Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Trouble With The Starcast Mounting System by Tama

Whether or not I like it, people ask my advice on Tama and Paiste products because I have used both, exclusively, since the 1980's. But, in 1994, Tama did something nobody expected. And, initially, people were ecstatic... Then, the initial joy gave way to something other than that. Something more related to....loathing....

The Starcast Hoop mounting system has been manufactured for actually the longest period of time in Tama history. There are problems. Yes: there are many, many problems with this system. 

In the early nineties, right before the company's 20th birthday, Tama added a new PhD engineer to their staff, and he was given a green light to change anything his heart desired. 

So, from 1991-1993, he designed, prototyped, and tested a unique tom tom mounting system wherein the Tama bullet points: no internal-drum hardware, accessibility, and strength, were kept at the forefront. The result was a system that eliminated the Floor Tom almost entirely (due to popular demand, the custom shop will create them for you, if you holler loudly enough), and attached not to the wooden part of the drum, but onto the rim/hoop, themselves. And, they called this,"The Starcast Mounting System."

...The worst thing is how there are literally zero explanations, even with a brand new kit. That is fucking retarded. And, it's a slap in the customer's face!

But, if you're a drummer, or simply a musician working with somebody who is using a Tama 1994-today manufactured kit, there are two rules to achieving a clean, resonant, passable sound. (Don't get me started on the old, better way: and why t f don't they use it...)

The arrow is pointing at what used to be a purely convenience-based accessory: The MEMORY LOCK. 

The New Role of the Memory Lock

Once upon a time, Tama invented a small piece of metal to sit upon the mounting arm, and the stands of cymbals. Where you preferred the instrument to seat, you tightened that memory lock, and voila: no more guess work....

This is no more.

Besides the fact that it is no longer an optional piece of equipment, the memory lock now consists of TWO separate pieces. 

The toms, themselves, fit snugly, like the two pieces here: female to male, and, again, female over the male fitting.

My advice is that IF you must play/buy TAMA, that you completely throw away the old Ludwig/Sonor/Pearl/Premier tom tom mounting understanding, and wrap your mind around how, for 25 years of a 45 year old drum manufacturer, this system has been rewriting the rules of how things are done.
The obtuse 100° angle, on the tom mount, is complimentary to the 80° angle on the memory lock...

Here, the memory lock is seen from the other side.
The bearing surface, indicated by the arrow, as seen, here, clearly reveals an obtuse angle. 

At first glance that angle seems almost arbitrary. Right? 

However, it is designed with that 100° (approximated) angle to accommodate the 80° seating surface upon the memory lock, which is how it actually became the SINGLE, MOST IMPORTANT piece of hardware involved in the new system.

And, due to a complete lack of information that comes with the newer kits, the most misunderstood part of this Starcast Mounting system is the new, and absolutely vitally necessary role that the memory lock is to the SC System. It took me years to get it right.....

This isn't so, on the older kits, manufactured between 1974-1993. 

Those kits feature an entirely external mount where the tom mount was manufactured onto the side of each drum, and where using the memory lock was optional; left up to the individual. 

Due to the 1994 update, many drummers using the SC System seem very dissatisfied with it because it appears to be totally stupid. In reality, like Tecumseh small motors: this system has too many unnecessary, and moving parts, and when they work, they're still inferior to the other available tom mounting styles available on most brands, today.

DW for example: they briefly copied Tama's Starcast Mounting system, but then, stopped when they realized how flawed it was. 

The important thing is: if you've bought one of these, it will work. You just need to seat each tom, by hand, and PROPERLY. 
The acute, 80° angle that measures on the mount which seats onto the memory lock is here....

Some Like it Not

Some advantages are:

1: Drums having the mount manufactured, and thus, permanently affixed, upon just the one side, means that drum CAN ONLY BE USED in a certain way. 

On the SC Mounting System, the mounts themselves can be changed between left, or right. This adds another 180° to mounting possibilities.

2: the hardware CAN be used to guide trigger/mic wires insamuch as least length necessary, and it is damn near invisible.

3: There are no extra steps necessary to changing heads. On the Starphonic Snares, ranging in criticisms from "bad Ludwig knock offs" to "worse Ludwig knock offs", this convenience is taken one step further.

I am not gonna lie for Tama, I will call them out. It's why I'm banned from their FB page....

But the Starphonic snares are a superior product line. Notable stand outs are the G Bubinga, and the Aluminum, Brass, and Limited Edition Stainless Steel snares...

