Yamaha Live Custom Hybrid vs. Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch

Treverer

Junior Member
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.

WOW! Just WOW! Thank you very much for your answer! This is one of the nicest things anybody has done to me in a public forum ever!

I will use the information as best as I can to make my decision. And I guess a hardware thread isn't a bad idea either ;)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
One thing the Tama has that the Yamaha doesn't...is walnut in their shells. Walnut is just wonderful on toms. Deep and sonorous. Not a huge fan of purely walnut snares, because I like brighter snares, but walnut in the toms and bass drum? OMG, yea, all day.
 

fl.tom

Senior Member
WOW! Just WOW! Thank you very much for your answer! This is one of the nicest things anybody has done to me in a public forum ever!
Wow. Thank you very much. I’m speechless.

I will use the information as best as I can to make my decision. And I guess a hardware thread isn't a bad idea either ;)
Ok, if I have any experience with the hardware you’re considering, will try to provide feedback there.

Best of luck with your decision Treverer.
 

fl.tom

Senior Member
One thing the Tama has that the Yamaha doesn't...is walnut in their shells. Walnut is just wonderful on toms. Deep and sonorous. Not a huge fan of purely walnut snares, because I like brighter snares, but walnut in the toms and bass drum? OMG, yea, all day.
Agreed. And the Tama Star Walnut even more so than the Starclassic... full walnut vs birch + walnut.

But, there are two points in the initial post that downplay the significance of this:

1) OP likes the tone of both kits, and
2) OP will mainly use this kit to play with loud guitarists.

Given this, the Yamaha oak+resin shells may be ideal here with more volume & projection.

Other than this, think it’s going to come down to personal preferences.

Really like the OP’s objective approach and selection criteria on this one.
 
One thing the Tama has that the Yamaha doesn't...is walnut in their shells. Walnut is just wonderful on toms. Deep and sonorous. Not a huge fan of purely walnut snares, because I like brighter snares, but walnut in the toms and bass drum? OMG, yea, all day.

But the Yamaha has oak... I like oak drums
 

Groov-E

Silver Member
But the Yamaha has oak... I like oak drums

Very respectfully, I doubt I could really hear either the walnut or oak in either drum.

Both would theoretically add some low-end on its own, but other factors would play a more significant role in the sound and drown the tonal characteristics of a couple plies of one wood species over another.

A good way to make a rational decision would be to A-B them side to side, hear the sum of the parts of each drum with different heads and tuning and pick a personal favourite.

And choose the finish wisely, because most of us get unreasonably bored with aesthetics which in turn leads us into thinking we are past the kit's sound.

I would go sound and dynamics, sex appeal, price.

I would also not limit myself to those two kits and take my time to play and carefully listen to other drummers you like play the kits that you would see yourself behind for many, many years to come. Mistakes turn out to be expensive in the drum world.
 

Treverer

Junior Member
I would also not limit myself to those two kits and take my time to play and carefully listen to other drummers you like play the kits that you would see yourself behind for many, many years to come. Mistakes turn out to be expensive in the drum world.

Of course not, I tried (and still do) to as many sets as possible. But all other kits I liked as much as those two were much more expensive (SQ2 Beech for example).
 
Did you ultimately decide on a new kit... either of these or another one?

If so, what were your deciding factors?

+1 . I’d love to know what you ultimately decided on , your reasons and a review and pictures of what you got . .... I need closure lol ?.

I have been looking for used Tama bb or
sonor ascent ( yes different sounding but love the sound of both ) 5 If piece if I can’t find a 6 or even ( 7 including the snare). It seems everyone thinks they have gold ??‍♂️?, so I am now considering the new Tama WB. I rather go used and spend on some other needed gear , but having difficulty finding what I want in the used market .
 
Last edited:

Treverer

Junior Member
Did you ultimately decide on a new kit... either of these or another one?

If so, what were your deciding factors?
Nope, unfortunately I'm currently not in a position anymore to buy any of those kits. You know, life happens...

