In table tennis, the power of ball has been reduced by continuous change of regulation such as the increase of the diameter of ball from 38mm to 40mm, the ban of speed glue, and finally the change of the material of ball from celluloid to plastic. Many table tennis players have tried to compensate the loss of speed by replacing their blades by faster ones. This situation hasn’t been friendly to 5-ply wood blades because 5-ply wood blades are slower than 7-ply wood blades or fiber blades in general. At present, fiber blades are very popular not only among amateur players but also among top professional players.
However, there is wide variation of strategies and playing styles in table tennis. Speed isn’t always the most important factor in table tennis. Spin is more important than speed in table tennis, because of the existence of the net. Precise placement is also an important factor for better table tennis. Therefore, for the players who don’t especially pursuits speed, 5-ply wood blades are still worthy. Also, in case the level of the skill of a player is low, faster blades may give much worse result than slower blades in table tennis matches, because speed without control causes many mistakes.
Although 5-ply wood blades are not the mainstream of these days, probably there will be many table tennis players who ‘love’ 5-ply wood blades. And, there are some ‘classic’ 5-ply wood blades those have been famous and popular among table tennis players for long time. It will be interesting to examine the mechanical characteristics of those blades by Performance Indices.
2. Blades to be compared
Eleven 5-ply wood blades are selected for comparison.
- Stiga Allround Classic – Reference for Performance Indices
- Stiga Offensive Classic
- Stiga Rosewood NCT V
- Butterfly Primorac
- Butterfly Korbel
- Butterfly Mazunov (discontinued)
- Nittaku Violin
- Nittaku Acoustic
- Nittaku Tenor
- Tibhar Chila OFF
- Tibhar IV-S
‘Allround Classic’ is the representative of traditional all-round blades. And, it is the reference blade of Performance Indices in TTGear Lab.
‘Offensive Classic’ and ‘Rosewood NCT V’ are popular in China. ‘Offensive Classic’ is a traditional offensive 5-ply wood blade for close-to-table topspin. And, it had been used by many Chinese top players such as Wang Liqin. ‘Rosewood NCT V’ is a recent blade, and it is much faster than ‘Offensive Classic’. Maybe it can be considered as the modern version of ‘Offensive Classic’. It has been used or is being used by Chinese top players.
Three Butterfly blades are popular in Europe. ‘Primorac’ is similar to ‘Allround Classic’ but it is thicker and faster than ‘Allround Classic’. ‘Korbel’ is the most popular 5-ply blade from Butterfly, and has been used by or is still being used by some top players. It is faster than ‘Primorac’. Currently discontinued ‘Mazunov’ is an extremely fast 5-ply blade. It is even faster than most of fiber blades or 7-ply wood blades. ‘Mazunov’ had been used by many East European top players.
‘Violin’, ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Tenor’ are 5-ply blades from Nittaku. Nittaku calls this family as ‘musical instrument’ series. Among those three, ‘Violin’ is the slowest one, and ‘Tenor’ is the fastest one. This series has been loved by many top players and amateur players.
Two Tibhar blades are very unique blades. ‘Chila OFF’ is a very thick blade. But, thanks to its Balsa center layer, it is a very lightweight blade. With its sufficient speed and excellent stability, it is good for aggressive attack at close-to-table area. ‘IV-S’ is one of representative blades from Tibhar. It is a thick blade which is constructed by five Ayous layers. It is a very powerful blade. But, its unique ‘5-ply Ayous’ construction makes it very easy to use.
Eleven blades will be compared by performance indices. Concerning the detail of four performance indices, please refer to following articles in ‘Background’ section :
- Performance indices : the way to evaluate blade by measurement
- The example of comparison by performance indices
3. Comparison by Performance Indices
Fig.01 shows the comparison graph of Elasticity Indices
Ep is directly concerned with the rebound speed of blade. In general, Ep of 5-ply wood blades is in the range of 1.0 and 2.0 with the exception of ‘Mazunov’. About 1.5 can be considered as the standard value of Ep of 5-ply wood offensive blade. The examples are ‘Rosewood NCT V’, ‘Korbel’ (Ep = 1.55) and ‘Chila OFF’ (Ep = 1.44). Ec is concerned with additional ‘kick’ when player hits ball very hard. In general, Ec of 5-ply wood blade is lower than Ep of that blade. This makes the feeling of most of 5-ply wood blade even softer than its actual softness.
