Tama Drums, (from Japanese: 多満 (Kanji), タマ (Kana), read as tama) is a brand of drum kits and hardware manufactured and marketed by the Japanese musical instrument company, Hoshino Gakki. Tama's research and development of products, along with production of its professional and most expensive drums, is done in Seto, Japan, while its hardware and less expensive drums are manufactured in Guangzhou, China. Hoshino has several offices around the world for marketing and wholesale distribution. Drums destined for the U.S. market are assembled and stocked at Hoshino (U.S.A.) in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. The U.S. subsidiary also contributes to Tama's market research and development.
Hoshino Gakki began manufacturing drums in 1961 under the name "Star Drums". Hoshino, the family name of the founder, translates to "star field," thus the selection of the "Star Drums" brand name. The drums were manufactured at Hoshino's subsidiary, Tama Seisakusho, which had opened in 1962 to manufacture Ibanez guitars and amplifiers. While the production of guitars and amps was moved out of the factory by 1966, the production of drums there continued to grow. The two higher lines of drum models, Imperial Star and Royal Star, were introduced to the American market and were successful lower-cost drums competing against more expensive American-made drums offered by Rogers, Ludwig, and Slingerland at the time.
By 1974, Hoshino decided to make a concerted effort to make high-quality drums and hardware and start marketing its drums under the Tama brand. Tama was the name of the owner's wife, and is also a homophone with the Japanese word meaning "jewel". "Star" continues to be used in the names of Tama's drum models to this day.
Tama and Drum Workshop (DW) jointly bought the bankrupt Camco Drum Company. As part of the deal, DW received the Camco tooling and manufacturing equipment while Tama received the Camco name, designs, engineering and patent rights.
At the time, Camco was producing what was thought to be the best drum pedal on the market. DW continued production of the pedal using the original tooling, rebadging it as the DW5000. Tama began production of the same pedal under the Camco name. The Tama version of the Camco pedal is commonly referred to as the Tamco pedal to distinguish it from an original Camco pedal. Tama integrated all the engineering from Camco into their production process and the overall level of quality of their drums increased virtually overnight. The original plan was to market the low-end Tama drums to beginners and use the Camco brand to sell high-end drums to professional musicians. However, even the professionals were starting to use the Tama drums because of the low cost of the Asian-made drums with the (now) high quality of hardware.
Tama was one of the first companies to offer super heavy-duty hardware, and drum mounting systems that did not intrude into the shell like most brands in the 1970s. They also invented unique tubular drums called Octobans. Octobans are 6-inches in diameter and are manufactured in eight different lengths (hence the prefix "octo-") up to 600mm (23.62 in). They vary in pitch by using different shell lengths, rather than widths.
Starclassic Performer B/B badge, lacquered white oyster finish
Side View of a Speed Cobra single pedal
- Club-JAM – Tama's line of compact drum kits made from poplar shells. This line is available in four different configurations: the regular Club-JAM kit, the Suitcase kit, the Mini kit, and the Flyer kit.
- Cocktail-JAM – Tama's line of cocktail drum kits made from 100% birch shells. This line is available in regular and "Mini" configurations.
- Imperialstar – Tama's line of entry-level drum kits named after the previous Imperial Star line. Like their less expensive Swingstar counterparts, these drums are made with poplar shells in a wrap finish and feature Accu-Tune bass drum hoops. These drums include Meinl HCS brass cymbals as standard equipment.
- Superstar – Tama's line of semi-professional drums. Although originally discontinued, Tama has brought back the Superstar series to their lineup in 2015. The original Superstar and Superstar Excel were made up of Birch shells.
- Superstar Hyper-Drive Maple – The Superstar Hyper-Drive Maple series features all maple shells, with "Hyper-Drive" short depth toms and die-cast hoops in a black nickel finish. The shells are made of 6-ply, 5 mm maple (8-ply, 7 mm for the bass drum), and come in lacquer and Unicolor wrap finishes.
