Tama has been one of my favorite drum manufacturers for a long time. And I am sure there are many drummers out there who would agree with me.
The Tama Starclassic series is one of their lines that hold a special place in many drummer’s hearts. If you come from the 90s, then you understand well what I am talking about.
Hoshino’s brand, Tama, came out of nowhere after being endorsed by Philips in becoming one of the main players. Let’s just say the rest was history.
Launching the Starclassic was undeniably the best decision they ever made. It is the series that brought them into the spotlight.
These products are not only handcrafted to perfection to meet the needs of different drummers, but they also set new standards for what “off-the-shelf” drum sets should really offer.
Rock- and metal-sized toms with incredible lacquer finishes tell a story of greatness. There is nothing you will need from these drums which they won’t deliver.
Who is the Tama Starclassic for?
Tama drums are known for their affordability. This is perhaps one of the reasons it has grown so rapidly over the years.
For more than 25 years, Tama’s master craftsmen have put their energy into building their Starclassic shell packs. Hence, you can understand just how good their drums have proven to be.
Based on their prices, I would say these drums are for professional performers. They feature the most expensive varieties from the company.
Intermediate drummers can find them quite useful once they transition into the professional world. Their sound quality is above what one is accustomed to.
They would still be a great choice for beginners, if the money is available, but would not advise you to pick these drums early on in your drumming career. Perhaps it would be better to wait until you are certain about your interest in drumming.
Tama Starclassic Drums
The Starclassic series carries a wide range of drums with varying features. Each sub-series is created with specific materials to meet differing needs.
However, this does not mean any particular kit is better than the other – rather the varieties are directed to different genres.
They are all professional sets that come as shell packs.
Let’s talk about some of the most popular shell pack options.
Before Tama launched the Tama Star series, the Starclassic was their flagship line. It has since expanded its options and making the line available in four different guises.
One of them is the Chinese-made Performer B/B. This is the most accessible option of the whole series, mainly because of its affordability and versatility.
Tama started by experimenting with hybrid Birch and Bubinga drum sets back in 2006. The designer started combining less expensive woods to offer more affordable and high-quality drums since the African hardwood still offered great qualities.
From this approach, they settled on the renown drum material staple known as Birch from which Bubinga was born. The drum is remained in tact with Birch on the outside and Bubinga, forming three inner plies of every shell.
The toms have four plies of birch on the outside shell, while the kick drum has an extra ply of Birch. An optional add-on snare is available which follows with an 8-ply kick drum.
You can buy individual add-on drums separately if you are looking to spice things up.
I received a smaller pack – the 22-inch kick drum, 10-inch and 12-inch toms, and a 16-inch floor-tom for this review.
Alternatives feature longer, undrilled bass drums, a Hyper-Drive length tom, and two-floor toms. But this still does not even push the price too high.
Six stock lacquer finishes are available, while another other nine finishes can be custom ordered.
The wood used is high-grade, offering a top notch tone. They come with a Charcoal Onyx wrap on the exterior which also seems to improve the overall sound of the drum.
There is a chrome extendable connection system that helps in sliding the whole tom assembly. Star-Cast tom Tama’s mounting system not only capture the eye, but creates a perfect mobile mounting system.
Kick drum claws are strategically proportioned, fully equipped with thick rubber gaskets revealing their signature sign of quality.
Most sets will come with clear single-ply Evans G1 heads. Mine featured two-ply G2 heads on all the toms. These are excellent heads for this drum kit.
If you have used Bubinga before, then you know Howell its bottom end resonance sings. I experimented with every drum, and they gave rang with great clarity.
The bass drum came with a single-ply Evans G4 batter and ebony front head. Each head has a dampening ring, which eliminated any unwanted overtones.
The 18-inch depth is just right, deep and probing, but without lacking shape. You get plenty of air from each stroke, and depending on how you tune them, can get a massive kick drum sound desirable for many genres.
Generally, these drums are perfect for professional gigging. They deliver a wondrous sound at a fair price.
• Incredible value for money
• Great playability
• Excellent construction and durable hardware
• Considering the cost, no cons
Tama’s Superstar and Imperialstar rocked the world in the 80s. They were perfect for their time, and a fantastic alternative to low-end kits.
But that was not enough for the Tama team who wanted a timeless solution. They wanted to build a drum that evoked the drummer’s passion without returning to the low-end material.
And that is when the Starclassic Maple came into play. These are drum sets that allow expression of every genre, style, mood, and technique, allowing the player to tap into their creativity.
These drum sets ignited the thin-shell revolution that we see today.
Today, the Exotic Finish line still offers an incredibly unique wood exterior for a wonderful experience.
A wide range of options is available to meet the various needs of users. Professional drummers will enjoy working with these sets as they can choose from more than 30 shell sizes.
The hardware construction also defines the line for these drum sets. Whether you choose Black Nickel, Chrome, or Smoked Black Nickel, you will experience the same quality.
