144 Lafayette Road, North Hampton, NH 03862 | 603-319-8109

Tama Star Snare Drums Shootout

Boutique Quality Snares from the Strongest Name in Drums

Tama Star snare drums are ultra-high end snare drums that focus on sound first. Unlike many "boutique" snare drum builders that focus on aesthetics, Tama Star snare drums are built to achieve an optimal tone. Simply put, any furniture maker can build a beautiful drum. At the end of the day it's sound that is most important.

That's not to say Tama Star snare drums aren't beautiful, because they are. No drum manufacturer pays more attention to detail than Tama. Their flagship Star lineup sets the standard by which all others are currently measured in the industry. We tested 10 gorgeous Tama Star snare drums head to head in our most recent video.

Tama Star Bubinga Snare Drum Dark Red Cordia

If you ask around the shop what the best looking Tama Star finish is, many of us will tell you it's the Star Bubinga Dark Red Cordia. From the flawless outer finish, to the immaculate shell construction, this snare drum is an absolute dime-piece.

It sounds as good as it looks. We tested a 14x6.5 and a 14x5.5 model, and neither disappointed. Both deliver immediate low end with a sharp, yet not harsh attack. Tama has a way with Bubinga that exploits the best qualities while minimizing the troublesome ones.

Tama Star Reserve Bubinga/Walnut Snare Drum 14x6.5

The Tama Star Reserve Bubinga Walnut Snare Drum also yields an extremely sharp cut and projection. The hybrid shell of Bubinga and Walnut with Maple Sound Focus Rings creates a solid, clear tone with all the resonance you could ask for. The beautiful Claro Walnut exterior ply lacquered in black see-through gloss adds to the elegance of the snare drum. It also features Sound Arc Hoop and STAR Tube Lugs with lug nuts for accurate tuning.

Tama Star Maple Snare Drum 14x6.5 Gloss Sycamore

Referred to here at the shop as a "Modern Day Radio King", the Tama Star Maple snare drum is a winning combination of vintage sound and modern features. Although they feature one of the most popular and traditional drum shell materials, Star Maple drums have some unique hidden features that set them apart from the rest. The thin 5 ply, 5mm shells are comprised of a 2mm thick solid wood core ply between 1.5mm thick plies. Traditional Maple shells generally sound bright and open. This Star Maple snare drum has those characteristics, but with rich dynamics. The concept is similar to other solid shell drums, but thinner by comparison.

Tama Star Maple Snare Drum 14x5.5 Smoky Black

The single-ply Tama Star Maple snare drum in Smoky Black finish may have been the biggest surprise of the day. We've played a ton of solid shell maple snare drums over the years, so we had our preconceived notion of what it was going to sound like.

We're not sure how, but this single ply snare drum spoke with overwhelming brightness and clarity. No matter how we tuned it, this beauty retained its body and tone. Watch the video and hear it for yourself!

Tama Star Reserve Hand Hammered Copper Snare Drum 14x6.5

The only metal snare drum we tested in this Tama Star snare drum shootout was the Reserve Hand Hammered Copper. The series' first metal snare features a hand hammered copper shell. With mid-low end and tons of volume, the hand hammered shell creates a deeply harmonic overtone. A slightly smaller diameter hammer is used on the edge of the shell compared with the hammer that is used on the center. This gives the shell a unique barrel shape that lends to the special tone it produces.

To complement the shell, Tama added customized 2.3mm brass flanged hoops. The edge of each hoop is slightly shaved down compared to a standard flanged hoop, yielding a sharp, bright attack. The combination of warm, rich resonance with sharp, bright attack offers an original sound that we think you'll love!

Tama Star Reserve Maple/Bubinga Snare Drum 15x8 Caramel Olive Ash Burst

It can be an extremely gratifying sensation to discover a special snare drum that brings a newfound creativity to your playing. All of a sudden, your go-to phrasing is out the window and you're heading down a new path. We feel this is exactly what Tama has accomplished with the beastly 15x8 Star Reserve snare drum.

Its combination of Bubinga/Maple hybrid shell and Brass Mighty hoops provides a huge backbeat. However, it still manages to maintain a great balance of low and high end frequencies. No matter how you tune this drum, its presence is clearly heard and felt. Tuned low, the drum functions wonderfully as a ballad snare with the snare wires engaged. With the wires off, it can double as a floor tom - giving it surprising versatility.

Tama Star Solid Maple Reserve Snare Drum 14x5 Oiled Natural Maple

The 1st model of the Star Reserve snare series was developed to attain unparalleled sensitivity and response for drummers. Tama combined a solid maple shell with a slightly sharper Starclassic bearing edge and Brass Sound Arc hoops. The result is an ultra-sensitive, clear, and bright tone. It also features Tama's unique STAR Tube Lugs with lug nuts for articulate tuning. Supersensitive Hi-Carbon Snare Wires feature a thin brass plate and softer hi-carbon coils that respond to even the softest touch of the batter head.  This Tama Star Reserve in Oiled Maple is an understated instrument that just oozes class and sophistication.

Tama Star Walnut Snare Drum 14x6.5 Red Burgundy

Star Walnut drums are intriguing to us at Drum Center of Portsmouth.  While they are the most "affordable" Star offering, to some, they are the best sounding.  This Tama Star Walnut snare drum was no exception.  When you watch the video, we think you'll find the Walnut's tone will stand out the most.

As with their Star Bubinga shells, Tama seems to bring out the best qualities of Walnut.  This snare just seemed to have a warmer, fatter projection than most other Walnut drums on the market.  This snare drum comes highly recommended.

Tama Star Snare Drum Zebrawood 14x6

Finally, we put the Tama Star Zebrawood snare drum through its paces.  This snare drum can be summed up in one word: unique. With a look and sound unlike just about anything else, this solid-shelled beauty represents a real rarity among the galaxy of snare drums. This is a drum that speaks with the clean, dry crispness of aluminum and backs it up with the ruddy warmth of mahogany. If you are looking for a special snare drum to add to your arsenal of sound, look no further!

Your Home for Tama Star Snare Drums

At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we carry the most Tama Star snare drums you will find anywhere. Our staff understands the subtle tonal difference between each and every Star drum Tama has to offer. When you are ready to explore the unique sounds of Tama's flagship line of ultra-high end drums, give us call.  We will match you up with the sound that is right for you!