Tama Artstar II/Custom vs Starclassic Maple

Invicta

Junior Member
I’m wondering what the difference in sound characteristics there are between these two lines of maple Tama drums??

As far as I know:
Artstar II/Customs: 9mm maple bass drums and 7mm toms
Starclassic Maples: 7mm maple bass drums and 5mm toms

All I can GUESS is that artstar II/customs will be louder and higher in pitch where as the Starclassics will be quieter and lower in pitch?

Anyone with experience on these or thoughts?
 

Dave_G

Member
I've owned an Artstar II kit, and it sounded great. The 13" rack tom was maybe the best rack tom that I've owned in that size because it had a deep tone but sang. I've played birch, bubinga, and maple Starclassics. The maple ones sound really nice too. Having said that, used Starclassics can be found easily for low pricing ($700 to $1,000 for maple depending on the region). I like the hardware options on the Starclassic better too. I'd probably go with those.
 

Invicta

Junior Member
I've owned an Artstar II kit, and it sounded great. The 13" rack tom was maybe the best rack tom that I've owned in that size because it had a deep tone but sang. I've played birch, bubinga, and maple Starclassics. The maple ones sound really nice too. Having said that, used Starclassics can be found easily for low pricing ($700 to $1,000 for maple depending on the region). I like the hardware options on the Starclassic better too. I'd probably go with those.
Did you notice any sound or tuning difference between these two lines? Thanks
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
Did you notice any sound or tuning difference between these two lines? Thanks
I had both Invicta.. The very last gen "Artstar Custom" were WONDERFUL shells.. They were'nt "loud" or "harsh" or anything like that.. just more pronounced I would say. They had more presence I think because the shell is more focused on the mid-range rather than super sub low's like the 5mm Starclassic shell. The low's are not as useful IMO as the mid range of the 7mm shell.

I always wished Tama would of just transferred those Artstar Custom shells to the Starclassic line and made an optional model with the smaller footprint hardware.

The shells are'nt even super thick.. just medium thickness. I also had both models of Pearl with the 7.5mm Masters shell AND the 5mm Masters shell with rings.. The 7.5 always won for ME at least.. There was just so much more useable sound when tuned properly.
 

Invicta

Junior Member
I had both Invicta.. The very last gen "Artstar Custom" were WONDERFUL shells.. They were'nt "loud" or "harsh" or anything like that.. just more pronounced I would say. They had more presence I think because the shell is more focused on the mid-range rather than super sub low's like the 5mm Starclassic shell. The low's are not as useful IMO as the mid range of the 7mm shell.

I always wished Tama would of just transferred those Artstar Custom shells to the Starclassic line and made an optional model with the smaller footprint hardware.

The shells are'nt even super thick.. just medium thickness. I also had both models of Pearl with the 7.5mm Masters shell AND the 5mm Masters shell with rings.. The 7.5 always won for ME at least.. There was just so much more useable sound when tuned properly.
Thank you for that excellent input. I, too, had the 7.5mm maple shells pearl produced and the 5mm with reinforcement ring shells pearl produced. I especially noticed the difference in those drums as well. The thicker shells' bass drums were much more powerful and the toms could be heard more in the mix, fuller sounding if you will, where the thinner shells seemed to come out thin sounding, not as pronounced or present. I favored my Pearl MRX drums when competing with heavy distorted guitars for sure. Really packed a punch. They didn't tune as low as I would have liked but everything is a trade off with drums I have found.
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
They didn't tune as low as I would have liked but everything is a trade off with drums I have found.
Yeah when I had thinner shells that would tune lower.. during band practice (which is the majority of my time on the kit), the lower tuning would just get washed away by the bass guitar anyway. It did'nt matter. During RECORDING is where I could use the thinner shell and get away with it but even then....... the medium thick shells would accomplish more.

The medium thick shells you can get to a useable lower note if using thicker batters.. and then cranking up the single ply reso's.

Maybe the Starclassic B/B or Ludwig Classic Maple is the compromise you are looking for at 6mm, but only the Tama gives you a nice thick kick drum. Ludwig leaves the kick the same as the toms which I think they should of added a mm or 2 or 3.
 

