90s Tama Kit differences

Guitar Guy

Junior Member
I've only got an electronic kit and I'm ready to upgrade to a real kit. I'm looking at some older catalogs from the 90s since I wanna go with an older used kit, and being inexperienced with drum gear, I don't really know what to go for. There are the Starclassic maple, birch and Performers, the Artstar ES, all of whom look appealing. I really can't decide because I don't know much about them.

The Starclassic Maple kits seem to be the top of the line ones and if I went with that I'd look no further. The Artstar ES kit looks good too but I don't know how it would match up with a Starclassic kit. On top of that, I don't know how the birch and Performer Starclassics match up to the Maple.

Can someone give me the lowdown? I could run searches but I have a feeling I'd be here for 5 hours :p
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
If you have the money, and can find some, the Starclassic Maples would be my choice. But, in reality, any of the Tama kits you've specified would be excellent drums.

However, considering how bad the resell market is right now (used prices have crashed, resulting in a huge Buyer's Market), why focus on kits that old? A LOT of progress has taken place since the '90s, and there's no excuse for not taking advantage of it. Maximize your dollars by going for 2000s era Tama Starclassic Bubinga or Birch/Bubinga. These drums have earned a sterling reputation the hard way - they earned it. Tama squeezed every ounce of quality advancements into their design. The wood choices speak for themselves, but there is also the much-advanced tom suspension mounts (and losing that unattractive black componentry on the mounts), gorgeous die cast hoops, (depending on year model) advanced isolation mounts on the floor tom legs, and some of the most astounding finishes that Tama has ever offered - lacquer and wrapped.

Just my opinion, of course. Please keep us updated on your progress and on the kit you eventually end up buying. By going with Tama Starclassic, you just cannot go wrong.

GeeDeeEmm
 

TJK

Well-known member
Starclassic maple
Sounds a lot like gretsch but with excellent hardware and best mount system ever. Loved mine. Picked them over gretsch, sonor, Yamaha rc, Yamaha maple custom
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
I bought some starclassic performer all Birch shells 2003 model for $700 I'm totally happy with them
 

Guitar Guy

Junior Member
I was thinking the older ones would be cheaper, but I'll take a look at some newer ones too.

My budget... I've got a hefty tom rack, a Tama snare and a few accessories already, so for the toms and kick alone I don't want to go over let's say $800 or so. If it comes with accessories (cymbals, stands) I might go up a bit.

After thinking about this overnight though, I think I might just go for a Starclassic Maple to bullet-proof my setup. If another kit that's cheaper pops up I might take a look, but the Maple kit would be top of the line so there won't have to be any upgrading. It'd be nice to go ahead and get what I want permanently to start with.
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
The only problem with 90's Tama drums, even the Starclassics, are the tom depths. Tama, and a lot of companies, were still in the power tom phase with very little transitioning going on to the more standard depth we have today. So you will find lots of 10x10 or 12x11 rack toms, which I do not find easy to tune and they still sit pretty high over the bass drum. Most floor toms will be square sizes (which is fairly common even today) but many will be "hanging" as opposed to having legs. It was a really strange time for drums.
 

TJK

Well-known member
You won’t find a Starclassic maple for 800. Maybe a 3 piece. Birch are right there for a 4-5 piece.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I always like the Starclassics Tama made where the badge was a decal as opposed to a raised badge.

Can't go wrong with those as long as you like the depths.
 

TJK

Well-known member
I always like the Starclassics Tama made where the badge was a decal as opposed to a raised badge.

Can't go wrong with those as long as you like the depths.
Those were the maples, even had a wooden grommet for vent hole
 

Guitar Guy

Junior Member
Hey guys, how would one go about getting the date of manufacture from a Tama kit? Do the serial numbers give anything away? I just pulled the trigger on an Artstar ES kit. Kick, two rack toms and a floor tom for $534.70 including tax and shipping. This way I can use the extra $$$ for some cymbals. The Starclassic maple kits look great, but this is less than half for one of those.
 
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SYMBOLIC DEATH

Senior Member
I think there are Tama catalogs online at their website. I'm guessing mid to late 90's. From what I remember they are essentially Rockstar shells with Artstar hardware, but I could be wrong about that.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I think there are Tama catalogs online at their website. I'm guessing mid to late 90's. From what I remember they are essentially Rockstar shells with Artstar hardware, but I could be wrong about that.
Here's what I found on that ..... '
The ES were originally Rockstars with Artstar hardware - 9ply/9mm Phillipine Mahogany shells with a inner Basswood ply.
Tama 'upgraded' the shells (theres essentially a Mk1,Mk2 and Mk3 Artstar ES) in 1996 to replace the inner Basswood ply with Birch for the inner ply as well as the outer ply on painted models."
 

Guitar Guy

Junior Member
The only thing that concerns me is that I always wanted 3 rack toms and a floor tom. I'll have to buy some random smaller rack tom and mix it in with the others. Does it really matter that much if you mix something like that?
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
The only thing that concerns me is that I always wanted 3 rack toms and a floor tom. I'll have to buy some random smaller rack tom and mix it in with the others. Does it really matter that much if you mix something like that?
Not at all. Many folks have an odd add on drum. Being that the Artstar ES is basically an upgraded Rockstar, you could probably find an orphan Rockstar tom and fit it right in without issue.
 
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