For questions on what (Blank - "star") kit was made of, how long it was made for, etc. and other specs on kits try THE TAMA DRUM GUIDE now available Contains specs for all markets for all generations of Tama drum series - Royalstar Crestar Rockstar Artstar Superstar Granstar Fibrestar Imperialstar Swingstar Cordia gong bass timbales Titan Roadpro Artstar Custom Artstar ES Stage master Camco Rhythm Mate Tymp Toms Mini Timbales Power Tower System Techstar Starclassic maple bubinga Performer Exotix TAMAFAQ
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DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are the webmaster's - based on my experience, my expertise, my ears, and a little bit of logic - these views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone at Hoshino USA!

UPDATED: March 1, 2006

  1. What is the purpose of the site?
  2. There is a need for accurate Tama information - or at least a starting point. Anyone who emails me should get enough information, although my forthcoming book will answer just about every other question.

    Oh yeah plus I have an upcoming Tama book to generate buzz about.

  3. What Tamas do you own or have you owned?
  4. I’ve owned the top of the lines from the three eras. My favorite's a secret ...

  5. What is the worst Tama line?
  6. I really didn’t care for the Zola Coated stuff (Rockstars, Imperialstars). But then I’ve heard bad apples in the top of the line stuff too.

  7. What are the best Tama lines?
  8. I will never divulge what set I use or think is best; that will be my secret. But here I will discuss some of the Tama lines. 

    Any of the Starclassics are generally the most satisfying drums they ever made, but are they the best examples of maple drums? That's for you to decide. I think a lot of the features may have looked good on paper, or in theory, but don’t make them any better than other company’s.

    The thicker Artstar Custom were fine rock drums, but a bit less resonant than Artstar II, due to die-cast hoops, and even more limited in size/color range. People still simply preferred Ludwigs, DWs and Gretsches for a warm, maple tone to any Japanese drums for a while there although that’s changed in the last ten years. ACs are basically extinct and would have gone sooner if not for so many in stock.

    Artstar II's were superb - especially if fitted with two piece lugs. The colors stateside were limited again. The Bird's Eye kits were fun to play - lot of body and rich tone.

    The Starclassic Birch lords over the Superstar as probably the nicest birch kit Tama ever made. Neither kit will sing like a maple set, but if you’re after a boxy or quick sound (you are using two ply heads right?) they’re worth seeking out. There was much glue sandwiched between those plies. A lot of Gadd disciples swear by Yamaha’s birch Recording Custom the way Peart freaks swear by Superstars. Difference is, you can still buy a Recording Custom – unchanged for the most part - today. 

    Superstars now have die-cast hoops, basswood inner and outer plies, and other cosmetic differences. Most would still prefer an all-birch shell. These remind me of the Artstar ES, which were good intermediate sets...easy to tune. 

    The Artstar were not one of Tama's most successful lines believe it or not, straying from the variety of the Superstar range and the look of cordia wasn't for everyone's tastes. Remember, the length of time sets were made is usually relative to the popularity. The ones that were made for shorter times usually were not as profitable. Cordia was not rare or anything, it was just not fashionable!

    The Fibrestar was a great line of fiberglass drums – among the best I ever heard. Ditto for acrylic drums – that’s probably best left to Zickos, Ludwig or Fibes.

    The Granstar line was practical and simple. Their futuristic lugs made them distinctive; wrapped leftover birch shells filling the void  Imperialstar left. The Crestar/Granstar Custom was basically a Superstar reincarnate, but somewhat bulkier.

    The Titanium set was probably the most incredible set Tama ever offered, but still they didn’t build it – those shells were simply contracted from another company, Kitano.

    Rockstars, Swingstars, Royalstars were all the entry level lines so I won't get into them...but of these, late 90s Rockstars would probably be best.

  9. Should I re-cut my bearing edges on my Tama set?
  10. If you have to, I’d invest in another brand/kit.

  11. What guys play Tama that came from other companies?
  12. Well, from Ludwig to Tama: Mick Fleetwood, Joey Kramer, Bill Bruford, Simon Phillips, Frank Beard, Scott Rockenfield, Don Henley, Stewart Copeland, Dave Holland, Steven Riley, Kenny Aronoff.

    From Slingerland to Tama: Neil Peart.

    From Pearl to Tama: Frankie Banali.

    From Fibes to Tama: Billy Cobham.

    From Camco to Tama: Elvin Jones.

  13. What guys no longer play Tama and went to other companies?
  14. This will probably be updated but here’s what I know:

    From Tama to DW, or to another brand to DW: Vinny Appice, Mike Baird, Joey Castillo, Randy Castillo, Jimmy DeGrasso, Mick Fleetwood, Tris Imboden, Joey Kramer, Tommy Lee, Marco Minnemann, Neil Peart, Zoro, Zach Lind.