- Superstar Hyper-Drive Duo – This variation of the Superstar Hyper-Drive series features the "Duo Snare", a 14"×10" snare drum mounted on floor tom legs, which can either be used as a deep snare drum or as an additional 14" short stack floor tom. This variation comes in a satin lacquer finish with a vertical stripe.
- Superstar Classic – The Superstar Classic series is made of all maple shells. The Toms and Snare are made of six ply of 5 mm maple while the bass is eight ply of 7 mm, and come in lacquer and Unicolor wrap finishes.
- Sound Lab Project – Limited editions of drumkits based on the line of snare drums of the same name. There are currently four models produced: the New Vintage Hickory, the Studio Maple, the Fat Spruce, and the Dynamic Kapur.
- Starclassic – The Starclassic series is one of Tama's high-end line of drums. Originally hand-crafted in Japan until late 2009, most of the Starclassic lines are now made in TAMA's Chinese factory. A notable difference is that pre 2009 Japanese production Starclassics have their badges painted on the drum's shell, while Chinese-made Starclassics feature badges fitted onto the shell with screws. Pre 2010 Japanese production Starclassics have a mix of paint-on and screw-on badges depending on the model. Performer Birch have metal badges while Starclassic Maple and Bubinga lines have decal badges. All Starclassic series drums come with a more streamlined version of Tama's Star-Cast mounting system made from aluminum, air-cushioned floor tom legs, "Hold Tight" washers that keep the tension rods in place (Starclassic Maple to Starclassic Bubinga Elite), die-cast hoops, and Evans drumheads as standard equipment. The drums are also available in a Hyper-Drive configuration, with individual snare drums also available.
- Starclassic Maple – Drums made from 6 ply-maple shells (7 on bassdrums) and come in lacquer and Duracover wrap finishes.
- Starclassic Walnut/Birch – Drums made from hybrid walnut/birch shells and come in lacquer and Duracover wrap finishes.
- Starclassic Performer – First introduced in 1994, the first generation shells were 8-ply Philippine mahogany and 1-ply birch, lacquered finish, with Star-Cast Mounting System and die-cast hoops. Shells were changed in 1997 and were 5-ply basswood between 2 plies of birch. In 2000, Starclassic Performer became 100% 8-ply birch, and the same year Starclassic Performer EFX (wrap) appeared. Accel size depths, one inch shallower than the regular, with an 18-inch deep bass drum. Discontinued in 2007, Tama reintroduced the Starclassic Performer in 2021 with hybrid maple/birch shells.
- STAR – Since 2013, it is Tama's flagship line, and are available in bubinga, walnut, and maple shells. New features for the STAR line include "Super Resonant Mounting System", unique shell construction, and the Quick-Lock Tom Bracket. Bubinga shell drums are made with 5 plies of bubinga plus one inner ply of Cordia and have 9mm Sound Focus Rings. Maple shell drums are made with 5 plies of maple and have 5mm Sound Focus Rings. Walnut shell drums are made with 6 plies of walnut on the rack toms, floor toms, and snare drum, and 7 plies on the bass drum.
- Fibrestar – The "forgotten" series. They were produced for only a short time in the late 1970s to early 1980s. The shells of these drums were made from fibreglass and covered with one ply plastic-foil, available in various colors. A notable user of the Fibrestar series was Simon Phillips. Phillips played a large silver drumset at that time with prototype drumshells. These were deeper than the standard shells at the time. The series did not perform well commercially and was discontinued after three years, leaving few still in current use.
- Royalstar – Introduced in 1975 with different lugs and lower quality hardware than Superstar of the same era.
- Beatstar - Introduced in 1986, limited series, Philippine mahogany shells.
- Crestar – 8-ply Japanese birch, lacquered finish, Crestar is a pre-production name, which in production was named Granstar Custom, although one small series came out under the name Crestar and is a direct successor to Superstar, different from Superstar in bearing edge, at Crestar the edge is sharper.
- Granstar/Granstar Custom – Drums made from 100% birch 7-ply shells, introduced in 1986, covered finish. In the same year also appeared Granstar Custom, made from 8-ply Japanese birch, lacquered finish.