Among three Stiga blades in this comparison, ‘Allround Classic’ is the reference blade of Performance Indices, and all the values of ‘Allround Classic’ are 1.0. Ep and Ec of ‘Offensive Classic’ are a bit higher than those of ‘Allround Classic’. But, the difference isn’t big. The difference between ‘Allround Classic’ and ‘Offensive Classic’ is not in elasticity but in feeling that we will also examine. On the contrary, the Ep and Ec of ‘Rosewood NCT V’ are noticeably higher than those of ‘Allround Classic’ and ‘Offensive Classic’.
Among three Butterfly blades in this comparison, the lease elastic one is ‘Primorac’, and the most elastic one is ‘Mazunov’. Ep’s of ‘Primorac’, ‘Korbel’ and ‘Mazunov’ are respectively 27%, 54% and 134% higher than Ep of reference blade – ‘Allround Classic’. Especially Ep of ‘Mazunov’ (= 2.34) is high than that of ‘Timo Boll ALC’ (= 2.14) and that of Mizutani Jun ZLC (2.24). ‘Mazunov’ is faster than most of fiber blades and 7-ply blades.
Among three Nittaku blades in this comparison, the slowest one is ‘Violin’ (Ep = 1.19), and the fastest one is ‘Tenor’ (Ep = 1.83). ‘Acoustic’ (Ep = 1.38) can be considered as a standard 5-ply offensive blade. ‘Violin’ is a bit faster than ‘Allround Classic’ and ‘Offensive Classic’. ‘Acoustic’ is one step faster than ‘Violin’. ‘Acoustic’ is a bit slower than Korbel’, but the difference is not big. ‘Tenor’ is noticeably faster than ‘Korbel’. Although ‘Tenor’ is not as fast as ‘Mazunov’, its Ep (= 1.83) is a very high value as that of a 5-ply wood blade.
Because ‘Chila OFF’ is a very stable and safe blade, we may expect that its Ep is not that high. But, its Ep (= 1.44) is higher than that of ‘Acoustic’ (= 1.38). Also its Ec (= 1.39) is also higher than that of ‘Korbel’ (= 1.27) or that of ‘Rosewood NCT V’ (= 1.32). ‘IV-S’ is quite fast blade whose Ep is 1.85. The speed of ‘IV-S’ can be compared with that of ‘Tenor’. ‘IV-S’ is a bit faster than ‘Tenor’, but the difference is very small.
Examining Ec/Ep is also a easier way to understand the tendency of elasticity of blades. Fig.02 shows the relationship between Ec/Ep and Ep.
Ec/Ep expresses the ‘tendency’ of the elasticity of blade. By examining Ec/Ep and Ep at the same time, we can easily understand the behavior of blades.
Except for ‘Allround Classic’ whose value is fixed to 1.0, all blades in this comparison are placed under the line that Ecc/Ep = 1.0. Differently speaking, all those blades can be classified as ‘Hold’ blades. 5 blades among those blades are even classified as ‘Deep Hold’ blades whose Ec/Ep is under 0.9. It coincides with our general thinking that 5-ply wood blades tend to hold ball.
Among 10 blades, ‘Chila OFF’ and ‘Tibhar IV-S’ is placed on ‘Mild Hold’ range. Those two blades can be also considered as ‘Linear’ for strength of impact. And, ‘Violin’ and ‘Tenor’ are placed on the border between ‘Mild Hold’ range and ‘Deep Hold’ range.
