TAMA SU­PER­STAR CLAS­SIC MAPLE KIT

£699 The Su­per­star gets a makeover with a new all-maple model

Rhythm - - NEW GEAR - Words: Tom Bradley

In 1976, two years af­ter the first Im­pe­ri­al­star and Roy­al­star kits were re­leased un­der the Tama name, the Su­per­star 9600 Se­ries was born. Fol­low­ing a re­vamp in 2005 and a Hy­per-Drive vari­a­tion three years later, 2018 sig­nals the re­turn of this Tama sta­ple in the form of the en­try-range, all-maple Su­per­star Clas­sic Maple.

Build

At present there is only one five-piece fu­sion-size shell pack, fea­tured here, which con­sists of a 22"x16" bass drum, 10"x7" and 12"x8" rack toms, a 16"x14" floor tom and 14"x6½" snare drum. The kit comes in just three lac­quer fin­ishes – Blue Lac­quer Burst (as pic­tured), Cof­fee Fade and Tan­ger­ine Lac­quer Burst.

The Blue Burst of our re­view kit leans more to­ward a turquoise colour with strong el­e­ments of green show­ing through, par­tic­u­larly in the faded cen­tral sec­tion. The light coat­ing of paint and the nat­u­ral maple wood­grain adds an at­trac­tive swirling tex­ture to the over­all finish. These darker tones to­ward the edges are com­ple­mented well by the black wooden hoops of the bass drum. Con­versely, the bass drum hoops on the Cof­fee Fade and Tan­ger­ine Lac­quer Burst kits match the paint jobs of their re­spec­tive kits. Triple­flanged chrome hoops come as stan­dard on toms and snares.

The Su­per­star Clas­sic shells are 100 per­cent maple which, for this price range, isn’t as reg­u­lar an oc­cur­rence as you might ex­pect. The new, light­weight shells use a thin 6-ply (5mm) con­struc­tion for the toms and snare, and 8-ply (7mm) for the bass drum. Shells are of a de­cent build qual­ity and fea­ture clas­sic 45° bear­ing edges with back cuts. The di­ag­o­nal joins are fin­ished well although they are vis­i­ble both in­side and out. With a classy nod to the kit’s ’70s ori­gins, each Su­per­star Clas­sic drum proudly sports the orig­i­nal T-shape Tama badge. The badge also neatly in­cor­po­rates an air vent.

While the 14"x6½" snare drum fea­tures Tama’s orig­i­nal dual Su­per­star lugs, the kick drum and toms use a newly de­signed low-mass sin­gle lug (12 for the rack toms, and 16 for the floor tom and bass drum), which is a first for the Su­per­star se­ries. These small rub­ber-lined nut-boxes are not the most el­e­gant we’ve seen, but are per­fectly func­tional. Tama sug­gests that by re­duc­ing the sur­face area that the lugs oc­cupy

While the 14"x6½" snare drum fea­tures Tama’s orig­i­nal dual Su­per­star lugs, the kick drum and toms use a newly de­signed low-mass sin­gle lug, which is a first for the Su­per­star se­ries

on the shell, there is less hin­drance of shell res­o­nance. Ad­di­tion­ally, us­ing con­sid­er­ably less ma­te­rial to pro­duce these new lugs re­duces man­u­fac­tur­ing costs which re­sults in a much more af­ford­able kit.

The bass drum is drilled to al­low for Tama’s Omni-Ball dual tom holder (MTH600), a sturdy sys­tem that can also be found on Im­pe­ri­al­star kits. The 10" and 12" rack toms use Tama’s fa­mil­iar RIMSstyle Star-Mount sys­tem, which con­nects to four of the drum’s ten­sion rods and runs half­way around the shell’s cir­cum­fer­ence. The large mount­ing brack­ets mean that the toms can’t be po­si­tioned right next to each other, but their straight edges per­mit more wig­gle room than if they were curved. The four-point con­nec­tion en­sures am­ple sup­port – there’s some move­ment when the toms are struck, but it never feels un­sta­ble. When po­si­tion­ing the toms the ball joints have a smooth ac­tion and the drums stay ex­actly where I set them, even af­ter sev­eral hours of play­ing.

As an op­tional add-on, Tama rec­om­mends the Stage­mas­ter hard­ware kit which can be pur­chased for £199. The pack rep­re­sents an ex­tremely af­ford­able com­pan­ion to the Su­per­star shell pack and in­cludes two boom stands, a hi-hat stand, snare drum stand and an Iron Co­bra 200 sin­gle bass drum pedal.

