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PostPosted: 10 Sep 2016, 02:58 
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From the beginning I must say that I'm fairly new in table tennis, but I have played lawn tennis for more than 30 years (until a tendon injury at one leg forced me to leave the court and, eventually, brought me... near the table).
Since I'm trying to familiarize myself with the TT specific equipment and to understand all its variables, I noticed that there is one matter, very important in lawn tennis, that is quite ignored here (or, at least, considered of a secondary
importance): the balance of the racket.
Of course, there are terms as Head-Heavy and Head-Light (or handle-heavy) to describe that a blade is OFF or DEF, I also read (in some reviews) about how "well balanced" is a certain blade, but... that's all.
I couldn't find anywhere (even on the websites of major manufacturers) information about how much HH or HL is a blade on a scale. In fact, I couldn't find even where is considered to be situated the point of zero balance, ie the reference point for measuring the balance tuning in one direction or in the other.
At the (lawn) tennis rackets, this point is situated exactly at the middle of the whole lenght, and the scale in both directions is divided into 1/8" graduations, from +10 (HH) to -10(HL) - here is a good presentation: http://atennisjourney.blogspot.ro/2012/ ... ility.html.
This standardisation makes things much simpler for someone who wants to adjust his play for more control or for more power, and also for coaches to make recommendations to their pupils (in accordance with their power and skills).
Yes, I know that in TT blades there are some other important parameters, as the hardness and stiffness (that result from different compositions of plies).
But I think that the balance is also very important and can influence a lot the perception of the quality of blades (and even that of the other parameters).
For example, I see that there are different blades with the same composition of plies (eg the "ordinary" limba-ayous-ayous-ayous-limba), but some of them are much more liked than the others, judging after the ratings and reviews on tabletennisdb.com. Maybe because of their different balance?
Then: it is generally admitted that a more elastic and lighter blade is better for looping, but there are some very stiff and heavy blades that seem to be also excellent for this. Could be this ability (for looping) more the result of a good distribution of mass towards the bottom of the blade, that permits an easier and more relaxed motion of the wrist? Without contesting the importance of the elasticity, it should be noticed that this is (usually) obtained by thinning the blades, that also (again, usually) will result in a lighter head.
Finally, there are some discussions about "vintage" blades - as DHS PF4 08/032 or Meteor - which, despite being heavy, stiff, hard, cheap and made from the most ordinary wood, are still a big pleasure to play with. So, what is their "secret", if not the balance?

Well, I'll stop here, because it wasn't my intention to write a treatise on the balance of the TT blades (I definitely haven't the necessary knowledge for this), but only to raise some questions on a subject that isn't too much discussed and, IMHO, could be important.
I hope that the more competent users on this forum will agree to contribute with their opinions, maybe this will result in some interesting conclusions.


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PostPosted: 10 Sep 2016, 08:42 
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I guess I'll jump in.

From what I've seen, most blades balance at pretty much the same spot. I'm sure some blades have heavier handles (and these can be replaced) to change the balance. Most of the balance will be determined by the weight of your rubbers. I personally like a lighter setup (160g).

With 2 blades being of the same kind (within 2 grams) I can really notice having heavier rubbers on the blade compared to lighter ones. It also can change the weight by as much as 20 to 35 grams - obviously head heavy.

Older blades? Who knows, its quite possible they have broken down enough that they have extra flex which some people love.

When it comes to looping a slower blade and rubber is generally good for beginner/intermed players while you'll see pros with super heavy stiffer blades that are thicker and more spring. This is actually very much like tennis where mortal players cannot handle a pro players racket.


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PostPosted: 11 Sep 2016, 02:52 
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wilkinru wrote:
From what I've seen, most blades balance at pretty much the same spot.


Could be possible that you instinctively have chosen the same kind of blades (that were on your taste) - so that's why you felt they had the same balance?
I mean, maybe you've rejected some other blades for being too heavy, or too fast, etc, without paying attention to their balance?

It is interesting that on some Chinese online shops (e.g. this one: https://www.aliexpress.com/store/group/ ... 107.iibmGD), the distribution of weight is mentioned in order to show the style of play for which there are designed

The alternatives are:
- Center Focus (All-round Methods);
- Heavy Tip Light Handle (Offensive) and
- Light Tip Heavy Handle (Defensive)

Though this is a very simplistic (and not always correct) categorization, it is a good indication that the balance is one of the main design criteria for the producers (for the Chinese ones in this case, but probably for all)
In fact, there are very cheap chinese blades almost as good as the much more expensive european and japanese blades.
The difference in favour of the latest could come, indeed, from the better quality of wood/ more valuable exotic essences, but this difference seems to be not bigger than 10% (at an objective judgment, without the placebo factor :) ).
So I wonder what is the rest of 90% that makes a good blade?

wilkinru wrote:
Most of the balance will be determined by the weight of your rubbers.


