Drum Set Reviews
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The Tama Imperialstar has been brought back to replace Tama's previous entry-level set, the Swingstar. The Imperialstar boasts some pretty good features for this price range and is a definite improvement on their previous offering.
The review set has pretty standard shell sizes with a 22"x18" bass drum, 12"x9" and 13"x10" rack toms, a 16"x16" floor tom, and a 14"x4.5" snare drum. And there's some Tama hardware included in the package. Lovely stuff.
Interestingly, this is the set that Stewart Copeland played when he was with The Police in the early days. Obviously now it's not seen as the higher-end set it was back then, but does it still pack a punch? Let's see...
The Imperialstar has been built using poplar which is a cheaper wood than maple or birch, but it can still produce a good sound. All the shells have been put together with 8-plies at a slender 7.5mm thick, and are fairly well made with smooth interiors and sharp bearing edges.
The shell hardware isn't too bad either with some nice low-mass lugs, and decent counter hoops. There's also Tama's Accu-Tune hoops on the bass drum that are made from glass fibre reinforced plastic, and are much lighter and scratch resistent than wooden hoops. The hoop also has a special indentation where the bass drum pedal attaches. A very nice touch.
Positioning the toms with the Omni-Sphere tom mount isn't as easy as you might like though. You can move the toms outwards (left and right) but you can't really move them closer to you. Still, it's not a huge problem and you'd expect a more basic tom mount on an entry-level set like this anyway.
The wrap finish options for the Imperialstar are not too bad with the choice of Vintage Red, Bronze Mist Metallic, Midnight Blue, Black, and Platinum Grey. The Vintage Red on the review set was nice enough, it doesn't look stunning, but for an entry-level set it's respectable.
This kit comes with Tama's redesigned Stagemaster hardware including a snare stand, straight cymbal stand, boom cymbal stand, hi-hat stand, a throne, and a HP30 bass drum pedal.
The stands are double braced which is good to see on an entry-level set, and they're able to take a pounding. The snare stand is quite good too and is adjustable to any angle you want, unlike a normal geared snare stand.
One of the best pieces of hardware has to be the hi-hat stand that has a 360-degree rotating foot pedal and a detachable centre pull rod that can be slotted into the tubing when storing or transporting. Also, the HP30 bass drum pedal is decent with a good action and a two sided nylon/felt beater.
Because it's made with poplar this kit doesn't quite have the same quality of sound that a birch or maple set would. But, it is generally quite good considering it's a budget set.
The toms have a fairly warm sound and a nice sustain, but aren't crystal clear. They're slightly less focused than birch or maple sets, but only by a small amount. It's the same with the bass drum which has a big booming sound, a bit of padding helps get rid of some of the reverberation and gives it more of a deep thud.
The star of the set though, has to be the black nickel steel snare drum. For a budget set the snare looks and sounds great! It has a sharp, attacking sound, that is dry in the centre but has a higher ping like quality at the edges. It's also quite dark, but soon comes to life when playing rim shots and cross-sticks.
Tuning the set is fairly easy, with the toms offering a range of different pitches and the bass drum doing the same. Again the snare drum is impressive and has a good range, but does start to box-up at higher tunings. Overall, it's good enough to meet the needs of most beginner or intermediate players.
The Tama Imperialstar is a blast from the past, likely brought back in no small part due to Stewart Copeland reforming with his rock band The Police. But, it is a much better set than it was years ago, and is a definate improvement on the Swingstar that it replaces.
The thin and hard poplar shells give a decent sound at this price level, and the snare drum is simply great for an entry-level set. The good hardware package and some nice features like the glass fibre bass drum hoops help to make the set a solid choice.
Any downsides? There always are on any entry-level set. Here, it's the Omni-sphere tom mount that is a bit awkward if you like to position your toms inch perfect, and the spur rods on the bass drum are quite easy to lose as they fully detach. Still, most things on the set have been done pretty well.
What about the price? The Imperialstar represents good value simply because it offers a lot compared to many other starter sets on the market. Where's the cheapest place to buy it? Here's the cheapest site i've found. They usually have the lowest price and sometimes free delivery too, so I recommend checking them out for the best deal!
The final word: for a budget set, it has a good sound, great snare drum, great hardware, and is available for a fair price. A great introduction to drums for anyone.
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