The following review originally appeared in the February 2015 of Modern Drummer, which can be purchased at here.
Tama 40th Anniversary Superstar Reissue Snare
A fitting tribute to the big, bold birch tones that defined the sound of the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Tama released a special line of limited edition snare drums in 2014 to celebrate its fortieth anniversary. One of them is the Superstar reissue on review this month, which has a thick 8-ply, 8mm birch shell. (Tama was the first major drum company to offer all-birch-shell drums, in the Superstar line in the late ’70s.) This 6.5×14 drum comes fitted with the original Superstar lugs, die-cast hoops, and an upgraded Linear-Drive strainer, which is designed, according to the company, to “provide greater control of the lever adjustment arm and more precise control of the strainer’s deployment motion.”
The thick, deep birch shell allowed for a warm tone, a nice sharp attack, sensitivity, and no shortage of resonance. The drum responded beautifully during heavier gigs where controlling my volume wasn’t necessary. When I really laid into it, the sustain, fat bottom end, and strong attack really came through.
During lower-volume gigs, the Superstar projected easily, and hearing all the notes I played was never a problem. The low-end frequencies came through a bit more than I would’ve liked in these situations, but that’s exactly how this drum is meant to sound. Tuning it to a higher register didn’t take away the pronounced bottom end, and it kept a nice attack, but tighter tunings removed a bit of the Superstar’s signature fat tone. This drum worked well within higher registers, but it totally sang in the low to middle tuning range.
The Superstar also came alive when I switched off the snares, especially in the lower range, where the resonance and fat bottom end really stood out. Tama’s 40th Anniversary limited edition snares come with a special hard-shell case (only in the U.S.) and a certificate of authenticity. The list price is $923.06.
Roy Van Tassel