Yamaha Live Custom Hybrid vs. Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch

Treverer

Junior Member
Let me start by saying that I like both of these shells a lot, from the tone to their looks.

As I can't really decide between these two kits, I'm hoping for some "objective" reasons/opinions two purchase one or the other (also, I can't afford this kind of investment right now, I have some time to spare, at least till the end of the year^^).

For this I will provide some context:

- intermediate drummer looking for a kit that lasts him years and years to come without the need to upgrade again or replace crucial parts
- atm this kit will be played in a practice room, but down the line there will be live gigging and all that comes with it
- never say never, but I'm not seeing myself playing jazz or lots of ballads anytime soon. This kit will be used mainly to annoy loud guitarists with long hair or cover the occasional pop song
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
.... I'm hoping for some "objective" reasons/opinions two purchase one or the other ....
Biggest objective reason to go for the Tama set is that it's half the price of the Yamaha.

If you were comparing the Tama to the older Live Custom or Oak Custom,
it would come down more to sound and wood type rather than price.
 

Treverer

Junior Member
Biggest objective reason to go for the Tama set is that it's half the price of the Yamaha.

If you were comparing the Tama to the older Live Custom or Oak Custom,
it would come down more to sound and wood type rather than price.
Excellent point, I forgot to mention that: While the Tama is cheaper, here in Germany the difference seems to be much smaller. I can get the Yamaha for close to 3000 Euros, the Tama for around 2300.

Do you think the difference reflects actual build quality etc.? During my limited time with these kits I didn't feel that way, both seemed to be incredible well-build upper class kits.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
Excellent point, I forgot to mention that: While the Tama is cheaper, here in Germany the difference seems to be much smaller. I can get the Yamaha for close to 3000 Euros, the Tama for around 2300.

Do you think the difference reflects actual build quality etc.? During my limited time with these kits I didn't feel that way, both seemed to be incredible well-build upper class kits.
Put both kits in front of someone who knows nothing about drums, but can recognize quality craftsmanship.....they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the Tama and the Yamaha, even though it costs twice as much.

Both kits are great for the type of music you play. Personally, I think you should get the Tama. It sounds much better IMO. They're LOUD (in a good way), the drums really give back to you.

The Yamaha isn't exactly brash, but lets just say it's more brash than most other kits. It's better for louder environments only, relatively speaking. The Tama is better at all dynamic ranges IMO.
 

Treverer

Junior Member
Put both kits in front of someone who knows nothing about drums, but can recognize quality craftsmanship.....they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the Tama and the Yamaha, even though it costs twice as much.

Both kits are great for the type of music you play. Personally, I think you should get the Tama. It sounds much better IMO. They're LOUD (in a good way), the drums really give back to you.

The Yamaha isn't exactly brash, but lets just say it's more brash than most other kits. It's better for louder environments only, relatively speaking. The Tama is better at all dynamic ranges IMO.
Thank you for your answer!
As I am obviously not a native speaker, what do you mean by "brash" here? That you have to play it hard and loud to make it sound good?
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
Thank you for your answer!
As I am obviously not a native speaker, what do you mean by "brash" here? That you have to play it hard and loud to make it sound good?
Brash means rude, harsh, or noisy...so they wouldn't be as good in quieter environments, and they don't have much "warmth" to their tone. Warmth basically means "pleasant".

I played the Tama Starclassic Birch/Walnut kit at Guitar Center...I was very impressed.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Excellent point, I forgot to mention that: While the Tama is cheaper, here in Germany the difference seems to be much smaller. I can get the Yamaha for close to 3000 Euros, the Tama for around 2300.

Do you think the difference reflects actual build quality etc.? During my limited time with these kits I didn't feel that way, both seemed to be incredible well-build upper class kits.
Germany - yes that makes a difference.
Here in the US at one popular store, a 5 pc. Live Hybrid is $3949.99:

and a 5 pc. Tama W/B is $2199.99:

I haven't owned either set, but I'd say the quality is probably pretty comparable.
I normally have a preference for Yamaha, but some of their prices are getting out of hand.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
The Yammies have “synthetic phenolic resin core” in their shells? And some trick mass/weight distribution in their bass drum? This sounds over-engineered to me, or its lame marketing spin, but I’ve never tried one of these kits (I play Tama).

