Tama is one of the top-dog companies in the drum industry. They have such fantastic drum kits that have been used on so many high-profile stages around the world. The great thing about them is that they produce high-quality kits for all budgets.
In this article, I’m going to talk you through one of Tama’s top-selling intermediate kits. The Superstar Classic isn’t quite a high-end drum set, but it’s definitely usable in many pro settings. I’ll give a general overview of the kit and then help you choose which one to get as there are a few versions of it.
Tama Superstar Classic Review
What is the Tama Superstar Classic?
The Superstar classic is a maple drum set that costs between $800 and $1200, depending on which version you buy. It’s one of the most popular kits that Tama sells since it caters to beginners and intermediate drummers alike.
It’s the type of drum set that you can consider getting if you want to upgrade from your beginner set that doesn’t sound too great.
The set is very reminiscent of the Tama Superstar kits that were popular in the 70s rock scene. The toms are loud and open, while the design of the shells is fairly simplistic.
Before moving on to the explanations of how the kit is structured, you need to know that you can only buy the set as a shell pack. This means that it only comes with drums and no cymbals or hardware.
How Many Kit Versions Are There?
There are two main versions of the Superstar Classic kit. The 5-piece version comes with a snare, two rack toms, a floor tom, and a bass drum. The 7-piece version comes with a snare, three rack toms, two-floor toms, and a bass drum.
There’s a $200 difference between each version. Basically, this means that you’re going to pay an extra $100 for each added tom.
It can sometimes be a bit tricky deciding which version of the kit to get. So, read on as I explain what the kit offers. Afterward, I’ll help you with that decision!
Here are some of the key design features of the Superstar Classic kit:
- Thin maple shells
- 45-degree bearing edges
- Low-profile lugs
- Star-Mount system
- Tama T-Badges
In the design process, Tama has ensured that these drums sound similar to the booming Superstar drums of the 70s. So, the drums have thin maple shells that give them a resonating tone. They’re relatively easy to tune, and they sound good whether they’re tuned high or low.
I love the snare drum, in particular. It has a cracking punchiness to it when it’s tuned high. Tune it low, and you’ll get a deeper and warmer sound.
Each drum comes equipped with a Tama Power Craft II drumhead. These drumheads aren’t the greatest, and you’ll find that the kit will have a much superior tone if you equip it with pro-quality drumheads. This is fairly typical with most intermediate drum sets and their stock drumheads.
The drums have low-profile lugs. These lugs are fairly light, allowing maximum resonance from the shells. You’ll find that the heavier the hardware parts on a drum are, the less it will ring out every time you hit the drum. These low-mass lugs do a fantastic job of countering that.
The rack toms use Tama’s Star-Mount system. There’s a thin metal bar that attaches to each drum at the top. The mount that attaches to the bass drum then sticks into a thread on those bars. The great thing about this system is that the mounts don’t stick through the drums like they do with some other brands. This further ensures maximum resonance from the toms.
Finally, each drum has Tama’s popular T-badge. I love this badge as it clearly shows you that this is a Tama drum kit.
One of my favorite things about these Superstar Classic drum kits is the sheer number of finishes that Tama offers. Looking at the Tama website, I counted 14 finish options.
You’ll typically only have up to 5 different finish options with an intermediate kit. So, the fact that you have a selection of 14 is astounding.
This allows you to be very selective with how you want your drum kit to look. There’s nothing better than finding a drum set in your favorite color!
Different Superstar Classic Options
The 5-piece version of the Superstar Classic has your standard drum sizes across the kit. The snare drum is 14” while the rack toms are 10” and 12”. The floor tom is 16” and the bass drum is 22”.
This is the more affordable version compared to the larger 7-piece kit. The thing that I love about this kit is that it has everything you need to perform in most settings. It’s not quite compact, but it’s small enough to fit on different stages, and it’s a lot better to move around than the larger version.
I’d suggest getting the 5-piece version if you’re not interested in having more than three toms in your setup.
- Most affordable version of the Superstar Classic
- Standard drum setup that most people are accustomed to
- Easier to move around than the 7-piece
- Stock drumheads are quite weak
The 7-piece has the same drum dimensions as the 5-piece. However, you also get an 8” rack tom and a 14” floor tom. The extra rack tom packs a tight punch as it’s so small. It’s the type of drum you’d want in a reggae band.
The 14” floor tom gives a bit more high-end in the floor tom sound, yet it’s still low enough to be effective in fills that need deep tones.
If you love large drum setups, this is undoubtedly the version you should get. It’s ideal for metal drummers. Tama is a very popular brand in the metal scene, and this kit is one of the big reasons for that.
- Great for metal
- Great for drummers who love large setups
- It gives you multiple setup options
- Stock drumheads aren’t amazing
Alternative Intermediate Drum Kit Options to Consider
Tama Superstar Hyper-Drive
The Tama Superstar Hyper-Drive is a bit of an upgraded version of the Superstar Classic. It shares many design features but lends a few others from some of the high-end Tama kits. In turn, this makes it a more suitable kit for pro drummers.
The shells are made the same. They’re thin maple shells that have punchy and resonating tones. However, the rack toms on the Hyper-Drive are slightly shallower. This gives them less resonance and more of a quick impact when you play them.
I personally love these rack toms as they react quite well to my style of drumming. If you’re someone who plays articulate and fast patterns often, you’ll love them too.
Another key difference is that the rack toms are mounted onto cymbal stands instead of the bass drum. This gives you a bit more freedom in positioning them.
The Hyper-Drive kit only has nine finish options compared to the 14 of the Superstar Classic. However, that’s still an impressive number of finishes for a drum set.
