Tama Swingstar questions

Jml

Senior Member
Guys,

I have a chance to buy a Tama Swingstar with the accu-tone black hoops for $200 from a local guy. Sizes are 12”, 13”, 16” with a 22”x16” bass drum. I’m considering it because they are similar sizes to an old Imperialstar in my local studio that sounds great and is unmiced. Some questions:

1. Does anyone play one of these, and can say if they sound good?
2. Are they made of poplar or mahogany, and are they heavy kits?
3. Is the 22” boomy enough that it doesn’t need a mic? Looking to play this in rock band setting with electric guitars.
Thanks all.
 

SharkSandwich

Junior Member
My very first real drum set as a teen was a black 1982 Tama Swingstar that I purchased brand new.
Stuart Copeland toured with a Tama Imperialstar set in 83 and both kits used the exact same shells. The only difference was the lugs and the Imperialstars offered more wrap options.

For $200, I don't see how you could go wrong.
 

SomeBadDrummer

Well-known member
My very first real drum set as a teen was a black 1982 Tama Swingstar that I purchased brand new.
Stuart Copeland toured with a Tama Imperialstar set in 83 and both kits used the exact same shells. The only difference was the lugs and the Imperialstars offered more wrap options.

For $200, I don't see how you could go wrong.
This is very good advice.
 

Jml

Senior Member
Yes. I agree it’s a good deal. I just want some additional info before pulling the trigger.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I have a chance to buy a Tama Swingstar with the accu-tone black hoops for $200 from a local guy. Sizes are 12”, 13”, 16” with a 22”x16” bass drum. I’m considering it because they are similar sizes to an old Imperialstar in my local studio that sounds great and is unmiced. Some questions:
Accu-tone hoops date that kit to late 90's, I think. Tama was still using 8 ply Philippine Mahogany shells. There's a lot of nuance in early (70's) Imperialstar, Royalstar, and Swingstar shells (essentially 9 ply Philippine Mahogany shells with Zola coated interiors) ...... so not knowing what year Imperialstar kit you've played .... hard to make a call on how similar these kits will be. But I agree with SharkSandwich ..... for $200 ...... hard to go wrong. I paid $170 for my 70's era Royalstar kit ..... and it's a surprisingly fine kit for the money.

Late 90's kit is certainly gonna have better hardware. The early Royalstar/Swingstar lugs are prone to cracking. Getting enough "boom" outta that bass drum ..... keep it wide open, or as close to as possible.
 

roncadillac

Member
My early 2000s swingstar handled a ton of abuse without any issue. Any head, tuning, and cymbal combo I threw at it worked out. It's a solid 'baseline' kit and for $200 (as long as there is no damage) you've got a great deal on your hands. It will cost you $200 in heads to outfit that kit haha. I LOVE the accutune hoops. Ugly or not, they are super stable and reliable.
 

Jml

Senior Member
My early 2000s swingstar handled a ton of abuse without any issue. Any head, tuning, and cymbal combo I threw at it worked out. It's a solid 'baseline' kit and for $200 (as long as there is no damage) you've got a great deal on your hands. It will cost you $200 in heads to outfit that kit haha. I LOVE the accutune hoops. Ugly or not, they are super stable and reliable.

Thanks! According to the owner, it’s got new Remo Pinstripe heads batter side on toms and a Remo Powerstroke 3 batter Bass head with ported black kick reso.

Was it heavy to lug around? Do you recall what it was made of? Did you mic it?
 

Superman

Gold Member
I used to play a with some guys who had a Swingstar kit in their practice space. The shells had an interior coating that made it look like particle board, but I believe it was just a coating over mahogony. They were ok. They were sturdy and the bass drum was decent. For $200 they'd be an ok practice kit, I wasn't super impressed by them or anything.
 

roncadillac

Member
I used to play a with some guys who had a Swingstar kit in their practice space. The shells had an interior coating that made it look like particle board, but I believe it was just a coating over mahogony. They were ok. They were sturdy and the bass drum was decent. For $200 they'd be an ok practice kit, I wasn't super impressed by them or anything.

Those coated shells happened somewhere in the late 80s/early 90s. By mid 90s they weren't doing that anymore.

