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Tama Snare Drums - For The Money

Tama Snare Drums - For The Money

Tama Snare Drums - For The Money

What's the difference between an inexpensive snare drum and an expensive snare drum? In this new series, we'll explore the differences between Tama's beginner, intermediate and ultra high-end snare drum lines - Woodworks, S.L.P., and STAR Reserve.

Entry Level - Tama Woodworks 14x6.5 Snare Drum - Black Oak Wrap

Tama’s entry level line of snare drums includes the Taiwanese made Woodworks and Metalworks. Each line hovers around the $100-$150 mark. We’ll be specifically focusing on the Woodworks 14x6.5 Snare Drum in Black Oak Wrap.

Overall, the Woodworks is an attractive looking drum for the price with a blacked-out aesthetic. The shell is made of 8-ply poplar, the most affordable wood to manufacture with. Upon close inspection, the shell construction makes liberal use of filler. The bearing edges are well done, which is important for quality sound.

The hardware on the Woodworks is the most obvious area of cost-cutting compromise. The 8-lug hoops are very light duty. The plating on the lugs is incredibly thin, and the throw off is quite generic. While this hardware is glaringly cheap and entry-level, it is functional and will perform decently enough if you aren’t a hard hitter. 

Another predictable way the Tama Woodworks keeps the price down is by using bottom-tier heads and snare wires. While it can be argued that upgrading to quality heads and wires is an easy way to improve the performance of the drum, it comes at a not-insignificant cost (around $60). 


Intermediate Level - Tama SLP G-Maple Snare Drum 14x7 Gloss Tangerine Zebrawood

The next step up in our comparison brings us to Tama’s S.L.P line of snare drums. While this line can be considered “intermediate” by price standards, the quality of its components is nothing short of professional. At around $500, we couldn’t find a better example of S.L.P.’s inherent value than the Limited Edition 14x7 G-Maple in Gloss Tangerine Zebrawood.

The difference between the Woodworks and the SLP line is stark, to say the least. The appearance of the high gloss exotic veneer is jaw-dropping. Its beefy 13-ply shell is structurally and aesthetically perfect, with flawless bearing edges.

Another stark improvement from the Woodworks is the SLP’s hardware. While both lines feature black-plated hardware, that’s where the similarities end. The diecast hoops and tube lugs look and feel solid. The pro-quality Linear Drive throw off is the same rugged design featured on Tama’s high-end STAR line. Adding to SLP’s value proposition are 42-strand wires and an Evans USA G1 batter head.

Professional Level - Tama Star Reserve Stave Ash Snare Drum 14x6.5 Oiled Amber Ash

At the apex of Tama snare drums lies the STAR Reserve line. STAR Reserve snare drums are the highest of high end instruments, crafted with no compromises. Our choice for this comparison is a magnificent 14x6.5 Stave Ash.

Similar to a conga drum, 20 pieces of 10mm thick Ash wood staves are used to form this unique shell, delivering a quicker response and deeper tone than that of a ply or solid shell drum. The stunning wood grain is intricate and truly a work of art. The components are rock solid and eye-catching. This particular Star Reserve sports Tama’s 2.3mm Sound Arc Hoops, which bend inward, providing a tight sound with mellow sustain. The same buttery smooth Linear Drive throw off can be found on all Star series snare drums. 

Additional top-notch attributes on Star Reserve snare drums are Remo USA batter AND snare side heads, as well as Tama’s redesigned Super Sensitive Hi-Carbon Snappy Snare wires.


For the money, Tama snares drums truly offer serious bang for your buck. For the emerging beginner, Tama Woodworks is an attractive option, giving someone who is new to the instrument a relatively solid tool to learn their craft. If you have the means, we would recommend stepping up to the SLP line. These drums appeal to EVERYONE, regardless of skill level. With only a few hundred dollars of extra investment, you’ll find yourself with a professional quality snare drum that will last a lifetime. For the most discerning of professionals / collectors, Tama STAR Reserve snare drums represent the pinnacle of artisanal craftsmanship. The cost is significant, but the result is nothing short of functional art.

At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we specialize in all things Tama. We also take pride in helping fit you with the best gear for your budget. If you’re in the market for a snare drum, check out our website at, or give us a call at (603)319-8109 to speak with a non-commissioned drummer who will answer any and all questions you may have! 

1 month ago