- Granstar II - First appeared on the market in 1990, 7-ply Japanese birch, just as Granstar I, foiled, with Hi-tension lugs, as Artstar II.
- Starworks – Introduced in 2009, Starworks is Tama's mid-range line of drums aimed for rockers. These drums are made from birch and comes in two different configurations: a rock kit with a 20" deep bass drum, and a fusion kit, both included with black hardware, a unique bass drum head, and four unique finishes. Due to slow sales, however, the Starworks line was discontinued the following year.
Camco by Tama: Camco sets were re-introduced in the late 1970s. They were made of Asian Mahogany with 9 ply shells. These were released in a very limited supply for a 2 year run.
- Rockstar – Appears during 1988, 8-plies Philippine mahogany shells, foiled. Rockstar Pro were 7-plies luan, 1 ply American linden, foiled. During 1990, the new Rockstar-Pro (9-plies American linden, lacquered finish, with the possibility of see-through or transparent finish), with wooden hoops and ten lugs on the bass drum, Rockstar-DX (De-Luxe) - 7 -plies luan and 1 ply American linden, foiled, with Hi-tension lugs and Rockstar (Rockstar RS, RM and RK) which was made of 8-plies luan, foiled, separate lugs. In 1997 Rockstar Custom was redesigned, with shells made of 5-plies luan between 2 plies of basswood and came in lacquered finish, with new lugs. Rockstar gets the Star-Cast Mounting System in 1998. Later models made exclusively for Guitar Center had birch/basswood shells.
- Artstar – Introduced in 1983 as the new flagship model. Drums made from 4-plies of birch wood sandwiched between two plies of South American Cordia wood. They had 9mm bass drum shell and 6mm snare, floor tom and tom tom shells. Drums had Mighty tension lugs.
- Artstar II/Artstar II Limited – Introduced in 1986. Drums made from 100% Canadian maple 6-ply shells, hi-tension lugs. Artstar II Limited came out in 1988, 7-plies Bird's Eye Maple, lacquered finish, square size - the depth and diameter of the drum are the same, e.g. 12x12, 13x13 and 22x18 bass drum as an option. Artstar II Limited is very rare today and is considered a collector's item.
- Artstar ES/Artstar ES Custom - Artstar ES shells were 8-ply American linden and 1 ply of Japanese birch, foiled, while Artstar ES Custom were 7-ply American linden between 2 plies of Japanese birch, and came in lacquered finish, 2.3mm steel hoops (Mighty Hoops). These came out in 1994. During 1999, Artstar ES gets the Star-Cast Mounting System
- Artstar Custom - Introduced in 1994, 9-plies of Canadian maple, lacquered finish, Die-Cast Hoops, same as Starclassic Maple, but with 2mm thicker shells, so it was more suitable for louder music because it had better projection (cuts through the band).
- Stagestar – Beginner drums made from Philippine Mahogany, introduced in 2005.
- Techstar – Electronic drums.
- Rhythm Mate – Beginner series.
- StarClassic Maple EFX – Summer NAMM show in 2004, TAMA unveiled Starclassic Maple EFX, three classic Duracover finishes: Blue Silk, Red Silk, and Silver Silk. Starclassic Maple EFX is equipped with all the signature features that make Starclassic Maple great drums including die-cast hoops, Star-Cast Mounting system and premium maple shells, although the shells are 1 mm thicker with 1 more ply than Starclassic Maple drums. Specifications * Bass Drums: 7ply, 7mm * Tom Toms / Floor Toms: 6ply, 5mm * Snare Drums: 6ply/5mm with 6ply/5mm Sound Focus Ring.
- Starclassic Birch – Made from 100% Birch. Made from 1994 to 1996.
- Swingstar – Drums made from Philippine mahogany (aka Luan) 9-ply shells with additional Inner shell Zola coating. During 1999, a new, redesigned Swingstar was introduced (8-ply Philippine mahogany, foiled), and during 2002, Swingstar Custom (6-ply Philippine mahogany, lacquered finish) was released.
- Imperialstar – First introduced in 1970 with concert toms, by the late 1970s the shells were 5 ply Philippine mahogany with Zola coat interior and reinforcement rings. Later shells (early 1980s) were 9 ply and had no reinforcement rings.
