Custom Pearl Masters Drumset

PERIOD OF USE: December 25, 2005 to present

Finish: Twilight Fade
Hoops: Triple-flanged
Hardware color: Black
Material: 6-ply maple with inner ply of carbon
Sizes: 8"x8", 10"x8", 12"x8" rack toms, 14"x12", 16"x12" floor toms, 20"x18", 22"x20", 24"x18" bass drums
Other notes: Bearing edges on rack toms are half-rounded on top, normal on the bottom. Floor toms have a fully rounded top bearing edge, and again with a normal bottom edge.

Shortly after receiving this set and using it briefly, Sakura had Pearl make him an ENTIRELY NEW set in the exact same specs (except the bass drum is now 22"x22") with a slightly different color and with the air vents moved to a different place on the drum shell. This new set is pictured below:

The New "All-Around" Set

"When I started putting together this new set, while it was not created on site at Pearl, it also wasn't completed just by myself either. Though more than 80% of it came from the thoughts I had on how I wanted to do it, there were still a few points I had not yet decided on. That fine tuning would would come later, most certainly. However, from the feeling I got from testing, the reaction was more than I could've imagined.

This time around, when I thought about trying to create a new drumset, it was spurred by Pearl presenting their new Reference line of drums. Before they were on the market, I had the opportunity to try them at Pearl Headquarters. Upon trying them, the bearing edges had a great feel, and I thought "I wonder if I could use these..." As you can tell, at this point, I was starting to lose interest in my Carbonply Maple drumset which I had been using as my main set. No doubt it is a wonderful instrument, and its musical range can sound like a Reference, but I was seeking a cleaner sound with fewer overtones. That's because outside of when I play on my own, I have a number of jobs playing with various artists at their studios. Look objectively at a drum. If it has a sound that comes through easily no matter who plays it, and at the same time has a sound with its own personality, then it's a drum that covers a wide range. I especially wanted that in the bass drum. When I'm on the job, I came to understand that rather than sharp overtones, a rounder, deep sound mixes better in the song. It was at that time that I met with Reference drums. With that timing I mentioned to Pearl that I'd like to make a new set, and we went through trial and error for a year as we went ahead making it.

As for things I was particular about, the first thing is the angle of the bearing edge. Drawing upon the Reference set, both the top and bottom have the same arch shape, but if it's too arched I have this idea in me that the sound will be completely subdued. To keep the tonality of the Reference as well as the classic tonality of Pearl, the top edge is the same as the Reference, while I had them do the bottom as a regular edge. Further, I stopped using floor toms, and the change to 12" depth mounted toms is another point. Until now, the depth of all rack toms was 8", and floors were 14", but I wanted the quicker attack of mount toms. Because of that, I tried out the response of various drums, both deep and shallow, and the result is that I arrived at the 12" depth. One more thing I specifically wanted was the hoops. Instead of Pearl's common diecast hoops, I decided to go with triple-flanged hoops, which resulted from my thinking about time periods. While I'm using modern materials, by deciding to go out and use triple-flanged hoops, which have a long history, I believe the sound can transcend time periods. This time, though I've mentioned it before, it's because my concept was to cross over and be able to go down a variety of paths. And it's not just genres, but time periods as well. Because of those reasons I was fussy about this being an all-around instrument.

So, what's my reason for not simply getting a Reference? Well, it's no surprise, but I'm very partial to maple. While Pearl has been around for nearly 60 years, I think they have always used maple as their flagship wood. What's more, since I have come to use Pearl drums, another factor is that I've just always loved that maple sound. Both with this image I've described of Pearl, and the trusting relationship I have with its staff who have supported me... with that in mind, I think that the instrument we've created is one that I can confidently think of as really good. An instrument that whoever uses it can be thought of as good... you could point out the collection of all the things I've procured, but I think I'll always want to use this. Well, as long as there are humans, tastes will probably change, so due to changing conditions you can never say never.

Making new sounds with a new set, without sticking to the past, I think it's a way to prepare for new challenges. I believe it's important that if you're a person whose job is to perform for the public, you should create and convey a good sound that fits with the times. By making this set, I can get off to a good start. This year is just getting started, and I'm going to play the drums."

- Sakura, in February 2006 article of Rhythm and Drums magazine. Translated by James Chertudi.

One of the things Sakura was most particular about with this set was the bearing edges. The top edges are done like a Reference: rack toms are half-rounded and floor toms are fully rounded. The bottom edges are still regular, however. Also, the inside of the drums has a layer of carbon fiber.
Instead of using Pearl's standard die-cast hoops, Sakura opted for triple-flanged this time. Instead of going for the enhanced attack of die-cast, he wanted the well-rounded sound of triple-flanged.
Sakura likes this triangular set-up of rack toms because "it's more musical." Also, he is using Ebony Ambassador heads, whose color fits with the drumset.
Sakura's bass drums were not equipped with legs this time. Instead, he uses this bass drum anchor to keep them in place. He states that there's really no danger in taking off the legs and that they are still secure in this way. Also, it's easier to set-up without legs.

Sakura was involved in a number of bands and projects while using this set. He has never regularly used it within any particular band, but instead seems to pull it out for one-time shows or events. It seems it really has met his goals and needs.

Sakura kept the same basic "shape" of the set for many years but experimented with the addition and removal of his Simmons electronic drums. These pictures are from Sakura's old Myspace page and his current Facebook page.

A shot of Sakura playing with BY-SEX in 2011. From Sakura's Facebook page.

From late 2011. Sakura has finally stopped using the Toshi Nagai snare drum and uses his free-floating aluminum drum instead.

Recent shots from a 4-man drum performance put together by Sakura entitled (get ready): "WARRIOR HORSEMEN OF THE SPIRIT THUNDERING OVER HILLS OF DOUBT TO A PLACE OF HOPE." From Sakura's Facebook.