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Tama is one of the best drum set brands in the world. Their drums have been used by famous drummers since the classic rock era, and the brand’s Starclassic kits have been a staple professional performance option for decades.
If you’re looking for a new drum kit, you’ll find an incredible Tama option in every budget range.
In this guide, I’ll show you all the best Tama drum kits at different prices. I’ve compared these kits according to their build quality, tonal quality, playability, cost, and overall features.
What are the Best Tama Drum Sets?
In-Depth Tama Drum Set Reviews
Tama Star Walnut
Tama Star Walnut Review
The Tama Star Walnut is the best Tama drum kit available. It’s the brand’s flagship option, and it offers everything you can expect from a top-tier pro kit that competes with the likes of DW and Sonor sets.
The walnut shells give it plenty of low-end, and the tones are so warm that they sound naturally EQ’d.
These drums resonate more than many others due to the bearing edges having rounder peaks near the drumheads. This leads the heads to have more contact with the shell, and that makes them vibrate a bit more.
The kit has die-cast hoops on the toms, which give them tighter tuning stability, along with brighter attacking tones.
The rack toms also feature Tama’s Super Resonating Mounting System, which further allows the toms to vibrate as much as possible.
Something about this kit that will make you instantly feel its quality is all the small hardware components. From the lugs to the floor tom feet to the bass drum spurs, everything feels luxurious.
The downside is that you need to buy Tama’s Star mounts separately to attach the rack toms to cymbal stands. There also aren’t as many finish options as most of Tama’s other kits, but the available options look absolutely incredible.
- Walnut shells
- Zinc die-cast hoops
- Super Resonant Mounting System
- One of the best sounding drum sets you can buy
- Impeccable craftsmanship and superb build quality
- Musically warm tones with loads of low-end
- No snare drum or Tama tom mounts included
Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch
Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch Review
Tama Starclassic kits are arguably the most popular sets out of Tama’s entire product range. They’ve been used as pro performance kits for decades, and there is a wide variety of options when it comes to wood combinations for the shells.
We’re looking at the Walnut/Birch version here, as I think it has the perfect blend of attacking punchiness mixed with deep low-end oomph.
Many people think this is the best sounding Tama drum set, barring any of the Star kits.
It also has the famous zinc die-cast hoops, rounding out the tones very nicely and keeping your tuning stable.
This is one of the few professional drum kits to have the rack toms mounted to the kick drum instead of cymbal stands. I’ve heard of a few drummers struggling to place these comfortably, but the upside is that they don’t wobble like the cymbal-mounted toms do on some kits.
Another major benefit of these Starclassic kits is that you get dozens of finishes to choose from. They’re not all just plain colors, either. Tama drums have some of the best finishes in the drumming world, and most of them are available here.
- Walnut/birch shells
- Zinc die-cast hoops
- Double tom holder
- Dozens of incredible finish options
- Relatively affordable pro-tier drum kit
- Punchy tom tones with accented low-end
- Tom mounts can be tricky to position nicely
Tama Superstar Classic
Tama Superstar Classic Review
The TA Superstar Classic is a standard maple intermediate drum set from Tama that competes with all the popular maple kits from other brands in the same price range. Even though it’s a lot more affordable than the pro Tama kits, it sounds seriously good for its price.
The tones are quite rounded, and the toms sound just as good tuned low as they do high.
A big benefit of the Tama Superstar Classic kit is that it comes with a matching snare drum. It has plenty of crack to it, and it stops you from needing to buy a separate snare if you don’t have one already.
You can get this kit in a 5-piece or 7-piece version, with a lot of metal drummers loving the larger option.
As with the Starclassic kits, you get an impressive number of finish options. These ones just aren’t as pristine as the ones on the Starclassic kits.
I love how well this kit performs. If you tune it well, it will fit in just fine at a professional live gig or studio recording. You’d just need to pair it with pro-quality cymbals.
I highly recommend it for drummers who are looking to upgrade to a decent set.
If you’re already an experienced player, you’ll feel a lack of quality here, though.
