The Truth Behind Tama's Move to China

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
A TAMA kit made in China just doesn't sound appealing to me, way too many better choices.

Americans (anyway) want the mystic, the magic, some ethereal musical connection, they want their instrument to have some type of perceived soul, imagined or otherwise and China simply ain't got it to give... no deal, won't be buying.
 

Attachments

  • Picture 5.png
    Picture 5.png
    71.8 KB · Views: 2,637
Really......... Tama what!
Your a Japanese company not Chinese! Your kits would be easier to build in Japan and moving to china's going to lose more customers! I was going to buy a Tama Superstar Hyperdrive a few months ago, but then I seen a Mapex Meridian Maple and I said "That's the kit!" Sure, it's Chinese too. But I love the kit! Moving from Japan to China won't be the same drums as I want.
Gretsch make Chinese drums too... That is... The Blackhawk series. Pretty sure the Renown and USA series kits are American. When I was working in a drum store for a week I was like "That Gretsch is nice!" One and only in UK. It was a Renown Hardwood kit, it was a beast.

Pearl don't seem to be doing well either. But Pearl use weird methods for creating drums and 73% of the drums made are birch (I think). I mean DW! 100% American, that's what I'd buy! DW and Gretsch are outstanding! Aswell as Mapex. But that's just me. Tama were stupid to move facillities
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Doesn't Tama sell in the EU? If so, then they have to meet ISO14000 regulations regarding environmental controls.

I used to work for a Japanese company and have been in Chinese and other low cost sub contractors with the Japanese teams. Like any other sub-contractor, the Chinese shops will do what the customer asks. They just have to pay for it. I've seen tag teams of quality inspectors going over the same product to make sure anything one person misses gets caught by someone else down the line. In a low labor cost area, people are cheap. And there's a line outside the door of farmers kids looking to work in clean clothes. So anyone who isn't keeping up (either production rate or quality for a quality minded customer) is easily replaced. And the people are are working there know it. It's much like the industrial revolution in America when all the agg labor moved from the south to the heavy industry in the north.

The young folks I saw seemed to be happy. Much better than working on Grandpa's farm behind the ox. A generation or two and there will be a middle class used to nice things and clamoring for more. By then, things will have moved to India (which will be begining to have the same issues) Vietnam and so forth. This has already happened to Singapore which has priced itself out of the low cost labor market and now serves as a hub with the technical and management experience for distant companies to manage things in other southeast asian countries.

Where things slide is in the 3 tier and lower subcontractors. Tama may be making shells and assembling drums in a plant that is a clone of their home plant. But things like hardware are being bought from someone else nearby. Same folks that are making hardware for DW, Gretsch and other "American" lines. And these folks are getting bits from lower level subs that are probably closer to what people think of when they think of 3rd world factories. Metal foundry work is a dirty nasty job no matter how you go about it. Just ask anyone in Pittsburg from the last few generations. Of course we don't like to think about where those metal castings and extrusions we've become used to actually come from. Those 3rd generation steelworkers in the rust belt used to proud of an honest days labor. Now, folks would rather be day traders on the net from their home office hoping to hit the lottery. So there are plenty of folks in China who would prefer a few burns from splattering metal to the backbreaking work of hand tilling tiny plots of mushy dirt.

Thank you. It's always nice when someone who is actually experienced and understands the reality of it, steps up and tells it straight. The anti-market attitude is typically filled with fallacy and outright nonsense.
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
It's not like they are going to try and pass off CB 700 shells with Starclassic lugs on them. Chinese workers can make high-test drums too, y'know. I get this same nonsense about Mexican DWs or PDPs coming from Mexico and China. I don't care. The real question is: is this a good instrument or not?

The days of Phillipine mahogany/cheap filler shells with taped-on wraps are nearly behind us. Those kind of drums just don't cut it with any drummer seriously looking for a good kit. Look a a 2011 Pearl Vision kit versus the Export kit I bought brand-new in 1998. Likewise, compare a PDP X7 kit to the original Pacific drums from 2000. The X7 is rock-solid compared to those early runs (which really established a bad rep for PDP, unfortunately). Quality gear at affordable prices abounds, and Tama knows what needs to be done in order to join the party.