I suggest you take a close look at the hardware that both companies offer. As you progress in your endeavors, you’ll be surrounding yourself with hardware and you’ll want to manipulate it easily to get drums, cymbals and cowbells (for that guitarist) positioned just the way you like.

Make sure you try the pedals both companies offer. You want to be so comfortable with the pedals that they virtually disappear while you play. I really dig the Tama “Lever Glide” hi hat, and their “Rolling Glide” Iron Cobra pedal, but everyone’s preferences are different.
 

Treverer

Junior Member
The Yammies have “synthetic phenolic resin core” in their shells? And some trick mass/weight distribution in their bass drum? This sounds over-engineered to me, or its lame marketing spin, but I’ve never tried one of these kits (I play Tama).

I suggest you take a close look at the hardware that both companies offer. As you progress in your endeavors, you’ll be surrounding yourself with hardware and you’ll want to manipulate it easily to get drums, cymbals and cowbells (for that guitarist) positioned just the way you like.

Make sure you try the pedals both companies offer. You want to be so comfortable with the pedals that they virtually disappear while you play. I really dig the Tama “Lever Glide” hi hat, and their “Rolling Glide” Iron Cobra pedal, but everyone’s preferences are different.
To be honest, I like this "overengineered" vibe in all the things I do with a passion, and as I said earlier, I heard both kits in person (under less than ideal circumstances unfortunately) and I liked them both very much. But I get your point here, these gimmicks are not everyone's cup of tea.

I have no idea whose hardware is better, that's one of the reason this thread exists ;) Maybe you have some more input here?

When it comes to pedals and hihat machines I'm set for the moment, one of the first things I upgraded to the high end stuff I liked best.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
I would definitely go Tama : better style (colours, chrome HW) ; better sizes (16 deep bass and deeper toms). Tama hardware is as good as Yamaha, but the SC BB has die cast hoops that some may prefer. The video I watched on the Yam, it always seems very cutting, powerful but dry to my ears. Matter of taste.
 

Groov-E

Silver Member
Tama makes the best mounting system you can get. The hardware and finish are top notch. Sound is great.
Some would argue the same about Yamaha.

I don't however see what you actually get for the huge price difference between the two kits mentionned by the OP.

Honestly, a used previous generation live custom would, in my opinion, be an excellent choice. I think you can still find them new in some shops.
 
Yamaha seems to be playing the Apple game of "let's price it higher so people will think it's better", and it seems to be working.

Now, I'm sure the Yamaha is a really good kit, and I do like the sound of Oak, but their prices are getting out of control and you'll lose a lot on resale.

The Tama W/B is a solid kit and probably my next purchase.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
I have no idea whose hardware is better, that's one of the reason this thread exists ;) Maybe you have some more input here?
Why, yes I do! Thank you for asking. 🤓

In the 1990s I bought a Sonor Force 3000 birch kit and loved its sound. However, it had the toms mounted on the bass drum and 1) they were never in the most comfortable position for me and 2) the 13” tom tuned very nicely off the mount, but sounded choked once it was hung on its mount. Strike 1.

Then and now, I position my bass drum angled to my right (for foot & leg comfort) and this placed the two toms too far to the right. I didn’t bother putting a tom on a snare drum stand ‘cuz I didn’t like the look.

Fast forward a few years and the body of the hi-hat clutch developed a hairline crack. The Sonor design was brilliant, IMO. The hi-hat rod was hexagonal and the clutch had a hexagonal opening and it used two threaded nuts to lock the top cymbal in place. The play in the top cymbal would never change when removed/replaced, and it never loosened during play. Nevertheless, I was shocked and dismayed that it cracked.

I take it to my local drum shop, an authorized Sonor dealer. They inquire about a replacement. It takes the distributor a week to respond with: US$180 and 3-month wait (it’s coming from Germany). I bought an inexpensive Ludwig hi-hat stand as a temporary replacement. Strike 2.

About 4 years later, the main body of the tom mount cracked and the 13” tom fell to the floor. Strike 3. Buh-bye Sonor.

(I’m not hard on my gear, I baby it. I never toss anything around, not even sticks. I don’t blame Sonor either, but it was time to move on.)

I asked my local drum shop and, during travel for work, I ask a few other shop owners: who has the best hardware? Who has the best parts availability? Who has the smartest design that’s not over-engineered?

