Pearl badged MIJ guitars have a mysterious history depending on whom you talk to. They appear to have been widely distributed, finding their way to Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States so they must have been fairly successful. I haven't seen proof that the Pearl badge originated from the infamous Pearl drum corporation although the logos are suspiciously similar. Perhaps it was a brief venture during the guitar craze of the 1970's by that company. We may never know. Most people assume that Pearl badged guitars were made by the famous percussion instrument maker and Pearl guitars are often sold with that information presented as fact. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. Till then, I'm on the fence about the origin of Pearl guitars.
Pearl electric guitars which were made by the venerable Matsumoku, were good Les Paul copies. They came in sunburst and blond finishes from what I've seen of them. Pearls were carried by Great West Musical Imports to the North American continent and I do not know if they distributed the guitar badge worldwide exclusively. Some have mother of pearl pickguards in addition to the Pearl badge inlay, which add to the beauty of the Pearl image. It would be interesting to know if they originally came that way from Matsumoku. They seem to be pretty rare here in the United States but far more numerous among our friends in Australia so I wonder just how many were sold in their heyday. They appear to be classified as a medium-quality guitar, but they sure look good to me.
Pearl acoustics, however, were made by top Japanese acoustic guitar-maker Hayashi. They appear to have been gorgeously crafted with inlays of mother of pearl on the frets on occasion. Most Pearl acoustics from what I've seen were made of high quality tonewoods based on Gibson designs, although I'm not an acoustic guitar expert. Finishes can be anywhere from sunburst to natural and they seem far more numerous in existing quantities than their electric cousins. Pearl acoustics are praised by their owners as high-quality instruments and little wonder...they ARE Hayashi products! You can read more specific information about Pearl acoustic guitar models HERE by Blogger friend Martin on his Vintage Japanese Acoustics blog.
Another interesting thing with Pearl badges is that some "Pearl" inlays are gold and others mother of pearl. I wonder if one color denotes a higher-end instrument model. Again, I don't know the answer to that. Yet another mystery to solve.