One very important thing to note about this kit is that it’s sold as a 5-piece shell pack. It has two rack toms, two-floor toms, and a bass drum. No snare is included. High-end kits don’t normally include snare drums, so this is fairly normal. Just keep that in mind if you decide to buy the kit.
- Higher-quality hardware features than the Superstar Classic
- Tight sound from the toms
- Black nickel hardware looks great
- More expensive than the Superstar Classic
Tama Superstar Hyper-Drive Duo
The Tama Hyper-Drive Duo is mostly the same kit as the previous one. However, the 14” floor tom has snare wires and a throw-off. Some people refer to this as a “snom.” It’s a floor tom that acts as a snare drum as well.
Having snares attached to the floor tom gives you a very deep and warm snare drum sound. You’ll find quite a few modern drummers such as Larnell Lewis and Anika Nilles using these. Whether you’re playing worship music or jazz, the unique snare/floor tom is an excellent thing to have.
The Tama Superstar Hyper-Drive Duo has been my personal playing kit for a few years. I’ve loved it ever since the day I got it!
- Unique snare drum/floor tom mix
- It has a cool racing stripe on every drum
- It’s been my personal kit of choice for years
- Only four finish options
Gretsch Catalina Maple
The Gretsch Catalina Maple is a fantastic alternate kit to consider getting. It has the same drum sizes as the Superstar Classic, as well as a 5-piece and 7-piece option.
The big difference comes in the hardware design of the kit and the sounds of the drums. Although it’s also a maple drum set, it has more of a vintage sound. Gretsch is one of the longest-running drum companies in the world, and their vintage drum sounds are their specialty. A huge contributor to that sound with the Catalina is the 30-degree bearing edges on each drum.
Each drum is also equipped with 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops that give them a punchy impact. Overall, the kit is highly versatile and works wonderfully in stage and studio settings.
- Vintage Gretsch drum tones
- Very versatile
- Beautiful hardware design
- Stock drumheads aren’t the best
PDP Concept Maple
The PDP Concept Maple is yet another intermediate kit with maple shells that comes in both a 5-piece and 7-piece version. It’s also priced very similarly to the kits that I’ve already spoken about.
PDP is a company run by DW. While DW kits are known to be very expensive, the aim of PDP is to provide more affordable kits that still utilize DW design techniques and features. So, this is a great kit if you’re looking for the goods that DW offers.
The two biggest hardware features to highlight are the True-Pitch tension rods and the MAG throw-off on the snare. The MAG throw-off is one of my favorite features on any DW kit, as it makes turning the snare on such a breeze. The tension rods make it much easier to tune the drums than many other kits.
Similar to the Superstar Classic, the PDP Concept Maple also has a large number of finishes to choose from. DW has a reputation for producing beautifully wrapped drum kits. This kit is a testament to that.
- Punchy drum tones
- Great kit for metal and gospel settings
- Several great finishes to choose from
- Yet another intermediate kit with weak stock drumheads
Guide to Buying a Superstar Classic Drum Kit
When it comes to buying the Superstar Classic, there are two things you need to think about. The first is whether this is the right drum kit for you.
Make sure that you love everything about it. The maple shells are the key feature of the set. If you want a kit that sounds a bit different, you may need something with birch, mahogany, or poplar shells. You need to love the thin maple shells along with all the design features of the kit.
Once you’ve decided that it’s the kit for you, you need to choose whether to get the 5-piece or the 7-piece. If you have a big budget, I strongly suggest getting the 7-piece.
Since the 7-piece only has two extra toms with the same sizes for the rest of the kit, you’re essentially buying the same kit with a bit more to play with. You also don’t need to use all seven drums at all times. The great thing about having a large setup is that you can switch things up to have different drum set configurations.
If you’re on a limited budget, the 5-piece version is still a perfectly good option to go with. It provides everything you need.
Answer: The kit comes as a shell pack, meaning that you only get drums with no cymbals or stands. So, you’ll find all the drums wrapped in a protective covering in the box. You’ll also get all the connected hardware parts such as the floor tom legs and the rack tom mounts.
If you get the 7-piece version of the kit, you’ll get an extra mount for the 8” rack tom. This mount is meant to lock onto a cymbal stand.
Answer: Most drum sets that come with hardware and cymbals are beginner sets. They’re not as high-quality as kits that come as shell packs. So, it depends on how far you are in your drumming journey and how good you want your kit to sound.
If you’re a new drummer who has little experience, you should get a full kit. It will be the cheapest option, and you’ll get everything you need to set a kit up to practice.
You should get a shell pack if you’re more experienced. Shell packs are excellent if you already have cymbal stands and cymbals to go with the drums.
Any drum kit that costs over $1000 will always come as a shell pack.
Answer: The Tama Superstar Classic is an incredibly popular drum kit in the metal scene. While pro drummers who play Tama will typically use high-end kits, many metal drummers in amateur settings adore this set. The 7-piece kit is a lot better if you’re going to be playing metal.
The Superstar drums have a rich history with heavy music, so it only makes sense that the kit would fit perfectly within a metal band.
Answer: You’ll need a snare drum stand to begin with. Other than that, you don’t need any other stands for the drums.
When it comes to cymbals, the number of stands you need depends on how many cymbals you have. At a base level, you’ll need a hi-hat stand, and two cymbal stands for the crash and ride cymbal. If you have the 7-piece option, the 8” tom will need to be mounted to the crash cymbal stand.
There are a few high-quality intermediate maple kits available on the market. The Tama Superstar Classic is one of them. I’ve played on this kit a few times at different gigs, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an affordable intermediate drum set.
The sheer number of finishes available is enough for many drummers to be convinced to buy this kit over the other in its price range. If you’re thinking about getting it, you should go for it!
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