Review: Pearl Limited VBA Artisan II kit

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Superb looks and sounds from Pearl’s latest addition to the Vision family

Words: Nick Carter   Images: Thru-A-Lupe Photographic

Pearl is not a company known for resting on its laurels. It’s a company well known for always striving to provide something new and something special. With this in mind they recently launched the Vision series VBA Artisan II kit, which we were very keen to get our hands on…

In Detail

The most striking thing about the kit is the finish, which combines strong, bold, modern-looking colours with contrasting text aspects. The kit consists of a 22”x18” kick, 10”x7” and 12×8” rack toms, 14”x12” and 16”x14” floor toms, a 14”x5.5” matching snare and a full complement of Pearl’s 900 series hardware. Each shell is made from six-ply, 100 per cent birch, with bullet shaped, bridge-style lugs throughout: six on each rack tom and eight on floor toms, kick and snare. The un-drilled kick features medium sized spurs to hold everything in place nicely, while the two rack toms are cymbal stand mounted, courtesy of Pearl’s well-regarded ISS mounting system, via clamps and ball/socket angle adjusters. The floor toms stand atop three medium thick legs with air-sprung feet, which increases resonance while keeping everything firmly in situ. Triple-flanged hoops are present throughout, with the exception of the kick drum, which sports matching wood hoops, while head duties are taken care of by Remo: the toms come furnished with Pinstripe heads on batter duties and thinner, clear heads on the resonant side; the snare has a coated Ambassador on top coupled with a thinner, clear snare side head; while the kick sports a Powerstroke 3 on batter with an Ebony front head complete with Pearl logo. The matching snare features a simple, smooth throw-off mechanism holding in place a set of 20-strand steel snare wires.

Elsewhere, the accompanying hardware consists of boom and straight cymbal stands, snare and hi-hat stands and a single chain-driven kick pedal. All of the stands are fairly light in terms of weight, but more than robust enough to hold their own against the rigours of everyday use, with each stand being double braced and sporting chunky rubber feet as well as memory locks to promote further stability and ensure consistent set-up whenever used. Both the cymbal stands and the snare angle adjuster features gearless tilters for almost infinite adjustment, while the hi-hat stand and kick pedal contain plenty of options for adjusting the spring tension.

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In Use

Tuned at a low setting the bass drum gives a definite thud as soon as you place beater to head, with low tones aplenty as the drum thunders into life. Well defined and with a very clear attack, notes played at this tuning will definitely ensure your kick is felt as much as it is heard, with noticeable sub-bass frequencies adding to the mix to give a full, rounded sound. Taking the tuning up a notch adds a little more in terms of warmth. There is still an aggressive edge to notes played, but with more in terms of body, especially when playing at a lower volume. The snare provides a clean, clear sound, with plenty of projection and volume as well as a good dynamic range. The faintest whisper elicits a perfect amount of snare response, making this an articulate drum. Playing with more force, especially incorporating rim-shots into your playing, gives a loud, proud and crisp tone that perfectly matches the aggressive nature of the kick drum.

At a medium-low tuning the two rack toms sing out through the studio with plenty of depth and body coupled with a clean, clear attack, while the two floor toms rumble with low-end tones to provide a perfect sonic bridge between the growling kick and the singing rack toms. The whole set feels perfectly matched, with each drum complementing the others in the kit nicely, making for a well-rounded, versatile set-up that would suit a wide variety of styles and approaches.

Heads Up


Limited VBA Artisan II kit




Pearl Music Europe

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