If your conscience bothers you about the plight of Chinese workers (or Mexicans, for that matter), remember to adjust your perspective. Re-read the post about tilling mushy dirt for a living. There's some relativity involved.

The environment? We play an instrument made out of glued plywood (logging, chemicals), with drumheads made out of plastic and aluminum (petrochemicals, mining), which are tensioned with steel and zinc parts (mining, smelting, and casting), which are chrome plated (chemicals, mining). The shells are painted or wrapped in plastic (petrochemicals) and we hit them with wooden drumsticks (logging) or aluminum (mining) or synthetic (petrochemicals, carbon) sticks.

Every one of those industries has an electric and/or fuel bill as well, so SOMETHING had to be lit on fire and burned in order for all this to come together. The modern trap drum set is a product of the industrial age. Get used to it. Even if you tried to be a purist about it, and go back to the caveman days...a tree needs to be hollowed out and an animal needs to die for its useful bits.

We are not a virus, folks. It's called life.

Anyway, I challenge anyone to spot the difference or drop-off in quality as a result of this move. I'm personally getting my drums from three places. My DW kit has been ordered (USA), my gigging setup will be DW Performance series (Mexico) and my "I'm not carrying these damn drums down a narrow, icy walkway so I'm leaving them here" kit for the practice space will be PDP X7s (China). See, instead of reading the badge on the side of the drum, I first hit it on top with a stick. If it passes that test, I'll move on to the rest of it.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
I love Tama drums. But I am not a fan of the Chinese Communist party. They lock up Nobel prize winners. Communism itself is anti individual, and that to me is anti artist, anti musician. China is stomping around all over the place and empowering North Korea to shell South Korea and sink ships. China does not care to control the pirating of Western artists products and musicians are being taken for millions.

I avoid products from China. Hell I adore Sonor, but I haven't bought a Sonor drum since I found out they moved some production to China.

I am actually looking at RMV. Funnily enough. And Yamaha.

I have no interest in being another "Pig iron Bob" and handing over capital to what looks to be a future enemy.
 
Last edited:

A-customs

Silver Member
I love Tama drums. But I am not a fan of the Chinese Communist party. They lock up Nobel prize winners. Communism itself is anti individual, and that to me is anti artist, anti musician. China is stomping around all over the place and empowering North Korea to shell South Korea and sink ships. China does not care to control the pirating of Western artists products and musicians are being taken for millions.

I avoid products from China. Hell I adore Sonor, but I haven't bought a Sonor drum since I found out they moved some production to China.

I am actually looking at RMV. Funnily enough. And Yamaha.

I have no interest in being another "Pig iron Bob" and handing over capital to what looks to be a future enemy.

Could not agree with you more. Although i had no interest in Tama even before the move.
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
The young folks I saw seemed to be happy. Much better than working on Grandpa's farm behind the ox.

So true though the people in China look at it as 'nothing more' than a job. It may be better in their minds than working on the farm, but they're not drummers/musicians taking pride in their work, just people doing another manufacturing job, that's the cheap labor force... and even though you may not be aware of it, that vibe goes into the product.- We moved a number of our most highly skilled Japanese craftsmen to China to train the local workers how to build drums “The Tama way.” These Japanese craftsmen live in Guangzhou, they do not live in Japan and simply visit once in a while to spot-check.

So, let’s get into the nitty gritty- One might ask Is there anything wrong with any of those drums? Is their quality level acceptable for the prices paid?

As long as Americans/others are not aware they've destroyed their manufacturing base/economy in favor of supporting communist China to save a few bucks, then no, there's nothing wrong with the quality for the price paid.


The simple answer: To cut costs and make high quality drums at more affordable prices. Prices that the average drummer can afford and feel good about their purchase.

