Tama Silverstar drum kit review

Tama and Yamaha were leading companies in introducing straight-sided birch shell drums to the USA back in the late 1970s. Birch was promoted as the recording wood, being a little more focused than maple.

Silverstar is a new series that plugs the intermediate slot, above the budget Imperialstar but below the professional Starclassic.

"Uncluttered design, small lugs and tidy isolation mounts all conspire to give the drums a fresh, versatile sound with absolutely no choking."

It replaces the old standard Superstar, although (confusingly) the popular Superstar Hyperdrive remains.

Build

Since Tama is proud of its birch legacy, let's start with the shells. Toms and snares are 6-ply, 6mm while bass drums are 7-ply, 7mm.

They are typically modern straight-sided shells (ie: without reinforcing rings) with 45° bearing edges. I did encounter a tiny glitch on one bass drum edge, but otherwise everything about the shells is as good as you now expect from the Chinese, which is to say near faultless.

Tama's characteristic diagonal seams are present and correct, while what looks like first-grade birch displays a tight if unspectacular grain, sealed inside with a light brown stain.

Eight finishes - five lacquers and three wraps - are on offer. Seen here is Transparent Red Burst.

There is also a handy selection of drums, with 10 toms ranging from 8" to 18", four 18" to 24" bass drums and just two snares, 14"x5" and 14"x6½".

Tama has marshalled these into four kit layouts, the review kit being the oddly-titled Accel Driver Five Piece with 22"x18" bass drum, 10"x8" and 12"x9" mounted toms, 16"x14" fl oor tom and 14"x5" snare.

Silverstar has a new low-mass lug, a neat square-edged design set on rubber gaskets. Also with rubber gaskets - elegantly moulded - are the deeply recessed bass drum claws.

The 14"x5" snare has eight double-ended bridge lugs with a different, more curvy design to the other lugs. Its pull-away MCS70 piston strainer is neatly designed if a little fiddly. With just eight lugs and thin shell, this is a noticeably lightweight snare drum.

Tama has also revamped its Star Mount isolation bracket. This angular steel band, suspended from four lugs, sits right up against the top hoop and is much less obtrusive than some other designs.

However, the memory lock is not fully contoured to slot in - an unusual lack of harmony for Tama.

In addition to all this, the Silverstar comes with a complete Roadpro hardware pack, as pictured, with double-braced straight and boom stands, hi-hat and bass pedals and snare stand.

Hands on

The 22"x18" bass drum has 16, not 20, lugs. Don't feel short-changed though, 16 is enough and if anything opens up the sound a little.

The Tama Powercraft heads, front and back, have Powerstroke-3 style edge damping flaps, curbing the reverberation to a manageable degree.

Together with the dark birch tone the bass drum delivers a tight but full and rounded blast. Incidentally, the yellowish tinge of the front head emphasises the classic look, according to Tama.

The 14"x5" snare is a feisty little number - it's amazing how much snappier a 5" is than the more familiar 5½". The centre response is more immediate, rim-shots and cross-sticks urgent.

As with all the drums, the tuning range is impressive. The coated Tama head was a little grainy and you might want to change to your favoured make, but we must say the Taiwan-made single-ply clear Tama Powercraft II batters on the toms and kick were impressive.

Our review kit has standard-depth mounted toms while the 16" floor tom is fashionably fore-shortened at 14" deep. The combined effect is of a terse trio of focused toms, sensitive to your dynamics, with a versatile tuning range.

Versatility is also the name of the game with the adjustable tom bracket. With smallish toms on long bass drums we've often wondered whether drummers have difficulty positioning them exactly where they want.

Now this problem is definitely eased, allowing movement forwards or backwards by 4.5cm (1¾"), then locking with the drum key-operated bolt.

Additionally, the eye bolt on the tom bracket can swivel around laterally, which is clever. How often have you dented your knuckles trying to tighten a bolt which is awkwardly positioned between angled tom and bracket?

Now you can swivel it out of the way whichever way you mount your toms. Very much in the Tama tradition of hardware innovation.

Tama's Silverstar selling point is the birch legacy, but in truth there is nothing unusual about a straight-sided birch kit today.

More importantly, the uncluttered design, the small lugs and tidy isolation mounts all conspire to give the drums a fresh, versatile sound with absolutely no choking.

The biggest novelty with the Silverstarkit is the adaptable sliding tom bracket, a bass drum-mounted double ball-and-socket holder with a genuinely useful difference.

MusicRadar Rating

4 / 5 stars
Pros

Versatile sound. Pro quality at a lower price.

Cons

Nothing especially unusual here.

Verdict

With its easy-to-control, all-birch tone, Tama's Silverstar is, like Premier's new Birch Genista, a professional quality kit at an intermediate price.

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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