- Starclassic Exotix Limited edition - Special series made in 2002, shells were made of 8 plies of bubinga with one outer ply of Hawaiian Koa, manually placed mother-of-pearl inserts, lacquered finish, only 40 kits were made. During 2006 a new version was made - Starclassic Exotix '06, with the same shells and Star-Cast Mounting System, only 120 kits were made.
- Starclassic Exotix '06 - 8 plies of bubinga with one outer layer of Hawaiian Koe, hand-placed mother-of-pearl inserts, lacquered finish), only 120 kits were made, Star-Cast Mounting System. As the name suggests, they were made in 2006.
- Starclassic Warlord Exotix Spartan – Drums made from 1mm stainless steel, R.S.E. - Resonant Sound Edge, lacquered finish with "Warlord Collection" lugs & emblems with black diamond Swarovski crystals. It was the most expensive kit in Tama's lineup, with limited worldwide production to 50 kits in a 7-piece Accel Driver configuration. These came out in 2008.
- Superstar – Introduced in 1977. Early shells were 5 ply birch with reinforcement rings. Later shells (early 1980s) were 6 ply birch (no reinforcement rings) and came in standard sizes (non-power depths) until Tama recognized the trend for power toms with the influence of hair rock and metal in the early 1980s. Billy Cobham and Elvin Jones were early adopters of the Superstar.
- Superstar (X-tras) – [in 1981] With an extended depth, these drums were referred to as the original "power toms" with 6-ply 100% birch shell construction and a natural/lacquer finish. The shells produced extended overtones that many found cumbersome but adept professionals quickly tuned-in to the full potential of the drum—and amazing tone. The earliest endorsers represented a spectrum of originality and innovation in styles and genres: Art Blakely, Bill Bruford, Billy Cobham, Stewart Copeland, Simon Phillips and many others. Offering a full array of sizes, including pioneering concepts such as the gong drum, the original Superstar line is now considered a "vintage/classic" Tama product and continues to generate aftermarket demand.
- Superstar Hyper-Drive (100% birch) – Tama's high-end line of semi-professional drums. These drums were made from 100% Birch shells (originally made from birch and basswood) and featured die-cast hoops in a black nickel finish. As the name implies, these drums were available in TAMA's trademark "Hyper-Drive" configuration, which consists of shorter tom depths and a longer bass drum depth (20 inches, also known as their "Ultra-Deep" depth) for optimum sound quality. These drums came in either a wrap or lacquer finish. Discontinued and replaced with the Superstar Hyper-Drive Maple kits.
- Silverstar/Silverstar Custom – Introduced in 2011, the Silverstar series replaced Tama's Superstar Accel Driver line. Like their Superstar counterparts, these drums were made from 100% birch shells and were available in either lacquer or wrap finishes. Silverstar drums featured a more streamlined version of their Star-Cast tom mounts (later done in chrome to match the hardware), "Powercraft II" heads with a white resonant head for the bass drum, low-mass lugs, triple-flanged hoops, and a slideable tom holder, which was usually found on the more expensive Starclassic line.
- Superstar Custom - Introduced in 2005, shells were 5 plies of birch between two plies of linden, in lacquered finish. The same year appears Superstar EFX (6 plies of birch and 1 ply of linden, Duracover foil) and Superstar (6 plies birch and 1 ply of linden, foiled), with die-cast hoops, Star-Cast Mounting System and hi-tension lugs.
- Starclassic Performer B/B – Drums made from a mix of 4 outer plies birch (5 on bassdrums) and 3 inner plies of African bubinga shells and came in either a wrap or lacquer finish.
- Starclassic Bubinga/Starclassic Bubinga Elite – Drums made from 9 plies of African bubinga, with the Elite series made of either quilted bubinga or 8-ply bubinga shells with an outer ply of either maple or cordia. Starclassic Bubinga drums came in a lacquer finish, while Starclassic Bubinga Elite drums came in an exotic lacquer finish.