Feel good about their purchase? A total of 16 out of the top 20 most polluted cities are in China. ISO14000 regulations regarding environmental controls are not Chinese law. China has nearly one fourth of the world's labor force. China's ruling authorities now promote the slogan: "To get rich is glorious". China is a communist country, an authoritarian government... TAMA supports this, or their excuse is they're $imply 'keeping up with the Jones'?
 

JDC

Member
If you're really concerned about where your drums are made, buy used. Your dollars won't head overseas (assuming you're buying off someone in your own country) and you're not directly influencing demand on more foreign-made (or Chinese-made, if that's the issue) drums.

One could argue that by buying someone's used kit, they might take that money and spend it on a new kit, perhaps a Chinese-made Tama. Or they're going to use the money for something else - Drugs! Gambling! Donations to a politician you don't support! - but unfortunately we don't have influence over that.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
What I don't understand is why Tama seems to be getting a full force sucker punch over their move to China when they're just one of basically all drum manufacturers of their size selling product made in China.

Pretty much anything with chrome plating on it has been made in China for years, yet we all play drums with lugs and hoops without a second thought. Sure, we pretend there is some kind of sonic difference between shells made from Asian maple trees and American maple trees, but I don't think anyone has ever seemed to care in what country those trees get turned into drum shells, as long as they use the "right" stuff.

But looking at the drumset as a whole DW/Pacific, Ludwig, Pearl, Sonor, Gretsch, Mapex all make or have made for them a product coming out of China.

In fact it is the Chinese-made kits that get the most recommendations around here. The Ludwig Centennials and Epics, the Sonor Force, Pacific M5 and X7, Gretsch Catalina, everything Mapex makes, and the list keeps going.

So why is Tama getting all the hate suddenly? Especially when they've been pretty upfront about the whole move, and even went to the trouble and expense of building their own factory instead of sending their specs to have Mapex build their kits like everyone else does?

I understand all of the high and mighty reasoning behind believing China is bad, I just don't understand why Tama seems to be the only one on the receiving end of it.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
The young folks I saw seemed to be happy. Much better than working on Grandpa's farm behind the ox.

So true though the people in China look at it as 'nothing more' than a job. It may be better in their minds than working on the farm, but they're not drummers/musicians taking pride in their work, just people doing another manufacturing job, that's the cheap labor force... and even though you may not be aware of it, that vibe goes into the product.- We moved a number of our most highly skilled Japanese craftsmen to China to train the local workers how to build drums “The Tama way.” These Japanese craftsmen live in Guangzhou, they do not live in Japan and simply visit once in a while to spot-check.

So, let’s get into the nitty gritty- One might ask Is there anything wrong with any of those drums? Is their quality level acceptable for the prices paid?

As long as Americans/others are not aware they've destroyed their manufacturing base/economy in favor of supporting communist China to save a few bucks, then no, there's nothing wrong with the quality for the price paid.


The simple answer: To cut costs and make high quality drums at more affordable prices. Prices that the average drummer can afford and feel good about their purchase.

Feel good about their purchase? A total of 16 out of the top 20 most polluted cities are in China. ISO14000 regulations regarding environmental controls are not Chinese law. China has nearly one fourth of the world's labor force. China's ruling authorities now promote the slogan: "To get rich is glorious". China is a communist country, an authoritarian government... TAMA supports this, or their excuse is they're $imply 'keeping up with the Jones'?

As usual Les, when this subject arises, your assertions are filled with common misinformation and economic fallacy. You approach the subject with the same anti-market, anti-capitalist rhetoric that is commonly used by journalists and academics.

American manufacturing has declined roughly 40% since the late 1960's. However, this is due to automation and technological advance, for the most part. American manufacturing is more *productive*, which means it requires less manual labor. American manufacturing is still incredibly strong, tallied at around $3.7 trillion, annually. If American manufacturing alone, was stacked up to any *entire* economy in the world, it'd be the fourth largest on the planet.

