Advice Needed: Pearl Decade Maple, Tama Superstar Classic Maple, Vintage Premier XPK (birch)

LexJacuzzi

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Pearl Decade Maple, Tama Superstar Classic Maple, Vintage Premier XPK (birch)?

First time poster, long time lurker here... Crowdsourcing advice and insights!

After a drumming hiatus (living in city apartments), I'm looking to upgrade from my (poorly) refurbished US Mercury/Pearl Export/Rogers frankenkit and have been looking and playing around a lot at the shops in my area. I'm trying to keep is under $500 (got an 8 mo. old baby) and have narrowed my options to three kits:
  • a slightly used Pearl Decade Maple
  • a new Tama Superstar Classic Maple (last year's wrap model on closeout from GC)
  • or a Vintage Premier XPK Birch from the 80s/90s (low mass lugs, beautiful walnut finish, suspension mounts, 6-piece kit with a 20 inch bass, birch)
I have a soft spot for Premier drums and I've read good things about these kits - even talked to a few experts about their quality, but I'm always a little skeptical buying used/vintage...

Each set is running about $500. I haven't been able to find a Decade Maple to play live. The Superstar I tested sounded solid and I'm checking out the Premier tomorrow in person. I don't have a ton of space so one or two of the premier toms may end up in storage, but either way.

Pound for pound, does anyone have advice to help me choose between the kits? The premier seller is telling me its from the 80s but I think otherwise based on my own research and what a couple premier experts have told me... I like the Tama hardware over the Pearl, but the tech at my local shop say the decade maples are awesome kits and that the laquer finish might hold up a little better than the tama wrap (he may have also been pushing me to buy a decade maple new from him instead of the clouseout tama at GC).

Anyway, if anyone wants to weigh in or can provide me some advice, I welcome it. Thanks in advance DF community! Attached some images of the premier and the decade maple...
 

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LexJacuzzi

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I should add - if anyone has general experience with any of these kits, I'd love to hear your thoughts - sounds is a matter of one's ear, but what about tuning, playability, durability? Anyone ever play mid-late 90s XPKs on here?

Thanks around!
 

xsabers

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The Premier also comes with a snare? I think I would be going that direction for sure.
 

El Larry

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One nice thing with the Premiers, you can sell that extra tom and get some money back.
 

Rich K.

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I've been waiting for a deal on the Tama Superstars. That 6 pc. new for $500 is a really good price
 

dogmanaut

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If you want the most bang for your buck, used is always the way to go, I would say. You can get some pretty incredible stuff for under $500.

I can't really comment on the Pearl or the Tama, but Premiers are consistently some of the most under-appreciated/under-valued drums out there. I used to have a Premier Artist Birch that I picked up for $200 off eBay. (If I'm not mistaken the Artist series was the successor to the XPKs.) It was fantastic. The down side to a Premier, though, is that they have pretty awful resale value -- hence me scoring a 4-piece for $200.

There are a bunch of other options you might want to consider, also. Maybe a Gretsch Renown? Used, you should be able to find one under $500 without too much trouble, I would think.
 

lossforgain

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Rich K. said:
I've been waiting for a deal on the Tama Superstars. That 6 pc. new for $500 is a really good price
Where can this deal be found? I didn't see it on GC's website.
 

CAMDRUMS

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If you like the premiers than get them. I would get the tama. I hate pearl's hardware. Used is the way to go. Right now GC has several used superstar kits for well under $500.
 

LexJacuzzi

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lossforgain said:
I've been waiting for a deal on the Tama Superstars. That 6 pc. new for $500 is a really good price
Where can this deal be found? I didn't see it on GC's website.
This was in store only and it was for a 5 piece. I think any leftover stock of the white sparkle finish, wherever they can be found, have been discounted to roughly $500. Just the one wrap color.
 

jfitz

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Your going to get advice from A-Z on this one. I'll admit I'm a Pearl from way back having a late 80's MLX kit. Can't go wrong if you find either an MLX (maple) or BLX (birch). Great sound. Should be able to find them around your price range. Haven't had the chance to try a new Decade kit either. The only thing I can suggest on any used kit is to check out the hardware for anything stripped, cracked and generally not working properly and the bearing edges of the shells. Make sure they are all even, round and no chunks out of them. I would also feel that a laquer kit will last longer than a wrap - usually. Those late 80's Premiers were nice kits though, have a good look at that. Good luck
 

eddiej

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All three are decent kits. I don't think you would go wrong with any of them. If it were my $$$ I would go with that Premier kit. I have a 70s era Premier kit and love it.

I agree with dogmanaut. Premiers are undervalued, at least here in the US. Resale value is not as good as some other brands but it doesn't sound like that is an issue for you.
 

halldorl

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I have a kit like this. Sounds like the big boys:

 
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Tommy D

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Furious Styles said:
The Pearl Decade Maple have 6 lug FTs (IIRC), which was a turnoff for me.
Superstar has a 6 lug 14" floor tom as well.

Those Premiers look nice, but the 16" floor tom doesnt look like it matches the rest of the set. Also, why does it have black hoops with chrome hardware?
 

Iandrumz

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The Premiers are not XPK. The Bass drum has twenty lugs and rods I would think it is probably an early artist maple as the UK made artist birch had only 16 lugs and rods. Also the Astria /Vitria were the first mid line from premier to sport rims type mounts but again were 16 lug bass drums.
I would go with the Premiers provided the bearing edges are good. I think you may have found a really good score there.
 

mlucas123

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The Premier is a 99/00 Vitria. Dark Walnut Satin.
Maple/eucalyptus shells. English made.

The should all be Premier die-casts. Thats why some are black chrome. The originals have been removed.

The big floor tom is not a Vitria.
 


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