1.  Introduction

Fig.01 Tibhar ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’

Fiber blades are becoming more popular than ever because of the power reduction due to ABS ball. However, fiber isn’t always the solution for the recovery of power. If we can’t forget the natural & exciting feeling of 5-ply wood blades, 7-ply wood blades can be the good compromise between power and feeling, because 7-ply wood generally blades provides more power than 5-ply wood blades and better feeling than fiber blades. ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is one of that solution.

Fig.02 Tibhar ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’

As its name expresses ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is the blade which is used by Bernadette Szöcs. With ‘CCA 7’ it is one of two 7-ply wood Tibhar blades used by top players. (Some pictures in this article are taken without removal of vinyl cover.)

Fig.03 The plywood construction of Tibhar ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’

The plywood construction of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ looks similar to that of ‘Samsonov Force Pro’ or ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’. At the center of blade, there are three moderately thick layer of Ayous. Two of those three are dyed. Top layer is Limba, and middle layer under top layer is Ayous. Overall thickness is 6.4~6.5mm.

Fig.04 ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ (left) and ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ (right)

We can guess that the 7-ply wood construction of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is based on that of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’. Except for the colors of dyed layers, the constructions of two blades look very similar. But, those two constructions are a bit different. The overall thickness of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is about 6.7mm while that of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is 6.4~6.5mm. ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is thinner than ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’. The thickness of thin ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is about 6.5mm.

Fig.05 ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ (left) and ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ (right)

So we can guess that ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is adjusted from ‘Samonove Force Pro Black Edition’ or is thin pcs. selected from the ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’.

Fig.06 ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ (upper) and ‘Clipper CR’ 6.8mm version (lower)

Above is the comparison between ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ and ‘Clipper CR’ (7mm version). We can notice that ‘Clipper CR’ is much thicker than ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’, with its thicker center layer and thicker middle layer. But, ‘Clipper CC’ or recent ‘Clipper CR’ are much thinner than 6.8mm version, and are similar to ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. Current trend of 7-ply wood blades is being thinner and softer than classic thick version of 7-ply wood blades.

Fig.07 Foreside nameplate of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’

Instead of plastic lens, Aluminum panel is applied for the forehand side of handle. It includes Tibhar logo and ‘BS 1’ logo that is from the initial of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. This Aluminum panel makes high class appearance.

Fig.08 End plate of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’

There is also an aluminum panel at the end of handle. It includes the same information as the Aluminum plate at the forehand side of handle – Tibhar logo and ‘BS 1’ logo.

Fig.09 FL and ST of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’

Two types of handle – FL and ST – are available. FL isn’t a wide handle. However, it provides firm grip because its cross section is somewhat squared, and width and thickness become noticeably bigger at the end of handle. ST is a wide handle with its 29mm thickness. Head is just a bit bigger than ordinary 157mm x 150mm head. But, it is smaller than 158mm x 152mm head of Stiga ‘Clipper CR’. Average weight is about 86 gram.

Then let’s observe the mechanical characteristics of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ by Performance Indices.


2. Blades to be compared

The blades to be compared are as follows :

  • Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition : modern 7-ply wood blade for topspin
  • Stiga Clipper CC : modern 7-ply wood blade for topspin
  • Butterfly Korbel SK7 : modern 7-ply wood blade for topspin
  • DHS Hurricane Ling 3 : modern 7-ply wood blade for topspin
  • Tibhar CCA 7 : Classic thick and fast 7-ply wood blade
  • Stiga Clipper CR (7 mm version) : Classic thick and fast 7-ply wood blade
  • Tibhar Fortino Performance : Inner ‘Dyneema Carbon’ blade with moderate speed
  • Butterfly InnerForce Layer ALC : Inner ALC blade of moderate speed
  • Tibhar Shang Kun Hybrid ZC : Inner ‘Hybrid ZC (= ZLC)’ blade
  • Butterfly Korbel : Representative of 5-ply wood offensive blade
  • Stiga Allround Classic : Reference blade (all values are 1.0)

‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is guessed as the base model of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. It is a bit thicker than ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’.

