Acoustic Drum Set Reviews

Tama Imperialstar Review: Best Intermediate Kit?

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Tama Drums was founded by Hoshino Gakki back in 1965 and has since become one of the largest drum manufacturers in the industry. There’s no doubt why players like Mike Portnoy, Stewart Copeland, and Simon Phillips endorse these drums.

Today we will be looking at and reviewing the company’s entry-to-intermediate level acoustic drum set: the Tama Imperialstar.

Is it the perfect pick for a beginner’s first drum set? Will it hold up over the years? Is it worth the money? We will find out right now in this Tama Imperialstar review.

I got a wonderful overall feeling when I played the Tama Imperialstar. It sounds amazing for such an affordable drum kit.

This drum set is by no means low-end. You could easily make this a touring kit if you had a more expensive one sitting at home. If you’re a first-time player, the Tama Imperialstar is a perfect first drum set.

Colors and Finishes of the Imperialstar

Tama offers the Imperialstar drum set in a variety of different finishes and colors! You have the option of buying an additional floor tom if you desire.

What’s in the box?

The Tama Imperialstar is the most affordable set to include so many high-end features. Included in the box is everything you need to get playing, minus drumsticks.

You get the drum shells, hardware, cymbals from Meinl, and a kick pedal.


  • An 18 x 22″ bass drum with mounted 8 x 10″ and 9 x 12″ toms
  • A 14 x 16″ floor tom
  • A 5 x 14″ snare drum


  • Meinl HCS 14″ HiHat cymbals
  • Meinl HCS 16″ crash cymbal
  • Meinl HCS 20″ ride cymbal
  • Additional FREE Meinl HCS 10″ splash cymbal


  • HP200P Iron Cobra bass drum pedal
  • Boom cymbal stand
  • Straight cymbal stand
  • Hihat stand
  • Snare drum stand
  • Drum throne

Features of the Tama Imperialstar

Despite what people say, Poplar shells are not bad sounding. Tama Imperialstar comes standard with poplar. It offers a full and warm tone with a medium attack.

A poorly cut bearing edge can make a world of difference when it comes to drum tone. Tama uses extreme precision to ensure a high quality bearing edge.

Finishes and shell quality

The Tama Imperialstar offers black nickel hardware, opening up a bigger selection of finishes: Blacked Out, Vintage Red, and Sugar White.

Some drum makers will only glue the drum wraps at the point of contact, letting the wrap buzz and eventually come apart. Tama glues the entire wrap to the shell.

Not only do these lugs look great, the smaller lugs allow for more resonance and much better tone. These lugs are 10% smaller than the Swingstar series.

Better hardware

Instead of using traditional claw hooks and T-rods, Tama developed a special hi-tech material that offers faster and more stable tuning of your bass drum.

Tama’s strong spur brackets provide excellent durability and stability. Your bass drum won’t be sliding forward with these spurs.

Tama’s TAMA L-Rod and Omnisphere have received positive appraise over the years. The Imperialstar comes with the same awesome hardware.

The tom brackets are rock solid and will keep your Tama Imperialstar drums in place for all your gigs.


Included with your Imperialstar kit is the Iron Cobra HP200P kick pedal. This pedal was made with the same design principals as the high-end Iron Cobra 900 series pedal.

It’s a very smooth-feeling pedal and definitely is a perfect first kick pedal. It features a metal plate on the bottom for added stability when playing.

All of the new Tama Imperialstar drum kits come with a free 10″ splash cymbal from Meinl, as well as a cymbal stand for it (at the time of publishing).

How does the Tama Imperialstar sound?

This is the perfect drum set for a beginner or for an experienced professional. Tama is able to make an affordable drum kit that is both high-quality and durable.

When you hear these drums in a room, they really sing.

The poplar shells are not going to be as beautiful sounding as a maple or birch kit, but these shells still resonate and have a great attack.

The toms have a very warm sound and, depending on the drum heads you use, will either be brighter or deeper in tone.

Decent value in the snare drum

The drum that sticks out the most? The snare drum. It’s very bright in nature but still has a nice thud when tuned low. This snare drum will stay in your collection even after you upgrade to another drum kit.

As with any new drum set, the stock heads are usually junk. I suggest you purchase some new drum heads with this kit.

If you’ve never changed drum heads before, watch a YouTube video and follow along changing drum heads on your new Tama Imperialstar drum kit!

Drum maintenance is very important; keep your kit in great shape!

Too expensive? Take a minute and read our roundup of the best affordable drum sets available to the market.


Contributions from Drumming Review Staff are from drummers and percussionists with a variety of different backgrounds, both professional and amateur. Interested in making a contribution? Click on 'Contact Us' at the bottom right of the page.

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