The other 5 blades – ‘Primorac’, ‘Acoustic’, ‘Rosewood NCT V’, ‘Korbel’ and ‘Mazunov’ can be classified as ‘Deep Hold’. And, 4 blades except for ‘Mazunov’ are placed at the range that 0.8 < Ec/Ep < 0.9 and 1.2 < Ep < 1.6. I.e. ‘Deep Hold’ and ‘Mild Speed’ range. This range is what we can easily expect when we imagine ‘5-ply wood’ blade. We can call the blades in this range as ‘Typical 5-ply wood’ blades.
Then successively, let’s compare Vibration Indices. Fig. 03 shows the comparison graph of Vibration Indices.
Vibration Indices are concerned with feeling. Vp indicates primary feeling which is transferred to player’s palm. And, Vl is the feeling at the wing of a blade. It is felt by player’s inderx finger or middle finger.
The Vp’s of six blades – ‘Offensive Classic’, ‘Rosewood NCT V’, ‘Primorac’, ‘Korbel’, ‘Violin’ and ‘Acoustic’ – are not different from the Vp of ‘Allround Classic’. Those are in the range of 1.0 ~ 1.1. It means that those six blades (seven blades including ‘Allround Classic’) are soft. It coincides with our common sense that 5-ply wood blade is soft.
But, there are also four blades in this comparison whose Vp is over 1.2. Of course the blades whose Vp is in the range of 1.2~1.3 is not that hard. However, as 5-ply blades, those blades are relatively hard.
The Vl’s of blades in this comparison are quite high, and in most cases higher than Vp’s of those blades. It means that the feeling that transferred to finger is somewhat sharp.
The Vl’s of ‘Offensive Classic’, ‘Rosewood NCT V’, ‘Korbel’, ‘Acoustic’, ‘Tenor’ and ‘IV-S’ are close to 1.2. Those blades have been popular among top players. ‘About 1.2’ may be optimum value of Vl of 5-ply wood blade for top players. And, they may feel that the blade is unique if Vl of that blade is bigger than 1.3 or smaller than 1.1.
The blade whose Vl is the highest in this comparison is ‘Chila OFF’. This is very high value for its moderate values of Elasticity Indices. Players may feel that Chila OFF is very sharp and fast blade.
The Vl’s of ‘Tenor’ and ‘IV-S’ are close to the ‘Vp’s of those blades. That tendency is close to that of ‘Allround Classic’. It is related to the examination of Vl/Vp.
Examining Vl/Vp is easier way for the comparison of the tendency of feeling. Fig.04 shows the relationship between Vl/Vp and Vp for easier comparison.
Vl/Vp of ‘Allround Classic’ is 1.0. We can consider that this blade provides uniform feeling. And, ‘Tenor’ provides the same tendency. In case we want to select a faster blade while keeping the tendency of feeling of ‘Allround Classic’, ‘Tenor’ may be very good choice. ‘Mazunov’ and ‘IV-S’ are also close to the line that Vl/Vp = 1.0.
Except those four blades, all the other seven blades in this comparison are placed in the range that Vl/Vp > 1.1, i.e. in the range that the feeling is relatively sharper at finger and relatively softer at palm. Further, five blades among those seven are placed in the range that 1.0 < Vp < 1.1 as we have already examined. Those five are ‘Korbel’, ‘Rosewood NCT V’, ‘Acoustic’, ‘Primorac’ and ‘Violin’. Although each blade among those five has its own characteristics, those five blade share basic feeling. And, the blades in this range can be considered as ‘typical’ 5-ply wood blades.
Three high-speed 5-ply wood blades – ‘Mazunov’, ‘Tenor’ and ‘IV-S’ – are in the range that 1.2 < Vp < 1.35 and 0.9 < Vl/Vp < 1.1. Basically those three are somewhat hard, but uniform. Differently speaking, those three are not sharp at finger. If the feeling at finger of those three blades is also sharp, players may feel that those three blades are uncomfortable. The range that 1.2 < Vp < 1.35 and 0.9 < Vl/Vp < 1.1 may be the optimum range for fast 5-ply wood blades.
