When Pearl Drums Made Pedals and Misspelled “Effect” in the Process

As a guitarist, I’m far from a drum aficionado. Yet I’m the first guy to meander out of the guitar isles and into the drum department to have a go. But what if there was a netherworld in between… where drum designers built guitar pedals?

While Pearl is an instantly recognizable name in the drum world, in the mid-1970s to 1980s they ventured into the expanding world of compact guitar pedals. Now days, these vintage Pearl pedals are among the rarest of rare gear items. These made in Japan goodies crop up every now and again on the used market. If you happen to see one out in the wild, snag it while you can for a one of a kind design and piece of gear history.

So what pedals might you be on the prowl for by Pearl?

One of Pearl’s more brilliant and bold releases was the pre-fab five pedal pedalboard complete with an on board power supply. The very infrastructure of this unit was ahead of its time. The board came with a full range of gain and modulation boxes to get you through an entire gig. These included the CO-04 Compressor, D5-06 Distortion, OC-07 Octave, CH-02 Chorus, and the OD-05 Overdrive. These pedals are all housed in a similarly-styled enclosure with four control knobs over the various parameters. While they each bring their own assets to the table, the OC-07 Octave is arguably a top contender for creativity. With its three octave range and ability to mix in all three to taste, the pedal creates expansive almost orchestral sounds. And just to keep all of this safe, the Pearl pedalboard enclosure comes with a cozy top cover bearing the silver Pearl insignia up top.

Another top pick has to be the Pearl Chorus Ensemble CE-22. If that name sounds familiar, it’s probably because it does! Pearl was clearly channeling the success of the Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble. For all their similarities, however, Pearl put their own spin on the classic sound. Whereas the CE-1 had controls for vibrato and chorus, the Pearl rendition expanded these so the vibrato included depth, speed, and delay. As a result, the pedal is able to create a wild world of washy sounds that flutter in multiple dimensions.

Finally, perhaps the most elusive of the mythical boutique Pearl pedals are those that came out under the imprint of Vorg pedals. By the mid-1970s, Pearl had expanded their pedal lineup with a series of medium-sized black box units including flange, delay, phase shifters, and graphic equalizers. In an attempt to extend the reach of this offering, Pearl released essentially the same lineup of effects under the Vorg brand. With slightly different call numbers—compare the Pearl Flanger F-604 and Vorg Flanger F-504—there is little that distinguishes the two lineups. Save for their different design set that included a bland beige paint with brown script design, under the hood the pedals are Pearl through and through. To make a rare pedal even rarer, the release of the Vorg Flanger F-504 even came with it’s own typo. That’s right, proudly written across the top of the stompbox are the words “Analog Delay Effct.” If Pearl pedals were already a b-side in effects history, then this particular Vorg is nearly the unreleased demo!

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