    From Tama to Pearl: Butch Trucks, Dennis Davis, Steven Adler, Tommy Lee, Tico Torres, Jonathon Mover, Nick Menza, Scott Rockenfield, Vinnie Paul, Morgan Rose.

    From Tama to Yamaha or to another brand to Yamaha: Billy Cobham, Gerry Brown, Elvin Jones, Mel Gaynor, Bill Berry, Ralph Johnson, Nigel Glockler, Ian Haughland, Larry Mullen Jr., Tony Thompson, Gary Husband, Anton Fig, Kirk Covington.

    From Tama to Innovation Drums: Lenny White

    From Tama to Mapex: Billy Cobham, Liberty DeVitto, Gil Moore, Jim Christie, Jeff Hale.

    From Tama to Premier: Doane Perry, Cary Bonnecaze, Dom Famularo.

    From Tama to Ludwig: Bryan Hitt, Michael Lee, Steven Riley (came full circle).

    From Tama to ddrum: Dave Lombardo, Stefanie Eulinberg

    …The refugee list is too long. There are many examples more!

  15. Does the Neil Peart kit sound like a regular Superstar?
  16. Not really. There’s more presence in the Peart set (due to Vibrafibing).

  17. Does the Tama clock you picture on the site go for $1000 (as on
  18. Of course not! In fact, that guy bought the clock from me for $25. If there’s anyone out there willing to buy that for $1000, they should be committed. All prices on that site are distorted. They get this stuff cheap as I do, or anyone else, and mark it up astronomically in hopes of a desperate fool who just has to have this junk.

    But then ebay is full of these types of sellers...people who swear they know the value of Tama drums or paraphernalia but have not a clue.

  19. Have you dealt with jamminjersey?
  20. No, and don’t plan on it. Would you trust any company who refuses to use email? Even their webmaster was suspicious of the guys that appointed them to do the site without email. Well, if you’ve been burnt, remember, you’re dealing with guys who covet vintage stuff. They probably don’t know much about computers.

  21. You have a six inch tom that was obviously custom made. Can you hook me up too?

              Sorry I am not a hookup for any drums – custom or not.

   12.       What is the most common Tama snare?

              All steel Imperialstars are very common except for the early ones with Star throw-offs. Since Imperialstar snares were well marketed, and of  very good quality, Tama sold thousands. Couple that with the fact that most Tama kits came with one standard for ten years!

   13.      What is the rarest Tama snare?

             There probably is not a very accurate way to gauge this but I can think of a few candidates.

             First off, any snares in American catalogs are plentiful (especially in the 6.5 depth) – rosewood and bell brass Superstars, maple finish Superstars with inlays, are all common! Artwood snares from the late 80s-early 90s – common! BUT…

  • The ORIGINAL wood shell Imperialstar snares are SUPER RARE.
  • Any fiberglass, titanium or acrylic snares.
  • The original Gibraltar and Birch/Carbon Fiber snares are fairly rare.
  • Star Classic (80s) and Pro-Custom snares are SUPER RARE. Remember, these were specially ordered with individual fittings – gold hoops, steel hoops on bottom, copper shell, brass shell, solid shell, etc.
  • Eleven Lug lacquers.
14.      What is the most common Tama drumkit?

    Either Imperialstars or Rockstars, followed closely by Swingstars and Superstars.

    What is the rarest Tama? 

    Here is a rough field guide:

    Super Rare: Titanium kit, their most expensive set ever;  the prototype bell brass kit, the 1980s Star Classic kit, and  the giant set made for television show.

    Very Rare: Fibrestar (esp. colors besides blue), cordia Artstar IIs, standard sized Artstar I’s, Beatstar, rosewood kits, copper Imperialstar.

    Rare: Sunburst or vertical grain mahogany Superstars – esp. with concert toms, birds eye maple Artstar I’s, esp. in opaques.

    Fairly Rare: Acrylic sets (different series), standard or concert sized opaque lacquered Superstars.

    Somewhat Fairly Rare: Birds eye maple Artstar IIs, Crestars - any color esp. red, aqua Superstars, wood finish Royalstars, Rockstar RM, Camco by Tama.

    Common (= Not Rare By Any Means): Artstar Cordia, Superstar in opaque power sizes, red badged Swingstars, full set of concert toms on any 70s kits.

    Super Common: Imperialstars, Superstars, Royalstars, Techstars, Rockstars, Swingstars, etc.

  1. What is the most common finish?
  2. Superstars sold better in reds, mahogany and maple finish. Blacks, whites, reds sold very well in Imperialstar, Swingstar, Royalstar, Granstar (pink too), Artstar II. The Artstar I is extremely common in cordia (blacks at second place). Blues are a tad rarer among all series.