‘Clipper CC’ and ‘Korbel SK7’ are direct competitors of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. Both of those are categorized as modern 7-ply wood blade for topspin. ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ are also categorized as modern 7-ply wood blade for topspin.

‘Hurricane Long 3’ is also a modern 7-ply wood blade for topspin. However, it is made mainly in consideration of sticky hard rubber such as ‘Neo Hurricane 3’.

‘CCA 7’ and ‘Clipper CR (old 7mm version)’ are classic 7-ply wood blades those are thicker and stiffer than modern 7-ply wood blades for topspin.

‘Fortino Performance’ and ‘InnerForce Layer ALC’ are inner fiber blades with moderate speed. Those two are mainly considered as the replacement of 5-ply wood offensive blade for ABS ball. Moderately increased speed can be directly compared with the speed of modern 7-ply wood blade for topspin such as ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’.

‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’ is also an inner fiber blade. But, it is much faster than inner fiber blades with moderate speed.

‘Korbel’ is the representative of 5-ply wood offensive blade. We can check the difference between ‘Korbel’ and modern 7-ply wood blades for topspin. ‘Allround Classic’ is the reference blade of Performance Indices system. (All values for ‘Allround Classic’ are 1.0.) Those two are not direct competitor of ‘Dynasty Carbon’, but will be compared just for reference.

Fig.10 Tibhar ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’

Comparison will be done by performance indices. Concerning the detail of four performance indices, please refer to following articles in ‘Background’ section :


3. Comparison by Performance Indices

Fig.11 Comparison by Elasticity Indices

Fig.11 shows the comparison graph of Elasticity Indices.

The Ep & the Ec of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ are 1.75 and 1.59 respectively. Those values are just a bit different from the values of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ (Ep = 1.77 & Ec = 1.60) and the values of ‘Clipper CC’ (Ep = 1.77 & Ec = 1.61), although ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is a bit thinner than the other two blades. Probably most of players will not notice the difference among those three. Even the difference of thickness will not be noticeable for many players. Those three blades are categorized into ‘modern 7-ply wood blades for topspin’. We may be able to consider this kind of blades as the standard all-wood blades in ABS ball age.

‘Korbel SK7’ and ‘Hurricane Long 3’ are also the modern 7-ply wood blades for topspin. But, those two are one step less elastic than the former three blades. Ep of ‘Korbel SK7’ is 1.55, and that of ‘Hurricane Long 3’ s 1.56. Ep’s of those two are similar with each other. However, ‘Hurricane Long 3’ shows lower Ec (= 1.34) than ‘Korbel SK7’ (Ec = 1.46). In fact the elasticity of ‘Korbel SK7’ and ‘Hurricane Long 3’ are not much different from the elasticity of ‘Korbel’ which is an 5-ply wood offensive wood blade and is shown near the bottom of graph.

‘CCA7’ and ‘Clipper CR (old 7mm version)’ are much more elastic than the group of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. The Ep and the Ec of ‘CCA 7’ are 2.04 and 1.94 respectively. Both of two indices of this thick and heavy blade is noticeably higher than the indices of modern 7-ply wood blade for topspin such as ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. For some players those high values will be very good. But, for other players may think that the elasticity of ‘CCA 7’ is excessive. The elasticity of older ‘Clipper CR’ is even higher. The Ep and the Ec of ‘Clipper CR’ are 2.42 and 2.21 respectively. High elasticity indices may be good for the players who need power. But, recent version of ‘Clipper CR’ is thinner, lighter and softer than old version because the elasticity indices of old version is far from the optimum values needed for modern topspin in ABS ball age. The values of recent ‘Clipper CR’ (Ep = 1.46 & Ec = 1.47 : not shown in this comparison) is even lower than those of ‘Clipper CC’.

