Some time ago, we received a large shipment from the Meinl company, which included snare drums from the Japanese manufacturer, Tama. We know very well that Tama snare drums are nothing to joke about. Those are high-end instruments with a recognizable sound and unprecedented quality of workmanship. Will this be the case in this case as well? Watch the video and read our impressions from testing the 14″ x 6″ Tama Star Reserve Solid Cedar snare drum below.
The snare drum was tested at our new Luta Recording studio. The liveroom is a 40-square-meter room with a roof at the height of 6 meters. The session was recorded with the use of an RME UFX+ card, Rupert Neve preamps and DPA microphones.
2. Basic product specs:
- Manufacturer: Tama
- Model: Star Reserve
- Material: Japanese Cedar
- Size 14″ x 6″
- Snare wires: Starclassic Bell Brass (MS20SN14B)
- Throw-off/Butt: MLS50A/MLS50B
- Lugs: STAR Lug (MSL90SC)
- Shell: 8mm, solid
- Hoops: Brass Mighty Hoop (8 holes)
- Finish: Burnt Oiled Cedar (BOC)
- Heads: Remo
3. Product and sound
From the first contact with the instrument, one can see the exceptional quality and precision of workmanship. As is often the case with custom solutions, there is no excessive richness of finish. All hardware elements of the snare drum have been selected perfectly and do not attract too much attention, but are still noticeable. Beautiful engraved hoops (Brass Mighty Hoop), the MLS50A/MLS50B throw-off/butt end, and the Tama Star badge are examples of the perfect detail selection by the designers of this instrument. Adding the oil finish, we get a great-looking instrument. The appearance does not always match the sound quality. In the case of this instrument, you can easily say that this snare drum sounds exactly the way it looks. The cedar that the snare drum is made from is a large coniferous tree belonging to the Pinaceae family. In ancient times, it was called the ‘sacred tree’. It was used to build temples, sarcophagi of pharaohs and statues of gods. When it comes to musical instruments, cedar is mainly used for the resonant tops of classical and acoustic guitars. The sound characteristics resemble a combination of spruce and mahogany, the sound is soft and delicate, with many nice overtones, but the wood reacts to the sound produced faster than mahogany, making it more contrasting and precise.
We always try to show you the entire sound spectrum of the instruments we test, and also in this case we played the instrument in three tunings: high, medium and low. We played the snare drum with the snares engaged and disengaged as well as with and without dampening. In all the cases, the snare sounds great. When recording, our feelings about tuning it low were slightly shaky, but at the post-production stage it turned out that these concerns were unwarranted. The snare drum also “speaks” very nicely in low tuning. The instrument can be tuned almost in three seconds; there are no unwanted overtones. It sounds coherent, with a great tail in the form of decay. The instrument itself ‘sticks to your hand’, i.e. the player can have full control over the dynamics and articulation of each stroke when playing, including ghost notes. In our opinion, it is a very universal instrument that can be used in a very wide range of musical styles, from blues, through to jazz or heavy rock. The only thing that we could pick on is the manufacturer’s failure to provide this instrument with a hardcase. At a price of USD 1,400, this option would seem mandatory. To sum up, the instrument is worth its price, universal in its sound, unique in its finish and character. We have no choice but to rate this instrument at 5.
Here’s the score achieved by the 14″ x 6″ Tama Star Reserve Solid Cedar snare drum:
TOTAL SCORE: 50
Disadvantages – None
In-between: No hardcase
Advantages – Versatile sound, high quality of workmanship without unnecessary lavishness
The total score is: 5
Enjoy our test video, in which you will see the 14″ x 6″ Tama Star Reserve Solid Cedar snare drum.