Notable features include:
• 8-ply bearing edges and 6-ply construction
• Swivel-Wing tom holder
• Claw hooks
• Air-cushioned floor tom legs
• Starclassic B drum spur MSB30 die-cast
• Great mounting system that maximizes resonance and stability
• Die-cast hoops for professional performance
• New “Quick-Lock” tom brackets with Star-Cast Mounting system
• Hold Tight washers to keep tension rods in place.
- Overall standard quality hardware
• Useful construction with air cushioned floor toms
• High-end sound quality
A mixture of Birch and Bubinga creates incredible tonal aspect. Starclassic drum sets have a specific quality with the most affordable rate.
The toms feature Birch wood on the outside with a thickness of 6mm – 4 ply. The bass drum has a 5-ply, 7mm thickness which assures a deep end sound with clarity.
Snare drums are optional. There is also featured an 8-ply sandwich on the kick drums.
You can get this kit in two shell packs, although you can order any customized configuration. These two come with a 22 by 18-inch bass drum, a 10-by 8-inch and 12- by 9-inch toms, and a 16-inch by 14-inch floor tom, and a 22-inch by 20-inch bass, Hyper-Drive length toms (10 by 6 ½ inch and 12 by 7 inch) and two toms 14 by 12-inch and 16 by 14-inch.
The second configuration brings the price slightly higher.
The kits are available in 6 different stock lacquer finishes.
In a nutshell, these are some of most rewarding drum sets to work with.
Production of Tama Starclassic Bubinga has been distributed to China by the company. These products are known for their impressive appearance and performance.
Tama has a great reputation for its engineering prowess and design innovation. They offer high-quality products at an affordable price.
New Bubinga made in China is cheaper than its Japanese replacement. But this does not mean these are low-end drums by any means.
The five-piece kit for this review is configured with an un-drilled 22 by 20-inch bass drum, 10 by 8-inch and 12-by 9-inch rack toms, and 14-inch by 12-inch and 16 by 14-inch floor toms. There are two alternative shell packs, and the kits can be added onto with individual drums.
The snare drum is sold separately.
The all-Bubinga drums consist of nine plies of 6mm toms and a 7mm bass drum. They have a very dense wood which is 50% harder than both Maple and Birch. Surprisingly though, they are not very heavy.
Other aspects include:
• 45-degree bearing edge
• Zinc die-cast hoops coated with black nickel and three extra eyes
• Huge claw hooks on the bass drum
• Excellent bass drum spurs
• All-bulinga shells
• Great drum construction with lacquer chrome hardware
• Incredible drumsounds
• Made in China
Unfortunately, Tama announced their discontinuation of the Starclassic Bubinga/Birch at a time when many drummers were just getting accustomed to it. They were loved by many pros and amateurs alike for their quality.
Only then was Bubinga declining globally, which forced the company to take alternative measures. The team started using American black walnut.
Today, the Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch drum series is a huge hit. The four-piece shell pack in this review consists of a 22 by 16-inch bass drum, 10 by 8-inch and 12 by 9-inch toms, and a 16 by 14-inch floor tom. It comes in a lacquer Phantasm Oyster finish.
According to Tama, the Walnut/Birch shell pack is the best substitute for B/B kits. They are not largely different from their most preceding line of B/B drums.
The drums come with Star mounts Quick-Lock tom brackets, Evans heads, and die-cast hoops. Apart from the wood type, another difference is that it consists of fewer interior plies from that of the Walnut/Birch drum kits (with two walnut plies on the interior).
Generally, the kit prides itself on incredible build quality. Tama is known for its standards, and this kit certainly does not disappoint.
I have played the B/B and the Walnut/Birch drums over the recent years, and they offer the same level of quality. The toms are a bit more tonal on the Walnut/Birch than on the Bubinga, but that is just preference.
These drums reach a wide range suitable to any modern drummer. They provide extremely significant noise range from medium tensions.
Top-Notch Star Hardware
The high-end hardware of the B/B has been transferred to this line. It comes with zinc die-cast hoops coated with black nickel, quick lock mounts, and air-cushioned floor tom feet.
A versatile bass drum mount that ensures incredible freedom for quick placement.
• Excellent drum construction
• Top-notch sounds
- Quick-Lock tom brackets
• The toms are not very loud
Tama Starclassic Performer Walnut/Birch vs. Birch/Bubinga
What is the difference between the drum sound of the new Starclassic Performer Walnut Birch drums and the old Birch/Bubinga series? This is the question on many drummer’s minds before purchasing one of these Tama kits.
In my experience, the Walnut/Birch shells offer a full sound, while the B/B delivers a more focused tone. Their attack is very similar, but the Walnut/Birch seems to offer greater low growls and sustain.
Obviously you can immediately improve the sound by swapping out the stock heads for professional ones.
Generally, there is not much difference between the two choices. However, the B/B is slightly more expensive perhaps because they are no longer in production.
I believe the new Tama Starclassic Performer Walnut/Birch drum set is the winner. It retains very well the beloved qualities of the B/B line, with extra added depth and character.
If you know Tama, you should not doubt this kit when upgrading from your current rig. It only gets better!