I will cede to you that China has a much higher level of pollution. It's not entirely on behalf of their manufacturing base but it is a contributing factor, obviously. It has become so sudden and sharp due to the sudden, sharp increase in production there, brought out about by abnormally fast growth, spurred by cheap American credit (market subversion on behalf of the FED.) Free market conditions wouldn't yield this level of pollution because it destroys private property. China isn't a country of private property rights but rather, state-capitalism. The United States also practices state-capitalism, but with a much higher degree of economic intervention into the productive sectors of the economy. This, and the anti-market credit socialism of the FED, is why China is booming and producing while the US is contracting and unraveling. This isn't sustainable for both sides, obviously, and China is a bubble that is about to pop...but that's another story for another time.

American, and indeed many nations, have moved manufacturing to China because the communist government has taken a largely hands-off approach to economic growth, as opposed to the iron-fisted collectivism that kept them in grinding poverty for decades, under Maoism. Labor is cheaper because there isn't a pile of onerous red tape to cut through, in order to employ someone there. You seem to have a problem with Chinese workers pulling themselves out of property, by the sweat of their own labor. Why? Would you prefer that they toil on family farms and scrape by in poverty, and never see a better opportunity? Should western governments use force (interventionist policies) to destroy growth there and further artificially prop up the price of domestic labor...which would make everyone poorer? Do you think the Chinese government can magically create better working conditions and much higher pay, by writing it on a piece of paper? This is a function of the market...it's voluntary and it pulls the greatest number of people out of poverty, faster than any other method. This is how modern economies develop and become wealthy, as China is quickly doing today. Forceful intervention into this process only hampers it, not helps, and destroys economic growth.

When Tama's competitors are able to lower their prices (making drum consumers more wealthy), they must also follow or lose market share. If they lose enough market share, they will cease making drums...which means less competition...which ultimately leads to higher prices and lower quality, across the board.

Does that help clear this thread up at all?
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
What I don't understand is why Tama seems to be getting a full force sucker punch over their move to China when they're just one of basically all drum manufacturers of their size selling product made in China.

Pretty much anything with chrome plating on it has been made in China for years, yet we all play drums with lugs and hoops without a second thought. Sure, we pretend there is some kind of sonic difference between shells made from Asian maple trees and American maple trees, but I don't think anyone has ever seemed to care in what country those trees get turned into drum shells, as long as they use the "right" stuff.

But looking at the drumset as a whole DW/Pacific, Ludwig, Pearl, Sonor, Gretsch, Mapex all make or have made for them a product coming out of China.

In fact it is the Chinese-made kits that get the most recommendations around here. The Ludwig Centennials and Epics, the Sonor Force, Pacific M5 and X7, Gretsch Catalina, everything Mapex makes, and the list keeps going.

So why is Tama getting all the hate suddenly? Especially when they've been pretty upfront about the whole move, and even went to the trouble and expense of building their own factory instead of sending their specs to have Mapex build their kits like everyone else does?
.

Agreed.. I sure did'nt expect this sort of reaction. I was just trying to point out that as long as ALL companies are contributing to this in one way or another, and it is going to go this way to a large extent regardless... AT LEAST TAMA SETS UP SHOP to control their product, REGARDLESS of it being in China.

You want the real deal Japan product ?? Well, YOU CAN HAVE IT. They are in production as we speak.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I am actually looking at RMV. Funnily enough. And Yamaha.
Since I first laid eyes on RMV drums .... somewhere in the "early" 2000's, at a NAMM show, they've impressed me. At least their hi-end drums. And Yamaha. The Recording Customs, one of my all time fav's. Had a set, sold it, now I have "another" set. Keepers. And my 30 year old Ludwig kit, if. for no other reason than .... John Bonham played a set. Just don't tell Carmine I said that. I hear he's a little "sensitive" on that topic.​
 

conchrandy

Senior Member
A TAMA kit made in China just doesn't sound appealing to me, way too many better choices.

Americans (anyway) want the mystic, the magic, some ethereal musical connection, they want their instrument to have some type of perceived soul, imagined or otherwise and China simply ain't got it to give... no deal, won't be buying.

Perfect. There's something beyond the tech, the fit and finish, the lure of cost.. Akin to CD's vs Vinyl, a hard to define intangible. Gretsch and Ludwig have it, despite the faults. Apparently Tama knows the positioning and what they have to do to remain competitive. Not blaming them, just not for me.
 

