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Thread: How to identify Tama Swingstar ... Japan VS off-shore

  1. #1

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    Default How to identify Tama Swingstar ... Japan VS off-shore

    Identification of Tama Swingstar kits
    I have seen many questions on various websites related to the identification of Tama Swingstar drums.

    These drums (swing star) show up in Tama brochures all the way back into the 1970s, through the 80s and 90s and later
    Their identity has always been a question mark because some of the drums were made in Japan and later Japan and Taiwan (ROC). Later all the kits were made in China.

    The early made in Japan Swingstars can be identified fairly well using the following method
    1) the earliest kits (after the elimination of the Star drums name) were oval badge (oval black badge with gold writing), early 70s

    2) In the mid 70s the "T" badge started to be used (around the Joint purchase of Camco by DW and Tama) on all the Japanese made kits., There are some Korean/Taiwan kits manufactured during this time, but they are easy to spot because the vent holes are located in a different position. The hardware and shell construction however are the same, with the exception of the lugs (which are like Astro lugs) and the position of the floor tom leg clamp (positioned about mid shell), and of course no Tama badge. Tama obviously made these changes so the off-shore drums could not be claimed as being Japan made product. These off-shore kits continue through the 90s and into the 2000s. Some of the Korea/Taiwan kits were sold in the USA bearing a white stick on label with the words "Thunder Drums" and a kong tag stating "made in Korea". I know Tama had a Taiwan (ROC) operation but can not find any history of a South Korean operation.

    3) Tama Japan switched to a "White Badge" (no T) in the late 1980s between 87 and 88. Theories abound but its interesting the Tama white badge is nearly identical to the Yamaha badge of the same time period.... Later Tama kits can be seen with similar lugs to the Yamaha recording custom and and stage custom with nearly identical "White" badges.... With the end of the white badge kits, the Swingstar will no longer be made in Japan... it will be made off shore. The name of the Swingstar Japan kits appear to change to "Rock Star" as close as I can ascertain (around the power tom era). Probably a marketing issue to distinguish between japan made drums of high quality and the off-shore made drums. The Japanese are very sensitive to market acceptance of their product heritage. It would not be unusual to observe them making a distinct difference between Japan made and other Asian made products.

    Taiwan ROC ... or China age
    4) Early in the 1990s The Korean/Taiwan kits are now sold as "Swingstar by Tama" and bear a rectangular stick-on badge. I have seen responses on the web which indicate the label also stated Taiwan (ROC). These badges can be seen in the 93-96 official brochures.

    5) By 1998 the Swingstar shows up in official brocures with an oval badge (like the early 70s badge only smaller), with a long explanation written on the brochure about how Tama is trying to offer an entry level kit due to costs.... bla bla bla... aka indicating made off shore ... in China, but with Tama quality. Drum manufacturing is a labor intensive process so I'm not surprised at this and prior moves to reduce labor costs. The Tama factory in Taiwan has Japanese advisers integrated into the process (this is a common Japnese tactic with off shore manufacturing, it even occurs in the USA).

    You know the rest of the story from that moment foreword.....Nearly Everything drum related today is made in China

    So the summary is thus
    1- 1970s - early 90s there is Swingstar made in Japan .... then Swingstar Japan seems to be re-badged Rockstar They can be identified by the early large oval badge, the "T" badge and the later White badge
    2- From the early 1990s the Swingstar name is associated with off-shore kits made in Taiwan (ROC)... and later just China, which a variation of badges, starting with the stick on rectangular badge....

  2. #2

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    Default Re: How to identify Tama Swingstar ... Japan VS off-shore

    THAT is why I have Ludwigs. Don't need wikipedia or a map to find them.
    YOU MESS WITH THE DEVIL YOU KNOW.

    YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE DEVIL YOU DON'T KNOW.

    VAE VICTIS

    VENI, VEDI, I WENT AND HAD SOME SCOTCH. THEN, AND ONLY THEN, DID I VICI.

    THEN IT HIT ME THAT I SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT A FEW PORT- A - POTTY'S.

    IT WAS A LONG RIDE HOME. THE WOODS WERE OUT BECAUSE THE BEARS ARE THERE.

    DOES A BEAR POOP IN THE WOODS? YOU CAN BET YOUR BIPPY ON THAT.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: How to identify Tama Swingstar ... Japan VS off-shore

    I got a shell pack of Swings in 85.. MIJ black T badge... wish i still had them for sentimental reasons.

    They had a red T badge too for awhile
    RED DIRT MOUNTAIN
    UFiP TAMAHA Zildjian REGAL TiP

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