Tama is most certainly not a new name in the world of drums. It is one of the biggest drum companies, and not by accident. They deliver many different lines of gear without forfeiting quality like you might see with bigger companies in mass production.
The Tama Superstar line of drums has received a lot of positivity amongst the drumming community. Anyone who has used these kits will tell you they offer a beautiful blend between incredible design and performance.
I was even fortunate enough to own a Tama Superstar, and yes, this line exemplifies just how well Tama understands every drummer’s needs, as you will see in this review.
Tama Superstar Review
The first kit I ever used from Tama was the Starclassic Performer with 100% birch shells; it had excellent build quality. However, a few years later, Tama upgraded it to a blend of Birch and Bubinga.
Like many other Tama fans, I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not they would do the same for the Superstar line. The original kits featured a combo of original birth and basswood. Perhaps they would turn it into 100% Birch.
And that is just what Tama did. Tama upgraded the series to carry 100% Birch. With it came better shell performance and a compliment of upgraded hardware.
Today, these are the main features that describe the line. It is not only another series of drums from Tama containing quality features, but it also happens to be one of their most popular lines.
Construction and Configuration
One thing I love about Tama is its focus on development. Every product they bring to the market seems to have gone through extensive research and intentionality, and ultimately delivering big for the current generation of drummers.
And that is what I found the Superstar drums to represent.
About 30 years ago, Birch was one of the best woods to choose from to configure drums. Studio drummers always preferred it over other woods.
The wood may not have as much warmth or deep-low reach as maple, Bubinga, or walnut. However, its attack is beyond every drummer’s wildest imagination. It is also loved for its low tight end with controlled decay, which is why it makes a great option for studio settings.
The shells on this kit are similar to the Super Classic Performer. Anyone who has played these drums would agree to this. It has a 7-ply 7mm bass drum with 6-ply toms and a 6-ply snare drum.
These drums come in three configurations:
• 10-inch and 12-inch mounted toms, 14-inch by 14-inch floor tom, 14-inch by 5.5-inch snare, and 20 by 18-inch kick drum
• All of the components listed above, but instead with a 22 by 18-inch bass drum and 16 by 16-inch floor tom in place of the 14-inch floor tom.
• 7-piece primo kit which has all of the floor tom sizes above, the 22-inch kick drums, and another 8 by 7-inch mounted rack tom
My personal kit is the second configuration with the large kick drum and floor tom variations. The 16-inch floor tom rings loud and clean.
If you are a drummer who enjoys large drum setups, there are plenty of add-on sizes. You can for instance, choose up to a 24-inch bass drum and an 18-inch floor tom. This could be a great combination for heavier playing styles.
I like how Tama has put their focus toward every detail as the set comes with some very quality hardware.
It features an HR5W Superstar hardware setup. It includes an HS70WN snare stand, an HC72WN straight cymbal stand, and an HC73BWN boom stand. I also received an HH75WN hi-hat stand and an HP300 Iron Cobra Junior kick pedal.
Tama’s smooth Quick-Set Tilters have been added to improve performance and user experience. Tama has never disappointed with their quality.
Every drum features Sound Bridge Tension lugs which comes with an attachment that spins the shell from one lug to another. This changes the appearance of the drum set which distinguishes it from more expensive lines. The bridge does not touch the shell so the shell can resonate properly.
Both the kick and snare drums come with eight lugs on the shell. This allows for versatile tuning. The tom holders are simple and user-friendly.
Having Die-Cast hoops on all pieces is another major upgrade the pieces received. Not many drum sets at this price range have this feature.
However, I would choose the triple-flanged hoops on my drum set for easier tuning purposes. Perhaps the Die-Cast hoops may be seen as an upgrade, but not for me personally.
The Star-Cast mounting system on the mounted toms is a feature that is common with the higher-end drums from Tama. They suspend the drums from a black, angled frame, allowing them to ring without being dampened by the mounting hardware.
the bass drum claws are die-cast, with tiny rubber O-rings keeping the claw separate from the tension screws. This makes fiddling with the bass drum height and positioning all the more easy.
The set comes with PowerCraft 250 batter heads on the toms and bass drum. Each bass drum head comes with a muffling ring around the inside of the head.
Tama presents the Superstar line in 15 different finishes – including both gloss and satin lacquers. They also come in two varying wraps: the Duracover and Unicover.
Every finish offers a unique twinkle to the kit assuring an excellent visual knockout. They also feature chrome Duracover wrap in a chrome hardware which really pops ascetically.
Every drum sounds excellent. And this is one of the main reasons I have grown to love Tama.
The kick drum is deep, fat, and punchy just like I was expecting it would be. Even the factory heads were surprisingly sufficient. My only suggestion is they include a beater patch to place on the kick drum batter head.
The snare and toms did not disappoint either. Rim-clicks and big rimshots are easy to get from the snare. The Die-Cast hoops on both drums are another feature which help ensure clean, true sounds.
The Birch does sound excellent placed between the wood and metal material for the snare. Each tom has brightness and plenty of attack.
Tama’s Superstar Snare
The snare drum is one of the most critical parts of any drum set. The 14-inch birch snare drum on the Tama’s Superstar is no walk in the park and may be the best piece that comes with the set.
Simply put, it is one of those drum sets which delivers above expectations.
• Good sound quality
• Birch may not be the most quality wood
Original shells carry an excellent reputation with collectors today. These pieces were famous between 1976 and 1986 with their full, focused, and punchy tone.
They came with a vast sound from their 6-ply 9mm all-birch shells. And they are considered a line that cemented the brand’s name. I bought one years ago and it’s still good.
And now they are back!
Tama revived this line in 2015, calling it the Superstar Classic. The shells are much different now, but the sonic character has not changed much.
