Like many others I’ve spent countless hours researching for the right drum set that could hold up to the abuse of a heavy hitter and still not break the bank. I’ve played on many sets, mostly Pearl Forums, and although built well, I never really felt comfortable with them. I eventually narrowed down my search to the Tama Imperialstar and the Gretsch Blackhawk. Both kits have amazing reviews and most concluded that you couldn’t go wrong with either one.
For a comparison Tama Imperialstar features:
- Price: $749.99
- poplar shells
- 22″ x 18″ kick
- 10″ x 8″ and 12″ x 9″ toms
- 16″ x 14″ floor tom
- 14″ x 5-1/2″ snare
- All hardware and cymbals included. (Meinl HCS: 14″ hi-hats, 16″ crash, and 20″ ride)
Gretsch Blackhawk features:
- Price $899.99
- poplar and basswood shells
- 22″ x 18″ kick
- 12″ x 9″ and 13″ x 10″ toms
- 16″ x 16″ floor tom
- 14″ x 6-1/2″ snare
- All hardware and cymbals included. (Sabian SBR: 14″ hi-hats, 16″ crash, 20″ ride and free 10″ splash)
- (Product information provided by the musiciansfriend.com website.)
The tom sizes on both sets work for me. I wanted a 22″ x 18″ kick and a 12″ x 9″ main tom. And even though I prefer Sabians over Meinl, I already had Sabians from my last set. I eventually chose the Tama Imperialstar because it was closer to my price range. (This may have been a Gretsch review if I had a bigger budget.)
Shipping was quicker than I expected, but one of the two boxes had a large football-shaped hole in it. Luckily there was no damage to anything inside. The setup was easy. If you have absolutely no idea what you are doing then you’re in luck because both paper and dvd instructions are included.
The two main toms and the snare come already put together and tuned rather nicely, only leaving the kick and the floor tom for you to put together. I would recommend buying heads along with the kit because the stock ones won’t last long, especially if you’re a heavy hitter and practice nearly every other day, (me).
The cymbal stands are built nicely. Very heavy and sturdy. My only complaint is that there are no memory locks. The cymbals sound better than I expected. I have not used the hi-hats but the 16″ crash sounds nice and glassy and dissipates quickly. The 20″ ride is good but the bell didn’t impress me.
Overall, I’m very satisfied with this set. It feels comfortable, reliable and didn’t break the bank. Thank you Tama for an amazing set that will bring countless hours of entertainment. I hope this review will help anyone who is looking for a intermediate set on a budget. Feel free to ask questions for anything I didn’t cover.