Where to go with upgrading from a Taiwan Tama Rockstar

Brief introduction story: When I first was in band in school, I had an interest to play drums. They were just so cool and sounded awesome. But, because of price and size I was given a flute from my dad instead. Nothing wrong with flute, but making noise with it just never clicked and I quit pretty fast. Some years later, I picked up a drum set from the neighboring pawn shop for something like 150$. It included this 4 piece Tama Rockstar MadeInTaiwan, CMC snare-Taiwan, kick pedal, a huge vintage ride I later sold, the sabian b8 pro medium 16" hi hats and a cymbal stand. It was nice to finally get to play a drum kit.

Over the following years, the kit was stored away, brought back out, used in a quick band project (was when I added the Zildjian S 16 medium thin crash with little education or listening to other cymbals and Sabian b8 ride), tuned, over tuned, under tuned, muffled and eventually mic'd. I think it's reached some of the best tone in the time I've owned it yet I feel subjective and lacking. It's to the point where an upgrade would help inspire me and respect the drums I own more. Looking at the kit now, I also notice half the heads were not stock which has probably helped.

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Anyways, I had planned to upgrade the cymbals once I can save up. In the order of Ride first, maybe another crash or replace the Zild, then look into hi hats if necessary. Perhaps sooner though, the thought of upgrading the shells and snare has shown more importance to me lately. The kick has been nice, 22", with an evans eq2 batter and eq3 resonator , and have gotten the snare reasonable 14" with muffling, but the toms especially have never meshed well. 12", 13", 16". Remo weatherking pinstripe heads and stock resonators.

It may be the last part of my home studio I want to upgrade.
I'm looking towards getting a versatile kit that can go well with everything from indie, pop, rock, and jazz in the studio. It should be at least a mid end kit. And even though drums are still not near my main instrument (as I've never truly had them in a place where I can consistently practice them with the noise), the studio upgrade aspect has me looking for a setup that should be all I ever need unless I was to unforeseeably go pro. With all the useful information available online, there still shows sacrificial choices for choosing desired pieces, as I would expect with an instrument. But at the end of the day, just a set of improved higher end shells following with a new (to me) snare and cymbals eventually would do well to help me on my way.

So far browsing the used market, there are great deals here and there mid to higher end. I started looking at the Sonor Force Series (one to mention) with some bargains on used #pc shells.
After getting a new setup. Comparing with my current kit will be interesting. The new kit will likely then stay mainly in the studio, and the old in the basement where it could stay for more liberated practice play.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
Welcome to Drummerworld!

The most universal recommendation on this forum under $1000 would be the Yamaha Stage Custom. Great drums for the money. Get the 22/10/12/16 with 14" snare for under $700.

The most universal recommendation on this forum under $2000 would be the Gretsch Renowns. These are basically indistinguishable from $4000 high end drums. They're that good. You can find them for between $1300 and $1700. I have the 20/10/12/14/16 kit. You should probably get the 22" bass drum version though. Also, consider getting Renowns used, you can often find them under $1000 and they're worth every penny.

Then for cymbals, get something like New or Used Zildjian A or Sabian AAs. Or if you're feeling fancy, get Zildjian Ks.

Buying a kit used is always a great option. If you see any used drums in your area and have questions, post it here and we can help you decide what's good or not.

EDIT: I see you're in Montana. Maybe Craigslist won't be that helpful, haha. Probably better to search for used drums on Reverb.com.

@SchismaticSounds
 
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Thanks for the welcoming and all the great information. Certainly gives me some idea what to look into. Didn’t realize Gretsch was so hot in the drum market.

There are actually a few kits in MT, but not many options and long drives.
Reverb is most likely where I will look.

What about Paiste and Istanbul cymbals?

In the meantime I’ll continue to play the kit I have and make it sound good as I can. After clearing out some space, it’s nice to have a designated kit area.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
Thanks for the welcoming and all the great information. Certainly gives me some idea what to look into. Didn’t realize Gretsch was so hot in the drum market.

There are actually a few kits in MT, but not many options and long drives.
Reverb is most likely where I will look.

What about Paiste and Istanbul cymbals?

