Tama Imperialstar Review (2020) – Bang for the Buck?

Updated on by Brett Clur | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Tama is one of the leading drum companies in the world with a lot of pros endorsing their products such as Anika Nilles, Robert ‘Sput’ Searight, Peter Erskine and Mike Portnoy. They make some fantastic drums, ranging widely in price and build quality.

The Tama Imperialstar is an affordable drum kit that comes with hardware and cymbals all in one package. It’s aimed primarily at intermediate drummers. Let's see if it’s really one of the best sets for intermediate drummers.



Tama Imperialstar - Overview

The kit comes with the following shell sizes:

  • 5” x 14” snare drum
  • 7” x 10” high tom
  • 8’ x 12” middle tom
  • 15” x 16” floor tom
  • 16” x 22” kick drum

It includes a set of Meinl HCS cymbals with a pair of 14” hi-hats, a 16” crash, and a 20” ride.

It also includes a set of hardware for the drums and cymbals, as well as a kick pedal and drum throne.

  • Double-braced hardware
  • Great price to value ratio
  • Set of Meinl HCS cymbals
  • Snare drum sounds great
  • Several finishes to choose from
  • Stock drumheads aren’t the best
  • Tom mounting system isn’t the best

Shells 

The shells of the Imperialstar are made from a lightweight poplar which gives the drums a full and warm tone. They’re slightly thinner than average drum shells, yet they’re still very full.

The tone that the drums produce is great for close mic’ing applications, making this kit a good choice for stage or studio uses. The sound will be full on a stage and articulate in a recording.

The toms are warm while the kick drum has a booming sound that is full of power. The drums can be easily muffled if you find that they ring too much.

The snare drum is the best part of this kit. It’s sharp, loud, and very responsive for a snare drum in this price range. It sounds particularly good when the snares are off, making it a very musical snare drum.

The stock drumheads that come with the kit are pretty bad, which is typical of an affordable drum kit. You’d need to replace them to get the full tone quality out of the Imperialstar.

The kit has 7 different finish options for the drum shells. These include Black Oak Wrap, Burgundy Walnut, Vintage White Sparkle, Candy Apple Mist, Hairline Black, Hairline Blue, and Dark Blue. Each finish looks really good and is glued to the shells in a way that keeps them looking fresh for a long time.

Cymbals 

Meinl is one of the top cymbal companies, so it makes a lot sense that Tama and Meinl would team up to deliver this high quality product. The Imperialstar includes a set of Meinl HCS cymbals.

The 14” hi-hats have a loud and bright chick sound. There is a clear tone when the hats are closed and a heavy clashing sound when they’re open. The sound of the hats hitting together when played with the foot pedal is loud and present.

The 16” crash cymbal has a clean and crisp sound. It’s very loud and durable, meaning it can be crashed on hard without you having to worry about breaking it. It doesn’t have a lot of sustain, meaning it’s got a very short tone.

The 20” ride has a good balance of stick definition and shimmer with a clear bell sound. It’s a bit on the ringy side, meaning it has a lot of bright sustain that echoes after hitting it.

The Meinl HCS cymbals are some of the best entry-level set of cymbals on the market. However, they’re not too great when you look at them from an intermediate drummer's point of view. They don’t respond well to dynamics, sounding loud even when played softly.

They work well for rock and pop, but not jazz and light styles of music.

Hardware

The Tama Imperialstar comes with the “Stagemaster” hardware from Tama. The stands are double-braced, making them very stable. They’re also quite thin, making the light and easy to carry around. Theres a straight stand for the crash cymbal and a boom stand for the ride cymbal. The hi-hat stand and snare stands are pretty standard and will get the job done.

The kit comes with a drum throne which is something not very common in complete drum kits. Usually you have to buy thrones separately and they can get pretty expensive. The Imperialstar drum throne is really comfortable and has a lot of adjustability.

The kick pedal that comes with the kit is a Tama HP200P pedal. It’s an incredibly responsive single chain kick pedal that has a base plate. The base plate is what pushes this pedal into the intermediate level of product. It adds a lot of stability and weight to the pedal, making it more comfortable to play.

It would be nice if the kit came with 2 boom stands instead of 1. However, you can just purchase a boom stand separately if you want more maneuverability for your crash cymbal.


Conclusion

The Tama Imperialstar is a highly versatile drum kit. The drums have a pretty wide tuning range, meaning they will work well in many styles of music. These drums can sound big and booming for rock. They can also sound high and resonant for jazz.

The only thing holding the kit back from being a great intermediate drum set is the HCS cymbals. These cymbals just don’t have the dynamic responsiveness and musicality needed from an intermediate drummer.

Swap out the cymbals for some better ones and you'll have a great intermediate drum kit, ready to take on all styles of music. It sounds good, it’s affordable and it’s from a well-respected drum company. All these qualities make the Tama Imperialstar a great option if you’re looking to buy a new drum set.

Brett Clur

About Brett Clur

Brett has been playing drums for 18+ years. He's a huge drumming gear enthusiast and also teaches drumming to his students. He's most active on Instagram (@brettclurdrums), where he regularly uploads drumming videos.

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