Their answer was: Tama. They all agreed that Pearl and Yamaha had great drums, too, but Tama’s Road Pro line was what I was looking for.

My logic was: at the price point I was looking at, the drum shells all sounded great. Some were maple, some birch, some maple/poplar/maple. But if the hardware fails, it doesn’t mater how good the shell sounds.

Then, a drum set came into the shop that dazzled me with sexy glitter and a “virgin” bass drum. Hello Tama Starclassic Bubinga!

F699197B-3E67-4241-8B3A-958F645143C0.jpeg4D44B34D-6BA2-42CF-B541-BF025FA105B5.jpeg
 

Treverer

Junior Member
Thank you for this extensive answer!

And you mention a point I never considered: virgin bass drum! While I like the Yamaha mounts, a virgin BD would be nice indeed...
 
Thank you for this extensive answer!

And you mention a point I never considered: virgin bass drum! While I like the Yamaha mounts, a virgin BD would be nice indeed...
The Tama is only virgin if you get the 3 piece. Also, that kick is 22x14 (vs 22x16 non virgin on the 4 piece)

Me I love virgin shallow kicks so it's win win all around.
 

BonsaiMagpie

Junior Member
The hybrid oak's cost seems to come because of the huge and extensive research that went into their PHX series of drums, which the hybrid Oak and Maple appear to be the second generation of. The PHX are considered a pinnacle of shell manufacturing, but costs a huge amount and were only manufactured by 3 people in Japan (I read a lot about them).
The PHX had a problem with losing tuning which caused some Yamaha players to go back to the Live Customs and Recording customs for touring. The new hybrid marries up the best of both worlds.
There's no doubt in my mind I'll be buying a 6pc hybrid oak next, as the PHX is the only kit I've heard which sounds better, and I'm just not gonna spend that much.
Also check out their "Drummer's Review" episode. They seem to thing the cost is actually value for money considering the extensive research and quality.
 

fl.tom

Senior Member
Let me start by saying that I like both of these shells a lot, from the tone to their looks.

As I can't really decide between these two kits, I'm hoping for some "objective" reasons/opinions two purchase one or the other (also, I can't afford this kind of investment right now, I have some time to spare, at least till the end of the year^^).

For this I will provide some context:

- intermediate drummer looking for a kit that lasts him years and years to come without the need to upgrade again or replace crucial parts
- atm this kit will be played in a practice room, but down the line there will be live gigging and all that comes with it
- never say never, but I'm not seeing myself playing jazz or lots of ballads anytime soon. This kit will be used mainly to annoy loud guitarists with long hair or cover the occasional pop song
Kudos to you on the objective focus and planning. You should be less likely to second guess your decision afterwards as a result of it.

*** WARNING ***
This turned out to be longer than initially intended so veterans may want to exit now... or grab a cup of coffee...
*********************

As far as Tama and Yamaha, I’ve been playing both since the early 80s, and it was actually Tama that first lured me to drums made outside the U.S. Until then, my primary kit was a ‘70 Ludwig Super Classic, I wanted to upgrade to a “monster kit”, and ultimately decided on a ‘82 Tama Superstar. Since then, I’ve played multiple upper-end kits from both manufacturers and had excellent experiences overall. Each has made continual innovations as well as made some missteps in designs and other areas over the years, but again overall positive. Also, like DW, Sonor & others, each company has been cited with over-engineering their gear at various times... repeatedly... but for me, both have delivered some meaningful improvements in the long run.

From this and without trying to sway you to either kit, I believe I can offer some objective input.

In addition to Cost, two other objective metrics to consider would be Quality and Support. Given you’ve honed your selection to these two kits, I presume quality and support were already considered. For most intents and purposes, quality of shell construction, fit & finish, and hardware on both kits are first rate. Additionally, there is nothing so new in technology with either kit that warranty support might be an anticipated need, but selecting an attentive dealer with a strong manufacturer relationship is still important. Happy to discuss this in more detail if you like.

Outside of these metrics, your decision criteria will be more subjectively based on how specific features best meet your Requirements (must haves) and Preferences (nice to haves). To keep things straight, I found it helpful to track my initial kit comparisons with a list... something similar to the following:

— Two columns for Requirements and Preferences respectively.