Of course it will, I just leaved aside the rubbers for simplifying the discussion.
But if you wish (and maybe it would be better so) we could consider the balance of the entire racket (paddle).
However, for being able to make a standardization (ie a balance scale for the TT paddles similar to that for the lawn tennis rackets) the weight of the rubbers should be taken, for the start, as a constant (that could be calculated as the average weight of the most common rubbers, let's say 90 grams).
If all the blade producers would adopt this convention, it would be very simple for the buyer to chose the right blade (from the balance point of view).
For example, let's say that someone needs/likes a +3 (3 pt. head-heavy) paddle.
If his preferred rubbers are in the weight category of 90 grams, he would buy directly a blade marked as +3.
But if the rubbers are heavier (e.g 95 g) or lighter (e.g. 85 g), he should make a correction and buy a +2 blade (in the first case) or a +4 blade (in the second case) in order to keep the desired balance of the paddle (of course, the numbers I used are arbitrary, but the exact calculations for these corrections can be made by manufacturers and made available for their customers).

wilkinru wrote:
Older blades? Who knows, its quite possible they have broken down enough that they have extra flex which some people love.


Broken down wood?!
I don't know what this could mean, but my '80s Meteor is definitely not "flexy", but stiff and hard.
Its weight is 165 grams, with the original shorter rubbers (as those for the penhold style) that I estimate to have about 60-65 grams - so that the blade could weight about 100-105 g. The point of balance (measured as explained by JimT here:http://mytabletennis.net/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=36575&title=blade-weight-balance) is at 11 cm from the top, at a total length of 26 cm.
Since the standardization (about which I speak) doesn't exist, I can't say if this balance means HH, Centered or HL, but I really enjoy it.

What I am trying now is to reproduce this balance in a new paddle (I'll order a custom blade from a very good local manufacturer) - that's why this subject is very important for me.
Of course, I'll take into account the extra-weight of some available-today (and complete) rubbers - probably 90 g, so that I'll ask the manufacturer to redistribute the weight of the blade (that I'll keep at 100-105 g) towards the handle.
Well, I don't know exactly what will come out from this attempt, but I hope to be something between Meteor and... Mazunov :)


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PostPosted: 11 Sep 2016, 03:24 
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Hm interesting , keep updating after you get that blade pls.
I guess me personally don't mind if its head heavy or a well balanced blade, having said that a head heavy blade messes my wrist sometimes on reverse pendulum serve, and probably its a safer choice to go to a well balanced blade, but with head heavy it gives the extra oomph on mid to far table play, pros and cons I guess.

Maybe if my wrist is affected too badly ill change my setup anyways in the future but for now it doesnt happen often enough to bother me.

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PostPosted: 12 Sep 2016, 10:57 
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The problem, of course, is, as in a lot of things in table tennis, nothing's actually measured. Reviews are based on one person's feelings and perceptions, what THOSE are based on is vague. No one actually takes the trouble, for instance, to locate the exact centers of gravity of not one, but a range of bats, and to conduct blind tests involving a statistically significant number of participants. Maybe it's been done, but the results are locked away at Butterfly Headquarters, while the rest of us grope in the dark and post "reviews" based on vague perceptions.

I would argue that the old, heavy basswood Chinese blades "feel nice" due to the vibrations. And perhaps they feel best when using certain playing styles - mainly, close to the table blocking and hitting. AND probably mostly when used by traditional penholders (only one rubber sheet), especially with short pips.

As far as "wood breaking down", I've read it happens, but it's with modern wood blades, when used with water-based glues. In the past blades would last indefinitely, these days pros will replace blades in a matter of months because the water-based glues break the wood down and the blades lose their speed.

Iskandar


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PostPosted: 20 Mar 2017, 03:43 
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I can't imagine if ITTF rules allow for variable thickness of plies ? Can you have thinner plies at the top of the blade, while a graded thicker plies as it approaches towards the handle? Does the rules say that plies have to be uniform or just that they have to be continuous ?

Can't wait to see if someone decides to make a custom blade with variable thickness plies giving a fast smacky sweet spot at the top while a more damping controlled sweet spot around the handle.


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