Big Foot

Silver Member
I love Tama drums. But I am not a fan of the Chinese Communist party. They lock up Nobel prize winners. Communism itself is anti individual, and that to me is anti artist, anti musician. China is stomping around all over the place and empowering North Korea to shell South Korea and sink ships. China does not care to control the pirating of Western artists products and musicians are being taken for millions.

I avoid products from China. Hell I adore Sonor, but I haven't bought a Sonor drum since I found out they moved some production to China.

I am actually looking at RMV. Funnily enough. And Yamaha.

I have no interest in being another "Pig iron Bob" and handing over capital to what looks to be a future enemy.

Ya know, that about sums it up for me... but you said it better than I could have...

And that's why I jumped on these 3 shells yesterday (great price). I wanted a good kit to take out jamming/gigging but I really didn't want stuff from China. I really avoid it when I can.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_2104.jpeg
    IMG_2104.jpeg
    131.7 KB · Views: 2,877

droveto

Senior Member
Americans criticizing the chinese government and system is pretty laughable considering our government set up all the trade agreements in the 70's to keep China an impoverished nation that would continue to provide decades and decades of cheap labor for consumable items in the first place.
 

Big Foot

Silver Member
Americans criticizing the chinese government and system is pretty laughable considering our government set up all the trade agreements in the 70's to keep China an impoverished nation that would continue to provide decades and decades of cheap labor for consumable items in the first place.

I'm Canadian, the US has their thumb on our spineless government, so when I can say no to something, as small as it maybe, I do.
 

Big Foot

Silver Member
THAT, is a beautiful kit. What size is that floor? (sorry for the hijack)

Thanks, the finish is pretty beat from the road but I have a buddy that wants to bring it back to it's OG finish.
The FT is 15x12 still sounds big enough. I'm used to 14" FTs on my 2 other kits. BTW the toms (other being 12x8) are '83 and the BD 22x16 is '84.
 

gwaco

Senior Member
This is an interesting thread I must say. After reading through the whole thing I really am not surprised so much by the responses by the board members but am more surprised by the reasoning by Tama.
I would guess that most of the board members posting on this thread are 30 and up in age, most of us remembering how we thought the items coming out of Japan were inferior as early products were seen the same way as we look at products now out of China. But what China has goin for it that Japan didn't was what we call Global Markets. Aside from all of the political feelings about China , we as a world are now in the disposable era , we rarely keep anything until its useful life has run out , I being guilty of this myself.
So with that in mind it would make sense for Tama to have their product run out of China knowing that the consumer will most likely not buy the kit as an investment. They are in essense now building disposable drum kits.
What doesn't make sense and why i'm not buying into their statement below and why i believe the move is strickly a bottom line move is because they already have a plant(s) set up in Japan to do exactly the same thing that they are doing in China.

Why would you need to invest millions of dollars building a new plant in a communist country when you already have a fully functioning plant in your homeland. Why would they have not spent the money upgrading the existing plant in Japan if it was outdated.

It was also stated that should you want a kit still made in Japan you may still do so but the cost will be greater , Why ? again you already have everything in place to do this!
How do you even know it will actually be built in Japan ? What would prevent them from just shipping Tama - made in japan tags to China to have them affixed to the kit or that they are just assembled in Japan with the parts made in the Chinese factory!

I also did not see it stated anywhere, that all of the existing workers in the Tama/Japan factories will still retain their jobs even with the opening of the plant in China. I would be curious as to how many do loose their jobs once the China factory gets fully operational, if that has not already happened.

At this point I don't see many people buying any of the kits coming out of China and looking at them as a long term investment. Now if your putting down the cash for say a Craviotto kit ,your mindset is that your buying the kit for life! You don't really care if you get a scratch on your $400 China made Tama kit , but get that scratch on the Craviotto kit and someone is going to die !
I am banking that Tama is heading to the don't give a shit group as they will be the ones most likely coming back for a second or third round.
 
Top