Tama Starphonic Brass Snare

trickg

Silver Member
So I recently learned that this drum existed - I'm not sure how I missed it for so long.

I've kind of been coveting a Ludwig Black Beauty for a while, but there are a couple of things that keep me from taking that plunge:

1.) price - $750 for the 6.5" is pretty steep for a single drum
2.) The snare throw - the P-85 is functional, but on a $750 drum?

The Starphonic brass snare seems to encapsulate, for me at least, what I think I'd want. I once had a Pearl Steve Feronne signature snare, and it was a cool drum, but it was a bit too much for where I was playing at the time. (not to mention HOW I was playing - I hit a bit harder back then.) I also thought that the 6.5" depth was a bit much, and even with my wood snares, I tend to gravitate to a 6" depth.

I don't see a lot of reviews on this drum, which might be because from a pricing perspective it falls in the middle between the Black Beauty and some of the other lower priced options such as the Pork Pie Big Black Brass. The people who are willing to spend more invariably go for the real deal Black Beauty, and the people who aren't go for one of the lesser drums - a Worldmax Black Dog/Black Hawg, The Pork Pie, or maybe the Ludwig Black Magic.

Anyway, I'd love to hear others' firsthand impressions on this snare, and how it might compare next to a Black Beauty.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I'll be in one of Tokyo's biggest drum shops in a week. I'm really hoping they have one to see and play. I've had my eye on these as well. I've played the BB extensively at church, but haven't owned one. I'll probably get flamed for this, but not a fan of the BB and hoping the Tama is better at controlling the overtones I dislike with the Ludwig.

I can tell you with 100% certainty though, the throw off and butt plate on the Tama kill the Ludwig.
 
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trickg

Silver Member
I can tell you with 100% certainty though, the throw off and butt plate on the Tama kill the Ludwig.
Yep - and it's adjustable from both sides, which helps to get the wires perfectly centered.

It's not an inexpensive drum. It's still $500, which is probably why it doesn't get a lot of coverage - people willing to spend $500 on a beaded brass snare are also probably willing to spend $750 and buy the name and reputation of the Black Beauty.

It's also not seamless - I'm not sure how big of a difference that makes though, although Black Beauty purists are going to say it makes all the difference.

I'm not convinced though. As a trumpet player we see a lot of press about 1-piece bells vs 2-piece, yet some really high end trumpets still use a 2-piece bell. There are also some copper bells that are formed electrolytically by "plating" copper onto a mandrel. Those bells have no seams at all, but again, how much does it really matter?
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Starphonic is definitely in the mid range category and for some reason, it along with a ton of other mid range snares, don't get a ton of love with regards to reviews, or YouTube like the lower and higher price point snares do. Kinda strange.

Another thing with the starphoinc, the hoops are 1.6mm, but super stiff, because of their channeled design. That keeps the drum super open, but still easy to tune and holds tuning well. I love everything about my Starphonic Bubinga. Light as a feather too. No doubt the brass will weigh more, but the hoops and HW are still light.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
It seems that you and I are the only ones taking an active interest in this drum.

Could explain why there are so few reviews! It was the same with my two Gretsch snares too. Makes you think maybe they just can’t be tuned or something drastic is wrong! I absolutely love my Gretsch snares. Tuning range, tone, throwoff
, everything is top notch about them. Up to a month or so ago I had a Mapex Sledgehammer. It was a killer snare too, but cost less than my Gretsch or Tama. The only reason why I sold it was it was just ear splitting loud for anything close quarters. I know...hit it lighter, but it was always a conscious effort, where as my others are in the normal range volume wise and I’m a light player. All kinds of reviews on the Sledgehammer, but it’s a lower price point.

Resale is probably not real strong on the Starphonic brass, given the level of excitement on this thread. That may be great if you can find one used, but may not be able to find one at all. The Bubinga I bought wasn’t coming up on the used market all that often either. The popular ones are maple, steel and aluminum. They are a lower price point too.