  3. What is the rarest Tama finish?

             There at least 20 rare colors for Royalstar, Imperialstar so I will not get into all of those here. 

18.      How do I date my xxx – star?

           What you should do is send a pic – or serial #s...I may be able to tell you.

19.      How rare or valuable is my Tamco drum?

          It’s not a Tama, so you’d have to ask whoever runs the "Tamco Drum Reference Page."

20.     How rare are maple Superstars?

         So rare you will never find them. Tama never made maple Superstars. Yes, of course, I know about the 1978 catalog's mention, but it was only to lure dealers and consumers since Americans seemed to prefer maple. Tama didn't get maple sets on board till the birds eye maple Artstar I and      the Artstar II.

21.    Aren’t Tama finishes the best?

         Tama finishes are usually one of the best. Very consistent, very vibrant and rich. Very durable. But some may argue for nitro finishes, rather        than tinted clear coats, or better wraps.

22.     What are Tama’s drum/hardware innovations/contributions?

  • Bulky heavy duty hardware ... copied the world over
  • Eleven Lug Snares ...No one copied this, long discontinued.
  • 11" diameter toms ... No one copied this, long discontinued.
  • Birds eye maple kits ... Copied by Pearl.
  • Bubinga shell kits .... So far, not copied by any companies.
  • Bell brass snares ... Copied by a few other companies; Sonor later offered a bell bronze

23.      What did Tama copy?

         How much time you got?

  • Plied maple drums and die-cast hoops, copied the world over, were both 20s/30s Gretsch creations.
  • Birch drumkits? Yamaha beat them to it, 1975.
  • Boom stands? Yamaha beat them again!
  • Power sized drums? Everyone and their brother (esp. Gretsch), late 70s. (Tama didn’t offer these till the 80s).
  • Gong bass drums? Made by Zicko’s in the 60s (just not called such). Tama re-engineered them down to the lug design. Then they patented it.
  • Octobans? Tama’s answer to Dragon Drums.
  • Electronic drums with real drum heads? Pearl first, ("Fightman").
  • Imperialstar or Superstar lugs? Ever look at a Rogers kit?
  • High tension lugs? Refer to Ludwig’s Mach lug.
  • Closed or legless hihats? Ludwig; aux. hihat pitched by an American.
  • Omniball? Rogers employed the ball and socket thing first, 60s.
  • Twin pedal? Duplex, 1927.
  • Pedals with upright adjustable springs? Believe it was Rogers, 60s.
  • Memory locks? Rogers, 60s.
  • Cam Action strainers? Duplex.
  • Camco (contoured) pedal? No brainer…not even an attempt to cover up this mold.
  • Star-Cast system? See "under license from Purecussion" written on the label?
  • Sharp toed spurs? Sonor.
  • Stagestar compact kits? Yamaha, 90s.
  • Omni-Tune lugs? Well, Tama already had the Pat. 30 lug, in turn based on Gladstone, then Cooley's design. Sonor also had these before Tama.

          Need I go on?

Tama’s list of patents is approaching 100. And those are just the U.S. patents!

24.     Where can I have my drums refinished just like Tama (i.e. Mahogany, etc)?

         I cannot reveal my sources :)

25.    What is the best/worst recorded set of Tamas you ever heard?

         Here’s a list of notable recordings – I am NOT endorsing any particular recording over another. It’s subjective like saying whether birch is better    than maple - so judge them to see which you think is the best. Bear in mind the drums are the hardest thing to accurately reproduce on record,  there's an awful amount of trickery manipulating the sounds of Tamas, reverb, gating, mixer levels, sound pressure levels, room size/acoustics,  type of mic's, distance and placement of mic's, other brands for rental drums for replacements, bad tuning, amplified guitars, frequencies,  overtones, engineering, you get the idea. 


Brecker Bros.

Clarke, Stanley: Find Out, Hideaway.

Cobham, Billy: Inner Conflicts, Magic.

Jones, Elvin: Love and Peace.

King Crimson: Islands, Vrooom, Live In Montreal.

Los Lobotomys: Candyman.

Niacin: High Bias.

Novo Combo

Phillips, Simon: Symbiosis, Another Lifetime.

Ponty, Jean-Luc: Civilized Evil, Mystical Adventures, Individual Choice, Storytelling.

Spyro Gyra: Heart of the Night, 20/20, Road Scholars Live, Got the Magic, In Modern Times.


White, Lenny: Attitude.


Aerosmith: Permanent Vacation.

Allman Brothers: Eat a Peach.

Benatar, Pat: Wide Awake In Dreamland.

