Tama Drums

Tama Drums

Infobox Company
company_name = Tama Drums
company_type = Private
foundation = 1974
location = Japan
parent = Hoshino Gakki
industry = musical instruments
products = drums, drum hardware
slogan = The Strongest Name in Drums
homepage = [http://www.tama.com/ tama.com]

Tama Drums is a brand of drums and hardware manufactured and marketed by the Japanese musical instrument company, Hoshino Gakki. Tama is one of the largest and best-known drum brands on the market today (ref). The brand became known primarily for its hardware innovations and sturdiness, but its drums are also highly regarded (ref). Tama's research and development of products, along with production of its professional drums, is done in Seto, Japan, [http://www.hoshinogakki.co.jp/hoshino_e/profiles/profiles03.html Hoshino Gakki Mfg. Co., Ltd. profile] while its hardware and more affordable drums are manufactured in Guangzhou, China. [http://www.hoshinogakki.co.jp/hoshino_e/profiles/profiles07.html Guangzhou Hoshino Gakki Mfg. Co., Ltd. profile] 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.


Tama produces a full line of drums from hand-made limited edition models to mass-produced models for beginning or budget-minded drummers, in a wide range of sizes, materials, and finishes. Tama brands its professional drums as Starclassic. Regular production models are available in 100% bubinga shells, 100% maple shells, and birch/bubinga hybrid shells, as well as metal-shelled snare drum models made from brass. Limited edition models may feature special woods and/or finishes. All Starclassic drums feature die-cast hoops, as opposed to the more common cold-rolled triple-flanged hoops. All Starclassic drums are currently manufactured in Japan, but Tama plans to move some of its mass production of Starclassic drums to its Chinese factory to enable its Japanese factory to focus more on hand-made limited edition models.

The Superstar and Imperialstar lines are cheaper, featuring birch/basswood hybrid shells and 100% poplar shells, respectively. These models are all manufactured in China.

Tama has a summer and winter release of new types of drums every year. These releases coincide with the National Association of Music Manufacturers (NAMM) Biannual convention. Twice a year, at these times Tama restocks the shelves of the specialty drum shops with new limited edition and limited production drums. Specialty drum shops and chain music stores get supplied with mass production drums as needed. Add-on toms are special order drums made to expand an existing drumset, and are available through specialty drum shops.

Tama Drums are hand made. On most Limited edition and limited production drums, the inside of each shell is signed by the person who crafted the drum. Most Limited Edition sets have matching snare drums, while most other sets are sold as "shell packs" without a matching snare, or with a metal snare from the same line. Tama was one of the first companies to offer super heavy duty hardware, and a free floating drum mounting system (StarCast) at the time of its appearance the mounting system was unique as unlike standard tom mounting systems where the mount is attached to the shell, the StarCast system suspends the tom from its upper rim, allowing the shell to resonate freely for a much improved sound.

Original Tama Superstar drums, as well as Imperialstar and Fibrestar have become collectors items. There are groups devoted to restoring the Superstar drums with mahogany finish thanks in no small part to the influence of Neil Peart of Rush using them. Tama imperialstars, combined with titan hardware have been a favorite of gigging drummers because of the ruggedness and wrap finish.

Tama's cordia wood Artstar line (again introduced by Neil Peart's iconic red prototype) ushered in an era of thinner drum shells. The artstar was Tama's turning point away from heavy and thick shelled drums. Tama's cordia/birch wood artstar II were aimed at the competitions higher priced drums with an exotic finish. The lower price made them a bargain compared to European brands. The modern equivalent of the artstar II, are the limited/exotix made of maple, koa and bubinga.

Limited Edition

*Starclassic Maple Reserve (Curly Maple/Maple Shell, Abalone Inlays, Brushed Nickel Hardware)
*Starclassic EXOTIX 2007: Warlord (Quilted African Bubinga/African Bubinga Shell, Swarovski Crystals inlayed on lug casings and badges, Warlord styled Brushed Nickel Hardware)
*Starclassic Performer Limited Edition (Birch shells in "New Fusion" sizes, Metallic lacquer finish with a glitter accent stripe, Black Nickel Hardware)

Limited Production

*Starclassic Bubinga Omni-Tune (African bubinga shells; lacquer finish with abalone inlays and special Omni-Tune lugs)
*Starclassic Bubinga (African bubinga shells; Starclassic-type lugs; lacquer finish)
*Starclassic Mirage (Acrylic Shells)
*Starclassic Maple EFX (Maple shells; Silk wrap)
*Starclassic Performer B/B EFX (Birch/African bubinga shells; Glitter Wrap)
*Starclassic Performer B/B (Birch/African bubinga shells; lacquer finish)

Mass Production (Made in Japan)

*Starclassic Maple (Maple shells; lacquer finish)
*Starclassic Performer (Birch shells; lacquer finish)

Mass Production (Made in China)

*Superstar Hyperdrive Custom (Birch/Basswood shells; lacquer finish)
*Superstar Hyperdrive EFX (Birch/Basswood shells; Satin wrap)
*Superstar Hyperdrive (Birch/Basswood shells; solid color wrap)

Mass Production (Made in Taiwan)

*Imperialstar (Poplar shells; solid color wrap)


Hoshino Gakki began manufacturing drums in 1965 under the "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 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 means "jewel" in Japanese. In keeping with its heritage, "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 the low cost of the Asian made drums with the (now) high quality of hardware was a great combination.

The Iron Cobra has the same configuration options as the original Camco pedal and the current DW5000 pedal. These are Power Glide, Rolling Glide and Flexi Glide. Power Glide pedals have an offset cam chain drive. This causes the beater to accelerate faster towards the end of the pedal stroke. This drive system is identical to the DW Accelerator pedals (DW5000AD or DW5000AX models) or the Camco Deluxe model bass drum pedals. The Rolling Glide pedals maintain a fixed ratio of footboard speed to beater speed and the drive system is identical to the DW Turbo pedals (DW5000TD3 or DW5000CX). Finally, the Flexi Glide pedals are a Kevlar strap driven pedal that has the exact same drive system that was found on the Camco pedals in the 50s. Again, DW makes a pedal with this same drive system under the DW5000ND3 and DW5000NX model names.

Tama was one of the first companies to offer super heavy duty hardware, and drum mounting systems that didn't intrude into the shell like most 70's brands. They also invented unique tubular drums called Octobans. Octobans are 6" in diameter and are manufactured in eight different lengths (hence the prefix "octo-") up to 600mm (23.5"). They vary in pitch by using different shell lengths, rather than widths. Notable users include Stewart Copeland of The Police, Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, and Simon Phillips of Toto. Tama snares were unique in that they offered a cast bell brass shell at a time that they were very rare on the market. Tama developed the Techstar line of electronic drums. These were unique in the 80's in that they used a real drumhead instead of a solid rubber surface.

Notable endorsers


*http://www.tama.com/ Official Company Homepage
*http://www.tama.com/history/ Official Company History
*http://www.hoshinogakki.co.jp/ Hoshino Gakki Homepage
*http://tamarchive.tripod.com The Tama Drums Reference Page


"Tama's commitment to brand integrity" Music Trades magazine, Nov. 2007 [http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/print/171538854.html]

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