If you vote please explain your choice
You consider the Superstar Classic and SQ2 "entry level" also ????? Or are you comparing 1 "entry level" birch kit against two intermediate level maple kits???? 'Cause if so ..... you've already answered part of your own question.Fair enough, I would still consider the stage custom to be entry level
I’ve heard that the stage custom is great for the price, but I absolutely agree with you about the Tama finishes and sound. While I like the overall look, the sonor badges on the AQ2 I don’t like at all also.I practice regularly on a Stage Custom and use it sometimes for gigs, but I still chose the Tama. I prefer the finishes on the Superstar Classic, and as far as I've heard from soundclips, they sound pretty great with the right heads and tuning. I have no experience with the Sonor kit mentioned (allthough I have plenty with older Sonor models) but I just personally dislike their appearence (hardware fittings/design especially). I would love to own a high-end Sonor, but their entry/lower end kits do nothing for me. Again, only personal preference, and any of these kits will do a good job for anything you throw at them. Yamaha have great hardware and overall quality though, but I still think the Tama's are a bit more desirable.
Absolutely, the price of the Yamaha was what initially drew me to the kit, however more recently I’ve questioned whether I just hold off for longer and go for the sonor once I have the money for it. In term of pure aesthetics the superstar classic has a wide range of colours which I really like.OK ..... well modern entry level kits typically are either poplar or basswood shelled. Pearl Roadshow, Tama Imperialstar, Yamaha Rydeen, Sonor AQX, Mapex Venus, etc.
Intermediate level kits tend to be birch or maple or mixed wood. Pearl Export is poplar/asian mahogany, Decade is maple, Mapex Armory is birch/maple. And certainly there is a wider range here. You almost have low, middle, and high intermediates. Or certainly low and high. Pearl Export (low). Decade (high), Tama Superstar Classic, Yamaha Stage Custom, Mapex Mars (low) and Armory (high), etc.
As far as when kits get rated ..... well, then you start asking yourself if you like the colors and the hardware, the sizes (widths and depths), add on drum availability, etc. And then there's price. The 22" 5 piece Stage Custom kit, is $709. The AQ2 is $1179. That's a $470 difference, which right there, might be the deciding factor for a lot of people.
The short answer is ...... they're all good kits. Buy the one you like, and can afford.
And maybe that's the deciding factor for you. Both the Tama and Sonor kits are maple. So, I think, between the two, they're pretty close. If one looks better to you, well then, that's one box checked off. Certainly, both Sonor and Tama have their respective fan bases, so you get some people who just like one over the other due to brand loyalty. All three of these kits get plenty of stage time with gigging drummers. If you choose the Tama ..... I don't think you'll be disappointed.In term of pure aesthetics the superstar classic has a wide range of colours which I really like.