Pearl Sensitone Snare Drum Review

Ludwig Sensitone

A Line Up Worth a Look and Listen

The Pearl Sensitone Snare Drum has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as one the top choices for drummers playing every conceivable style, from early rock to today’s modern music. Pearl has reintroduced this versatile snare with the quality 1.5mm Brass construction and classic ring in every strike. New to the mix are additional metal options, each delivering a slightly different take on the classic sound. Look for 5X14 and 6.5X15 options in brass, bronze, stainless steel, steel, and aluminum.


Drummers appreciate the good volume delivered by the Pearl Sensitone Snare Drum lineup, as well as the rich, ringy sound they are known for. The versatility is outstanding and the ability to tune it high, medium, or low adds to its playability. Go sweet and crisp, or low and deep for fantastic back beats.


If there’s an issue that concerns drummers, it is the stock drumheads on the Pearl Sensitone Snare Drum. If you get one with stock heads, be prepared to switch them out for your personal favorites. This drum may also require a some patience with the tune, to get just the sound you want.

Overall Rating  - 4 Stars

History speaks volumes with the Pearl Sensitone Snare Drum, as it has shown its merit with years of great sound and service, with drummers of all skill levels. Prices for new and used snares are reasonable. Put it all together and this drum garners 4 Stars.

Pearl Sensitone Snare Drums On Ebay

Pearl Sensitone 5 x 14 Aluminum Snare RL330
Pearl Sensitone 5 x 14 Aluminum Snare RL330 $199.99
Time Remaining: 17d 11h 33m
Buy It Now for only: $199.99
Pearl Sensitone Premium Maple Snare Drum 14 x 65 in Natural
Pearl Sensitone Premium Maple Snare Drum 14 x 65 in Natural $299.99
Time Remaining: 4d 1h 47m
Buy It Now for only: $299.99
Pearl SensiTone Elite 14 Diameter Aluminum Snare Drum STE1450AL BRAND NEW
Pearl SensiTone Elite 14 Diameter Aluminum Snare Drum STE1450AL BRAND NEW $199.95
Time Remaining: 28d 10h 32m
Buy It Now for only: $199.95
Pearl SensiTone 14 Diameter X 55 Deep Steel Snare Drum Model SS1455S C NEW
Pearl SensiTone 14 Diameter X 55 Deep Steel Snare Drum Model SS1455S C NEW $109.95
Time Remaining: 14d 23h 23m
Buy It Now for only: $109.95


  • Mickey P. said:

    I own both the 5×14 “Aluminum” & 5×14 “Steel” Pearl Sensitone Elite snare drums. I own/play a Ludwig Supraphonic LM400 also. Other snare drums I’ve owned would be The Pork Pie Big Black Brass, etc… So I have a means to be able to compare.

    The Pearl Sensitone Elites can be refreshing for someone who’s been struggling for a good snare drum sound. The construction is top notch; especially the lugs & throw. It has a pretty broad tuning range (not as broad as a Ludwig Supraphonic) – and it’s very easy to tune compared to other drums.

    The word that might best describe these snare drums is “Tight”. And I don’t mean “Tight” as in “cool”. I mean the build quality & the sound is actually “Tight”. The snare wire is snug underneath & doesn’t give you a hassle. Snare drums that I’ve owned can sometimes cause the “dying fly laying on its back” kind of sound coming from the snare wire. I think all snare drums can be hard to work with from time to time – but the Pearl Sensitone Elite’s seem to be very forgiving.

    The Aluminum version has a very dry sound; “described by Pearl as EQ’d sound”. This was the sound that I was after when I purchased the Aluminum version. I was actually originally interested in a Ludwig Acrolite for an aluminum shell. I wanted an Acrolite for a long time – but the older more worthy Acrolite snare drums are getting pretty old, especially after the Acrolite became popular again & everybody started to buy up the old Blue Olive & Keystone versions. These older Acrolite’s have been circulating for a long time and they’re really starting to fall apart. I purchased a newer design USED Acrolite with the shell coating – but when it arrived at my front door the shell was out of round – so I returned it.