BUT the time that I can afford it will come again and as of now it would be the Yamaha, because I feel that it is more of the end-all-be-all kit. And I work with the Lars Ulrich Starclassic Maple kit on a weekly basis now, so I need some variety in my life ;) But we all know, by then there will be other great options, so who knows...
 

fl.tom

Senior Member
Nope, unfortunately I'm currently not in a position anymore to buy any of those kits. You know, life happens...
Sorry to hear that. Understandable though.

BUT the time that I can afford it will come again and as of now it would be the Yamaha, because I feel that it is more of the end-all-be-all kit.
For sure, blue skies. The Yamaha did seem to be the better fit for your needs as it’s very well suited to live unmiked scenarios. I can see having one in the future myself.

And I work with the Lars Ulrich Starclassic Maple kit on a weekly basis now, so I need some variety in my life ;) But we all know, by then there will be other great options, so who knows...
I really like the sound of the Tama SCM as well. I jokingly refer to it among drumming buddies as, “The best sounding maple kit because it doesn’t sound like maple.” :p

Thank you for the update, and best regards.
 

Treverer

Junior Member
I really like the sound of the Tama SCM as well. I jokingly refer to it among drumming buddies as, “The best sounding maple kit because it doesn’t sound like maple.” :p

I work for one of Europe's most booked Metallica tribute bands as their drum tech, so while the kit sounds great and looks stunning on stage, miced and mixed it could be any wood really. We don't even tune it specifically, it only has to be in a certain range. But nonetheless, it sounds great sitting behind it, I like the thin maple shells.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
Well, Fl.Tom gave you the first-hand information that you need. Kudos to him. That was a great expose!

Personally, I'd think that when you have your choices narrowed down to two excellent kits like the Tama and Yamaha, your deciding factor is actually . . . what color do you like?

A
nd yes, I'm serious. You cannot go wrong with either choice.

GeeDeeEmm
 

fl.tom

Senior Member
I need closure lol ?.
If it helps any, you are in good company. ;-)

I have been looking for used Tama bb or
sonor ascent ( yes different sounding but love the sound of both ) 5 If piece if I can’t find a 6 or even ( 7 including the snare). It seems everyone thinks they have gold ??‍♂️?, so I am now considering the new Tama WB. I rather go used and spend on some other needed gear , but having difficulty finding what I want in the used market .
I have some saved searches on eBay, Reverb and CL that should pick up these Sonor and Tama models. Will try to keep you in mind when reviewing.
 

fl.tom

Senior Member
I work for one of Europe's most booked Metallica tribute bands as their drum tech,
Sounds like a fun gig. Congratulations on that.

so while the kit sounds great and looks stunning on stage, miced and mixed it could be any wood really. We don't even tune it specifically, it only has to be in a certain range. But nonetheless, it sounds great sitting behind it, I like the thin maple shells.
Completely agree on wood species. My comment is more a somewhat tongue-in-cheek response I sometimes use to friends raving about vintage thin-shell maple drums... which are often not all maple. It’s a good segue to point out the SCMs are thinner and all maple with a very clear sonic quality... heavy die-cast hoops and all. ;-)

Nonetheless, I’m inspired by a variety of gear including vintage so the comment isn’t intended to be exclusionary either.
 

fl.tom

Senior Member
Well, Fl.Tom gave you the first-hand information that you need. Kudos to him. That was a great expose!
Thanks GDM. Appreciate it.

Personally, I'd think that when you have your choices narrowed down to two excellent kits like the Tama and Yamaha, your deciding factor is actually . . . what color do you like?
You are not alone there sir. Buried in my gibberish above...
...
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.
...
(y)
 
If it helps any, you are in good company. ;-)


I have some saved searches on eBay, Reverb and CL that should pick up these Sonor and Tama models. Will try to keep you in mind when reviewing.

Thanks fl. tom. Appreciate it . I search every or every other day . If it helps I’m in ny tri state area. I’m not very technologically advanced lol . Crazy, but I have been searching for around 18 months or so , hesitated on 3 kits in that time and lost kit but the one that kills me .... an 8 piece sonor ascent ( ebony stripes) in 8,10,12,14,16 22x2 and 14 snare. Never should have let this one slide . Loved the sound and the kit was gorgeous!!!! Still haunts me that I didn’t pull the trigger !
 
Top