Dave_G

Member
Did you notice any sound or tuning difference between these two lines? Thanks

Comparing both with Clear Ambassador reso heads and Clear Emperor batters, the Artstar II's sounded fuller. But Pinstripe batters bring our a bit more bottom in the Starclassics.
 

Invicta

Junior Member
Yeah when I had thinner shells that would tune lower.. during band practice (which is the majority of my time on the kit), the lower tuning would just get washed away by the bass guitar anyway. It did'nt matter. During RECORDING is where I could use the thinner shell and get away with it but even then....... the medium thick shells would accomplish more.

The medium thick shells you can get to a useable lower note if using thicker batters.. and then cranking up the single ply reso's.

Maybe the Starclassic B/B or Ludwig Classic Maple is the compromise you are looking for at 6mm, but only the Tama gives you a nice thick kick drum. Ludwig leaves the kick the same as the toms which I think they should of added a mm or 2 or 3.
I think you might be on to something. Ludwig CM with their 6mm thickness might be right on the money but like you said a bit more on the bass drums would be nice. What you mentioned about the Tama WB's was also right on the money and check out how they boost their bass drum shells:

TT/FT/SD: 6mm, 4ply Birch + 2 inner ply American Black Walnut
BD: 8mm, 5ply Birch + 2 inner ply American Black Walnut

Pretty freaking cool. Great advice.
 

Invicta

Junior Member
Comparing both with Clear Ambassador reso heads and Clear Emperor batters, the Artstar II's sounded fuller. But Pinstripe batters bring our a bit more bottom in the Starclassics.
I bet they did. That would make since with them having 2mm more thickness on all their shells than the SCM's.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
Maybe it's not just about shell thickness : Artstar 2 didn't have suspension mount or die cast hoops. And they had the most stylish long lugs, vs light small footprints lugs.
 

Road Bull

Silver Member
I recently set my Artstar Customs back up after putting my Ludwig Classic Maples away for a while. While i cant really comment on how they compare to Starclassics, I can say these drums sound fantastic. And they do that all while being some of the best, if not THE best looking drums Tama ever made, or will make. I have some Granstars too. I go back and forth on what one I like more, but the Artstars manage to sound fantastic without the aid if fancy suspension options that are common today.

One thing to take into consideration is that the older Artstars primary utilize power tom sizing. This doesn't mean that they lack responsiveness, but in addition to their sensitivity, they can command power beyond their relative size, all while sounding great. I forgot how much i love this punchy 22x16" bass drum. I had grown tired of playing a large 26x14" monster that lacked punch.

One other item of note. The original double tom holder /omni-ball mount was a work of art that got dumbed down and simplified over the years IMHO.
 

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Artstar

Platinum Member
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Not too common but they did offer in traditional sizes and no mounts on toms.... so they probably shipped with the original Starcast back then.... this dude below upgraded to the newer Starcast.

Wish they would of kept that series....switched out the long lugs to the seperate Granstar lug and offered the same shell as well as an optional thin version. Perfect situation IMO.



 

Road Bull

Silver Member
Tamaefx

Thank you. So I was not the original owner. I think they were out of my budget when they were new. LOL.. As far as I can tell, these might be the last of the Artstar lines produced. For instance, I have older Granstars that typically share a lot of the same hardware design between the two lines. But on these, It looks like my Artstar Customs shared similar hardware with the Starclassic line. Notice the double tom mount on the bass drum, AND the bass drum spurs. Those designs are both carried over on the Starclassics, but are NOT found on other Artstar iterations. These do have the die cast rims.

I was lucky enough to find this four piece, 12,13,16,22 on CL for $500. I was really just looking for a beater kit to play out shows so as to keep my more sentimentally expensive Granstars at home. I just lucked out and found someone who just didn't have the time or space anymore for a drum kit in their life.