    Not wanting to wait around for a nice used older Acrolite, I decided to look into other snare drum manufactures doing the same kind of thing with Aluminum shells. I would say Pearl nailed it. Best of all, all the Sensitone’s are really affordable. You also won’t have to worry about an old snare drum falling apart. The Aluminum version is a more limited production compared to the regular “Steel” version, so like the Acrolite, it also could be worth something down the road. From what I understand, Pearl has already stopped making the Sensitone Aluminum Elite. You can still find new one’s being sold if you look around – but from what I know, the existing inventory would be the last of the NEW Aluminum Elite’s.

    It shouldn’t be a challenge at all to record the Aluminum Elite perfectly. Easy recordings is one of the beauties behind Aluminum snare drums.

    Heads-up though… If your looking for a snare drum that’s close to the Acrolite like I was, remember that the more famous Acrolite recordings were done with the 5×14 size of this particular drum. Also keep in mind that an aluminum snare drum will not sound the same in person as it does in recordings. Actually all snare drums sound different in person then in recordings – but the sound of an aluminum shell in person appose the sound of an aluminum shell in a recording will often have an even broader & more apparent difference. For that matter, the Pearl Aluminum Elite sounds pretty dark in person for a metal snare drum. Again, this is because of the Aluminum construction. So if recording isn’t your biggest concern – you might want your snare drum to be a bit more bright & cutting then the Aluminum Elite.

    In that case, the regular “Steel” or “Brass” Sensitone Elite will have a more alive sound, when hearing it in person especially. If you have some drum recording experience – it’s likely that you may have found the snare drum challenging to record without sounding harsh at times. That’s when an Aluminum snare drum is nice to have.

    Aluminum snare drums tend to have fewer overtones while less bright, thus making a more controlled sound. They are fantastic for close mic recording (maybe not so great if only recorded with a room mic or distant miking). When your not recording though – and your just wanting to hit the drums, there are times when an Aluminum snare drum can sound a bit uninteresting. That’s why it’s nice to have a variety of snare drums at hand. The absolute optimum thing would be to have a “Brass”, an “Aluminum”, a “Maple” & a “Steel” snare drum within your studio arsenal. Most of the time, just a plain old “Steel” or “Maple” snare drum will be enough for all your purposes.

    The “Brass” Pearl Sensitone snare drum is nice to have for times when you want the ultimate live, in your face articulate tone. The “Maple” Artisan” snare drums are warm with allot of bottom end & are absolutely gorgeous sounding as well as looking. Probably my favorite Pearl Sensitone to play or hear in person and/or use for open-sound recordings would be the regular “Steel” version. My favorite snare drum for close mic recordings would be the Aluminum version.

    Can the Pearl Sensitone Elite snare drums compare to the Ludwig LM400 I have? Yes and no… There’s really nothing like a Ludwig drum. This doesn’t mean that I think my LM400 is superior. The Sensitone’s & Supra’s are “just different”. They can have some similarities – but they shouldn’t have to be compared. The Pearl Sensitone’s are some great snare drums in themselves. They have their own voice & are just simply fantastic!

    All of the Pearl Sensitone Elites as well as the Pearl Artisan I & II are some of the best mass produced snare drums on the market in my opinion. Don’t let the low price full you with these drums!

  • SnareDude (author) said:


    Thanks for stopping by and giving us a mini-course on snare drums and selecting the best type and model for a particular need.

    If you could only have one of these snares which one would you pick for the best overall bang for your buck?


  • Mickey P. said:

    Sorry… I didn’t notice there was a response to my feedback about the Senstione Elite’s until now. In response to your question: “WHICH ONE WOULD I CHOOSE IF I COULD ONLY HAVE ONE”? I absolutely love the Pearl Sensitone Elite Aluminum 5×14. I do allot of close mic recording & an aluminum shell can come in real handy with calming overtones & making recording easy. For anyone who likes Ludwig Acrolites, the Pearl Sensitone Aluminum Elite is a great modern alternative & could be considered a Godsend. The Sensitone Aluminum Elite 5×14 is just a really special snare drum in my eyes – and it’s probably my favorite of the Sensitones do to an aluminum shell being a bit more rare. Next in line for being special would have to be the “Brass” Sensitone. The bright & cutting tones that come from this drum are beautiful. It’s also an especially loud drum if volume is a concern. It would lead me to believe that the brass Sensitone would probably be the average persons favorite. Now if I was looking for the absolute best “bang for your buck”, I would probably purchase the “Limited Edition” Steel Sensitone Elite. Something about a regular old “Steel” snare drum just moves me. You can find the “Limited Edition” Steel Sensitone for $130 on Google. That’s freak’n amazing! A limited edition is always pretty cool to have to. Thanks!…

  • SnareDude (author) said:

    Hey Mickey,

    I apologize because I just realized I didn’t have a subscribe to comments button set up until now. Updated the theme a little while back and it just didn’t make the trip-LOL!

