Starclassic Walnut/Birch Drumset

The latest evolution in mixed-timber shells, designed for low-mid warmth and high-end clarity.


For years, Tama’s Starclassic Birch/Bubinga drumkit seemed to be the zenith of the series’ evolution. However, part of evolution is adapting to environmental shifts. When restrictions were put on harvesting bubinga, the Starclassic line had to change. After extensive research and development, Tama announced the next phase for the Starclassic line: the Walnut/Birch drumkit. This resultant adaptation proved to be a significant sonic evolution for the series as well.

The Specs
We received a three-piece Starclassic Walnut/Birch shell pack to review. The kit came in an eye-catching Arctic Blue Oyster lacquer finish and was composed of a 14×22 bass drum, an 8×12 rack tom, and a 16×16 floor tom. List price is $2,153.83.

The 6 mm tom shells are 6-ply (4-ply birch with two inner plies of American black walnut), while the 8 mm bass drum has a 7-ply shell (5-ply birch with two inner plies of American black walnut). The drums are equipped with Tama’s patented Quick-Lock tom brackets, Star-Cast mounting system, cushioned Air Pocket feet on the floor tom legs, rubber-insulated bass drum claw hooks, die-cast tom hoops, and MSB30 die-cast bass drum spur brackets. The toms are outfitted with Evans G2 Clear two-ply batter heads and Tama Power Craft II single-ply resonants. The bass drum batter head is a single-ply Evans EQ4 Clear with an internal muffling ring, and the resonant is a black non-ported EQ4-style model with a Tama logo.

The Hardware
The Quick-Lock tom mounts are one of those things you see for the first time and immediately think: How is this just now a thing? The design is simple and elegant, and the quicklock function serves a valuable purpose for gigging drummers. After mounting the legs through the brackets and adjusting the memory locks to the desired height, you can lock the legs into place by simply sliding the switch into the locked position. When you unlock the switch, the memory locks are released from the bracket, allowing the legs to be removed quickly and easily.

The air-cushioned feet on the floor tom legs could take some getting used to, since they allow the drum to float and bounce a bit. This minor movement might make you believe the drum is unstable, but rest assured, it’s on solid ground. Tama’s hardware is always sturdy, streamlined, and designed for convenience.

The Sound
Although this new Starclassic Walnut/Birch kit is in a league of its own, let’s begin with a quick comparison to the focused attack and succinct projection of the Birch/Bubinga line. The Walnut/Birch shell has a little more liveliness and warmth in the low-mid range, and the crisp top-end attack is followed by a more tuneful decay than its Birch/ Bubinga brethren. The Walnut/ Birch kit is similarly focused, but it has more tone and spread in its projection.

Tuning each drum to fingertight tension was about as “set-it-and-forget-it” as you could desire. This super-low tension produced a punchy yet surprisingly melodic sound with a short decay and full tonality. The bass drum benefited from some added internal muffling, especially when the non-ported front head was played. But even without muffling, it sounded punchy and powerful. With a pillow placed inside the shell, the bass drum was perfect for stage or studio miking, regardless of how it was tuned. Quite simply, I was unable to make this bass drum sound displeasing.

I gradually increased head tension on each drum evenly through low, medium, and high tunings. These drums really shined at lower and medium tensions. They didn’t choke when tuned high, but they didn’t sing as organically. However, clear two-ply heads are less than ideal for that tuning range; swapping over to single-ply heads would likely solve that idiosyncrasy. That said, these drums did not underperform at all. This kit was a joy to play, as the drums sounded consistently balanced and cohesive from the rack tom down to the kick.

To circle back to the comparison with the discontinued Birch/Bubinga drumkits, the new Starclassic Walnut/Birch configuration sounded more mature and pre-EQ’ed, allowing the best frequencies to punch through while also eliminating some of the boxiness that tends to coincide with hyper-focused drum tones. Be sure to check out our video demo to hear this kit in action.

Available at your local retailer or shop at Sweetwater.