‘Fortino Performance’ is a fiber blade, and its thickness is similar to that of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. Its Ep = 1.71, and its Ec = 1.53. Those values are a bit lower than the values of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. The values of ‘InnerForce Layer ALC’ are even lower – Ep = 1.62 & Ec = 1.45. From the result of these two blades, we can understand that the elasticity of fiber blade isn’t always higher than the elasticity of all-wood blade. Differently speaking, 7-ply wood blades can be as elastic as fiber – especially ‘inner fiber’ – blades, and can be even more elastic than some fiber blades. ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’ which is faster blade than ‘Fortino Performance’ shows noticeably higher elasticity indices (Ep = 2.19 & Ec = 1.86) than ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. However, it isn’t much faster than ‘CCA 7’, and is less elastic than old version of ‘Clipper CR’.

The Ep and Ec of ‘Korbel’ which is the representative of 5-ply wood offensive blade are 1.54 and 1.27 respectively. Ep is similar to that of ‘Korbel SK7’ and ‘Hurricane Long 3’ although Ec is not as high as those of ‘Korbel SK7’ and ‘Hurricane Long 3’. Therefore we can notice that 7-ply wood blade isn’t always faster than 5-ply wood blade such as ‘Korbel’. However, the values of ‘Korbel’ is noticeably lower than those of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ (or ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ or ‘Clipper CC’). We can understand that there will be noticeable speed gain if a player replace the blade from ‘Korbel’ to ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ of similar 7-ply wood blade.

Examining Ec/Ep is also a easier way to understand the tendency of elasticity of blades. Fig.12 shows the relationship between Ec/Ep and Ep.

Fig.12 Ec/Ep vs. 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.

On the graph, all the blades except for reference blade are in ‘Hold’ range (Ec/Ep < 1.0). ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’, ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and ‘Clipper CC’ are on the border between ‘Mild Hold’ range and ‘Deep Hold’ range. Also, those three blades are very close to each other on the graph. We can observe the similarity among those three blades. Although ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is a bit thinner than ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ or ‘Clipper CC’ its elasticity indices are very similar to those of the other two.

Two high speed 7-ply wood blades – ‘CCA 7’ and ‘Clipper CR (old 7mm version)’ are far from ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ on the graph. But, ‘Clipper CR (old 7mm version)’ is at least on the border line between ‘Mild Hold’ range and ‘Deep Hold’ range like ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’, ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and ‘Clipper CC’. However, ‘CCA 7’ is placed closer to neutral line (Ec/Ep = 1).

‘Fortino Performance’ is astonishingly close to ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ although it isn’t an all-wood blade. ‘InnerForce Layer ALC’ is also very close to ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. We can notice similarity between those two fiber blades and modern 7-ply wood blade for topspin such as ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. Both of those two groups (= inner fiber blades of regular speed & modern 7-ply wood blades) are recommended as the replacement of 5-ply wood offensive blade such as ‘Korbel’. The five blades in those two groups provides moderately enhanced speed and less hold when compared with ‘Korbel’ on the graph.

‘Korbel SK7’ and ‘Hurricane Long 3’ are also modern 7-ply wood blades for topspin. However, the primary elastic indices of those two are loser than those of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ and two similar blades, and are similar to that of ‘Korbel’ which is 5-ply wood offensive blade. Ec/Ep of ‘Hurricane Long 3’ is higher than that of ‘Korbel’, and that of ‘Korbel SK7’ is even higher. Therefore those two will provide more power if player hits ball more strongly, although the speed of those two are not much different if player hits ball softly.

Then successively, let’s compare Vibration Indices. Fig. 13 shows the comparison graph of Vibration Indices.

Fig.13 Comparison by 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 index finger or middle finger.

The Vp and the Vl of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ are 1.22 and 1.26 respectively. Those values are again very similar to those of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ (Vp = 1.22 & VL = 1.25) and those of ‘Clipper CC’ (Vp = 1.20 & Vl = 1.24). Those three blades can be categorized into one group again. The Vp and the Vl of ‘Korbel’ is a bit lower than those of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ and two similar blades. But, the difference is not significant. However, the Vp of ‘Hurricane Long 3’ is noticeably lower than that of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ while there isn’t significant difference in the Vl’s of those two blades. The overall shape of the graph of ‘Hurricane Long 3’ is similar to that of ‘Korbel’ which is a 5-ply wood offensive blade. We will be able to use ‘Hurricane Long 3’ as if we are using standard 5-ply wood offensive blade such as ‘Korbel’, because it is noticeably softer than ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ and two similar blades.

