re undoubtedly the highest-quality cymbals you’re going to get out of any entry-level drum set.

The kit comes with two boom stands for the cymbals. Boom stands are typically the preferred type of stands as they allow more maneuverability than straight stands. Since the Roadshow and Imperialstar come with at least one flat stand, the Ludwig kit is the clear winner in the hardware category.

Overall, it’s an excellent kit to consider if you want something a bit higher quality than the Roadshow with good cymbals.

Key Features

  • Poplar shells
  • 10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 14” snare drum, 22” bass drum
  • Zildjian I cymbals
  • Full set of hardware


  • Includes decent mid-range cymbals
  • Very resonant toms
  • The highest-quality kit mentioned so far


  • Toms don’t stay in tune as long as the toms on the other kits mentioned
  • The most expensive kit that I’ve spoken about so far

Tips to Consider When Buying the Pearl Roadshow


The first thing you should decide when looking to buy the Roadshow is which finish you want. You have 5 color options available to you. Since drum kits generally stay with you for several years at a time, the finish you choose is vitally important if you’re one for aesthetics.

The next thing to consider is whether you should buy better cymbals straight off the bat. Most people I know who own a Roadshow have replaced the cymbals for some better-sounding options. The Roadshow is such an affordable kit that spending a bit extra on some cymbals generally won’t be a problem for most people.

Lastly, you should decide whether you should get higher-quality drumheads to put on the drums. I wouldn’t suggest doing that at first. It’s always good to see how well you can tune a drum kit before spending extra cash on more drumheads. However, new drumheads will make a big difference, especially with the Pearl Roadshow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How Big is the Pearl Roadshow?

Answer: The standard Pearl Roadshow is the same size as most standard drum sets. The 22” bass drum is the biggest part of the set, and you need to position all the other parts around it to fit comfortably.
Interestingly, Pearl offers the kit in a few different sizes. You have the option of getting a jazz version of the kit that has a smaller bass drum and no middle tom. You can also get one where the middle tom is swapped out for a second floor tom.
Whichever option you go with, they all end up being similar sizes when properly set up. The jazz version of the kit is a bit smaller, but it has the same footprint if place your cymbal stands in the same places.

Question: Can the Pearl Roadshow Be Used in Professional Settings?

Answer: It wouldn’t be ideal to use the Roadshow in professional settings. It’s better to be used as a practice kit for beginners and new drummers.
However, you could get away with using it in certain gigs if you altered a few things. Firstly, you need to use appropriate cymbals. The cymbals that come with the kit will sound quite weak in any band setting.
You could also improve the sound of the toms by equipping them with high-quality drumheads. The drumheads that come with the kit have a paper-like sound that isn’t conducive to professional settings.
If you wanted the best professional sound possible, you’d also need to replace the snare drum with a pro-level one.

Question: Is the Pearl Roadshow a Good Drum Set for Kids?

Answer: The Pearl Roadshow is an excellent drum kit for kids. It’s arguably one of the best kits for kids that is available on the market. The reason for this is that it’s a full-size kit at an affordable price. Children that start playing drums on this kit will grow into it over the years as they get bigger.
It may be a bit big for toddlers, but any child over 5-years-old will be able to sit at the Pearl Roadshow and play some drums.

Question: What Makes the Pearl Roadshow Such a Good Entry-level Kit?

Answer: The biggest advantage that this kit has over all the other entry-level kits is its price. You won’t find a cheaper kit that offers the same or more than what the Roadshow does. Having sticks, drums, cymbals, and hardware come with your kit is a top-quality deal.


If you’re looking to buy your first drum set, the Pearl Roadshow is one of the best options out there. It’s also a great gift to get anyone keen on learning the drums.

It’s an entry-level drum kit, so don’t expect it to have the best drum tones around. However, sturdy poplar shells are often more than enough for most casual drummers out there. Replace the cymbals with some branded ones, and you’ll have yourself an excellent drum kit.

If you’re looking for more drum gear articles to read, check some of these out:

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