Disclaimer: this isn’t targeted at someone who knows nothing about drums, but for an intermediate to experienced drummer looking to get an entry professional drum set.
What you get: 7×8,” 8×10,” 9×12” rack toms, 12×14,” 14×16” floor toms, 18×22” Bass drum.
What it costs: $2,632
I got these drums slightly over a year ago, and have been using them as my main kit for practice, recording, and gigging. This is my first true professional quality drum set, and I have very few issues with it. When I first set up the kit, I noticed just how beautiful the finish was. The entire kit was absolutely immaculate, a testament to Tama’s attention to detail and incredibly low tolerances (low tolerance for manufacturing errors or deviations, each drum in a given model, finish and size is nearly exactly identical) in manufacturing. At first, tuning was quite difficult, due to three factors: 1) I was relatively inexperienced in tuning drums. 2) The low quality resonant heads (the batters were Evans g2 Clears, so no problem there). 3) The hybrid shell composition lead to some strange overtones.
The bass drum was the most difficult to dial in, and I ended up cutting a 10 inch porthole in the center of the resonant head. This resulted in a very short, attack heavy kick, in part due to the Evans EQ4 bass drum head. The shell composition of these drums is somewhat odd, but with an excellent result. The outer plies of birch give much needed attack to the bubinga inner plies, which provide plenty of low end. This combination allows a very broad tuning range, and I have tried tuning the toms in every tuning from finger tight to absolutely cranked. I settled on a medium low on the batter, and high on the resonant.
The initial setup was fairly straightforward, and I haven’t had any issue with the hardware, save for the bass drum legs occasionally loosening. About 5 months after I got the kit, I replaced all the tom heads with the following Evans heads: A Hydraulic Black batter and Reso 7 on the 8,” and EC2 Clear batters on the rest of the toms, with Resonant Blacks on the 10” and 12,” and Reso 7s on the 14” and 16.” This head combination, while a bit odd, has worked very well for me. Tuning with the new heads was much easier, and the drums sound better overall. I have set up the drums in several different configurations, including the standard 1 up 1 down 4 piece (I used the 12” and the 16,” but the 14” would also work), and of course the full 3 up 2 down 7 piece setup, which remains my favorite in the studio, but live I prefer a smaller 4 or 5 piece.
As this shell pack doesn’t come with a snare, I have used several different ones from multiple brands over the last year. At first I used a 13” Pearl Rhythm Traveler (it was the only snare I had then), which to be frank, was horrible. I then made a considerable upgrade to a Ludwig Supraphonic, one of the most popular drums in history. It is a fantastic drum, and worked rather well with the Starclassic, but there was a lot of snare buzz. Other snares I’ve used are: An 80s 6 ½”x14” Tama Swingstar chrome over steel (Same shell as the Rockstar, with different hardware), a 6 ½”x14” Tama Soundworks black nickel over brass (which I currently have on the kit), a 90s 4”x14” Tama Starclassic Maple, a 6”x14” Tama Silverstar Mirage acrylic, and a 5 ½”x14” Tama SLP Dynamic Bronze. All of these snares do what they do well, and they all work fairly well with the kit.
I think this shell pack fills a market that few drum sets have, which is that of the budget minded professional, or the student looking for something they can still use when they do go professional. While the price tag might be discouraging at first, it’s important to remember that these drums come with the same hardware as the Starclassic Maple and Bubinga models, which both go for a lot more. While the sound is not quite on par with either of those, it’s certainly good enough. My overall verdict is that if you are looking for a professional quality drum set you can use for anything but don’t want to break the bank, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option.