Tama Royalstars ..... Tama experts and non, tell me what you know

harryconway

Platinum Member
So I just recently bought these drums off eBay. Fetched them today. Can't find a whole lot on them. I'm dating them about 1977/78. Someone switched out the old "Slingerland" style spurs for more modern ones. The 13" and 16" toms seem to have all the correct parts, including the speedboat type lugs. The bass has an assortment of lugs. Mostly speedboat, but also staircase and Imperial Star type. The 12" tom has a mix of speedboat and Imperial Star.

Now, in my readings .... I've heard the shells were 6 plys Mahogany/2 plys Shina. And the interiors are Zola coated.

Also. the Royalstar was just below the Imperialstar, and above the Swingstar.

And .... this is a 10 lug bass (22x14). I have seen 8 luggers, and I assume those came along later. I believe the Royalstar line existed from '75 to '85.

Also, the snare is a 10 lugger. OK ..... any and all information you can share is welcome.
 

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fl.tom

Senior Member
Nice score.

I don’t have any experience with Royalstars or Swingstars (was focused on Imperialstars and Superstars at the time) so can’t confirm the ply layup. Did you look through the ‘70s and ‘80s catalogs on Tama’s website?...


I looked through the first couple of years and didn’t see shell specs, but the ‘75 catalog does show 10-lug bass drums (22x14) and snare drums...


Is that the Metallic White finish or Pewter?
 
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harryconway

Platinum Member
I have no idea what color it is. It looks silver. My guess would be Metallic White. I think the Pewter is darker ..... but that's just a guess.

I've been all over the Tama catalogs ...... and the info. is pretty spotty. '77 catalog even shows acrylic shells available on the Royalstar.

A few YouTube video's of these drums. I read some guy had an Imperialstar and a Royalstar and he preferred the Royalstars in the studio. But for $170 ...... I figured I'd roll the dice.
 

fl.tom

Senior Member
Sorry, I meant to say Platina rather than Pewter. Imperialstars shared some of the same finishes...

- Royal Pewter was a darker gray,
- Platina was a lighter silver, and
- Metallic White was slightly lighter still with subtle silvery & bluish hues in different lighting.

Metallic White was a very cool color and is sometimes very difficult to distinguish from Platina in photos. Now that I look at yours again, the finish does look more like Platina... but I could be wrong.

The info in the old catalogs was spotty... more marketing and less details than today.

Interesting to hear the preference for the Royalstars over the Imperialstars in the studio. Think you did good for the money.

Do you plan on replacing the odd lugs with originals or just using it as is?
 
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harryconway

Platinum Member
Digging into the 80's catalogs more .... it looks like the mahogany/shina shells didn't happen 'til '83 (maybe '82, 'cause there's no '82 catalog except for Swingstar). And '82/'83 seems also the switch to 8 lugs on the bass drum. So that narrows down my years to '75-'81 or '82.

Looking at the pictures, the Platina seems to have a yellow/gold hue to it. Mine are leaning hard to silver with standard indoor lighting. Sunlight .... I can see where it might be the Metallic White.

Best info. on shell make-up so far, is they're 9 ply mahogany. These are straight shells. The Imperialstar was 9 ply mahog. also, but I think they had a reinforcement rings. And Swingstar was also 9 ply mahog. Possibly the same shell as Royalstar.

For right now, I'm gonna take all the lugs off the bass drum, give everything a cleaning, and then re-assemble. With the odd lugs on the bottom. And see how it sounds. If I love it .... yeah .... I might source up the correct lugs. I'm probably also gonna put wood hoops on it. Those metal hoops add a ton of weight to the drum.
 

Ghostin one

Senior Member
At some point in time, TAMA stopped using mufflers on the toms. I don't see them in the '80s catalogs' Royalstar pages, but not sure about that.

I wonder what 40-year-old platina looks like? I figured these were "metallic white" too.

Anyway, looks like a great purchase, congratulations!
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Good point on the mufflers. I hadn't noticed that. So that narrows my dating to '75-'79.

Yeah, age can play with drum wrap. Doesn't look like they've suffered any sun damage .... but just time itself ..... I've seen finishes and wraps either get darker or fade lighter.
 

fl.tom

Senior Member
Agreed, good catch on the internal mufflers Ghostin.

And I see what you mean about the gold hue of the Platina in the ‘80 catalog Harry...

The challenge with the old Tama catalogs is the photography/lighting and especially the finish swatches were often not very accurate representations of what the finishes looked like in person.

Add to that potential differences due to 1) color calibration/gamma settings of our screens, 2) individual human color perception, and 3) age of wrap, whether exposed to any unfavorable environment or not, (as you guys noted) and confirming a finish can be difficult.

I do agree the Platina could have a gold hue and the Royal Pewter could have a blue hue in some lighting. And after watching used sales for vintage Imperialstars over the past 15-20 years, I’ve seen Platina often mistaken for Metallic White and those with Platina wraps in good condition outnumber those in Metallic White.

So if yours is indeed Metallic White, I’d consider it more desirable and a win-win.

Look forward to hearing how they sound to you.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I do agree the Platina could have a gold hue and the Royal Pewter could have a blue hue in some lighting. And after watching used sales for vintage Imperialstars over the past 15-20 years, I’ve seen Platina often mistaken for Metallic White and those with Platina wraps in good condition outnumber those in Metallic White.

So if yours is indeed Metallic White, I’d consider it more desirable and a win-win.
Going back to the catalogs ..... color listings for different years ..... in '75, only Metallic White is a candidate. '76 .... could be Platina or Metallic White. The '77 Royalstar catalog lists only Metallic White and Metallic Black as options. '78 Lists Metallic Blue, Metallic White and Midnight Blue. So ..... looks like the odds favor these drums being Metallic White.

Hopefully this weekend, I'll get some new heads on these, and see how they sound. And compare them with some of my other drums.
 

fl.tom

Senior Member
The 70s catalogs can be tricky to navigate and along with later years, may even have inaccuracies on specific pages. Also, some configurations and finishes may deviate outside of catalog years. Like with other manufacturers, they’re more a guide than 100%.

Given this, it’s best to reference the general catalogs first, and then digest catalogs with swatches (rather than just kit photos). Digest catalogs with only kit photos or specific kit configurations are not necessarily inclusive for the whole series.

With this in mind, here’s what I see for the 3 Royalstar finishes we noted above for your potential years:

‘75 - Metallic White (*)
‘76 - Metallic White, Platina
*77 - Metallic White, Platina
‘78 - Metallic White, Platina, Royal Pewter
‘79 - (no catalog)
‘80 - Metallic White, Platina, Royal Pewter

From the following catalogs & pages:

(*) Platina available for Imperialstars; exceptions possible.
(76 general, page back cover)
(77 general, page 3, left side, 2 kit configs)
(78 general 1, page 2, right side)
(79 none)
(80 general 1, page 3, right side)

Catalogs aside, I hope you do have White Metallic. ;-)
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
The 70s catalogs can be tricky to navigate ...

Catalogs aside, I hope you do have White Metallic. ;-)
Yeah ..... it's all very subject to interpretation, at this late stage of the game. Hard to imagine I come across some more drums of this era locally, and can see these different finishes. I think I'll decide to call them White Metallic until I'm proven wrong.
 
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