Forty years ago, Tama was the first big drum company to offer birch drums, and it’s continuing this tradition by adding a new all-birch series of kits to its Silverstar product line. These drums are quite affordable and should appeal to younger drummers or those on a budget, yet they still offer a lot of excellent features.
When I first heard of this new line my curiosity was piqued. Then I received a pleasant surprise in the form of two different Silverstar kits to check out. One was a small 4-piece jazz kit with an 18" bass drum and the other was a 5-piece rock kit with a 22" bass drum and a 16" floor tom (instead of the usual 14"). There are four configurations available along with a selection of add-on drums. I was also pleased to note Tama is offering a kit with a 20" bass drum since that’s a good size for smaller or beginning drummers and jobbers who need one bass drum to do everything.
These drums use the same all-birch shells found on Tama’s Superstar line, and this wood is often described as having a punchy sound with lots of attack. Birch tends to have slightly less midrange than some other woods, such as maple, so it can be thought of as having an EQ’d sound, as if a sound engineer had already tweaked the shell’s tone. Years ago, birch was the choice of high-end drums and many professionals still prefer its tone over that of other woods.
The drums are offered in five lacquer finishes and three wraps. The lacquer finishes are all very nice — four of them reveal the wood grain, and the fifth is Tama’s Titanium Fade finish, which is actually a paint finish that has been offered in the Superstar line for several years. The three wrap finishes offered include a pale blue, a rich red, and a green finish.
The jazz review kit had a Transparent Blue Burst lacquer that was perfectly done. The shells had a glass-like gloss without any streaks in the lacquer. This finish could be on a kit five times the price. It still amazes me how much better the finishes on some intermediate-level kits are compared to many high-end kits of just a few years ago. The inside of the hoops and shells have a light honey-colored lacquer applied to them that makes the drums look even more expensive than they are and helps protect them from changing humidity.
The rock kit I received featured a Vintage Burgundy Sparkle finish. It too was very well done. The color is a deeper red with smaller flecks to catch the light. Both finishes received compliments at the gigs where I put the kits to the test.
A Roadpro hardware package came with the kits and included a hi-hat stand, two cymbal stands (one boom), a snare stand, and a kick pedal, as well as a sliding double tom holder and floor tom legs.
All this Roadpro hardware functioned very well and was double-braced, which offers additional stability since the stands are a bit heavier at the bottom than single-braced stands are. The hi-hat stand has a swiveling footboard to accommodate a double pedal that allows you to adjust its angle as well, and the five-way adjustable spring tension will allow you to dial in your ideal tension.
The snare stand fits snares from 12" up to 15", perfect for drums with thick hoops. The basket swivels so you can rotate the drum to keep the strainer from hitting your thigh without having to pick the whole thing up and move it. This also comes in handy when trying to keep the rubber feet from interfering with your pedals. Both the cymbal stands and snare stand feature Tama’s Quick-set tilter that quickly allows any angle you like and doesn’t limit it like a ratcheted tilter does. The HP300 Cobra Jr. pedal has many of the features found on Iron Cobra pedals and now has been updated with a new Power Glide cam and a smoother footboard for drummers who slide their feet when they play. It can also be retrofitted with Tama’s Cobra Coil spring that pushes the pedal up faster. This is excellent hardware, especially at the price.
Both the straight and boom cymbal stand feature Tama’s Quick-set Cymbal Mates. These are replacements for standard wing screws and feature two red buttons that when depressed release the device from the stand allowing for quick cymbal changes. It’s a great idea on paper, but unfortunately, they just don’t work. I wouldn’t say that if they actually stayed on a cymbal during normal playing situations, but alas, they won’t. At my gigs, I resorted to using duct tape to keep them from flying off my crash cymbals every few songs. If, like me, you like to use a bit of tension between your wing screw and cymbal felts to keep your ride cymbal from flopping all over the place, they won’t work for that either. Tama should go back to those round plastic nuts it used previously since they actually work well.
The kit included Tama’s sliding tom mount that allows you to bring the bass drum mounted toms closer to you to adapt to different drummers or tom sizes. I like this idea a lot.
The jazz kit has a Tama bass drum lifter that raises the drum a few inches higher, so the beater strikes near the center of the head. I like this idea since hitting in the center of the head will produce a deeper fundamental with fewer overtones. It folds out for use and should fit in a standard case.