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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010, 14:53 
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Hammond Pro β Review - Smoking hot!


Player Background:
I'm Tyler McAdams a 34 year old US based player who plays anywhere from 1700 ~ 1950 on any given night. My best performance in a tournament actually landed me a pass to the Junior Olympics... but that was by default lol... but hey a win is a win! I try to play an all-around style of game mixed with mid-distance looping and counter driving. Sometimes my practice partners refuse to leave the garage so I have developed good reflexes to get back balls that are not normally thought to come back. I also try to end the point as quick as possible which means I play spinny serves and third ball attacks. Things that I look for in a jap type rubber like Hammond Pro β is a rubber that both loops and lifts underspin well to open the point up for a topspin rally and finally something that manages the short game. A "low throw" is a plus and more topspin is always welcome.

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Physical Properties:
The first thing to understand about Hammond Pro Beta is that it is not a drop in replacement for the Alpha version. Nittaku has re-architectured this sheet and has answered some of the gripes people have had with the Alpha version. The topsheet is noticeably gripper than the Alpha version. As I drag my finger across the topsheet and compare that to the feeling of the Alpha version this becomes most apparent. It is also more transparent than the Alpha version and thus "prettier". The pip structure is tapered:

Image

The sponge color is also just *slightly* different. Comparing this sponge to the Alpha version I noticed that the hint of violet is less. Up close it looks more like the Hammond X sponge in my opinion. The sponge feels slightly softer than the Alpha version also.

According to Jasupo the sheet uncut weighs in at 61 grams:

Image

Speed:
Paddle Palace gives this sheet a rating of 9.6. Butterfly Tenergy 64 is rated at 9.4. I am inclined to agree with this rating. I attached this sheet to a Butterfly Keyshot Light blade which is about the same speed as the Timo Boll Spirit and Timo Boll ALC blades. At slow speeds this rubber is very manageable for both blocks and pushes. It reminds me of a glued up sheet of Bryce with a little more manners. Hard strokes produce quite a bit of speed noted by the auditable snap the sponge makes. At mid distance the speed reminds me of Tenergy 64.

Spin:

Paddle Palace rates the spin of this rubber at 9.7. That is a number I would normally associate with a tacky Chinese style topsheet. None the less this sheet gives incredible spin for looping. I hit both backhands and forehands with it and at mid-distance this sheet is a monster! I had great control and was pleased to see that many of my backhand loops were more controllable and landed better. The extra spin this sheet produced compared to the Alpha version shows a bigger window for landing loops. I attribute this to three factors:

1. The pip structure: This tapperd pip layout helps epitomize this sheet as a mechanical type spin producer. Since the pips become smaller at where they join the sponge they thus dig in more on heavy hits like a spike on a pair of high heels!

2. The increased topsheet friction coefficient: This really separates the Beta from the Alpha version. The sheet is now a weapon for the short game and pushes are noticeably more spinny. This increase in friction also changes the throw angle to more mid-low than low. If you are using the Alpha version it may take a little while to transition your flip shots against underspin.

3. The slightly softer sponge. In conjunction with the pip structure the sponge works in concert to cradle the ball and add even more mechanical spin. The ball digs in and snaps back nicely!

Control:

There are two types of control this sheet has: Reactive and aggressive. The reactive spin is very manageable and reminds me of Tenergy 64 however it is more reactive than the Alpha version. On aggressive strokes this rubber gives awesome control. Pushes are spinnier and loops land with more control. The slightly higher throw gives the ball plenty of byte.

Other Playing Properties:

As mentioned before this sheet is like comparing apples to oranges when comparing it to a glued up sheet of the Alpha version. If the Alpha version is a glued up piece of Bryce this is a glued up piece of Tenergy 64... it is both faster and more spinny than Tenergy 64 in my estimation. The feel is absolutely superb and the sound is not loud like a Stiga Boost sheet but still has a snap to it that helps add to the feel you get for feedback on how you hit your shot.

References:

This sheet is definitely Nittaku's answer to the Tenergy line... and with players like Wang Liqin using it it's hard to argue that it's not!!!

Other Comments:
I really, really like this rubber! The durability off the bat seems to be higher than the Alpha version. From Alpha to Beta the changes made to this rubber are like those of a new computer operating system version. There are many new features and low level fundamental changes that make this new version a welcome change to a great legacy of rubbers! I will be staying with this sheet and I am excited to have finally found a manageable replacement likened to sheets of the speed glue era! 8)


Last edited by thaidog on 16 Mar 2010, 15:24, edited 12 times in total.

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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010, 15:26 
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Wow, awesome review thaidog!

Is this supposed to be a 100% natural rubber sheet as well, which supposedly makes it more durable?

So I guess you like the rubber then? :lol:

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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010, 15:58 
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Excellent review, thaidog. Thank you very much :)

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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010, 16:01 
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haggisv wrote:
Wow, awesome review thaidog!

Is this supposed to be a 100% natural rubber sheet as well, which supposedly makes it more durable?

