70's-80's Tama Imperialstars

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Hello all,

Just took at gamble on a set of SHELL ONLY Imperialstars. They were located near a friend of mine, and he's going to hold them for me until I can pick them up. As you can see, these are shells only, ZERO hardware, so I have some work to do. Anyone have some guidance on where to start looking for lugs, bass drum mount, floor tom leg mounts, etc.? I'm not terribly concerned with keeping the hardware original, so if there are good modern options that's ok too. My main goal is to get a 3 piece set up completed first, filling in the rest over time. Sizes are 24/18/15/14/13/12, biggest set I've ever had, so that's neat.

Tama drums.jpg
Tama drums 2.jpg
 

dale w miller

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Why in the hell would someone do that? Are they even real as I don’t see the fiberglass coating inside?
 
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They do have the coating on the inside of the shells. Not sure as to why they are stripped as they are. I did not pay much for them.
Tama 3.jpg
 

loach71

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World Percussion has lugs with the correct shell-hole spacing. Good quality and way cheaper than Ebay-sourced original TAMA hardware. Those Japanese shells are HEAVY and of a high quality. Suggest you leave the Zola-Coat in place.
 

Big Beat

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Nice drums - just listen to the first couple of Police albums, that's what Stewart Copeland played. They are the same shells as the Swingstar, but with upgraded Superstar lugs. I have some of those parts, PM me.
 

Tama CW

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People do that because the parts stripped off the drum are worth more than the whole drum....by 2X to 3X. For example I have a very nice 13x9 Imperialstar in black wrap - asking $55. I've had some interest but not much. Now if you strip off 12 lugs, 12 rods, 2 rims, and 2 heads, and sell the shell separately, you might net around $100. Bass drums carry about $250-$275 in parts....but you'll be lucky to get $100 for a decent complete bass drum. I just sold one for $95....took 4 months....had bubbling on the wrap, otherwise nice. Sold a beautiful early re-ring with mufflers Tama Imperialstar 5 pc kit with 14x6.5 snare last year for $350......included all nice original hardware, 3 titan cymbal stands, and throne.

Once you're done finding the parts to complete your toms, you'll have way more money into them than they are worth, or you could buy them for in a complete set. But if someone here sells you parts and half price you might do ok. In most cases, sellers of these shells should be paying you to take them off their hands considering the cost to reassemble them. There are tons of Imperialstar lugs, and rods on Ebay. The rims are a little harder to find though Tama does sell new ones for around $55/pair for the smaller toms. The mufflers VERY hard to round up. Tom mounts run around $10-$30 each...same for floor tom leg mounts. Legs can run from $20-$40/set depending on how fussy you are about repro vs. originals. The bass drum leg mounts, legs, and rack tom bar and base are available....but will run about $125+ a set. My bass drum at $95 would have given you all the parts you needed. I've seen some complete kick drums as low as $50 though at that level the chrome parts tend to be pretty crusty.

Imperialstars are nice drums that are built well. Your drums are the early ones with re-rings and mufflers, which are the most desirable. Unfortunately, you'll have to find the missing mufflers too....adds another $15-$45 per drum if and when you can find them. I've been looking for a SS/IMP muffler with fat knob for 6 months for a Mastercraft snare drum. I refuse to pay $45-$60 for just one that some are asking. Haven't seen any come by under $35-$40. It's feast or famine on these.

Your kit will set up nicely with 12 and 13 on the kick drum. Then 14 and 15 off to the right side on a double tom stand ($40-$60). I had that same set up only with one size up (13,14,15,16 and 18 floor w/24 kick). The 16x12 mounted tom was a bit of a struggle to reach on the right. But your kit with one size less will save you about 4 inches in width. That's very playable all around. It will work well. Anything bigger (ie taller and wider) I find gets to be quite a chore to play on. And eventually you might and reasonably inexpensive 8 and 10 to mount on the left to get you a "6 pack up top."
 
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People do that because the parts stripped off the drum are worth more than the whole drum....by 2X to 3X. For example I have a very nice 13x9 Imperialstar in black wrap - asking $55. I've had some interest but not much. Now if you strip off 12 lugs, 12 rods, 2 rims, and 2 heads, and sell the shell separately, you might net around $100. Bass drums carry about $250-$275 in parts....but you'll be lucky to get $100 for a decent complete bass drum. I just sold one for $95....took 4 months....had bubbling on the wrap, otherwise nice. Sold a beautiful early re-ring with mufflers Tama Imperialstar 5 pc kit with 14x6.5 snare last year for $350......included all nice original hardware, 3 titan cymbal stands, and throne.

