Help Me Decide, Please? TAMA Superstar Classic Vs. Gretsch Catalina Maple Shell Kits

Which Kit Would You Recommend?

  • Gretsch Catalina Maple

    Votes: 3 15.8%
  • TAMA Superstar Classic

    Votes: 8 42.1%
  • Third Option - Please Comment

    Votes: 8 42.1%

  • Total voters
    19

Jeremy Crockett

Well-known member
Greetings All!

I am absolutely stuck and need some third-party, unemotional input. So, I turn to those who have more and direct experience with the kits I am wondering about. It is not my intent to start a poop-slinging fest, so if threads like this are frowned up, I will gladly delete it and gain some input another way.

I currently have a TAMA Imperialstar kit with an 18x22 kick, a 5x14 snare, 9x12 and 10x13 rack toms, and a 16x16 floor tom. I am looking to upgrade to a newer, better set of shells. I do not want to spend more than $1200. I really want to expand and add a 14" floor tom. With these things in mind, I am debating between the following two kits:

The Gretsch Catalina Maple 6 Piece Shell Kit or the TAMA Superstar Classic 7 Piece Lacquer Shell Kit

I am leaning, heavily, towards the Gretsch. First; because of Gretsch's reputation, next; I think the Walnut Glaze finish is amazing, and third; I like that there is a cymbal mount in the double-tom holder that comes with the kit.

That said, based on my extremely limited experience with my current TAMA kit, I think I could be equally happy and save a little dough.

In an effort to "break the tie" I have been looking at YT videos (particularly this one: What Is the Best Maple Drum Set Under $1000) and to my ears, I cannot discern a huge difference between the TAMA and the Gretsch. Given the area in which I live, trying these out in person is just not an option without driving great distances.

Lastly, I am approaching this as being a kind of "Forever" kit... at least... for now...

So, what do y'all think? Are there additional things that I need to consider that I have not? Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
 

Wackerman

Junior Member
Imperialstar, Superstar classic or Gretsch catalina maple are in the same league… save money for a better choice! Tama starclassic or gretsch renown are better choice for sure, Pearl MASTER maple complete or DW design serie are also very good choice! But if you need a new drum very quickly…. I like to believe Yamaha stage custom will be a better idea
 
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wildbill

Platinum Member
Either of the maple sets you're looking at will be a step up from the poplar Imperialstars you've got now.
I'd imagine you could be happy with either one.

But you could also consider a used, higher line set too.
You usually get more for your money with a used set.
 

incrementalg

Gold Member
I vote for save a little more and take a bigger step up. If you like the Catalina’s I think you’ll love the Renowns…they look, sound and feel way above their price point and can easily be a forever set.
 
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bud7h4

Silver Member
I've seen Starclassics mentioned: where are these $1200 Starclassics?
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
A few years ago I bought a five pc. shell pack Starclassic Performers all Birch 2003 model 10, 12, 14, & 22 with a matching snare for $750 from GC used shipped from Florida to Kansas. I've always thought the performers were really good drums. They were in pristine condition and I'm totally happy with them, and that's after owning a large set of Yamaha Birch Custom Absolute Nouveau drums. They were pretty high dollar. Having said that, I have heard a lot of good about the renown drums also.
 

Jeremy Crockett

Well-known member
... starclassic and renown...
... Tama starclassic or gretsch renown...
... save/stretch a bit more. Renown, Starclassic... Especially if this is a "forever" kit... buy once, cry once.
I believe I am starting to see a pattern here...

I am amenable to spending a bit more for a discernable step up in quality. My main question, since I know nothing, is; What, specifically, are the differences between what I have been considering and the two lines that keep getting mentioned?

Also, thank you for the reminder about the used market, although I have heard a lot of things about Reverb that have made me somewhat gunshy. I would be completely comfortable buying used from GC.
 

BGDurham

Regular Poster
I suggest we be more specific about which one of three models within the Starclassic name we're actually talking about--Performer (lower end), Walnut/Birch (middle), or Maple (higher). I suspect most people mentioning Starclassic are referring to the Walnut/Birch model.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I am amenable to spending a bit more for a discernable step up in quality. My main question, since I know nothing, is; What, specifically, are the differences between what I have been considering and the two lines that keep getting mentioned?
So the two kit you first mentioned ..... those are intermediate level kits. The Renown and Starclassic kits are upper level (some might say pro level). Probably one of the easiest tell tale signs is ..... on the 22" bass drum .... are there 8 lugs, or 10 (per side). Most every high end kit, will have 10 lugs .... on the 22" kick. Some will even have 10 lugs on a 20. I had a Yamaha 9000 series that had 10 lugs on the 18x14. But ..... beyond that, with the upper tier kits, you get (usually/hopefully) better finishes, better chrome, better spurs, better lugs, T's and claws, better hoops and rims, shells, tom mounts, suspension systems, wood, attention to detail, and quality control.
Also, thank you for the reminder about the used market, although I have heard a lot of things about Reverb that have made me somewhat gunshy. I would be completely comfortable buying used from GC.
And if you're willing to buy used, for not a whole lot more than the new 7 pc. Catalina .... you can get into a higher end kit. Maybe not 7 pc, but a 6 pc Renown for $1800. (and I literally found this in about 15 seconds). https://reverb.com/item/46460101-gr...oNGi_PB1HWxa1UDewMWDzMo_it6iINvRoCm0AQAvD_BwE

Now ..... if you still want to get one of your first two choices, that's fine too. I think they're pretty even ..... and if the Gretsch Cat. is the color/finish that does it for you ..... I'd go with that. 'Cause after all, you're the one that's gonna be staring at 'em the most.

Lastly, I am approaching this as being a kind of "Forever" kit... at least... for now...
"For now" being the operative phrase. This kit will last you a good 5 or 10 years ..... so probably not a "forever" kit. But it's hella better than the first kit I had, for my first 15 years. And in the interim, you'll learn more about drums, and what you need, and want.
 

Superman

Gold Member
Another vote for Starclassics or Renown. I'll also throw in Mapex Saturn, there are a lot of good clearance deals on a Saturn V out there since they were discontinued. I got mine back in August for an insane price.
 
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Square

Well-known member
A lot of folk here, myself included, have encouraged the OP to take a small step up from what he was originally considering. Good advice I believe and offered with good intentions. I should say however that a buddy of mine plays in a band with a wide local reach/following, plays maybe 75+ gigs a year (pre-V) and he has for a few years now played a Gretsch Catalina as his gig kit.

The point being Gretsch Cat is a solid choice if that is where you end up.
 

Fritz Frigursson

Senior Member
A lot of folk here, myself included, have encouraged the OP to take a small step up from what he was originally considering. Good advice I believe and offered with good intentions. I should say however that a buddy of mine plays in a band with a wide local reach/following, plays maybe 75+ gigs a year (pre-V) and he has for a few years now played a Gretsch Catalina as his gig kit.

The point being Gretsch Cat is a solid choice if that is where you end up.
any modern kit you buy in 2021 is a solid choice, it’s not like it’s 1980 where half the kits were made of basement insulation
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
What, specifically, are the differences between what I have been considering and the two lines that keep getting mentioned?
🤔

  • Bearing edges
  • Wood layup/combo options
  • Hardware design
  • 6-lug vs. 5-lug toms
 
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