So I guess you like the rubber then? :lol:


Oh yes... I have been waiting for weeks to try it out and I was not let down! I should also mention that I used Butterfly Free Chack to glue this to the blade. I'm not sure about the natural rubber durability but Hammond Alpha did seem to crumble a little bit on first nights and this is not at all. I will keep you updated!


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010, 16:30 
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I tried it yesterday and I agree with you on some parts but disagree on some others. I also should clarify that the Jasupo uncut 61g is for what they call "thick" in japan which is 1.9-2.1 while there is a "super thick" version which is the max offered. I have the super thick version.

For the parts I agree with, I agree that Pro Beta "grabs" the ball very well. On lifting underspin or counter topspin, the sheet doesn't let down whereas older hammond did sometimes (sometimes on grazing contact the ball would slip off). I don't think this is due to surface grip, which I only think is about average. It might have something to do with the pips being tapered though. I also agree the throw is mid to mid-low. I also agree the short game is pretty good for a softer rubber.

I really have to disagree that Pro beta is anywhere near as powerful as T64 though. I was using Tenergy on the other side of my racket and my hitting partner who was blocking for me on my looping warmup said that the Pro beta side was noticeably weaker. I worked my way up to full force and the difference remained. I also never really felt Pro Alpha was anywhere near glued Bryce. Overall I could not get as much speed or spin out of Pro Beta as I can out of Tenergy, both close and far from the table.

I gave my impressions in the other thread, but overall I think this sheet stays true to the Hammond type of feel and performance and is the best post glue ban, made in Japan rubber Nittaku has offered.


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010, 16:37 
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MildSeven wrote:
I tried it yesterday and I agree with you on some parts but disagree on some others. I also should clarify that the Jasupo uncut 61g is for what they call "thick" in japan which is 1.9-2.1 while there is a "super thick" version which is the max offered. I have the super thick version.

For the parts I agree with, I agree that Pro Beta "grabs" the ball very well. On lifting underspin or counter topspin, the sheet doesn't let down whereas older hammond did sometimes (sometimes on grazing contact the ball would slip off). I don't think this is due to surface grip, which I only think is about average. It might have something to do with the pips being tapered though. I also agree the throw is mid to mid-low. I also agree the short game is pretty good for a softer rubber.

I really have to disagree that Pro beta is anywhere near as powerful as T64 though. I was using Tenergy on the other side of my racket and my hitting partner who was blocking for me on my looping warmup said that the Pro beta side was noticeably weaker. I worked my way up to full force and the difference remained. I also never really felt Pro Alpha was anywhere near glued Bryce. Overall I could not get as much speed or spin out of Pro Beta as I can out of Tenergy, both close and far from the table.

I gave my impressions in the other thread, but overall I think this sheet stays true to the Hammond type of feel and performance and is the best post glue ban, made in Japan rubber Nittaku has offered.


Thanks for your input! I have the "super thick" 2.1mm version also so it must be a little more heavy. I think that Beta's sponge is probably much softer than Tenergy 64's so I can see 64 being faster for counter driving. I try to loop with a lot of topspin and slow sloop so my attack vector is probably different than yours which could explain that also.


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010, 16:45 
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Possibly...it does act like (well, it is) a power rubber all the way up to the limit, but the upper limit feels lower than tenergy to me. Also I want to clarify that just because the max speed and spin is lower than tenergy doesn't mean I don't think the rubber is good. The control is very nice and allows Hammond users to play from mid distance more comfortably now without speed glue.


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010, 17:04 
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MildSeven wrote:
Possibly...it does act like (well, it is) a power rubber all the way up to the limit, but the upper limit feels lower than tenergy to me. Also I want to clarify that just because the max speed and spin is lower than tenergy doesn't mean I don't think the rubber is good. The control is very nice and allows Hammond users to play from mid distance more comfortably now without speed glue.


Gotcha ;) Quite fair since I have not played with 64 for long periods of time!


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PostPosted: 14 Jan 2010, 21:39 
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Great pics and great review. Thanks for posting this! Nice job! I always like the Pro Alpha. If I wasn't in a committed relationship with the Palio Macro ERA I'd be giving this a try.

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PostPosted: 15 Jan 2010, 06:42 
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what's the cheapest place to get a sheet of this? (including shipping to the states)

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PostPosted: 15 Jan 2010, 08:34 
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berkeleydoctor wrote:
what's the cheapest place to get a sheet of this? (including shipping to the states)


I got mine from paddlepalace.com - I think it's about 46.00 plus SH

http://www.paddlepalace.com/Hammond-Pro ... nfo/RNHAB/


Last edited by thaidog on 15 Jan 2010, 10:40, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 15 Jan 2010, 08:40 
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Hopefully prices will come down anyway, over time...

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PostPosted: 16 Jan 2010, 00:33 
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The prices of Nittaku rubbers were what got me out of the Nittaku Pimp business.

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PostPosted: 18 Jan 2010, 07:31 
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Der_Echte wrote:
The prices of Nittaku rubbers were what got me out of the Nittaku Pimp business.


lol

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PostPosted: 18 Jan 2010, 09:06 
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The price is higher than "normal" rubbers but it's really quite a competitive price for rubber that it competes with. Nothing except the Stiga Boost line is cheaper... and they are on special right now.


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