- Ep’s of typical 5-ply wood offensive blades are generally in the range of 1.3 ~ 1.6. However, there are also 5-ply wood blades with higher elasticity which is close to or even higher than the elasticity of typical 7-ply wood blades or fiber blades.
- All 5-ply wood in this comparison except for reference blade is placed in the range that Ec/Ep < 1.0. That is, those blades hold ball deeply when we hit ball very hard. This coincides with our common sense that 5-ply wood blade tends to hold ball easily.
- The typical 5-ply wood blades those are popular among top players are placed in the range that 1.0 < Vp < 1.1 and Vl/Vp > 1.1. Top players may feel the blades out of this range unique.
- High-speed 5-ply wood blades are in the range that Vp is close to 1.25 and Vl/Vp is close to 1.0. Maybe this is the optimum range for fast 5-ply wood blades.
INCREDIBLE REVIEW !!!!! Thank you !!!!
Amazing, quite impressed! Never seen such deep reviews. Looks more like a research work. I am a kind of Xiom adept so hope to see there equip here some day! Subscribed!
Thank you for comment. By the way, at present I have only one Xiom blade – Solo. I don’t like Xiom blades after that generation. But, I think that Solo is still excellent 7-ply wood blade, even for poly ball. Last week I tried Stiga Mantra M/S with Solo, and it was fantastic combination.
Thank you a lot for reading my posting!
Amazing review! It’s better if you open a youtube channel or post your review on TT website such as TTdaily or mytabletennis.
(Out of topic) Do you have rubber suggestion for stiga clipper wood?
Request : Please do 7-ply wood comparasion ^^
Thank you for comment! For Clipper Wood I basically recommend Tibhar Aurus Prime because it is soft and versatile while it provides excellent spin performance. That is in case you don’t have any special preference. If you prefer harder feeling or higher speed, of course other rubbers will be recommended.
I’m also considering similar article for 7-ply wood blades. But, in fact already there is similar article. Please check following posting :
Thanks for another great review. I’ve played with several of the reviewed blades. All have excellent control characteristics and are great blades for learning the game. Primorac was one of my favorites and the Mazunov was a monster. I moved on to composites for greater mid-range speed but am considering going back to a 7 ply because I miss the control and feeling. Always tradeoffs when it comes to equipment selection.
Thank you for comment! I also think that composite fiber blade isn’t always the solution for increasing speed of shot from mid-range. 7-ply blade such as Clipper Wood can also be very good solution.
Thanks you again for this great review.
Do you have a recommendation for a spin, control/placement (à la Samsonov) wood blade setup with inverted rubber that would be 170 gms or less? Thanks!
You mentioned previously you have Tibhar Status Powerwood but it’s not included here?
Fantastic review! wondered if you could offer any advise. I’m looking for a blade with a range of gears and feedback. I was considering buying the solo myself looking for something with more feedback than my current Stradivarius. . I tried Xiom Offensive S which gave good feedback from vibrations but was to bouncy in the short game due to thick core. I like 5 ply diva which i really like as is a notch slower than strad but still lacking in feedback from vibration.
Also, I’m still trying to understand correlation between Ep and Ec. is kick referring to catapult of blade? Will a blade with higher Ep than Ec be more bouncy and have less ‘gears’? Therefore, it would be worse in short game but better flex for looping? I’ve heard the word ‘kick’ be used to describe forward acceleration of spin after first bounce on opponents side.(As described by EmRatThich table tennis coach) i think your using the term slightly differently here. Thanks in advance!
How would you estimate Xiom Solo compared with tibhar samsonov CB in performance indices?
What about the uniqueness of each blade you sampled ? Did you just sampled a single blade of each blade model ?
Because a 88g Stiga allround classic would be probably faster than a 78g Accoustic per exemple.
Thank you for comment!
My values are average values of multiple samples except for some cases.
In general I measure 3~5 pcs. of same model. In case I can’t get multiple samples due to some reasons, I try to find and measure the sample whose weight is close to the average of that model.