Thanks! According to the owner, it’s got new Remo Pinstripe heads batter side on toms and a Remo Powerstroke 3 batter Bass head with ported black kick reso.

Was it heavy to lug around? Do you recall what it was made of? Did you mic it?

I didn't think the kit was heavy. I set up either snare, 12t, 16ft, and 22bd or just snare, 16ft, 22bd. The shells were mahogany. I liked the swingstar because (at the time at least) they used the same shells as the rockstar except they used split lugs, not full shell high tension lugs, so it saved a ton of weight.

(Preface: I was a kid and these were my first drums) I kept them in 2 different damp basements for years, my dog pissed on them a number of times, I gigged them heavily for several years with no bags, I dropped them down stairs many times, my dumb bandmate friends used to climb on them during shows and jump off, and I played them so hard I used to break multiple pairs of sticks per practice, monthly snare heads, and quarterly cymbals... Never had a problem. (My technique has improved much over the years, again... I was a kid).

After a few years the wrap started to bubble so I stripped them clean to reveal a surprisingly nice wood grain pattern underneath that I clear coated and had no issues with.

Eventually that floor tom got cut down into my first ever 16" diy bass drum project that lead me on a lengthy 'mini kit rabbit hole'. My buddy now owns that bass drum and uses it with his percussion rig.
 

roncadillac

Member
Is this a local craigslist or reverb listing? I'd be happy to take a quick glance and see if there are any stand out red flags. I'll always advocate taking a quick look at shell interiors for cracks, etc. Even if we are talking just minor cosmetic flaws, that's a great price for a workhorse kit. Plus, if something happens to it you aren't really out much money. Most guys on here won't spend less then $500 on a single snare drum so I wouldn't get too hung up on price.
 

Jml

Senior Member
Thanks for the info! So...the genesis of my query is that I recently purchased a Yamaha Stage Custom Bop birch kit. Love it. Only issue will be I will probably have to mic the bass drum. Then I realized the old Tama Imperialstar in my local studio (10 lug metal hoop 22x16 or 22x14?) doesn’t need to be miced, even with loud guitars, which is nice. So I’m looking for something to do the same. Hence my question about micing and the weight, as I would use this for gigging. I’ve never had 12,13 and 16” toms together, or a 22” bass drum. So this is sort of new territory for me and I’m wondering if I really need all this or just continue to use a mic on bass drum.
 

roncadillac

Member
When these were made pretty much every other company's 'comparable' offering was poplar, nothing against poplar as it makes for an affordable drum wood, and these were mahogany. The shells are a bit more rigid, they feel and project almost like a 'poor man's birch'.
 

roncadillac

Member
Thanks for the info! So...the genesis of my query is that I recently purchased a Yamaha Stage Custom Bop birch kit. Love it. Only issue will be I will probably have to mic the bass drum. Then I realized the old Tama Imperialstar in my local studio (10 lug metal hoop 22x16 or 22x14?) doesn’t need to be miced, even with loud guitars, which is nice. So I’m looking for something to do the same. Hence my question about micing and the weight, as I would use this for gigging. I’ve never had 12,13 and 16” toms together, or a 22” bass drum. So this is sort of new territory for me and I’m wondering if I really need all this or just continue to use a mic on bass drum.

I 'upgraded' to a mid level taye kit after this one and shortly after went back to the swingstar. It had better tone, volume, and feel then the taye kit. Volume wise.. I had no issues. On the bass drum I used a clear single ply reso with a port and a bunch of stickers, it was tuned pretty high, and on the batter I used either a clear ps3 or aquarian sk1, tuned medium high. This cut through x2 guitar players both using 4x10 cabs and a 6'2" body builder screaming without needing a mic night after night. The key was higher tuning and no pillow. Don't get it twisted though, these are certainly capable of warmth as well.
 

roncadillac

Member
I just have to note... My swingstar was my first kit. It served me for many years through many bands and gigs. This thread is really taking me back almost two decades right now!! Haha
 

brady

Platinum Member
Same here!! My first kit was a Tama Swingstar, just like in the pics. That vintage blue wrap... Not a bad kit at all for the money. With proper heads on it, it sounded decent. The worst part of the kit was the tinny cymbals that came with it. Yikes...
 
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