The Vp’s of ‘CCA 7’ and ‘Clipper CR’ (old 7mm version) are noticeably higher than the Vp of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. However, The Vl’s of ‘CCA 7’ and ‘Clipper CR’ (old 7mm version) aren’t meaningfully different from those of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. Interestingly, the Vl’s of ‘Fortino Performance’ (=1.27) and ‘InnerForce Layer ALC’ (=1.23) are also similar to the Vl’s of modern 7-ply wood blades for topspin, although there is much difference of Vp’s. Further, the Vl of ‘Korbel’ is 1.23 which is not much different from the Vl’s of modern 7-ply wood blades for topspin. However, the Vl of ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’ (= 1.38) is noticeably higher than all the other blades in this comparison.

Examining Vl/Vp will be easier way for the comparison. Fig.14 shows the relationship between Vl/Vp and Vp.

Fig.14 Vl/Vp vs. Vp

‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is placed in upper area – ‘Relatively sharper at index finger’ range. But, that position is in ‘Uniform’ range (0.9 < Vl/Vp < 1.1). and isn’t far from the neutral line (Vl/Vp = 1.0). It means that the feeling that is transferred to index finger is not much different from the primary feeling that is transferred to palm through handle.

Three blades – ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’, ‘Clipper CC’ and ‘Korbel SK7’ – are placed near ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ on the graph. Those three blades and ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ are the 7-ply wood blades those provide moderate speed can be grouped into one category – modern 7-ply wood blades. But, ‘Hurricane Long 3’ which is another 7-ply wood blades of moderate speed is placed at different position. We can understand that ‘Hurricane Long 3’ is different from those four 7-ply wood blades. ‘Hurricane Long 3’ is closer to ‘Korbel’ which is a 5-ply wood blade.

Classic thick 7-ply wood blades are placed in lower area – ‘Relatively more comfortable at index finger’ range. Although those two are still in ‘Uniform’ range, there is meaningful distance from ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. Between those two blades, ‘CCA 7’ is relatively closer to ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’.

Two fiber blades – ‘Fortino Performance’ and ‘InnerForce Layer ALC’ aren’t placed far from ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. Especially ‘Fortino Performance’ is close to ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’. We can find again the similarity between modern 7-ply wood blades and standard inner fiber blades. For the players who like the natural feeling of all wood blade, modern 7-ply wood blades may be better choice than inner-fiber blades.


4. Summary

The result of comparison can be summarized as follows :

  • Tibhar ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is a 7-ply wood blade which is probably based on ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ or ‘Samsonov Force Pro’.
  • The primary elasticity and the central elasticity of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ are higher than those of ‘Korbel’ which is the representative of 5-ply wood offensive blade, and are lower than those of traditional thick/heavy 7-ply wood blade. And, the elasticity indices of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ are not much different from those of standard inner-fiber blades such as ‘InnerForce Layer ALC’ or ‘Fortino Performance’.
  • The primary feeling of ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is in between the soft 5-ply wood blade such as ‘Korbel’ and the hard classic 7-ply wood blade such as ‘Clipper CR (old 7.0mm version)’. However, the feeling that is transferred to index finger is not much different from ‘Korbel’ or ‘Clipper CR’.
  • ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is a bit thinner than ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’. However, its characteristics is very similar to those of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’. Also ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ is very similar to Stiga ‘Clipper CC’. With ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and ‘Clipper CC’, ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ can be considered as the new standard of all-wood blade in ABS ball age.
  • Modern 7-ply wood blades such as ‘Bernadette Szöcs Signature 1’ can be good replacement of 5-ply wood offensive blades for the players who need more power but doesn’t like the feeling of fiber blades.
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