February 11, 2008

Drumkit Update: Mission Accomplished

Proud owner... :)
Goal fulfilled. Mission accomplished. I am now a proud owner of a set of Tama Superstar drums. To those who aren't following my blogs... I've blogged a number of times about my goal of purchasing a set of drums. It's my 2007 goal. Though I wasn't able to meet my target deadline (which was Christmas 2007, due to unavoidable holiday expenses), I'm still happy that I'm able to fulfill my plan. Finally, after years of waiting and sacrifice, I now have a drumkit, which I'll be using productively with my band and for my personal enjoyment and woodshedding.

I got the kit last week at Audiophile's Main Office and Showroom in Paco, Manila. Carlo Morales, Audiophile's Product Manager for Tama drums, and his crew accommodated me with the purchase (Thank you very much, mga bro!). I was so eager to take it home, we fitted everything in my Civic's trunk and backseat. The kit was packaged neatly and nicely, and since my kit is a fusion-sized set with a 20" kick, everything can fit in the car. And while I was driving on my way home, with boxes and stuff behind me, I got a bit teary-eyed. I was thinking, "I can't believe it, I finally fulfilled my goal", and "I've been waiting and working on this for a long time." It was a humbling moment. When I got home, I immediately set up the kit in our living room. It took me an hour to set up everything.

My Tama Superstar package includes an 18"x20" bass drum, 8"x10", 9"x12" and 11"x14" toms, a 5.5"x14" snare drum, a bass drum pedal, Roadpro stands (hi-hat stand, snare drum stand, one straight cymbal stand, and one straight/boom cymbal stand), a bass drum-mounted Omnisphere tom holder, and a clamp and L-arm attachment for the 14" tom. All the toms are fitted with Tama's Star-Cast suspension mounts. The kit has a black wrapped finish. Initially, I thought of getting the Custom Amber Fade lacquer finish, which is a nice sunburst-like color that can match nicely with my snare drums' finishes. But I thought that I'll be bringing this kit in and out, in the studio and on some of our bar gigs, so the wrap seems to be a more practical choice. And black is an elegant color that never goes out of style. Plus, I have the habit of changing snare drums, so I think black is safe enough to match with different-colored snare drums. The black finish also somehow gives the kit a Steve Gadd vibe (his signature kit is in black, but with black hoops). Though I can't play drums like the legendary Dr. Gadd haha!

Fresh from the box!
This kit is a work in progress. Like what I said on a recent blog, my good friend Ian Tan (Gig Studio entrepreneur & professional bass player) paid a part of my purchase, and he'll be receiving the items on the kit which I do not need. He already got the snare drum, the bass drum pedal and the hi-hat stand. I already have a good bunch of snares and an Iron Cobra double bass pedal, and I plan to get an Iron Cobra hi-hat stand to match my IC double pedal. I also requested Audiophile to ship in a low double tom stand for me. I want to set up my 12" and 14" toms in a "double floor tom" configuration, similar to how the drummers from hip-hop/R&B bands like Mint Condition and the Black Eyed Peas set up their drums. I prefer it that way, and I can tweak on its tuning and head set-up in order to make it sound right.

I brought the toms on our Mugen gig last night, and I'm so satisfied with its sound and performance. Even with its stock Tama Power Craft drumheads, the drums sounded sweet. The birch shells, the die-cast rims, and the Star Cast suspension mounts do make wonders! The stock heads are working fine, so I'll continue to use these until it wears out. I plan to get a new set of Evans drumheads before I start my drum track recording sessions for our album. I'll save those for the recording, then I'll mount those once the stock heads are worn out.

Mounted hi-hat attachment, more add-on clamps and hardware for additional cymbals, accessories... There are many possibilities! That's the cool thing about drumsets. It can be set up any way you want it, depending on your personal preferences and musical requirements. Unlike guitars, pianos, and other musical instruments, which essentially have its respective standard body structures and layouts, no matter how much one customizes it. With drumsets, anything goes.

I am a proud and happy owner of Tama Superstar drums. I already posted the news on Pinoydrums. I posted below an inquiry from a Pinoydrums colleague, and my reply...

From the Pinoydrums Forum at Philmusic.com (Topic: New Gear), quote from bassman88 on February 09, 2008, 05:24:01 PM

"Sir dio, what made u decide to purchase the superstars? diba catalina maple fusion ang counterpart niyan? did you consider getting that instead? can you share your insights? thanks!"

My Reply:

"Hmm. This is going to be quite long. Get ready hehe.....

To be honest, Tama is my favorite brand of drums. Tama is among the best drum manufacturers in the world, and they are reputable for their great-sounding drums and their innovative and roadworthy hardware. Many of my favorite drummers use Tama (Portnoy, Phillips, Copeland, Blackwell, Tim Alexander... even Neil Peart was a Tama artist during the 80's).

Prior to purchasing the new Superstar kit, I own and play two Tama snare drums (a 5.5"x14" Starclassic Maple and a 5"x13" Artwood Maple), an Iron Cobra double pedal, and a few accessories. I've experienced playing on Tama kits on my gigs, including a Starclassic Bubinga drumkit which is personally, so far, the best set of high-end drums that I've ever played. I'm not saying all these because Tama's my favorite. I've had my hands-on experiences with their products, and these serve as testimonies to Tama's high quality. I've become a firm believer of their products and standards.

Here's why I chose to purchase a set of Tama Superstar drums... At this point, what I can afford to buy is a mid-level drumkit which is capable for professional use. I intend to use the drumkit productively with my band (for recording, gigs, etc). And of course, it's also for my personal enjoyment and woodshedding. I checked out the mid-level drumkits available here in Manila, and did my research (online and on my drum magazines). A lot of mid-level kits are pretty good. But pound-for-pound, the Tama Superstar has far greater advantages.

Die-cast hoops, Star-Cast Mounting System for the toms, Roadpro hardware... These items are also standard on their top-of-the-line Starclassic drums. The Superstar shells are made of plies of birch (a tried-and-tested wood for drums) and basswood inner and outer plies (which is used in order to achieve a uniformed finish, and it possibly gives some added stiffness to the shell). I've already played on a Superstar drumkit a number of times, and it sounded wonderful even with its stock drumheads. And what more if it's loaded with pro-quality heads? I'm very particular with sound quality, so the Superstar's sound is another huge factor for me. Bottom line... It's just the overall quality of the kit which sets it apart from its mid-level counterparts. These drums can actually pass as professional models. And with its price, I think I got more than what I paid for. The investment is so worth it.

I actually thought of the Gretsch Catalina kits before. They have those Catalinas in maple, birch and ash, I believe. I have my experiences playing those drums, and they're great drums too. But I have my reasons why I'm not so fond of Gretsch. Should I say it here? Hehe next time na muna...

I'm gonna use my Superstar kit on my drum track recording sessions soon. You'll be hearing those drums on my band K24/7's upcoming album, which will hopefully be out this summer. And in case you wanna check out these drums up close and personal, I'm planning to bring a few toms on some of our bar gigs... Or probably even the whole kit, kapag tinopak ako."