Heavier Allround classic is faster than lighter Allround Classic. I can’t tell the speed of 88g Allround Classic because the weight range of my samples of Allround Classic is 74~82gram. However, there is a limit of speed increase by weight increase. I don’t expect that 88g Allround Classic will be faster than 78g Acoustic.
If the difference of average speed between two models is small, there may be the chance that heavy Allround Classic is faster than light Acoustic. However, the speed gap between two models is sufficiently big. If the example you mentioned is not Acoustic but Violin, there may be more chance of reversal.
Wonderful review TTgear. Thank you for sharing this nice guide for 5ply blade.
Thank you for reading my article and comment!
Hey, great reviews and source for digital equipment junkies 😀
What are the specs of the Primorac an Korbel you compared ? I guess those are the old versions. I want to buy another Primorac or Korbel, but I mostly see bad reviews on the new European (grey handle) blades.
I either want to go for a very heavy Primorac or for a medium heavy Korbel. However, I’m currently very unsure because of the bad reviews on the new variants. And the old variants online are all expensive…
A reply would be greatly appreciated! Keep up the good work! And greetings from Germany!
Vielen Dank! Both of Primorac OFF- and Korbel OFF are old versions of course. 😉
I also have newer versions, and I’m not satisfactory with them. (I don’t use the measured data of newer ones.) However, the newest Japanese version of Korbel seems to be similar to old version although its handle looks different from older ones. (I don’t have it.) It can be easily distinguished because its handle is made of brighter-colored fineline. The handles of older ones are made of dyed Ayous wood.
Concerning weight. I think that 86g and 92~93g are the optimum weights of Primorac and Korbel respectively.
I would request you to add another wood to this collection, the nittaku-DHS hurricane wang liqin.. its a classic 5-ply wood which was discontinued by nittaku many years ago.
I once had that blade. Its right name is Nittaku-DHS Wang Liqun. Nittaku didn’t use ‘Hurricane’ for three DHS blades – Wang Liqin, Wang Nan and Liu Guozheng – at that time, although original names of those three were H-WL, H-WN and H-LG.
I didn’t directly measure Nittaku version. However I have the data of original DHS version.
Hollowing is the data of DHS H-WL :
Ep = 1.38
Ec = 1.16
(Ec/Ep = 0.84)
Vp = 1.07
Vl = 1.30
(Vl/Vp = 1.21)
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thank you 🙂 i do think that the DHS-WL is one of a kind, they dont make woods like that anymore.. a 5 ply wood that is fast and yet spinny.
I also think that WL is a great blade. DHS is now conncentrating on fiber blades such as Hurricane Long 5, and probably that is because most of customers want fiber blades. It is regrettable.
Thank You for all your work. May I ask if You’re planning to test 5-ply woods Stiga Defensive Wood NCT and Stiga Defensive Classic?
Thank you for comment. I don’t have Defensive Classic. But, I have Defensive Wood NCT. I haven’t measured it yet. But, I have plan to measure it.
thank you very much for your exceptional reviews. I was wondering do you also have the elasticity and vibration indices of the Yasaka Ma Lin Extra Offensive, another classic 5ply blade?
Thank you for comment. And, I’m sorry that my reply has been seriously delayed. I have the data of Ma Lin Extra Offensive.
Ep = 1.66
Ec = 1.31 (Ec/Ep = 0.79)
Vp = 1.11
Vl = 1.33 (Vl/Vp = 1.20)
hello, I realize I am a bit late with my comment, but it would be nice to know how the Tibhar Samsonov Premium Contact (both versions) compare to the models here. Also, even if you don’t like the new Primorac and Korbel, it would be really really helpfull to add them also to this….
Hi, I am enjoying your reviews very much. Do you maybe have data for yasaka sweden extra and dhs h301? They are quite popular. Also, do you think that Yasaka MLC and Butterfly innerforce ALC are comparable in speed and feeling judging by your data? Thank you very much.
