How to tell the difference?

john gerrard

Senior Member
I have been on a search for a new kit with disasterous results,but I won't go into all of the details.

I can only buy used, so here's my problem. I have my choices narrowed down to Mapex Saturns and Tama Starclassic B/B's. But these two companies make it so hard to distinguish between Saturn Pro's, which are maple/mahogany and the Saturn maple/walnut. When you call to check about them at a store ( which by the way is sometimes way to far to travel to to check out in person) or look at them on the auction site most of the employees can't tell the difference. Same way with the Tama Starclassics, you have Starclassic Maple,Starclassic Birch and Starclassic birch/bubinga. I even looked at a set of Oak Saturns (which they don't even make) I told the employee to please compare them with another set of saturns by looking at the inner shell. But he said they looked like oak instead of walnut. I wouldn't even think about Pearl with their BRX, BMX, VSX,VMX, MMX, etc., etc. Why do drum companies clump everythin together like that?

So my question is, is there any way by badges or any exact way by looking that you can identify exactly a Mapex Saturn maple/walnut from the other Saturns, and a Tama Starclassic B/B from the other Starclassics ? Thank you. John


Platinum Member
The only Saturn I have heard of is Maple/Walnut. There's never been an Oak in there.
The wood is dark, so they may think it's Mahogany. As far as I can recall, there's only ever been Maple/Walnut.
Saturn is a real nice kit. I've used one on a back line kit a couple times and it was really nice, Floor Tom legs work easily, the spurs were nice and solid and adjusted easily. The only thing I didn't like was the massive tom mount/holders, but someone buying a kit could do what they wanted with it. It did work great though. I would just use my tom in a snare basket and not use it anyway.

Starclassics should say on the badge what the wood is. The maple has/had the badge that was a sticker under the clear, the Performers had a badge attached to the shell.
B/B would say what the shell is. All of the Tama kits sound nice and would work well for ages.

They may also have some finishes that are only available on each different wood/series.

Check out the sites of the companies, or get some catalogs (paper or online PDF's) and know YOUR stuff before calling a shop. At least then YOU'LL know what's up--even if they don't.

Good luck!


Platinum Member
I wouldn't even think about Pearl with their BRX, BMX, VSX,VMX, MMX, etc., etc. Why do drum companies clump everythin together like that?
I agree, It is an overload of choices.
I like things to be simple.

I don't buy drums just for the shell construction. I buy them for the sound and other features. I also have a price budget.
Funny thing is that I find many less expensive kits sound a lot like vintage drums which I love. They even have better edges than many vintage kits.

Buy a kit because you like it, not because it is made from a certain wood combination.

john gerrard

Senior Member
Karl, Mapex before they had the maple/walnut had the Mapex Saturn Pro Series that were maple/mahogany. That is the problem not too many people know the difference. See it even fooled you. I also don't think that the Starclassics have the shell material on the badges. It is really very confusing. It would be to the manfactures advantage to clearly market their product. When you buy a Ford Fusion you get a Ford Fusion not a Ford Tempo. Thanks for the responce. John

john gerrard

Senior Member
Bobdadruma, I agree with you, I buy for the sound and not necessiarly the shell construction. But if you have ever heard the Tama B/B's or the Saturns it just so happens that to me they sound the best. Thanks. John


Platinum Member
I play my church's Saturn Pro drumset twice a week, and I am the one who originally bought it. Those are great drums. It says which one it is on the badge; no one has to guess. So if it is a Saturn Pro, it says so right on the drum. Gregg Bissonette and many other professional drummers played those drums when they were current. The newer ones are only slightly better. Peace and goodwill.


The vast majority of Mapex Saturns out there will be the maple/walnut. If you see one with the small split lugs, it's what you're looking for (unless it's one of the very recent ltd edition birch/walnuts, which will be indistinguishable in sound anyway). The old maple/mahogany spec also had the old Mapex full-length tube lugs. It's a very distinctive difference, if it looks even remotely like the current catalogue Saturn then it's the walnut. For the 'oak' reference, I've seen several comments online that there was a batch of Saturns around 1->2 years ago where the aesthetic quality of the walnut dropped, it was nowhere near the depth of colour seen in previous years - there shortly followed some more complaints that Saturn interiors had been stained darker! It may be the case that a lighter veneer version was mistaken as a different wood - oak. If you buy a batch of walnut and it doesn't look the same as the walnut you got last year, you can't really send it back and wait for new stuff!

For the Tama B/B, this one is easy, you just look at the bearing edges. The outer 2/3 or so of the shell will be lighter coloured birch, contrasted against the inner layer of dark bubinga. No other Starclassic shell looks like that. In fact, the only other current and common shell which looks like that is the Mapex Saturn!

john gerrard

Senior Member
Thank you all for the information. It is still going to be very hard to buy a set unles I can be there to actually look at them. And that creates the big problem of buying used unles I can buy somewhere local and that my friends is very limiting. But thank you again for the help. John


Platinum Member
The Saturn Pro drums I once owned, including the set at church, do not have full-length lugs. I stll have some of the badges because I recovered a few of them and only reinstalled one on each drum; they came with two. They very clearly say "Saturn Pro Series." Peace and goodwill.


Silver Member
Even the Japanese made starclassic B/B didn't say what it was on the badge, it just said starclassic. (it was a stuck on badge, not the transfer on the shell like pictured earlier), but you can tell by looking at the bass drum hoops. The inner plus will be bubinga, whilst the outermost are birch, and it is the only starclassic kit with the hoops like this. Thy are awesome sounding kits too!!