Once you're done finding the parts to complete your toms, you'll have way more money into them than they are worth, or you could buy them for in a complete set. But if someone here sells you parts and half price you might do ok. In most cases, sellers of these shells should be paying you to take them off their hands considering the cost to reassemble them. There are tons of Imperialstar lugs, and rods on Ebay. The rims are a little harder to find though Tama does sell new ones for around $55/pair for the smaller toms. The mufflers VERY hard to round up. Tom mounts run around $10-$30 each...same for floor tom leg mounts. Legs can run from $20-$40/set depending on how fussy you are about repro vs. originals. The bass drum leg mounts, legs, and rack tom bar and base are available....but will run about $125+ a set. My bass drum at $95 would have given you all the parts you needed. I've seen some complete kick drums as low as $50 though at that level the chrome parts tend to be pretty crusty.

Imperialstars are nice drums that are built well. Your drums are the early ones with re-rings and mufflers, which are the most desirable. Unfortunately, you'll have to find the missing mufflers too....adds another $15-$45 per drum if and when you can find them. I've been looking for a SS/IMP muffler with fat knob for 6 months for a Mastercraft snare drum. I refuse to pay $45-$60 for just one that some are asking. Haven't seen any come by under $35-$40. It's feast or famine on these.
Yes, I’m aware of the difficulty in keeping costs down on a project like this. I’ve dealt in vintage bicycles for a long time, and the stories are the same. I paid $50 for the shells so my cost of entry is low.

I’m just a sucker for a project like this one.
 

Tama CW

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The badges are worth more than $50 so you're currently in profit mode. :angel3:

I'd try to keep it vintage Tama. I don't think there's a ton of savings on nice used vintage Tama parts vs new replacements or no-name lugs. Only the mufflers are a stumbling block. You'll eventually find them....from some guy who strips a set of these same pre-1982 drums. Check local CL and FaceBook for cheap drums and parts. I recently saw a 14 and 15 tom with stand for $100. And I found a 5 piece kit of semi-distressed Imps for $150....with mostly usable parts. The person that bought my kick drum for $95 didn't want the drum....they only wanted some of the lugs and claws to complete their project....and then they'd sell off the rest of the parts to break even on the drum. Round and round we go...........

Tama Superstar drums use the same parts as the Imperialstars. Same hoops, lugs, leg mounts, legs, etc. That's one of the reason the parts aren't dirt cheap...Superstars need them. Re-ring shells seem to be around 3X to 5X scarcer than non-re ring shells. Best choice for a project.
 

franke

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The shells are luan (often referred to as "Philippine mahogany", of which it is not, though luan does come from the Philippines). Luan is the same species that was used in Japanese "stencil brands" of the sixties. It has a rather unattractive grain, which is why Tama painted the shell interiors with trunk paint (which also adds a "brightness" to their tone). The differences between Tama ImperialStars and the aforementioned is in the thickness of the shells, with the Tamas being much thicker, and better constructed.

What one chooses to spend their money on is their own affair, but keep in mind that the cost of "restoring" this will be multiple times more than its value when you decide to sell them. Tama made a lot of ImperialStar kits and complete examples can be had for cheap (like less than $350 for a typical 70's five-piece). Best of luck with your project.
 

superunknown

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I bought some old imperialstars a cpl years ago. 10,12,13,14,16 all for $75. The wraps were all beat up . I still managed to get at least $100 ea for them. the 10 and 14 and 16 got 150+ ea
 

cruddola

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@ Super. I bought my first 5-piece set back in 1980, Piano Black. Still have them today and upgraded to a Rosewood snare in 1983. I fell in love with them after a neighbor who had his in Platinum. Love that sound today. I bought a used kit 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16ft, 18ft &20ft, a King Beat snare with two 26" Bd. all for less than 800 dollars from Guitar Center about five years ago. They had split the kit in two so I bought both kits. Again in Piano Black. All in great condition. When I get around to it I'm gonna recover them in Glitter Lifesaver Colors. The 8, 10 toms and the 20-inch floor toms are the toughest to get. I have since acquired a complete set of their X-Tras and two complete sets of octobans and two Gong drums from my brother.
 

Tama CW

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@ Super. I bought my first 5-piece set back in 1980, Piano Black. Still have them today and upgraded to a Rosewood snare in 1983. I fell in love with them after a neighbor who had his in Platinum. Love that sound today. I bought a used kit 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16ft, 18ft &20ft, a King Beat snare with two 26" Bd. all for less than 800 dollars from Guitar Center about five years ago. They had split the kit in two so I bought both kits. Again in Piano Black. All in great condition. When I get around to it I'm gonna recover them in Glitter Lifesaver Colors. The 8, 10 toms and the 20-inch floor toms are the toughest to get. I have since acquired a complete set of their X-Tras and two complete sets of octobans and two Gong drums from my brother.
Wow. That's a monster kit and rare as heck. 26" bass drums barely exist....and 20 inch floor toms are almost as rare. The 8 and 10 inch toms show up often enough to be able to buy them. The 6" is probably as hard as the 20" If those drums have closer serial numbers from the same year, really neat. Since your wraps are in good shape I'd leave them black. You might have one of the few in existence. I see "big" Tama Imperialstar kits all the tom....but NEVER with 26's, 20 FT, 18 FT, 10, 8 at the same time.
 

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