Thank you for the comment! I don’t have new Yasaka Sweden Extra. But, it is the same blade as ond Gatien Extra. The indices of Gatien Extra is as follows:
Ep = 1.13
Ec = 0.93 (Ec/Ep = 0.83)
Vp = 0.96
Vl = 1.15 (Vl/Vp = 1.20)
And, the indices of DHS Hurricane 301 is as follows:
Ep = 1.88
Ec = 1.64 (Ec/Ep = 0.87)
Vp = 1.20
Vl = 1.29 (Vl/Vp = 1.07)
Finally, the indices of Yasaka Ma Lin Carbon is as follows:
Ep = 1.38
Ec = 1.26 (Ec/Ep = 0.91)
Vp = 1.09
Vl = 1.16 (Vl/Vp = 1.07)
And, the indices of Butterfly InnerForce ALC is :
Ep = 1.62
Ec = 1.45 (Ec/Ep = 0.89)
Vp = 1.15
Vl = 1.26 (Vl/Vp = 1.10)
The Ep of MLC is much lower than that of Butterfly IF ALC. So MLC is noticeably less elastic than IF ALC. However, the differences of relative values (Ec/Ep and Vl/Vp) are not that big. Therefore, although there is noticeable difference in primary Elasticity, we can expect that we can easily replace our MLC by IF ALC and vice versa. The adjustment will not be difficult.
Very interesting, thanks. I was using Yasaka Sweden extra (i like the feel, but it is too slow), and switched to H301, but it is too fast for me. I want to upgrade the YSE with some speed and limba top ply. I am thinking about korbel or Yasaka ma lin carbon. What do you think? Or can you recommend a third option? Many thanks.
H301 is much faster than Sweden Extra. Ma Lin Carbon will be good because it is moderately faster than Sweden Exrra. Considerable 3rd option is Hurricane Long 5 or Fang Bo B2 because those are not as fast as H301 although faster than Ma Lin Carbon.
Any clue about the size of the Ma Lin Carbon, both in terms of blade size and handle size? And the wood layers – can I assume a classic limba-limba-carbon-ayous-carbon-limba-limba?
The head size of Ma Lin Carbon shakehand is 157mm x 150mm. Both of FL and ST handle are flat and wide, and a bit longer than 100mm.
Its construction is as follows:
Layer 1 & 7 : Limba
Layer 2 & 6 : Akazie
Layer 3 & 5 : Carbon Fleece
Layer 4 (Center) : Ayous
I am surprised the performance data of the Yasaka Ma Lin Extra Offense and the Stiga Legacy Carbon is so similar. I have tried a YEO with a Tibhar EL-P and a Xiom Omega 7 Europe on the forehand and I did not find the YEO very fast. I never try a Legacy Carbon, but from what I read in different chat groups, the legacy Carbon is very fast.
Ep = 1.66
Ec = 1.31 (Ec/Ep = 0.79)
Vp = 1.11
Vl = 1.33 (Vl/Vp = 1.20)
The Stiga Legacy Carbon
Ep = 1.63
Ec =1.32 (Ec/Ep =0.81)
Vl = 1.37 (Vl/Vp = 1.22)
Do you have data for the Sitga allround evolution by any chance? Thanks.
Thank you for comment. The data of Stiga Allround Evolution is as follows:
Ep = 1.00
Ec = 1.04 (Ec/Ep = 1.04)
Vp = 1.03
Vl = 1.09 (Vl/Vp = 1.06)
I started with Stiga Allround Classic for a year (Hurricane 3 FH, Hybrid tacky rubber BH) then switched to OSP V- for half a year. But I found it relatively very dead compared to Stiga. So I recently tried Offensive Classic and Allround Evoltuon. I found the Allround Evolution pretty close to Stiga ARC in the kind of feeling but maybe a 25% jump in speed (its about .5mm thicker).
I was not aware that the Ec/EP value of 1.04 or Vl/VP value of 1.06 of the Allround Evolution compared to 1 for all values for Allround Classic would make such a difference. I find the Allround Evolution a good jump from Allround Classic but OSP V- felt too fast for my level (yes, even with Hurricane 3). I lose consistency and cannot land loops endlessly with V- like with the Stiga ARC.