Tama is known for making some of the best sounding drum kits in the business and any modern-day great drummers such as Anika Nilles and Robert Searight (look them up!) swear by Tama. Now, the Imperialstar is Tama’s entry-level acoustic drum kit and is also one of their cheapest drum kits. Which begs the question: Is the Tama Imperialstar a suitable drum kit for students and performers alike? Will it last long? What is it made of? Is it worth your money? You’ll find out right now in this Tama Imperialstar review.
Tama Imperialstar Review at One Glance
What’s in the Box?
If you buy the Tama Imperialstar through Amazon, you will get more than just the drums. It will come with cymbals and hardware too! Once you order it, you will receive a box of about 46 x 46 x 50 inches that weighs around 75 pounds.
The box includes:
- An 18 x 22″ bass drum with mounted 8 x 10″ and 9 x 12″ toms
- A 14 x 16″ floor tom
- A 5 x 14″ snare drum
- Meinl HCS 14″ HiHat cymbals
- Meinl HCS 16″ crash cymbal
- Meinl HCS 20″ ride cymbal
- HP200P Iron Cobra bass drum pedal
- Boom cymbal stand
- Straight cymbal stand
- Hihat stand
- Snare drum stand
- Drum throne
Features and Specifications
The Tama Imperialstar comes packed with many things that are great for any drummer. It has a hairline blue finish which will look great under stage lighting and also make you want to practice on that kit at home.
The shells are made of poplar and have “precision-crafted bearing edges” which basically means that the metal rings around the shells have been made to withstand heavy beatings from drummers.
Shells and Sound
Having poplar shells means that the sound quality of the kit won’t be as good as a maple or birch kit. But that is why this kit falls under the entry-level category. Also, poplar gives a bright and focused tone which some people like, but there are some who prefer a different tone.
The toms have a warm sound and decent sustain, but they aren’t crystal clear. The bass drum has a big booming sound which can be controlled by putting some padding inside the bass drum.
The highlight of the Imperialstar has to be the snare drum! It has a sharp, attacking sound. It is dark, but it comes to life when you play rim shots and cross-clicks. The sound quality of the snare drum seems to be much higher than its “entry-level” status.
Unfortunately, the stock drum heads that come with the kit do sound like they are part of an entry-level kit. But that can easily be fixed by getting good quality heads and tuning them up. This is the case with all entry-level drum kits anyway. I can personally say that when I played on this kit at a gig, I got it to sound great with good tuning.
Check out this Tama Imperialstar review video and notice how good that snare drum sounds!
The Imperialstar comes with Tama’s “Stagemaster” hardware. The stands are double-braced. This means that the legs of the stand have two supporting metal beams. This makes the stand a lot more sturdier and enables them to take a pounding! Double-braced hardware is great to see on an entry-level kit.
The best pieces of hardware that you get are the hihat stand and the bass drum pedal.
The hihat stand has a 360-degree rotating pedal. This means you can place the stand wherever you want it without the legs getting in the way. This is very important as you have to be comfortable when playing the drums!
The bass drum pedal has a metal base. This is something that every single high quality bass drum pedal has. It creates stability for your bass drum and any drummer will argue that it makes your playing better!
- The snare drum that comes with the Tama Imperialstar package is just superb! The snare drum is the drum you hit most on a drum kit, so it is extremely important that you like the sound that your snare drum makes. If you use this snare drum, you definitely won’t be disappointed!
- The double-braced hardware that comes with the set will allow you to bash the cymbals as hard as you can without the stands moving around.
- The bass drum pedal has a metal base. This is not common in entry-level drum kits.
- Tama drum kits are known to last VERY long.
- The drum kit is quite cheap considering everything that comes with it.
- The Tama Imperialstar has Tama’s “omni-sphere” tom mounting system. The system makes it a bit awkward if you like to position your toms exactly how you like them. This is not such a big issue for beginners. Intermediate to advanced players will be frustrated by this though as they will be used to having their toms in a certain position.
- The stock heads that come with the kit are not that great. It is possible to tune them to sound somewhat okay. But you’d be much better off if you bought a new set of good drum heads for the kit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do the cymbals and the stands come with the kit?
Yes they do! The Tama Imperialstar comes with Meinl HCS cymbals that include a pair of 14 inch hihats, a 16 inch crash cymbal, and a 20 inch ride cymbal. It also comes with a hihat stand, a straight cymbal stand and a boom cymbal stand. Last but not least, you get a drum throne and an Iron Cobra bass drum pedal. Once you get this kit, you will be ready to play without needing to buy anything else!
Does it come with a drum key and a bass drum patch?
It does come with a drum key. The drum key will allow you to tune the drums. If you don’t know how to tune drums, a quick YouTube tutorial will can help you.
It does not come with a bass drum patch. A bass drum patch is a small piece of padding that drummers sometimes put on the bass drum head to prevent it from wearing and tearing.
Do the cymbals sound good?
They are the Meinl HCS series. They’re an entry-level set of cymbals but they do sound good! (If you’re looking for alternatives, start with a good new HiHat – as that’s the cymbal you’ll play the most.)
Alternative Product: Tama Imperialstar vs Pearl Export
The Pearl Export and the Tama Imperialstar are both made with poplar shells. This means that the sounds that their toms make are very similar. But, in my opinion, the snare drum from the Imperialstar sounds a lot better than the Export’s snare.
The biggest difference between the two kits is the hardware. I have personally been using Export series hardware for over 10 years and it has never showed any signs of breaking!
The Imperialstar comes with Tama’s “Stagemaster” hardware and the Export comes with Pearl’s famous Export Hardware. Although the Stagemaster cymbal stands are also double-braced, the Export cymbal stands are much sturdier and therefore better.
The Tama Imperialstar comes with the Tama HP200P Iron Cobra bass drum pedal and the Pearl Export comes with the Pearl Demonator P-930. They are both great bass drum pedals but the Pearl Demonator is the winner in this battle.
Both the tom mounting systems from the Imperialstar and the Export are not that great. I have had many frustrating moments in the past where I just couldn’t get the toms where I wanted on the Export. The Imperialstar has a little bit more maneuverability in its tom mount system.
The Tama Imperialstar comes with cymbals whereas the Pearl Export doesn’t. This means that if you buy the Export then you’ll have to buy cymbals as well, making the Imperialstar the cheaper option. But if you are looking for something with much sturdier hardware, the Pearl Export can be a good option for you.
My Tama Imperialstar Review Verdict
Overall, the Tama Imperialstar is a great kit for beginners. It comes with everything a starting out drummer needs at a very affordable price. If there are certain things that you don’t like, for example the sound of the toms, you can easily just buy better drum heads!
The hardware is great and the Iron Cobra bass drum pedal is a lovely addition to this kit.
I would recommend this kit to anyone who is a beginner that needs a drum set. I would also buy it for myself if I needed a second drum kit to use in my private drumming lessons. The reason for this is because it is very affordable and it comes with drums, cymbals, and hardware all in one package.
Your Questions? Your Stories?
Do you have a question about my Tama Imperialstar Review? Let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you within 48 hours.
Or have you bought the kit already and care to share your experience? You’d do the readers here a huge favor. And I read and respond to every single comment too. So I’d love to hear from you!