I wanted to see what these new kits looked like, so I order a 5-piece pack for review. Generally, they are quite useful, considering they are low on price.
Configuration, shells, and hardware
Just like the Original Superstar kit above, the Classic comes in three different configurations. My five-piece option came with:
• 10 by 8-inch and 12 by 9-inch rack toms
• 16 by 14-inch floor tom
• 22 by 18-inch bass drum
• 14 by 6.5 snare drum
The shells are 100% maple – 6ply 5m toms and snare, and 8ply 7mm bass drum. They feature 1.6mm triple-flanged steel hoops, which makes it easy to set the toms.
Also, the shells feature Tama’s Power Craft II heads. They include clear 1-ply batter and resonants for the toms, coated 1-ply batter, and clear resonant snare heads. The bass drum has a clear 1-ply batter, and a vintage coated resonant head.
Concerning finishes, you can choose any of the 15 options available, including the Midnight Gold Sparkle wrap on mine.
You will also love the hardware on these kits. Star-Mount suspension mounts, Starclassic bearing edges, included double tom holder, and low-mass lugs are all included to give you an easy time. It also comes with low-mass single die-cast bass drum claws and folding rectangular spurs with elevated positioning markers.
The most significant upgrade on this is the 100% maple with complete maple plies on the shells. Then original Superstar featured 100% birch shells with interior and outer plies bearing compressed chip cores.
At $700, the five-piece all-maple kit may seem a bit over the edge in terms of price. But Tama applied very understandable concessions to ensure you get at such a low number.
Everything from assembling the kit to playing was easy, assuring a beautiful sound in the end. I have always loved the company for its quality, and this piece assured me that.
The five-piece fusion size shell pack on the Tama’s Superstar Classic maple kit should be a perfect solution for a heavy drummer. It is a full-size kit with everything you will need to enjoy high-end sounds.
Unlike the 1976 kit that had all-birch shells, this new kit comes with all-maple shells. It is available in three lacquer finishes, including Blue Lacquer Burst, Coffee Fade, and Tangerine Lacquer Burst.
Every finish has a unique effect on the general appearance of the kit. They come with a light coating of paint on the natural maple wood grain, which adds to the kit’s attractiveness.
You may have noticed that 100% maple is not very common at this price range. The shells are all new, featuring a thin 6-ply 5mm construction on the toms and snare and 8-ply 7mm on the bass.
Tama’s superior quality is seen on the decently built shells featuring a classic 54-degree bearing. Every detail has been captured to ensure the top performance.
The lugs have been reduced, which Tama says is reduces hindrance on the shell resonance. Also, less material has been used to produce the lugs, assuring affordability. The bass drum hoops are more appealing.
Drilling on the bass drum allows for Tama’s Omni-Ball dual tom holder system (MTH600). This is a sturdy system found on other higher-end kits from the company.
A familiar RIMS Star-Mount system on the rack toms connect to the tension rods easily.
My favorite piece is the snare, which seems to define the kit’s overall playability. It does not fall in the common trap of other near-entry-level kits that spoil the whole kit tonally.
The kit’s hardware is not that sophisticated, and yet the Classic Superstar is widely responsive and musical. The extra depth on the snare reaches and fuller and broader tone, making the kit more versatile.
Tune-up the toms, and you get a focused yet decent response. The floor toms work best when tuned low for this review.
Although seemingly uncooperative, the bass drum starts to behave, but it requires patience.
Overall, this kit performs well. It is versatile and music, which makes it an ideal choice for beginner and intermediate drummers.
If you are looking for a decent kit to improve your skills, then this is one piece you will never go wrong on.
Tama offers different configurations with its new Superstar Classic. Apart from the five-piece shell pack reviewed above, you can also get a fuller kit with this 7-piece pack.
Everything on the shell is the same, which includes 100% maple shells, low-profile lugs, and the Star-Mount system.
Since the 70s, his series has been a lone ranger, delivering a unique combination of quality and affordability. It was discontinued for some time, but that did not keep it asleep for long.
Now we have this Superstar Classic choice that offers a wonderful solution for pop, rock, and metal drummers. It is far much better than the original.
Configuration and features
The Superstar Classic 7-piece set is configured with:
• 8 by 7-inch, 10 by 8-inch, and 12 by 9-inch toms
• 14 by 14-inch and 16 by 14-inch floor toms
• 22 by 18-inch bass drum
• 14 by 6.5-inch snare drum
• Hardware: MTH600 double holder for the tom drum and MC69 clamp mount.
• All other hardware is sold separately.
Other notable features include a thin, 100% maple shell setup that assure a great attack and projection, 45-degree bearing, steel mounts, suspended multi-flange hoops, and much more.
Now that Tama has re-introduced this legendary kit after nearly forty years, every drummer would be glad to have one. It has a great sonic persona. The booming bass drum and crisp snare are perfect for any environment.
• All-maple shells
• Improved features
• Affordable products.
• Excellent tonal performance especially the snare drum
• The Bass drum gets a little boxy
Frequently asked questions
Are Tama’s Superstar drums good?
Yes. Tama is one of the biggest drum brands, thanks to its reputation and high-quality sets. Besides, it has been on the market for a long time. Their bass drum and snare drum options are among the top choices.
What are Tama’s Superstar drums made of?
Superstar Drums are made of 100% birch wood. The 5-ply birch wood featured reinforcement rings. Later the company upgraded the shells to 6-ply without reinforcement rings.
How do you date Tama drums?
It is only Starclassic maple drum sets that come with numbers showing their age. Use the serial number system by applying the “subtract 10 system” to the beginner two digits on the number. This will give you their year of manufacture.