    Are you able to get demo models? I see you take your drums very seriously but most drummers lack the resources to have tried as many drums as you have.

    I really appreciate your insights on the Sensitones and would love it if you could look over some more of the reviews on this site and give your take on them if you can spare some time. It’s an active site but most users tend to read and go buy. That’s OK but I really want more involvement and discussion.


  • alex simons said:

    The factory skins on the sensitone are good skins .

  • SnareDude (author) said:

    Hi Alex,
    Thanks for contributing. Could you tell me what kind of music you play primarily?

  • iplay pearldrums said:

    I just picked up a 8 lug steel sensitone @ a pawn shop for $40!!! 🙂 This thing was like new,and had a barely used EVANS head w/ a center dot. I’ve had 2 #400 Ludwig snare drums…one in the early 80’s that had lots of chrome pitting w/ the keystone badge and the newer #400 w/ the olive badge in the mid 90’s. I kinda wish now I kept them and had them powdercoated , but I didn’t know about powdercoating then,,,ugh,, Also had a 6.6″ deep metal snare by Slingerland in my trading travels,,,wish I kept it.
    Anyway this sensitone has some awesome snap, crackle & pop,,,, my pearl MX series drums have been triggered & run through ALESIS D4’s & a PA so this is a fresh change in a live sound.
    I have managed to keep a Chrome-o-wood slotted Coliseum snare and a TAMA metal snare 6.5″ deep ( (Imperialstar?) w/ heavy hoops)…from the 80’s. 🙂

  • SnareDude (author) said:

    Great find on that Sensitone and good idea on the triggering with the MX. Way to keep your eyes open and innovating!

  • Steve said:

    I have just purchased a 5*14 Pearl Sensitone Elite Custom Alloy snare drum. Its the prior generation of Sensitones with the classic lug configuration (new Sensitones have a tube style lug).

    It is a pure joy and inspiration to play. It was a very deliberate purchase on my part as I experienced a Sensitone at a rehearsal facility in the area and after 2 strokes was looking to see the badge to ID the drum.

    It punches way above its class in terms of co$t and was very affordable at a music store close by.

    I highly recommend this drum as an addition to your current snare drum inventory (its my 6th snare)- it has volume, sensitivity and pop and may quickly become your all-purpose go-to instrument.

    I’ve owned and played all kinds of snares over the years – you can’t miss with this snare – it currently has a Remo Coated Ambassador but an Evans Coated 360 would serve it equally well.


  • SnareDude (author) said:

    Hey Steve,

    Sorry but your comment got swept under the mail server carpet. I just now saw this.

    Thank you so much for your insights on the Sensitone! It’s always good to hear when a snare really excites a drummer and this one has obviously done this to you! Is this one your “go to” snare now?


  • Steve said:

    Hey Jeff,

    Yes…Thanks. It is my current “go to” snare. A snare for all seasons – extremely pure sound and a response that will take you places you wouldn’t otherwise go.


  • SnareDude (author) said:

    Hey Steve,

    Once again, comments and replies are not notifying me for some reason. I guess I need to check this out to see what’s happening.

    At any rate, thanks for your response about the Sensitone! This is helpful for others and I appreciate you sharing it here!

    I’m getting ready to put together an email signup bonus if you’re not already subscribed to my blog. If you check back in a couple of days you should be able to get the guide by signing up.

    Hope 2016 rocks for you!


  • Steve said:

    Thanks Jeff – Hope 2016 rocks for you, as well as all of the drumming community.

  • SnareDude (author) said:

    Hey Steve,

    I got the notification this time! LOL!

    I’ll let you know when the signup thing is ready if you’re interested.

    I appreciate your contributions here and hope you won’t become a stranger.


  • SnareDude (author) said:

    Hey Steve,
    Wanted to tell you the email signup process is in place. Go to: and look in the right sidebar. Click the graphic and after confirmation, you’ll get the Mega Snare Guide. Thanks for your support!

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