Tama is one of the most popular brands that manufacture drum kits and hardware. All their equipment and products are marketed directly by the Japanese musical company, Hoshino Gakki. Even though they were founded in 1974, not many drummers know where their headquarters and main facilities for manufacturing hardware and drum kits are.
So, where are Tama drums made?
Tama drums are made in Seto, Japan, and Guangzhou, China. Most of Tama’s research and development of products and professional drums is done in Japan, while producing less expensive drums, and hardware is done in China.
Even though the production is mainly moved to China, some models are still manufactured in Japan. Keep reading below to uncover the brief history of Tama’s drums production and which drum models are still manufactured in Japan.
Where are Tama Drums made – Brief history and models
The man behind Tama Drums is Hoshino Gakki. Hoshino is the family name from which the first idea for the brand was born. Hoshino means “Star field,” and that’s why the first brand name was “Star Drums.”
All drums were manufactured at Hoshino’s subsidiary, Tama Seisakusho, which opened in 1962 with the main idea of manufacturing amplifiers and Ibanez guitars. Today, Ibanez is a Japanese guitar brand owned by Hoshino Gakki. In 1966 the production of guitars and amplifiers was separated from drums.
Imperial Star and Royal Star were the first and most successful lines of drum models introduced to the American market. The first Tama drum models were low-cost, and in 1974 Hoshino decided to begin making more professional and expensive drums. He decided to make drums under the brand name Tama, his wife’s name, which also means jewel.
Even though the name has changed, “Star” still greatly impacts Tama’s drum models. After adopting the new brand name, the next move for the Tama brand was to join with Drum Workshop in buying Camco Drum Company, after which Tama took its Camco name, innovative designs, patent rights and engineering.
Camco was always known for the quality of their pedals, and that’s why Tama began to manufacture similar pedals, which drummers would later call “Tamco pedals.” Camco was also known to manufacture drum kits for professionals, while Tama’s main market was beginners because of the low quality.
However, after Tama adopted most of Camco’s patents, designs, and engineering, it started producing drum sets for professionals. One of Tama’s most unique pieces of equipment was tabular drums, Octobans.
Fast forwarding to 21. a century where Tama manufacture their drums in China and Japan. More expensive drum models and kits are manufactured in Japan and less expensive in China.
Here are the models that are mainly manufactured in Japan:
- Tama Starclassic series Bubinga
- Tama Starclassic series Maple
- Tama Starclassic series Walnut
However, for a 20% upcharge, you can get Strarclassic drums manufactured in Japan.
When did Tama move to China?
Tama moved its primary production to China in 2002.
The main reason why Tama moved its manufacturing process to China is to cut costs and make its drum sets more affordable. Their main concern was to make it possible for an average drummer with an average budget to buy their drums. Also, one of their goals was to make their drum sets more accessible to every drummer in the world by lowering the prices of drum sets.
At the same time, the more broad and thorough answer is that they moved their production to China since they needed to stay competitive in the market. Market statistics indicate that almost all brands, like Ludwig, Gretsch and Sonor, have moved their production and manufacturing processes to China.
Since the market sets the entry price and customers are there to confirm that lower prices are the way to go, Tama drum brand company decided to move a part of their manufacturing process to China.
However, to keep quality and customer satisfaction, Tama decided to build its factory in Guangzhou, China. In addition, Tama moved all their highly skilled Japanese craftsmen to China to keep the quality of the manufactured drums. These skilled craftsmen also teach Guangzhou’s local workers how to build the drums properly.
Does Tama make good drums?
Tama builds good quality drums and drum sets. In the beginning, Tama manufactured drums exclusively for professionals, and drum prices were very high, making their drums not attainable for someone with a lower budget. That’s why beginner drummers didn’t purchase Tama drums that often.
However, that changed when Tama moved its production and manufacturing process to China. Manufacturing transition to China enabled Tama to build their drums cheaper, maintain the quality standards, and make them more accessible to everyone. Here are some of the best Tama drum sets:
- Tama Star Walnut – shells crafted in Japan
- Tama Starclassic Maple – Premium die-cast zinc hoops
- Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch – punchy attack and rubber-based claw hooks
- Tama Superstar Classic – premium built quality, 100 % maple shells
- Tama Club-Jam – good for traveling, inspired by jazz kits of the past
By cutting prices and making their drums and drum sets more affordable to everyone, Tama managed to make their drum pieces more accessible to beginner drummers. Today, Tama has a variety of drum sets both for beginners and professionals.
Tama drums are manufactured in Seto, Japan, and Guangzhou, China. They maintained their manufacturing process in Japan until 2002 when they decided to move most of the production process to China. The idea was to cut the prices of their drum sets to make them more affordable. However, some of Tama’s drums and drum sets are still in Japan. Drum sets that are still manufactured in Japan are:
- Tama Star series Bubinga
- Tama Star series Maple
- Tama Star series Walnut
Though most manufacturing has moved to China, Tama managed to maintain high-quality standards. They managed to keep the quality of their drums and drum sets high because they brought their most skilled Japanese craftsmen to China. Tama’s Japanese craftsmen educated local Guangzhou workers to keep the quality of their manufacturing process high.