In the meantime I’ll continue to play the kit I have and make it sound good as I can. After clearing out some space, it’s nice to have a designated kit area.
Paiste and Istanbul are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Paistes are generally very bright and cutting (a lot like your Zildjian S cymbals), and Istanbuls are generally darker or more complex. Both are good choices depending on your preferences.

I personally find Paiste cymbals to be too brash and offensive, but some people love that.

I'm more into the Zildjian K Sweet line, they work for everything and sound amazing.
 
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roncadillac

Member
Welcome to drummerworld! I'll be honest, I didn't read the entire post (burning some downtime at work lol).

If there is nothing wrong with the kit (tunes fine, no cracks, etc)... I would keep it. Old tama kits are built like tanks and could outlive you.

If you simply want a new kit (which is totally fine) many manufacturers make comparable quality kits in similar price ranges. Pick a budget, pick a general number of pieces and sizes you want, then just compare your options. Tama, pearl, Ludwig, Gretsch, yamaha, mapex... Can't go wrong with any of them.
 
Welcome to drummerworld! I'll be honest, I didn't read the entire post (burning some downtime at work lol).

If there is nothing wrong with the kit (tunes fine, no cracks, etc)... I would keep it. Old tama kits are built like tanks and could outlive you.

If you simply want a new kit (which is totally fine) many manufacturers make comparable quality kits in similar price ranges. Pick a budget, pick a general number of pieces and sizes you want, then just compare your options. Tama, pearl, Ludwig, Gretsch, yamaha, mapex... Can't go wrong with any of them.
Thanks for commenting
The hardware is all pretty okay in tact. Except for the kick legs which the attachments fell of at some point completely. I’ve read the older Taiwan tama rockstars weren’t the greatest and am more looking for something new to compare with that can be used for most all my needs... or swap in and out with the tama etc
The Gretsch Renown does look like an exciting option, even the 3 piece in the meantime. Then am looking at hi hats maybe 15” k sweet.. and an Istanbul ride, but got some more comparing and listening to do before deciding on anything solid.
 

roncadillac

Member
Thanks for commenting
The hardware is all pretty okay in tact. Except for the kick legs which the attachments fell of at some point completely. I’ve read the older Taiwan tama rockstars weren’t the greatest and am more looking for something new to compare with that can be used for most all my needs... or swap in and out with the tama etc
The Gretsch Renown does look like an exciting option, even the 3 piece in the meantime. Then am looking at hi hats maybe 15” k sweet.. and an Istanbul ride, but got some more comparing and listening to do before deciding on anything solid.
I wouldn't pass up a cymbal pack, these collections of 'vanilla' options can save you a lot of money and serve most styles of music fine. Also the big names like Zildjian, sabian, and paste have all dramatically increased the quality of their mid level offerings in the last decade or two.

Also another money saving tip: go with common sizes and you can buy head packs, usually ends up in 30% or more off vs buying singles.
 

jasz

Junior Member
Whatever you do, don't overthink drums. Find something thats appealing to you. Diminishing returns is quite high when it comes to the drum market.

I bought my Starclassic maple because I loved the finish, hardware and little niche things, but I would be kidding myself If I though the mid 2000s PDP CX kit I had 11 years ago sounded significantly worse, though it certainly "felt" different due to the thinner hoops. Shorter BD size is also a general subjective improvement for me. :)
 
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I wouldn't pass up a cymbal pack, these collections of 'vanilla' options can save you a lot of money and serve most styles of music fine. Also the big names like Zildjian, sabian, and paste have all dramatically increased the quality of their mid level offerings in the last decade or two.

Also another money saving tip: go with common sizes and you can buy head packs, usually ends up in 30% or more off vs buying singles.
Now my momentary attention's shifted on cymbals. fsr istanbul cymbals intrigue me, moreso specific ones. Currently looking at Zildjian A series pack and sounds pretty good at a reasonable price. Another comparison I found myself leaning towards was 15" hi hats compared to 'normal' 14's..

Edit: I still gravitate towards a more mixed cymbal set. I can't see myself ever getting more than a hihat, crash and ride. perhaps though another 1 or 2 down the road. And kind of like the idea of gradually building the set.

It'll probably be a month or two at least before I can get much towards it, but I hope to get a completely fresh setup of some sort.
 
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