- Starclassic Bubinga Omni-Tune – Drums made from 100% bubinga shells. As the name implies, these drums featured Omni-Tune lugs, which were invented in the 1930s by drum designer William David Gladstone. These lugs allow the player to tune both drumheads at the same time using a special drum key, and minimizes the time spent on drumhead changes.
- Starphonic – Snare drums are made from maple, walnut, brass, bell brass, stainless steel, steel, bubinga, aluminum, or copper. Starphonic drums feature Tama's patented "Groove Hoops" and "Freedom Lugs" for quick head changes and increased sound quality. These drums also feature a Linear Drive strainer system that allows for quieter snare deployments. Drums are available in a 6" × 14" size, with a steel version in a 7" x 13" size, and the copper and walnut version in a 7" x 14" size.
- Metalworks – Snares made with a 1.2mm steel shell. They come with Evans heads and black nickel-plated hardware, and are available in 5.5" x 14", and 6.5" x 14" sizes, with the addition of a 5.5" x 10" size.
- Starclassic – This line includes maple and walnut/birch shell snare drums.
- STAR – Tama's STAR line of snare drums are available in bubinga, maple, and walnut standard shells, along with solid zebrawood, mahogany, and maple shells, and stave walnut and ash shells.
- Signature – Snare drums made for Tama's endorsed artists. As of 2019, the following artists have snare drums in this line: Mike Portnoy, Lars Ulrich, Simon Phillips, Peter Erskine, Stewart Copeland, Kenny Arnoff, Charlie Benante, and John Tempesta.
- Sound Lab Project – The S.L.P. line of snare drums are made with various shell materials, shell thicknesses and parts. As of 2022, the following models are in the S.L.P. line: Studio Maple, Classic Maple, G-Maple, Vintage Poplar Maple, G-Walnut, G-Bubinga, Spotted Gum, Vintage Hammered Steel, Black Brass, Dynamic Bronze, Big Black Steel, Classic Dry Aluminum, Fat Spruce, Duo Birch, and Dynamic Kapur.
In addition to manufacturing drums, Tama also offers a variety of stands, pedals, thrones and multi-clamps as well as a rack system.
- RoadPro – Tama's top-of-the-line series of stands aimed at traveling musicians, as RoadPro stands for "Road-Proven". It features double-braced legs, die-cast joints, a reversible cymbal sleeve, and Tama's patented Cymbal Mate. RoadPro cymbal stands also feature TAMA's Quick-Set Tilter for adjusting the cymbal to any angle.
- Stage Master – Tama's bottom-line series of hardware with single and double-braced versions available.
- PowerTower Rack – Tama's rack system featuring a variety of pipes, clamps, and accessories for a custom drum rack.
- 1st Chair Throne systems – Tama's top-of-the-line thrones with possible options of a hydraulic lift and back rest.
- Round Rider – round-type throne
- Ergo-Rider – hybrid round and saddle-type throne
- Glide Rider – saddle-type throne
- Dyna-Sync – Introduced in 2019, Dyna-Sync is Tama's line of direct drive pedals, double pedals, and hi-hat stands.
- Speed Cobra – Introduced in 2010, the Speed Cobra line features long footboards in both double and single pedal versions that are designed to be lighter, more responsive and have more power than the Iron Cobra series. The Speed Cobra pedals include new features as well as many similar features to the Iron Cobra series.
- Iron Cobra – Introduced in 1992 the Iron Cobra line features a selection of Tama's top-of-the-line pedals, double pedals, and hi-hat stands.
- Power Glide – Features an offset cam for increased power and speed
- Rolling Glide – Features a rounded cam for uniform response
- Flexi Glide – Features a traditional strap (made of Kevlar) drive cam
- Lever-Glide Hi-hat stand – Features a lever pull system
- Velo-Glide Hi-hat stand – Features a traditional pull-action chain
- Cobra Clutch – Attaches to the side of a hi-hat stand to allow the cymbals to be closed or open; a foot-controlled version of the drop-clutch
- Rhythm Watch – Metronome and practice tool.
- Tension Watch – Drum head tuning tool.