These snares feature a top SC mountable, or old system mountable option, no assembly for that necessary, plus a flip away tuning surface which releases, to permit bottom head changes without having to turn a bunch of screws in order to remove snares. Ultra cool...

But, the point is the dozen, or so times where strangers, and friends, have had these Star Mount problems and thought, "Hey, man! Somebody ripped me off for $2000!"

I sympathize. But, you can make these drums GREAT by abandoning the old-style rulebook. And by wrapping your mind around the unique set of advantages, and problems that come part and parcel to the SC Mounting System.

Tama is not going to change it.... Just so you know. But the guitarists I've worked with over a 30 year span prefer the sound of my Starclassics to my other two Tama kits, Granstar Custom, and SuperStars Xtras (from the 80's).

And they like it better than the Maypexes... So, there's the prejudiced that accompanies the issue of "change" which, as a consumer demographic, drummers don't do well ....

But this will work. Just keep your memory locks!!!!


  1. Oh, they've already changed it, twice. They totally redid the mounts when they moved production to China in 2010, and they just redit the memory lock system again recently.

    Never had any problems with the Starclassic mounts with or without the memory locks myself. Never used that other memory lock you have under the real memory lock. I believe thats the memory lock for the Rockstar version of the Starcast mount.

  2. The same mounting system has been employed by Tama, despite moving SOME manufacturing to China, since the 90's. Rockstar? Lol!!!

  3. I can see Lars trying to figure out the mechanics, without a tech from corporate hopping right over, with a wrench, and replacement parts....for when he tried to "wing it"....

  4. I am not sure why you're posting those.... You are aware that the information is easy to locate? My point is, and remains that ever since the 90's, the Starcast mounting system has been the go-to system Tama offers, with limited exceptions.

    The fact that some of the hardware is Chrome coated, and, in yet another version, bears a thin, aluminum insert between the flanges, does absolutely nothing to change that.

    The system is all and all, ok.

    If you find yourself in the position of having to deal with the knocking toms that plague this system, the solution is in the memory locks. Not everyone has this specific problem, but, it afflicts the system: regardless of what color the hardware is.

    1. Your post seemed to imply that no changes had been made, I was simply pointing out that they have changed them. And not just the bracket, they completely redesigned the clamps and memory locks TWICE. Not a mere change in color.

      I must confess that I have no idea what the knocking you're talking about is, as I've never experience it, with or without memory locks. I've been using them for about 15 years now, and have about 15 of them right now. Maybe a picture of the wrong way to do it would help?

      I'm pretty certain that the newest version of the clamp does not have this issue, and the memory lock is actually the clamp, and
      the rest of the mount separates from it.

  5. If one were really going to take Tama apart, one might choose to examine the CITE laws. True Trump's tariffs are hanging up enforcement, and true that the liability lies initially with the manufacturer, the other half is that an individual is now committing a crime to own the Burch Bubinga kits.

    The other thing is his war on the WTO translates to Japan having to urge ALL domestic exporting companies to move business out of China, which, I'm sure has Tama's BOD sighing about having scaled back their Chinese operations.

    Here is an article that explains what CITE is for musicians, as well as why one might need to avoid the purchase of these kits.

    Personally, I refuse to purchase another Tama kit, until the Granstar 2 reboot is up and running, and non Starcast reliant...

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  8. Bubinga (& other species) - a warning

    New CITES II listings came into force January 2nd. For the first time, bubinga (Guibourtia demeussi, Guiboutia pellegriniana and Guiboutia tessmannii) is included on the listing, as well as all remaining dalbergia (rosewood) species, cocobolo, etc. As bubinga has been a commonly used species in recent years, it's the one big change that's more likely to affect a number of drummers. Additionally, until now, import / export controls primarily concerned raw timber (logs, boards, sheets, veneers), but now include all finished goods.

    If you're thinking of buying new drums made of bubinga (supplied from or made overseas), or drums made from any CITES II listed species (yes, even veneers), I strongly advise you must insist on proof of a CITES re-export permit from your supplier before handing over any money. This is necessary to prove that the source is pre convention. Without it, the goods will almost certainly be seized, & you'll be fighting to get a refund from your supplier.

    If you're thinking of buying drums concerned from within your own country, and are likely to travel with those drums outside of your own country, I suggest you still get the relevant documentation to avoid border issues / seizure.

    If you own existing drums made from CITES II species, and you plan on travelling with them, I suggest you keep documentation to prove they were purchased prior to the relevant species convention inclusion (for some rosewoods, that can be as far back as 1992). That can be a receipt, or other forms of dated ownership proof.

  9. The links I posted weren't working. Here is the link to what I posted, above.


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