Drum Set Reviews
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The Tama Starclassic Bubinga is the flagship drum set available by Tama. Made from exotic bubinga wood, with it's beautiful dark red/brown colour.
I've been able to get my hands on a set to try including a 22"x18" bass drum, 14"x5.5" snare, and 10"x8", 12"x9" and 16"x14" toms. It's mainly sold as a shell pack so there's unfortunately no hardware with it.
In the fiercely competitive high-end drum set market, drum manufacturers are always looking for something special that makes their set stand out. So does the Starclassic Bubinga shine or blend into the crowd? Read on my friend and all will be revealed...
The Starclassic Bubinga has been made from 100% bubinga wood or African rosewood as it's also known. The shells are made with a total of 9-plies, that's 8-plies of bubinga and 1 outer ply of maple for the finish to be applied to. The toms are 7mm thick, with the bass drum being a slightly thicker 8mm to give it more projection.
All the shells are very well made with sharp bearing edges and smoother than smooth insides that show off the beautiful, dark wood grain. But they are quite heavy. That's because bubinga is actually 50% heavier than maple or birch and it's really noticeable on this set!
All the shell hardware is top-class and you can choose to have it in Black Nickel, Brushed Nickel, or Chrome. The Black Nickel on the review set is really good looking and it's a great to see the mounting hardware finished in the same colour giving a sleek uniformed appearence.
The toms are mounted using Tama's Star-cast system that is made from aluminium to help keep the weight down. The mount arms attach to the cymbal stands instead of a central tom mount, and like other isolation systems it allows the toms to resonate fully. The low-mass lugs and die-cast zinc shell hoops are also finished in the same Black Nickel colour and finish off the impressive shell hardware nicely.
A top-end set means top-end finishes right? You bet! The Tama Bubinga has 10 finishes to choose from and they are very classy indeed. The review set was finished in Scorched Copper Burst and was super to look at. If you want a set that has presence and looks like it means business, this is right up your street.
Because this drum set is made with a denser, heavier wood, it gives these drums a powerful sound that has plenty of top end. But, they have a suprisingly deep low end presence too which is exactly what Tama claim. The mid range frequencies are less accentuated which helps give the drums a deep, clear sound that sings out proudly. It's not quite as warm as maple but still has a fat and full sound.
The toms pack a mean punch and have a solid, powerful sound that cuts through the mix with ease. You can hear every note clearly when playing fast rolls and there's a tasty sustain that fades away smoothly. They sound good when played together too, each drum having its own sonic space that stops them trampelling on each other.
Just like the toms, the all bubinga snare drum has plenty of volume and gives and all mighty crack!. Playing rim shots just sends it through the roof, while hitting the centre gives a chunky, deep sound while still managing to stay clear and sharp. It's a super drum and matches the rest of the set beautifully.
Lastly, the 22"x18" bass drum finishes off a great sounding package with it's deep, thunderous boom. With a little padding inside it gives a more punchy attacking sound with a darker quality. However you prefer it, the drum performs brilliantly.
So what tuning range does the Starclassic Bubinga offer? Well, I can't really say anything much more than great! Tuned high, low, or medium all the drums perform really well. Higher tunings still have a good amount of low end, thanks to the bubinga, while lower tunings still benefit from the punchiness that bubinga also gives.
The Tama Starclassic Bubinga has class. It has a great sound, power, and definition. It even looks super and the shell hardware is fab. But, does that mean it's a truly amazing set? Not quite, but very very nearly. Top-end maple and birch sets by some of the other leading manufacturers still have a slight edge in my opinion, but don't get me wrong. This set is still excellent.
Any downsides? Nothing especially bad, but it is quite heavy compared to a maple or birch set, even with the lighter aluminium shell hardware. As long as you don't mind lugging it around it's not a problem. There's not really anything else wrong with it, i guess i just prefer the sound of an all maple set.
What about the price? The Tama Bubinga is not cheap. But, what top-end drum set is? It's not the most expensive, but it's not the best either. Perhaps it's a little over-priced, so 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: it's not the most amazing top-end set out there, but it's not too far away either. If you can get one at a good price it's definately worth your money.
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