Old Tama Superstar Mod...?

MikeM

Platinum Member
So I've had my 30-year-old Tama Superstars for about 8 months now and have been playing them exclusively. I remember thinking that they'd be something I'd need to get used to when I first got them because they really need to be hit hard to open up, the heads need to be cranked, and there's still something a little dull in their attack (especially with a two-ply batter). So the honeymoon period is fading and I'm about to call the Kellers off the bench.

I'd been playing the Kellers for the 12 years prior to the Superstars so you could say I'm used to the thin maple Keller shells with sharp 45s cut to the outside edge of the drum. The Tamas have something like a 45 with a 30 countercut roundover for about the outside third of the shell (which is a thick 6-ply birch), so that got me to thinking that maybe it's time to unload them.

Thing is, they're so well-built and so damn pretty to look at that I'm seriously considering having new edges cut - sharp 45s right out to the edge. But since they're so thick, how much good would this do? I talked to a well-known and respected local guy today (Jerry Garcia of Garcia Drums fame, which is what my Kellers are) and he said he could do all 5 drums in a day for a reasonable price. He also said that they'd get a big bump in sharpness of attack and wouldn't take so much effort to play. Okay, sounds good to me. How true is this?

Part of me thinks it would be sacrilege, but the other part thinks it might be just the thing. If I try it and it works, I'll probably keep them; but if I'm still not digging the sound, I'm wondering how bad it would affect their resale value.

What would you guys do? Steve? Andy? Anyone? Bueller?
 
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tamadrm

Platinum Member
So I've had my 30-year-old Tama Superstars for about 8 months now and have been playing them exclusively. I remember thinking that they'd be something I'd need to get used to when I first got them because they really need to be hit hard to open up, the heads need to be cranked, and there's still something a little dull in their attack (especially with a two-ply batter). So the honeymoon period is fading and I'm about to call the Kellers off the bench.

I'd been playing the Kellers for the 12 years prior to the Superstars so you could say I'm used to the thin maple Keller shells with sharp 45s cut to the outside edge of the drum. The Tamas have something like a 45 with a 30 countercut roundover for about the outside third of the shell (which is a thick 6-ply birch), so that got me to thinking that maybe it's time to unload them.

Thing is, they're so well-built and so damn pretty to look at that I'm seriously considering having new edges cut - sharp 45s right out to the edge. But since they're so thick, how much good would this do? I talked to a well-known and respected local guy today (Jerry Garcia of Garcia Drums fame, which is what my Kellers are) and he said he could do all 5 drums in a day for a reasonable price. He also said that they'd get a big bump in sharpness of attack and wouldn't take so much effort to play. Okay, sounds good to me. How true is this?

Part of me thinks it would be sacrilege, but the other part thinks it might be just the thing. If I try it and it works, I'll probably keep them; but if I'm still not digging the sound, I'm wondering how bad it would affect their resale value.

What would you guys do? Steve? Andy? Anyone? Bueller?
Mike...altering the bearing edges will effect the resale value to some degree.But as a whole,Superstars with some exceptions in certain sizes and finishes don't generate a great deal of collector value.

But if you were to go to a shaper edge,it should give them greater attack.Conventional thinking concerning drum heads with these drums was to always use pinstripes,which is what I used for years.Then just for the hell of it,I threw some ambassadors on them.Coated top,and clear bottom.They sounded altogether different.I lost a little bottom,but gained a little top end and volume and seemingly resonance.They sang a little better.

Try switching out the heads first.It's a little cheaper,and you can always re-use them on another kit.:)

Steve B
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Thanks, Steve, I knew you'd have useful info!

When I first got them I put black dots on (going for that authenticity!), but they just felt so dead. Then I did coated Ambs over clear Ambs and that opened them up quite a bit, but I found myself still hitting them stupid hard and the heads went dead after just a few months, especially the 13".

I'm leaning toward new sharper edges all around. I think you're right that it shouldn't affect resale value too much. It might even enhance it! I'll let you know how it goes ...
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
I'm going to go with the sharper edges. If all else fails, you can always have the re-cut to the original specifications.

