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Tama Swingstar 8000 Drum Kit

Article from Making Music, March 1987


Just when you thought you'd seen it all in the budget kit department, along comes Tama to save the day, relaunching virtually their entire product range and introducing their rack-mounting system, or "Power Tower" which, if you lot could see your way clear, they would like to become the Big Thing for drummers in '87.

In functional terms it works well. You won't need an 'O' level in technical drawing to put it together and although it might wobble on its own, once you add a counterbalancing drum or cymbal, it's rock solid. The overall height and angle adjustment is excellent, and the clamp will adapt to accept most types of cymbal arm or tom holder, so augmenting the set up with Simmons pads, candelabra or shower fitting should be no problem.

All of which may distract us from the drums themselves. The test kit sported a wrap of smart black plastic over a six-ply shell of birch, smooth-sanded, and sealed inside with "Zola Coat" or clear, matt laquer. Six-ply may sound like a lot but these are six THIN plys. Minus front head the bass drum could be bent out of shape with little pressure. So fitting the drum with strong metal hoops is obviously a sensible structural support.

For this purpose Tama provide their old 6730 pedal, these days fitted with a nylon bush for the spring to work against. It's light, simple and eminently playable, though I would prefer spring adjustment at the top of the action rather than bottom, a hands and knees job otherwise.

The 6½ metal snare is another stock item which I would describe as adequate. Well enough made but lacking real tonal character and soon to be superseded by a new range of drums based on the Noble & Cooley principle of minimum stuff attached to shell and minimum holes therein.

The three toms sounded fine and much of this is due to a good choice of supplied heads. The inevitable Pinstripe on top and a thin, clear bottom head of Diplomat type gauge. They have the sort of bright, clear, attacking sound that I like, and plenty of variation for the fledgling tuner.

The 6880 snare stand stood its ground far better than its lightweight appearance first suggested. My only complaint is about toothed angle tilters. They may make for a stronger guard against the stand flopping over and turfing the snare out onto your lap, but I always seem to want to set them inbetween the available choices, don't you?

To the 6885 hi-hat my compliments. Smooth, easy action, good (non adjustable) spring tension, memory lock and nay wobblies. The only weak spot: footplate to spring link, a bender & breaker 'neath the heavy plate methinks.


To rack or not to rack that is... Despite no memory locks for cymbal arms or the PT crossbar itself (reach for the gaffer), this system will remember more about your set up than a pile of conventional stands but it isn't really any lighter and you'll still have to break it all down (and get a long stands case). It does, however, encourage imaginative positioning, of toms, cymbals and bass drum (which can also be easily dragged back should it creep). With extra clamps costing £19 and boom cymbal arms £43 it makes expansion less daunnting financially. It won't make you play any better but it's certainly a lot of fun.

Spec - Tama Swingstar 8000 Series

PRICE w/Power Tower £890, w/cymbal stands £799
SHELLS 6 ply Birch
SNARE 14 by 6½ Steel
SIZES 12x11, 13x12, 16x16 & 22x16
BD HEADS Toms & BD; pinstripe batters, clear Tamas underneath. Snare; white Weather king batter & clear Weather king snare
HARDWARE Stage Master Series hi-hat & snare stands. PMD500SS rack with double tom mounting & two boom cymbal holders. Flexi-Flyer bass drum pedal
FINISHES Misty Chrome, Dark Red, Jet Black, Aspen White, Sunny Yellow, Fire Red & Royal Canary

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Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Mar 1987

Gear in this article:

Drums (Acoustic) > Tama > Swingstar

Review by Andy Duncan

Previous article in this issue:

> Moore's Code

Next article in this issue:

> Practice

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