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Tama Imperialstar | The ultimate drummer’s guide (2021)

tama imperialstar drum kit

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The Tama Imperialstar is seen as one of the best starter drum kits available. For a budget drum kit, it sounds good and is of great value. 

In this guide, we are going to talk you through all of the features that come on the Tama Imperialstar and what is new for 2021.

Who is the Tama Imperialstar for?

The Imperialstar is the budget drum kit offered by Tama. Its price point makes it ideal for new drummers who are looking for a good sounding kit to learn on. 

Although this is the budget model, it is still packed full of features you may not expect to find on an entry-level kit.

Since this is the case, the Tama Imperialstar often lasts drummer beyond the early years and can become a good touring kit. 

This is why the Imperialstar stands out against many of the budget drum kits available on the market.

What are Tama Imperialstar shells made from?

The shells on the Imperialstar are made from 100% poplar wood. 

When compared to other woods commonly found in drums such as maple and birch, poplar is a cheaper option.

That doesn’t mean it is bad though. Poplar creates a warm tone with a medium attack. 

The shells are made up of 6 plies of 8mm poplar.

To make an affordable drum kit poplar wood is a great option as it pushes down the costs without the need to use a wood blend. 

Tama Precision Bearing Edges

The final thing to note about the Imperialstar shells is the Tama Precision Bearing Edges. 

Bearing edges have a big impact on the sound of the drum. It can affect the tuning, how the drum rings and the response.

Tama’s advanced edge-cutting process provides extremely precise bearing edges making the most out of the cheaper poplar wood. 

The result is a drum that has a full ring, a wide tuning range with sensitivity and response.

What hardware comes with the Imperialstar?

As well as their incredible drums, Tama is known for making great hardware.

Unfortunately, the Imperialstar doesn’t feature any of the latest innovations but that is to be expected. 

There is nothing wrong with the hardware found on the Imperialstar though. It has classic features that have stood the test of time.

Tom Holder

The bass drum mounted dual tom holder features the L-rod ball socket holders. 

These holders allow you to make the smallest tweaks to the tom positioning. If you like to have your toms placed over your bass drum, you will be able to get the placement just how you like it with these holders.

Spur Brackets

The spur brackets on the bass drum are very sturdy to ensure maximum stability. This is very important as the bass drum is also holding your toms. 

Stage Master Stands

The Imperialstar comes with stands included. The stands are from the Stage Master range. 

The Stage Master range features double-braced legs for extra stability and quick-set cymbal mates for quick cymbal changes.

tama stage master hardware

The Tama Imperialstar comes with:

  • Hi-hat stand
  • Boom stand
  • Straight arm stand
  • Snare stand

Remaining hardware

The kit also includes a standard single pedal and a throne.

There is nothing special about these but they will be fine for any drummer starting to learn.

What finishes are available?

The Tama Imperialstar is available in 6 different finishes. These finishes are all wraps. 

These look nice and there is a good variety to meet everyone’s tastes. 

The wrap finish helps keep the cost down to make the kit good value to you whilst looking nice.

Brand new finish for 2021. The Natural Zebrawood Wrap has been added newly for 2021. This is a great looking wrap giving the kit an exotic wood look. 

tama imperialstar kit finishes

Finishes:

  • Black Oak Wrap (BOW)
  • Natural Zebrawood Wrap (NZW)
  • Vintage White Sparkle (VWS)
  • Candy Apple Mist (CAM)
  • Hairline Black (HBK)
  • Hairline Blue (HLB)

Tama Imperialstar kit configurations

The Tama Imperialstar is available in 4 different configurations to match the style of drumming and budget you have. 

Each kit comes with all the hardware mentioned above.

The kits are available with or without cymbals. 

If you are starting to learn drums and don’t have cymbals yet it comes with Meinl HCS bronze cymbals. These are as good as any other entry-level cymbal and are of good value when purchased with the kit.

6 piece kit with 22″ kick (IE62H6W)

This configuration is the most expensive and comes with the most drums. If you are looking for a bigger set this is the configuration for you.