- Maple shells
- Star-Mount system
- Low-mass lugs
- Great intermediate drum kit option
- Dozens of finishes to pick from
- Warm and musical tones
- You can distinctly feel how the build quality is inferior to the previous kits
Tama Imperialstar Review
The Tama Imperialstar kit is the ultimate package for anyone looking to buy their first drum kit. It’s an all-in-one deal that gives you the shells, the Imperialstar hardware pack, and a set of Meinl’s HCS cymbals.
It’s important to note that everything here has entry-level quality, so only new drummers will love the kit.
The drums can be a bit tricky to tune well, but they’ll sound punchy and clean when you put muffling on each drumhead. You’ll also get much better sounds when swapping the drumheads out with better ones.
The HCS cymbals are brass cymbals from Meinl that have piercing tones, but they work well for new drummers who are learning how to play and understand the differences in tones between all the cymbals.
The real strength of this kit is the hardware pack. You get a boom stand, straight stand, snare stand, hi-hat stand, and a drum throne.
You also get a Tama’s Iron Cobra 200 kick pedal. It’s a solid pedal that many pro drummers don’t mind using. The included hardware is the best part because it can all be used when you get a better kit eventually.
With that being said, I definitely think this is one of the better beginner drum kits out there.
- Poplar shells
- Meinl HCS cymbals
- Full set of hardware stands and pedals
- Best Tama drum set for a beginner
- Includes steady and durable hardware stands
- Kick pedal is better than the pedals that come with competing kits
- Can be difficult to tune well without applying muffling to the toms
Tama Club-JAM Review
Tama offers quite a few options in the compact drum kit segment, but this version of the Club-JAM would be my best recommendation.
The mixture of poplar and mersawa in the shells gives these drums lively tones with an undertone of warmth.
The shallower shell depths also make the Tama Club-JAM drums sound seriously punchy.
The shells are so small that you could fit this kit into most tight corners. It’s a great option for gigging in restaurants and clubs where the stages for the bands are very small. I’ve also seen it work well as a kid’s drum set due to the smaller sizes.
One of my favorite things about the set is that you get a cymbal arm that mounts to the bass drum. It eliminates the need for a separate ride cymbal stand, lowering the footprint even more. You just can’t place a ride cymbal that is abnormally large and heavy on this arm.
A downside of this kit is that the included snare drum sounds quite weak. It doesn’t have the widest tuning range, and you don’t get a lot of depth from the tones.
However, that’s something that only experienced drummers will have an issue with, and most of them will end up using a professional snare with this kit anyway.
- Poplar/Mersawa shells
- Shallow shell depths
- Kick-mounted cymbal stand
- Great drum kit for fitting in small places
- Very light to travel with
- Decent option for kids
- Experienced drummers won’t like the included snare drum
Tama Drums Buying Guide
The Tama brand was formed in the 1970s. Since then, the brand has been making some incredible instruments that have been played all around the world.
The drums are well-known for their reliability, and it’s very common for pro drummers who aren’t endorsed to specify that they want to play a Tama kit on their tech rider when performing in big venues.
You’ll find a lot of rock and metal drummers using Tama kits, but the brand’s drums cater to just about every style of music.
What Makes Tama Drum Kits a Good Buying Option
- All of Tama’s professional kits have die-cast hoops that add stability to your tuning and durability to the shells.
- Tama kits tend to have way more finish options than every other brand.
- Tama Starclassic kits are so popular that you could easily find them being sold second hand. Whichever one you buy will also have incredible resale value.
- Tama offers some of the best shell and stand hardware on the market.
- You can find several pro-level Tama kits that are surprisingly affordable.
Features to Look Out for in Tama Drum Kits
Accessories and Included Parts
When buying a Tama kit, you need to make sure that you have a clear idea of everything you’re getting.
All the intermediate and professional Tama kits come as shell packs, while the beginner ones include cymbals and stands.
Most of the Starclassic and Star drum kits don’t come with a snare drum, so you either need to use one that you already have or buy one of Tama’s many snare drum options separately.
