Too bad your Tama choice doesn't utilize a virgin bass drum like the other two choices. I think it provides a more versatile setup than bass-drum-mounted toms.
i second this!My avatar indicates my obvious bias, but you should test drive the Pearl Session Studio Select (or Classic if you can find NOS).
Birch/Mahogany shells, or Birch/Kapur for the Classic. I too am just getting started and spent a few months deciding what kit I would buy. I was on the fence with Mapex Saturn V, Ludwig Keystone, Tama SC, and others on the short list. When I heard the Pearl SSC it was game over for me.
I also gravitate toward 70s, 80s rock
Pearl Studio Session Select. Add a nice snare and your budget is still safe
I am thinking about spending $2000 total and will buy cymbals and hardware separate so looking for best bang for the buck on shells.
I started with that goal, but have changed to $2000 for shells.Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but it sounds like you're looking for drums, hardware, cymbals - the whole shot for 2000.
If so, I'd say put 1000 of that towards cymbals, 250 or so for hardware, and the rest on drums.
I think a throne normally isn't included in a hardware pack either.
Or maybe, I read it wrong, and you want to spend 2000 on just the drums - hard to tell from what you wrote.