Jan 8, 2010

More About My Favorite Snare Drum: The Pearl Steve Ferrone

I recently received a good question from an All Things Loud reader named Aaron who poses an interesting question about one of my favorites, the sadly discontinued Pearl Steve Ferrone 14x6.5" Signature snare drum.

Aaron asks: "Have you had any experience with the new Gretsch Steve Ferrone Signature kit or snare? and if so how does that compare with the Pearl?"

Well Aaron, I haven't had any experience w/ the Gretsch Ferrone drum, and I don't know how much input Steve had in designing the Pearl or Gretsch drums, but at a quick glance , the new Gretsch looks to be fairly similar to the Pearl drum which itself was a knock-off of a Ludwig Black Beauty. IMHO, what made the Pearl version so good is that it was a little more robust than a stock Black Beauty with a thicker shell (albeit NOT spun brass), heavier tube lugs, longer snare beds, and brass Super Hoops. The Gretsch drum has 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops as well, but I don't believe they are brass . Having owned a few Black Beauties from different eras, I think it's the Super Hoop and the snare beds that make the biggest difference. In my opinion, it's very hard to beat the sound of a brass shell snare drum (especially the Pearl Ferrone) when recording rock music. The attack is great, but what makes brass stand out above other metal drums is the musical quality of the tone and it's reactivity with the snares. I've A/B'd the Ferrone against a lot of snare drums (including quite a few Black Beauties) in the studio with many drummers, engineers, and producers and it always wins. That's not to say that it's the perfect drum for every type of music or song, because I often bring in another snare for a specific sound and color, but all things being equal the Ferrone just seems to stand up better under the mics than most snare drums. (The Tama Lars Ulrich Bell Brass aka "The Terminator" is another excellent choice for louder rock recording)

I'm an equal opportunity drum tech. I don't care how cheap or how worn a snare drum is, if it has the right sound for the song, I'm gonna use it. A drum has to earn it's place in my arsenal and to be honest the Ferrone sat around for awhile before I used it on a record. I bought it used and it came with an coated Ambassador head on it. I had hard time getting a good sound with it until I switched to a Remo Coated Controlled Sound batter head and added my own 24 strand snares. A lot of the engineers and producers I work with specifically ask for the drum when they hire me but I always give them a choice of other drums depending on the music. I really enjoy my 14x5" WorldMax Black Dawg and my latest aquisition: an inexpensive 14x5.5" brass Pearl Sensitone that I fixed up and hot-rodded for the studio.

While I'm on the subject, I always ask the producer and drummer what type of sounds they are looking for when deciding what drums I will bring to the studio. It's important that I get an idea of the type of music being recorded and how a drummer plays when I am choosing instruments for a session. That being said, there are certain drums and cymbals I will always take with me and the Ferrone is one of them. It's just that good.

PS: If anyone has had a chance to play the new Gretsch Ferrone drum, please drop me a line and let me know what you think.


  1. Now I'm curious as I acquired for cheap a pre-engraved prototype Aronoff BNOB 5.5 x 14 snare and it's gorgeous. Would like to hear it next to either version of the Ferrone.


  2. I own an engraved Aronoff from an early run Tama did and through a manufacturing error, the snare bed is offset from the actual snares themselves but the drum still sounds good! I really like the Tama Aronoff drums I've heard.

  3. I've been drooling over the SF ever since my buddy brought his over for some test recordings. Is the 6.5" Sensitone basically the same shell with different hardware and do they sound similar? I wish Pearl still made the SF! I really don't want to pay twice as much for a BB that may not sound as good.

  4. I won a Pearl Ferrone on eBay, and it arrived today. Now I'm just waiting for 5 o'clock to get here.