All those kits do have matching snare drums, but I highly recommend checking out some of Tama’s other snares. There are some real gems in the S.L.P. and Starphonic lines.
You may find that some Star or Starclassic kits don’t come with tom mounting arms either. The brand leaves these out to save costs, but you’ll need to get them separately to mount the toms to cymbal stands.
If the toms on a Tama kit mount to the bass drum, the mounting arms will always be included. So, you don’t need to worry about that if you’re looking at any of the brand’s beginner or intermediate kits.
One of the huge strengths of Tama’s drum kit lineup is the sheer number of wood options that are offered. You’ll even find mersawa being used in the brand’s compact kits, and that’s a very uncommon wood to find on a drum kit.
The Imperialstar and Superstar Classic kits are made from poplar and maple, respectively. Those are traditional wood types used for kits in those price ranges. It’s when you look at the Starclassic and Star kits that you’ll see things really opening up.
The more affordable Starclassic Performer kits all have shells that are a combination of maple and birch. They’re warm yet very punchy.
The Starclassic Walnut/Birch kits have a lot more low-end focus with their tones, making them sound incredible when tuned low.
The Starclassic Maple kits simply have maple shells, but they’re a lot thinner than normal to make them resonate and sound seriously musical.
When looking at the flagship Star kits, you can choose between maple, bubinga, and walnut for the shells. Bubinga is one of the wood types that top-tier Tama kits have been famous for since the brand started, but they’re not as commonly found anymore.
The walnut option is arguably the most popular, as it offers amazing tonal quality from the toms.
When looking at the shells of Tama kits, you should also look to see how they’re designed and what hardware is holding them together.
The biggest thing to note about Tama’s professional kits is that all of them come equipped with die-cast hoops.
These are thick and heavy hoops that tighten up the tones of the shells and make tuning stick for a lot longer.
A lot of drummers will prefer drums with die-cast hoops, as they make the shells feel superior to shells that have triple-flanged hoops. However, not all kits with die-cast hoops are better. The downside is that they make the drums much heavier.
The beginner and intermediate kits from Tama have standard triple-flanged hoops.
Another great thing about high-tier Tama kits is that the bearing edges are a bit flatter at the top and bottom. It means there is more contact between the shells and the drumheads, and that makes the drums resonate slightly more.
More resonance can often mean more overtones, but the die-cast hoops do a great job of balancing those overtones out.
You’ll hear a lot of drummers speak praises about Tama’s hardware. You get amazing quality from both the hardware stands and the small pieces of hardware that are attached to the drum shells.
The final feature to consider when buying a kit is which finish to choose. The large pool of available finishes is another thing that I highly appreciate about Tama’s drum kits.
Every drum kit in the intermediate and professional range has over ten finishes to choose from. That’s something that can’t be said for most other drum kit brands out there.
The available finishes for the Starclassic drum kits are a particular highlight. Tama caters to every kind of color and pattern preference, and all those Starclassic finishes look extraordinary on a stage. The strong accents of the die-cast hoops also do an amazing job of supporting how good the finishes look.
If you’re someone who puts a lot of thought into how good you want your drum kit to look, you’ll have a ball looking at all the options with Tama sets.
Tama Drum Sets FAQs
Where are Tama Drum Kits Made?
All Tama drum kits are made in Japan and China. The brand’s best drum kits are made in Seto, Japan. The more affordable products are made in Guangzhou, China.
Which Famous Drummers Use Tama Drum Sets?
Some huge names that have been using Tama drums since the 20th century are Lars Ulrich, Stewart Copeland, Mike Portnoy, Simon Phillips, and Phil Collins.
A few famous modern drummers that play Tama drums are Anika Nilles, Robert ‘Sput’ Searight, Taylor Gordon, and Eloy Casagrande.
How Old Are Tama Drums?
The Tama drum company was formed in 1974. The drums became very popular, and that’s why so many rock drummers from the 70s and 80s can be seen playing old Tama drum kits.