— Under each, list the features that are most important to you, highest priority to lowest. Don’t worry if you’ve considered every feature, or if they’re in the correct column or correct order. Consider it a living document, it will morph as you go.

— Add two sub-columns under each of the two headings for Tama and Yamaha and assign a number within a range (e.g. 1-5 or 1-10) to rate how well each kit meets that feature.

Try to keep it simple (it’s not a complex decision matrix), and when you ultimately make your choice, don’t be too surprised if the deciding factor is just a gut feeling or a simple preference for a finish. Writing things down usually just helps keep thoughts better organized while researching. (And when you start looking for another kit after this one :giggle:, it will be easier to do in your head.)

Based on your comments so far, some specific features that seem to be important or might be relevant are:

— Volume
To my hearing, the Yamaha is/can be notably louder and more aggressive with more cut and projection than the Tama. The phenolic ply and BD weights do contribute to this IMO. If competing un-miked with loud guitarists is a high priority, this could be an important consideration. The following videos of each are representative of what I‘ve heard:



— Tom Mounts
This is one of those topics that seems to be continually debated. Some attest Yamaha’s design is unequivocally the best, while others prefer specific versions (pre-YESS, YESS I, II, IIm or III), while others prefer Tama’s Star-Cast or another brand’s system. For me it boils down to:

1) If you frequently mount & unmount your toms (e.g. for gigging), do you prefer to do so by putting them on/taking them off vertically or horizontally? If you position your drums closely, the vertical L-rod style used by Tama and others can be advantageous. I like a tight config and position my snare & floor high (for some people), but regularly use both styles without issue.

2) Will you frequently tighten & loosen omni-ball wing nuts to setup & collapse your tom arms? If so, I’ve found omni-ball arm designs that use a 1-piece clamp to secure the ball (e.g. Sonor, Yamaha) are more likely to wear faster and lose grip with frequent adjustment. Alternatively, designs that use a 2-piece clamp (e.g. DW, Ludwig, Tama) are less likely to wear with long term use. Not always, but generally. For me, I never collapse tom arms and seldom readjust them. When I need to switch between a 1-up, 2-up or 3-up config that requires different positioning, I either have multiple arms for each setup or use Gibraltar clamshell-style arms instead. Thus, this isn’t an issue for me.

— Quick-Lock vs Wing-Nut Brackets
Tama added their Quick-Lock brackets to the Starclassic line several years ago. A simple push of a switch quickly locks or unlocks tom arms and floor tom legs, and a memory lock and rubber insulator (that may add a very subtle amount of sustain) are integrated. Floor toms can sway a bit if you bump into them, but otherwise both toms and floor toms remain in place while playing. For me, the Quick-Locks are a nice feature, but, the extra 1/4- to 1/2-turn for wing nuts wouldn’t deter me from buying the Yamaha either. YMMV.

— BD Mount vs No-Mount (virgin)
Another often debated subject. Some will say an integrated mount doesn’t reduce sustain and provides for a simpler, quicker setup and more flexibility in positioning. Others will say a virgin kick provides more sustain and offers even more flexibility with no more complexity or time to setup. For me, both can be true and the latter are primarily only factors for gigging...

1) Effect on sustain depends on drum construction and desired sound.
Given the excellent sustain and projection with the Yamaha, I’d call sustain a non-issue here and possibly even a slight edge to a no-mount Tama. If you decide to go Tama with a mount, note that the holder base does not use a hole in the BD... it’s only bolted to it.

2) Positioning flexibility depends on number of mounted toms and desired placement.
This will be for you and only you to determine.

3) Simplicity depends on #2), if multi-holders or multi-clamps are used with stands, and if lightweight stands are preferred.

4) Time to setup depends on #3), minimal collapsing/disassembling and use of memory locks where needed.

A BD without a mount can certainly have a cleaner look, but if you do decide to get either kit with a mount, it would allow you to switch between both mounting options. And you can make a simple homemade plug (more versatile than a blanking plate) to prevent debris from falling in it.

Like others, I don’t believe you can go wrong with either kit. The lower cost difference in Germany just makes it a little tougher/more personal decision.

BTW, if you’d also like to discuss outboard hardware (cymbal & snare stands), it may be best to start a separate thread for it. There’s a lot of people here with good experience and a separate thread will be more noticeable to them.

Hope this helps.
 
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