Drums included:

  • 22″ x 16″ bass drum
  • 10″ x 7″ tom
  • 12″ x 8″ tom
  • 14″ x 13″ floor tom
  • 16″ x 15″ floor tom
  • 14″ x 5″ snare

5 piece kit with 22″ kick (IE52KH6W)

I would class this as your “standard” drum set configuration. You are getting a 5 piece kit in the standard sizes you would expect. 

Drums included:

  • 22″ x 16″ bass drum
  • 10″ x 7″ tom
  • 12″ x 8″ tom
  • 16″ x 15″ floor tom
  • 14″ x 5″ snare

5 piece kit with 20″ kick (IE50H6W)

If you are looking for a kit with a slightly tighter sound this kit could be the one. It comes with a slightly smaller bass drum at 20″ and a 14″ floor tom rather than a 16″. 

Drums included:

  • 20″ x 16″ bass drum
  • 10″ x 7″ tom
  • 12″ x 8″ tom
  • 14″ x 13″ floor tom
  • 14″ x 5″ snare

5 piece kit with 18″ kick (IE58H6W)

If you are looking for a kit for a child this configuration is the better option. The 18″ bass drum allows you to place the toms lower whilst still maintaining a good tone.

Drums included:

  • 18″ x 14″ bass drum
  • 10″ x 7″ tom
  • 12″ x 8″ tom
  • 14″ x 13″ floor tom
  • 14″ x 5″ snare

Individual drums

If you have purchased a Tama Imperialstar drum kit and you are wanting to expand it you can purchase individual drums. 

The size selection is decent as long as you aren’t picky when it comes to the depth of the drums.

Bass drums

  • 18″ x 14″
  • 20″ x 16″
  • 22″ x 16″

Floor toms

  • 14″ x 13″
  • 16″ x 15″
  • 18″ x 16″

Toms

  • 8″ x 6.5″
  • 10″ x 7″
  • 12″ x 8″
  • 13″ x 9″

Snares

  • 14″ x 5″
  • 14″ x 6.5″

Are Tama Imperialstar drum kits good value?

There is no doubt that these drums are of great value. If you are a beginner or an intermediate player this kit is an amazing option.

Tama has had to cut areas of the kit to lower the price but it has done this in areas that will have minimal impacts on the sound.

For example, the hardware and finish have been cut back to allow the shells to be the best they can for the price.

The only thing you will want to replace on this kit is the heads. Drum heads can be expensive so cheaper Tama branded heads come with the kit. These are single ply so they won’t be that durable and they will be a bit harder to tune. 

Ideally, you would switch these out for a two-ply head such as the Evans G2s or Remo Emperor.

This does push up the cost but there is nothing wrong with playing the stock heads while they last. 

Where can I buy one?

Luckily for you, the Tama Imperialstar is available from nearly all online music stores or from your local drum shop. If you are looking to order online, here are our top picks.

Frequently asked questions

Are Tama Imperialstar drums good?

If you are a beginner the Imperialstar drum kits are perfect for getting started. They are one of the best sounding drums at this price and will last you for many years until including when you are at an intermediate level.

Should I buy a used Tama Imperialstar?

If you are wanting to save more money a second head kit is a good option. The Tama Imperialstar has been around since the 1970s so there are plenty of second-hand kits around. Like when you buy anything pre-owned, make sure you inspect the kit before purchasing. Looks for any cracks in the shells and damage to the hardware.

What is the difference between a new or vintage Tama Imperialstar?

The main difference is the wood the shells are made from. The vintage Tama Imperialstar drums from the 1970s and 1980s were made from Luan with a heavy speckled Zola Coat on the interiors rather than poplar with a natural internal finish like on the new kits.
Luan is a cheap wood like poplar. They have many similar characteristics but the sound of luan is preferred by some drummers.

What are our thoughts?

If you are buying your first drum kit this is one of the best options. There are cheaper entry-level drum kits available but this kit will see you beyond being a beginner well into intermediate levels. 

It sounds good and it is built to last. 

If you are looking for an alternative at this price point we recommend checking out the Pearl Export. If you are looking for an entry-level professional level kit from Tama, check out the Tama Starclassic Performer.

Have you owned a Tama Imperialstar drum kit? Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

The author

I’ve been playing the drums for over 15 years and I still love them! I am mostly a metal drummer but I am currently working on groove and applying rudiments to the kit!

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