Hands On

A snare drum can make or break the over­all playa­bil­ity of a drum kit and, as is of­ten the case with kits closer to en­try-level, the snare drum tends to be the weak­est link in terms of tone, tun­ing range and even the supplied hard­ware. From throw-offs to snare beds, there’s just a whole lot that must go into craft­ing a de­cent snare drum – par­tic­u­larly tricky when try­ing to mass-man­u­fac­ture a kit on a bud­get.

The great news is that the supplied 14"x6½" Su­per­star snare does not fall into this com­mon trap. De­spite the un­so­phis­ti­cated hard­ware and over­all look, it’s re­spon­sive and mu­si­cal with a warmth that shines through at medium to high tun­ings. The ex­tra depth (com­pared with the stan­dard 5½") af­fords it a fuller and

Tuned up the toms are well fo­cuss ed yet of­fer a de­cent sus­tain and sing har­mo­niously with each other

broader tone, which also makes it more ver­sa­tile. Tuned up to a tight crack, the drum is punchy and lively with warm over­tones. With a lit­tle damp­en­ing the snare of­fers a more con­trolled at­tack which would be as happy in rock styles as it would be play­ing funk or fu­sion. De­spite sound­ing like it could go higher, at this point the ten­sion rods feel close to break­ing point so I de­cide to leave it there.

The 10"x7" and 12"x8" rack toms tune up eas­ily and have just as much punch as the snare. With the supplied Power Craft II double-ply heads, the drums con­jure an in­stant at­tack which works well at low tun­ings, par­tic­u­larly for heav­ier styles. Tuned up the toms are well fo­cussed yet of­fer a de­cent sus­tain and sing har­mo­niously with each other – they would cer­tainly be well-suited to gospel, funk and r’n’b styles.

Head­ing for the floor tom, I dis­cover that it works best at a re­ally low tun­ing where you can draw out some low-end. There seems to be more bark than bite with this drum.It re­sponds quickly but lacks low-end mus­cle, of­fer­ing more tone from the head rather than draw­ing on the full size of the drum. Tak­ing stock for a mo­ment I have to re­mind my­self that this en­tire kit comes in at just £699, which of­fers some per­spec­tive while tin­ker­ing with the tun­ing. I do even­tu­ally find a sweet spot but can’t help won­der­ing what a 14"x14" tom might sound like in its place.

The bass drum seems to suf­fer from the same prob­lem and, de­spite a punchy at­tack, doesn’t seem to be ac­com­pa­nied by the thun­der­ous bot­tom-end I was hop­ing for. Wide open the drum is a litle boxy and the ad­di­tion of a bass drum pil­low dries it out more than ex­pected. De­spite be­ing less than co­op­er­a­tive, I reckon that with some pa­tience and the cor­rect com­bi­na­tion of heads and a small EQ pil­low, this bass drum has the po­ten­tial to match the mu­si­cal­ity of the toms and snare.

Over­all the kit per­forms re­mark­ably well, looks and sounds the part, and feels great to play. What more could you want for the price? In fact, one might be for­given for as­sum­ing that the Su­per­star Clas­sic comes in at a higher price than its af­ford­able £699 price tag. Its ver­sa­til­ity and mu­si­cal­ity makes it an ideal choice for the beginner to in­ter­me­di­ate player look­ing for their first ‘proper kit’. It also makes a de­cent light­weight gig­ging kit which could also be suit­able for more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers.

CON­FIG­U­RA­TION The Su­per­star Clas­sic kit is a fu­sion con­fig­u­ra­tion of 22"x16" bass drum, 10"x7" and 12"x8" rack toms, 16"x14" floor tom and 14"x6½" snare

BAS DRUM HOPS Blue Burst kit has black wooden bass drum hoops, whereas the hoops on the Cof­fee Fade and Tan­ger­ine Burst kits match those fin­ishes

Lugs By re­duc­ing the sur­face area the lugs oc­cupy, there is less hin­drance of shell res­o­nance

Mount­ing Toms are mounted us­ing Tama’s Star-Mount sys­tem

Power Craft Fin­ishes Low-mass lugs The Su­per­star Clas­sic is avail­able in three fin­ishes – Blue Lac­quer Burst (as pic­tured), Cof­fee Fade and Tan­ger­ine Lac­quer Burst The kit is supplied with clear Power Craft II double-ply heads With the ex­cep­tion of the...

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