Cougar, John: American Fool, Uh-Huh, The Lonesome Jubilee, Big Daddy, Human Wheels.

Double Trouble: Been A Long Time.

Eagles: The Long Run.

Fleetwood Mac: Mirage, Tango In the Night.

Goo Goo Dolls: Dizzy Up the Girl, A Boy Named Goo.

Jethro Tull: Crest of a Knave.

Loggins, Kenny: Kenny Loggins Alive, High Adventure, Nightwatch.

Petty, Tom: Damn the Torpedoes, Hard Promises, Long After Dark, Southern Accents.

Phillips, Simon: Jeff Beck-There and Back, Pete Townshend-Empty Glass, All the Best

Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, White City.

Pink Floyd: Delicate Sound Of Thunder Live.

Plant, Robert: Manic Nirvana.

The Police: Regatta De Blanc, Zenyatta Mondatta, Ghost In the Machine, Synchronicity.

Santana: Supernatural.

Styx: Cornerstone, Paradise Theater, Caught In the Act Live.

ZZ Top: Eliminator, Afterburner, Recycler, Antenna, Rhythmeen, XXX.

New Wave/80s Rock

Boomtown Rats: Mondo Bongo.

Duran Duran: Duran Duran, Rio, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Arena (live).

Echo and The Bunnymen

Level 42: Running In the Family, Staring At the Sun.

Numan, Gary: Pleasure Principle.

Talking Heads: Speaking In Tongues.

XTC: English Settlement.

90s and Present Alternarock

Korn: Life Is Peachy, Follow The Leader, Issues.

Nirvana: Nevermind, Incesticide, In Utero.

Oysterhead: Grand Pecking Order.

Primus: Tales From the Punchbowl.

System of a Down: Aerials.

Metal/Hard Rock

Anthrax: State of Euphoria, Persistence of Time, Sound of White Noise.

Bad English: Bad English.

Dio: Last In Line, Live Evil (live).

Dream Theater: Change Of Seasons, Falling Into Infinity, Once In a Livetime (live), Scenes From A Memory, Live Scenes From New York.

Grip Inc.: Solidify.

Helloween: Time of the Oath.

Judas Priest: Defenders of the Faith, Priest Live, Painkiller, Jugulator.

Megadeth: Countdown To Extinction, Youthanasia.

Metallica: Master of Puppets, And Justice For All, Live S#$t! Binge and Purge (live). *Metallica was recorded on Gretsch.

Osbourne, Ozzy: The Ultimate Sin, No More Tears, Live And Loud (live).

Pantera: Vulgar Display of Power.

Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime, Empire, Promised Land.

Rush: Moving Pictures, Exit Stage Left (live), Signals, Power Windows.

Slayer: Reign In Blood, Seasons In the Abyss, Decade of Aggression Live, Divine Intervention, Undisputed Attitude.

Tesla: Mechanical Resonance, The Great Radio Controversy, Psychotic Supper, Bust A Nut.

Testament: The Legacy, The New Order, Souls Of Black, The Ritual, Low, Demonic.

Triumph: Allied Forces, The Sport of Kings, Surveillance.

Voivod: Nothingface.

26.   Where can I get ( 197- or 198- ) catalog from (USA or Japan)?

It depends if I put them up for sale...or if a collector lists them somewhere. 

27.   What sizes did (name the drummer) use?

This can be answered as long as the info is not published...send the questions in.

28.  Is the Neil Peart Tama banner worth $250? More ? Less?

It is a myth that the Peart banner is "rare". That was disproved over the last 6 or 7 years with the frequency of their occurrence on ebay. Seems like every other week or month someone has the so-called rare banner for sale ("I got this with my Imperialstar kit in 1984, never saw another one like it, etc etc etc"). Truth is there were hundreds of these made, so much so that they were sold for $40 each in overstock. A rare banner would be the 1980s Stewart Copeland, or rarer still the 80s Simon Phillips or Billy Cobham ones. The Peart banner should average $100 considering the number of fans he has that still don't own any. Beware of any sellers asking $500 right off the bat for any of these...

29. How rare are the Tama Camco sets?

There are a few kinds of "Tama/Camco" sets. The first and rarest are the Hoshino-era Camco drums. These are not Tama shells - they weren't built by Tama, nor were they built in Asia at all. They were fitted with Tama hardware and assembled and shipped in Hoshino USA but not true Tama drums. After the success of the "Camco by Tama"  pedal, remainder Swingstars became a small run kit called the "Camco by Tama".  There was also a practice pad set with the name.

30. How do you pronounce Tama?

Many drummers have gotten into the habit of saying Tama like 'gamma' or 'Alabama', but it's more proper to pronounce it the Japanese way where it rhymes with 'comma' or 'llama'.