Review: Pearl Free Floating snare drums

140621 Drummer Mag Gear Shots June 2014 -043_web

A range of snare drum shells free from hardware, giving a pure, resonant sound

Words: Gemma Hill, Andy Wraight Images: Thru-A-Lupe Photographic

In the 80s, Pearl revolutionised the design of snare drums with their Free Floating Snare Drum, which removed all hardware from the shell, increasing the resonance of the drum and improving its projection. Pearl has added new shell types, materials, and sizes to its patented Task-Specific Free Floating series, giving a choice for nearly every style of music and environment.

The Free Floating series includes a new strainer, the SR-160F, and features Pearl’s exclusive ‘Click-Lock system’, which fixes the snare lever and the tension adjuster, simultaneously, exactly as you like it. All drums in the series also have die cast hoops, free floating lugs, chrome hardware, and Remo Coated Ambassador batter heads. The wood shells look exquisite with Pearl’s Satin Lacquer natural wood finishes, and the metal drums have a brushed, slick finish. The series has eight different models, so you’d better be in the mood for snare drums…

Birch 14”x3.5” six-ply

This piccolo-sized snare is bright, with a surprisingly heavy rim shot, and a satisfying cross stick/rim click sound. It produces a crisp tone when played at the edge of the snare, even in low dynamics or with buzz rolls. Ghost notes are clear and it is extremely responsive to tuning, making it ideal for tuning low, medium or high.

Maple 14”x5” six-ply

This is a warm, round sound, which is quite ‘ringy’ when it’s tuned low. Tuned high it would make a good pop snare as it has a tight and crisp sound

Maple/Mahogany 14”x6.5” six-ply (four-ply maple with an inner two-ply of African mahogany)

This, as you would expect from the specifications, sounds big, and with the snares off there is a lot of ring. It sounds good in low, medium or high tuning and produces a subtle rim click and a solid rim shot.

Mahogany 14”x8” eight-ply

The tone of this snare is deep and it delivers a wonderful, low punch with the warmth of the mahogany. Even though it has a big sound, the subtleties aren’t lost when low dynamics are played on it.

Stainless Steel 14”x3.5” 1mm

When this is tuned low, it sounds like a much deeper snare drum than it actually is. It certainly delivers a tight punch across all tunings.

Brass 14”x5” 1mm

The brass shell gives a sharp, full tone and immense clarity from this drum. It has a lively rim shot sound and it’s possible to tune it really high easily.

Phosphor Bronze 14”x6.5” 1.2mm

As you’d expect from a phosphor bronze shelled drum, this has lots of ring to it. The whole aesthetic of the drum is exceptional and it has a big, round sound.

Seamless Aluminium 14”x8” 1.2mm

When tuned low, this has the overtones you would expect from it’s shell and depth, but when tuned higher it becomes surprisingly dry for its size, with a sharp tone of the steel.

This series has such a variety of shells and sizes that there really is something for everyone. The Task Specific idea works well, with Pearl matching the shell material to the optimum depth to create the ideal tone. The Ultra Sound snare wires are great quality and help to strengthen the tone even further; they are varied across the series to match each particular depth of drum. The ‘Click-Lock’ system is a simple but ingenious idea; you can only alter the tension adjustor when the snare lever is off, so it doesn’t adjust itself while you are playing.

Each drum produces a clear, individual tone and the whole series responds quickly to tuning, sounding pure and unique tuned low, medium or high. The Free Floating series looks as spectacular as it sounds, and the only problem you will have is deciding which one to buy first…

Heads Up

Pearl Free Floating snare drums


14”x3.5” Stainless Steel – £431

14”x5” Brass – £503

14”x6.5” Phosphor Bronze – £599

14”x8” Seamless Aluminium – £575

14”x3.5” Birch – £407

14”x5” Maple – £455

14”x6.5” Maple/African Mahogany – £479

14”x8” African Mahogany – £587


Pearl Music Europe

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