The problem is the combination of relatively thick shells and a rounded edge. It's quite clear-cut (pardon the pun) what the problem is. Fiddle with the edges. Do it.
 

pcastag

Senior Member
I'm about to do the same to and old sonor signature bubinga that I have, the bearing edges ahave become worn over time and I want to get some sharpnes back, I'm going to start with the 10 and see how it sounds.
PC
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Just do it. It's not like they're Ringo's old drums or something. I'm with Duncan, you can always go back. Edges should transform the tone.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Thanks for the input, guys. I think new edges are the way to go, too. I'm going for it, if for no other reason than I'm curious to see how much difference it'll make. I'm confident that the attack will get sharper, and that's what I want more than anything, but I'll admit to being a bit skeptical that it'll make a humongous difference tone-wise just because the shells are so thick, but it'll allow the heads to resonate more.

The part I'm hung up on is what it'll do to the shell involvement. A rounded edge, as I understand it, is supposed to transfer energy from the head to the shell. If that's true, then that part will mostly go away, but if shell excitation has more to do with with air movement inside the shell ... well, there will be more of that, but since the shells are so thick, I'm not sure if increased head resonance will translate into noticeably more shell resonance.

I guess we'll see!
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
It would take an awful lot to excite those shells. They're designed for the head to have the most input on the sound - e.g. attack and head sustain. That potentially makes them quite sensitive to head changes as well given that is the primary sound you're going to get from the drums.

Try the 45s. I think it would make a big difference to your sound. Rounded edges are best suited to thinner shells where it takes less to excite the shells and the shells are designed (by providence or intention) to have a large input in the overall tone. It does strike me as odd that the drums had partially rounded edges to begin with in the design but that might have been a hangup of more 'traditional' drums that preceded the Superstar line.

They're a really great set of drums. I'm a huge fan of the 80s Tamas. The build quality and hardware is better than most of their contemporaries at the time (save for perhaps Pearl, Yamaha and Sonor) and it would be a real shame for you to not be using them. Drums are there to be played and if it makes the playability better for you then I'm all for it. No half measures.

Also, it's good to see you back. I'd hardly noticed you around these parts lately but it's really good to see you around again Mike.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
In addition to my 80's Superstars ,I also have a 77 kit in the 9600 series.These drums have a thinner 4 ply 6mm shell with re rings and are a bit more resonant than the 9800 series 6 ply 9mm shells.The bass drum especially sounds great.They also have a satin finish called natural walnut.Standard sizes.

Steve B
 

rmandelbaum

Platinum Member
Are they power toms? If they are your fighting the depth of the shell.
I have some superstars that are standard depth with Evans G2 coated heads on them. I love them, i am playing rock.

Would love ro see yours, here is a pic of mine

 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Thanks, Duncan - the time I've had for trolling this site has been severely curtailed in recent months and I just can't get too excited about posting using my phone. Not a medium that makes me want to post much ...
Are they power toms? If they are your fighting the depth of the shell.
I have some superstars that are standard depth with Evans G2 coated heads on them. I love them, i am playing rock.

Would love ro see yours, here is a pic of mine
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Those are pretty sweet looking drums you have there. Mine are the same color but different sizes: they are 13x9 & 14x10 rack toms with 16x16 and 18x16 floors and a 24x14 kick. I play one up and two down and it's usually the 13 I use for a rack but the 14 is kinda fun in a big rack tom kind of way :) I had the X-Tras back in the '80s but they were deep enough to be practically unplayable. I swore off the deep toms after that. I'll post pics when I get a chance.
 

rmandelbaum

Platinum Member
Would love to see them.

I personally use this kit for rehearsals with my original band and one of my DW kits for gigging. I don't have any issues switching between them.

Have you tried different heads?


I am using g2 coated on them and love the sound.
 

JD7

Senior Member
I'd love to hear about the finished results. I have a 12" Superstar from the 80s at Precision Drum right now getting converted from a power tom to a traditional tom. I had them do a 13" before that and I loved the finished product. I'm not worried about resale value, and Superstars aren't exactly hard to find (in Cherry Wine at least).
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I'd love to hear about the finished results. I have a 12" Superstar from the 80s at Precision Drum right now getting converted from a power tom to a traditional tom. I had them do a 13" before that and I loved the finished product. I'm not worried about resale value, and Superstars aren't exactly hard to find (in Cherry Wine at least).
curious, how much do they ask for this, including shipping? I have the same thing.
 

JD7

Senior Member
curious, how much do they ask for this, including shipping? I have the same thing.
To have both edges recut, the shell shortened, and shipped, I'm paying $72. Last time I only needed 1 edge done with the power-to-traditional cutting, and it was a few bucks less. This will be my 3rd time using them.
 
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