@Artstar

Yeah, that's an interesting combination of specs for those drums. Those look like the same ones being sold on eBay at the moment. So it looks like he/she cut down the power toms to be a shallower depth and added the Starclassic tom mounting options. It sure looks like they put some work into it. They had to redrill new mounting placement for the shorter lug layout. Man, that must have been a fair amount of work. It might have been cheaper to sell and buy closer to what you like.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Tama-Artstar-Custom-Premium-Maple-5Pc-Shell-Pack-20INCH-Bass-Drum-READ/153329173386?hash=item23b321838a:g:lnkAAOSwSn1cMRGp

I have to say that I got a little spoiled with shallower tom depths. My Ludwig Classic 14x10 makes a drum that big very forgiving. But the larger 13" power tom isn't that big a deal as I dropped down to the 22" bass drum. So it's a bit of a wash.

I like the Starclassics alright, but I was just sad to see Tama give up on such an iconic look. They had so many different versions of the Starclassic line, birch, maple, birch bubinga, bubinga.. I just lost track as the hardware all looks the same now. I know the mounting systems have changed a bit, but the lugs look the same to me. I guess the badges changed a bit over the years as well as where they were made, Japan vs. China. I will have to try to school myself a bit more on their lineage.
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
@Artstar

Yeah, that's an interesting combination of specs for those drums. Those look like the same ones being sold on eBay at the moment. So it looks like he/she cut down the power toms to be a shallower depth and added the Starclassic tom mounting options. It sure looks like they put some work into it. They had to redrill new mounting placement for the shorter lug layout. Man, that must have been a fair amount of work. It might have been cheaper to sell and buy closer to what you like.
Those are factory Roadbull.... the sizes were in the catalog but the toms had to be special request for the starcast. See below for sizes:

 

Road Bull

Silver Member
Those are factory Roadbull.... the sizes were in the catalog but the toms had to be special request for the starcast. See below for sizes:

Maybe we are talking about different things. I know that you could order them in shallower depths. They were not as common as the power tom options.

However, I thought you were talking about the ones you showed pictures of with the the Starclassic rims and suspension mounts. Those are the same ones listed in the eBay sale in the red lacquer finish. And those drums have been modified. They have the same shoes in the photos and are the same as the ones you linked. That's all.

Description notes:
Tama Artstar Custom Premium Maple 5Pc.

Shell Pack!!! “PLEASE READ DETAILS”

-20INCH BASS DRUM

-Rack toms were cut from POWER tom depths to an 8inch fusion depth.

8x8, 10x8, 12x8

-Made in JAPAN 1995

-8,10,12,14,20

-9 ply maple shells

-Virgin bass drum

-Wine red Lacquered finish

-Tama Star-classic upgrades die cast hoops and mounting system.

-In need of a fresh set of heads

-Very minor niches and scuffs, rub rash where bass drum mounts.

No refunds or returns

International shipping available
 

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Artstar

Platinum Member
Maybe we are talking about different things. I know that you could order them in shallower depths. They were not as common as the power tom options.
Yeah we were talking about two different things.. or I thought you were implying the shallow depths were not available from factory.

I see what you were saying now.
 

Road Bull

Silver Member
Yeah we were talking about two different things.. or I thought you were implying the shallow depths were not available from factory.

I see what you were saying now.
Right on. I am always surprised when I see shallow ones. The Don Bennett Drums Shop has an old Elvin Jones Tama Granstar in yellow up on the wall. It has very shallow toms. There's a good chance that those were custom beyond what Tama was offering for a shallower than power tom option. They are all pretty cool though.

BTW, that's a cool catalog listing of the Artstars. Those seems to have all the last upgrades before they discontinued them. Back in middle school and high school I used to wear those catalogs out drooling over all the cool drums and my favorite artists playing them.
 

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Artstar

Platinum Member
Right on. I am always surprised when I see shallow ones. The Don Bennett Drums Shop has an old Elvin Jones Tama Granstar in yellow up on the wall. It has very shallow toms. There's a good chance that those were custom beyond what Tama was offering for a shallower than power tom option. They are all pretty cool though.
.
Yeah they actually DID have the Jazz Crestar's and Granstar's.. but like you said.. that particular one was custom with the 18" kick and gold color.... it's just not too many people ordered them. You can see a jazz kit in this catalog but with 20" kick AND the sizes available. Tama already had mastered everything on these drums in the 80's.. they just needed a thin shell alternative with the exact same hardware and a suspension upgrade. That's it.



 
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