It just seems to be something about the mid range price point on snares that doesn’t get any love. If it was $200 less or more, there’d be 3000 threads about it. Pretty strange, but most all our reviews and buzz on this forum are for snares under $300 or over $700. That’s kinda where the market seems to be too. Far less offerings between the $300 and $700 range, so it would make sense.
 

trickg

Silver Member
It just seems to be something about the mid range price point on snares that doesn’t get any love. If it was $200 less or more, there’d be 3000 threads about it. Pretty strange, but most all our reviews and buzz on this forum are for snares under $300 or over $700. That’s kinda where the market seems to be too. Far less offerings between the $300 and $700 range, so it would make sense.
When I first got involved in drumming around 2003, the Pearl Chad Smith signature snare drum had all kinds of buzz, mainly because it was at a time when the RHCP were really at the forefront of the rock scene. The funny thing was, I don't think Chad actually used that snare - I think he was using a brass Pearl Sensitone - at the time, they had one in black nickel over brass with tube lugs - a beaded brass snare rather than a straight wall steel snare. LOL!

In any case, the Chad Smith signature snare consistently sold right around the $200 price point, which supports what you said about the buzz being on cheaper snares and expensive snares, (Brady, Joyful Noise, Ludwig BB, etc) and not so much on the middle ground.
 

Bull

Gold Member
Ludwig have finally updated their throw offs and butt plates. New Black Beauties come with the P-88AC . Some of the big stores are still selling old stock with the P-85.
 

trickg

Silver Member
https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/TAMA/65X14-Starphonic-Snare-Drum.gc

Here you go. May be worth a call to make sure it is in fact brass and not black chrome. You could try it and see. :)
I only live about a 30 minute drive from there, and I'm actually going to be up by there tomorrow. I might have to leave a bit early and swing over there to see what's what.

Edit: The more I look at that add, the more it doesn't really add up. Unless Tama did a one-off run on something, did they ever do black nickel or chrome over brass? Also, I don't think that the Starphonic series comes in a 6.5 depth - only 6" even. Suffice it to say, the kid at Guitar Center who took this drum in probably isn't working on his doctorate in astrophysics while working his main job at NASA.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I only live about a 30 minute drive from there, and I'm actually going to be up by there tomorrow. I might have to leave a bit early and swing over there to see what's what.

Edit: The more I look at that add, the more it doesn't really add up. Unless Tama did a one-off run on something, did they ever do black nickel or chrome over brass? Also, I don't think that the Starphonic series comes in a 6.5 depth - only 6" even. Suffice it to say, the kid at Guitar Center who took this drum in probably isn't working on his doctorate in astrophysics while working his main job at NASA.

They have a black chrome over steel, and nickel over brass, but with GC, you never know. Great picture too in the ad! Pretty typical. I wouldn't trust anyone to actually know either. Great that your only 30 minutes away. Hope it's in great shape. That's another thing you just never know about with GC. Blind mice usually list their stuff!
 
Ludwig have finally updated their throw offs and butt plates. New Black Beauties come with the P-88AC . Some of the big stores are still selling old stock with the P-85.

I'll say it though, while the P-88AC looks much better and does away with phillips screws to hold the snare wires, it doesn't seem to be any better.

Tama throw-offs are just superior all around.

But Ludwig makes a seamless shell... and by the time you're paying 500$ for a brass snare with a welded seam, you're close enough to the Black Beauty that you might as well just wait a little and get the real deal
 

trickg

Silver Member
*Sigh* More genius level help and support from Guitar Center staff. SMH.

I called over there to see what was what on that drum. I explained why I was calling, my interest in the drum, and that I was trying to confirm that it was black nickel OVER BRASS. The kid takes off to go check, and comes back a few minutes later.

Him: "Yep, it's DEFINITELY black nickel!"

Me: "Right - I could see that from the photos - is it black nickel over brass, or is it something else?"


Him:
raw



Me:
picard-facepalm.jpg


A bit more google-fu let me know that it was a limited edition black nickel over STEEL. Ugh.
 

trickg

Silver Member
Sounds like 90% of my interactions with them. FAIL!
I have ONE guy at my local GC who knows his business in that store. That's it. Just one. Everyone else....? My mamma always said that if you can't say anything nice....
 
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