“Welcome to a whole new era in drum design…“
This is how the Catalog for the new Tama StarClassic Series started back in 1994. Twenty years later, Tama still sells it as the top of the range Series. Thousands of them have been sold and some great drummers have felt in love with them -some still remain with the StarClassic since the nineties-. They’ve been one benchmark to beat and a reference in sound and ongoing innovation. But since 2013, the Tama Starclassic Series has to share the throne with the new Star Series.
Back in the day, Tama stated that the StarClassic Series was the result of ten years of research and development. The goal had been to build the thinnest shells possible maintaining the same level of stiffness, all that… with no reinforcement rings. The thinner the shell, the more resonance and the lower the pitch, with more tuning range. The less things stand in the way of sound vibration, the more resonance you’ll get. So no reinforcement rings. There you have it. The legendary innovation efforts by Tama at work. And news were extended -how not, this is Tama- to hardware. It was a technological achievement and a step forward for the entire industry. At that moment, everyone was behind. It was the Reign of Tama.
It’s been a while and many things have changed. Everything has evolved and the StarClassic Series has had to adapt and grow, incorporating even more new things and holding on as one of the benchmarks in the drumming world. It’s a good moment to analize the components and characteristics of the current Tama StarClassic Series. Except for a few Special Editions -some of them very exclusive-, the StarClassic range comes in four options:
- Tama Starclassic Maple: all shells are made of maple wood.
- Tama Starclassic Performer B/B: shells are made with a combination of birch and bubinga layers.
- Tama Starclassic Bubinga: shells are made from bubinga wood.
- Tama Starclassic Bubinga Omni-tune: all shells are made of bubinga and feature the Omni-tune tension system.
The drummer can choose from a great number of sizes, colors and finishes, even with hardware. The catalog has its limits, but as it happens in this levels of quality and price, customization possibilities are inmense. All StarClassic shells come standard with Evans G2 and G1 drumheads for toms and Evans Genera EQ4 for the bassdrum.
Hardware has evolved a lot as well, but there’s still many people saying that Tama are the best in that field. They were the first ones in using zinc die-cast hoops, which have more density and thus are more consistent in shape. There’s a clear difference between Tama’s hoops and other’s, even aesthetically. They reinforce the shell’s responsiveness and prevent from detuning, since contact with the tension bolts has been taken in consideration in the design.
The Star-Cast toms suspension system is still one of the best in the world, and has been renewed in the last years. It is fully adjustable to any position and doesn’t get on the way whatsoever in the shell’s sound. In fact, it is mounted directly onto the shell’s hoop and doesn’t touch the tension bolts. Again, Tama’s obsession about protecting the wood’s natural sound and resonance. This hardware is made of aluminum and therfore is lighter, so that it ensures the tom’s resonance. Star-Cast systems can be acquired with the same color of the shell hoops.
Washers that come with tension rod shave an inner rubber part, so that vibrations from the strokes are filtered and prevent them from loosening. When keeping the tension, drumheads cannot detune. Claw hooks on the bassdrum also feature rubber spacers that protects the shell’s wood. Floor tom legs feature an air chamber inside the rubber feet that acts as a cushion, absorbing impacts and preventing the loss of sustain. The sum of all these little things has a major influence on the sound of the drums. You may have the best shells in the world, but if the hardware surrounding and holding them gets in the way affecting how vibration transmits or it isn’t allowed to propagate, those drums won’t sound well. With the StarClassic Series, Tama made a comprehensive effort looking for a solution to every detail.
In the second part of this article, we describe each of the four options available in the Tama StarClassic Drum Series.
This post is also available in Versión en Español.