As a defensive player, the vast majority of blades that I have used throughout my professional career have been all-wood blades. Some of these blades were 5e-ply all-wood, while others were 7-ply all-wood constructions. In my previous articles, I provided a detailed introduction and comparison between 5-ply and 7-ply all-wood blades, along with some recommendations.
In fact, for the majority of non-professional players and beginners, my advice has consistently been to start practicing with all-wood blades. In today’s article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of all-wood blades and offer some classic recommendations for players to consider.
The Advantages of All-Wood Blades
When it comes to all-wood blades, a considerable number of players may scoff and dismiss them, saying, “All-wood blades are too soft and lack bounce. Can they generate enough power and have sufficient killing ability?” “The national team now uses carbon fiber blades. Using all-wood blades is outdated and ineffective.” “In the end, everyone will switch to carbon fiber blades. Starting with all-wood is unnecessary since you’ll have to change later anyway.” But is that really the case? Let’s explore the advantages of all-wood blades.
Excellent Touch and Feel
Increased touch and feel are two crucial benefits players experience when using all-wood blades in table tennis. The term “touch” refers to the player’s heightened ability to sense the ball’s contact with the blade during play. When a player strikes the ball with an all-wood blade, they can distinctly feel the impact and movement of the ball, allowing for a more intimate connection with their shots.
This direct sensory feedback enables players to have precise control over their strokes, making it easier to adjust the amount of force and spin they apply to the ball. As a result, they can execute shots with greater accuracy and finesse, strategically placing the ball on the table to outmaneuver their opponents.
Similarly, “feel” pertains to the feedback received from the blade when the ball makes contact with it. The composition of all-wood blades, being made entirely of natural wood materials, provides a clean and unfiltered transfer of energy from the ball to the player’s hand.
This heightened feedback allows players to quickly adapt to the ball’s spin and speed, making split-second decisions during rallies. With better sensitivity to the ball’s movement, players can react more effectively to their opponent’s shots, ensuring a more dynamic and engaging gameplay experience.
Moreover, all-wood blades’ increased touch and feel contribute to an enhanced spin generation capability. Players can better “feel” the spin on the ball, allowing them to impart their desired spin on the ball during serves and offensive shots.
This added spin generation can be a game-changer, as it introduces a new level of complexity to the game, making it more challenging for opponents to predict the trajectory of the ball and respond effectively.
Excellent Ball Control
In the era of carbon fiber blades, good all-wood blades possess a striking power that is comparable to built-in (composite) blades. Specifically, in terms of forehand power, good all-wood blades offer more than enough force. They are even more stable than carbon fiber blades, providing players with a better understanding and confidence in their shots.
In terms of control, except for a few exceptionally hard all-wood blades, the vast majority of all-wood blades exhibit excellent control performance. The great advantage of all-wood blades is the natural dwell time they provide. The dwell time refers to the duration the ball stays on the blade during contact.
With all-wood blades, this dwell time is longer, giving players more control over the ball’s spin and trajectory. By holding the ball on the racket surface for a fraction longer, players can better manipulate the spin and placement of their shots.
The all-wood blades help players have nice and ideal ball placement. Thanks to their heightened touch and feel, players can execute a wide range of shots with greater accuracy. Whether it’s delicate touch shots or powerful drives, all-wood blades allow players to place the ball precisely on the table, providing them with greater command over their offensive and defensive strategies.
Who Can Use All Wood Blades?
In the era dominated by carbon fiber blades, all-wood blades are still well-suited for certain types of players. I believe that all-wood blades are a suitable choice for beginners, players with a less powerful playing style, or those who prioritize control in their game. Additionally, even players with exceptional power can use all-wood blades because of their high potential and versatility.
It becomes evident that both players with strong power qualities and those with weaker power qualities can benefit from using all-wood blades. For players with strong power, all-wood blades can accommodate their strength, while for those with weaker power, these blades allow them to focus on control and utilize the stability of all-wood blades to gain confidence in their shots.
In matches, the combination of daring execution and stability is crucial. Players need the courage to implement their tactics effectively and the stability to ensure that their tactics produce the desired outcomes. In table tennis, control, and skill play a significant role, not solely relying on sheer force.
All-wood blades can offer beginners and recreational players a higher success rate in getting the ball onto the table. For beginners, getting the ball onto the table brings more joy than simply retrieving balls, and this happiness fosters a greater desire to play and improve. The direct and responsive feedback of all-wood blades is also beneficial for beginners to practice and master their techniques. All-wood blades become indispensable for beginners in nurturing their love for the sport and facilitating their growth in table tennis.
Finally, defensive players with style emphasizing control and finesse are also highly suitable for all-wood blades, such as choppers or players using long pips rubber.
All-wood blades offer the perfect balance of control and touch for defensive players like choppers, who rely on their ability to control the game and create opportunities through well-placed defensive strokes. All-wood blades’ direct feedback and natural feel allow them to read the incoming spin and adjust their chops effectively, making it difficult for their opponents to break through their defenses.
Similarly, players who use long pips rubber on their all-wood blades benefit from the blade’s inherent stability and control. Long pips rubber is known for its disruptive and unpredictable nature, and pairing it with an all-wood blade further enhances its control. These players can easily vary the speed and spin of their shots, keeping their opponents off balance and exploiting their weaknesses.
Top 10 All-Wood Table Tennis Blade
Victas Koki Niwa Wood
The Victas Koki Niwa Wood is a common 7-ply all-wood blade featuring Limba as the outer ply, Ayous as the middle plies, and an equal thickness core. This construction may remind us of the classic Stiga CL blade, but the Koki Niwa Wood differs in some aspects.
Compared to other blades with similar constructions, the Victas Niwa Wood stands out for its harder and crisper outer ply. This feature provides players with a more direct and responsive feel when striking the ball. Additionally, the blade’s increased thickness further contributes to its unique playing experience.
During the review, the Victas Koki Niwa Wood demonstrated more solid control over the ball’s trajectory, particularly in short ball placement. Players can have better control over short pushes, long pushes, or even side cuts. Perhaps it is due to the excellent control, Koki Niwa uses lots of side-cuts in the games.
Stiga Ebenholz NCT VII
The Stiga Ebenholz NCT VII (Ebony 7) is a highly offensive 7-ply table tennis blade crafted with carefully selected and exquisite layers of ebony wood. It boasts outstanding speed and hardness, making it an ideal choice for players who seek a perfect balance of speed and ball feeling in their game. The blade’s stable wood characteristics contribute to a more pleasing and graceful sound upon ball impact.
With its top-notch offensive capabilities, the Ebenholz NCT VII is favored by players who prioritize powerful shots and aggressive attacking play. The combination of the ebony wood layers and NCT (Nano Composite Technology) ensures a high level of stiffness, enabling explosive shots and fast ball speed.
Despite its emphasis on speed and power, the Ebenholz NCT VII still offers remarkable ball control and touch. This allows players to execute precise shots with confidence and finesse, even during fast-paced rallies.
Personally speaking, I believe this blade is more offensive than many carbon blades, combining both speed and control.
The Stiga CLCR is a table tennis blade that offers a crisp and distinctive feeling on the forehand side, with a touch that is reminiscent of Stiga’s special drying technique. This blade enhances spin when looping the ball, making it ideal for players looking to add more rotation to their shots.
One of the standout features of the Stiga CLCR is its unparalleled stability, especially when dealing with gentle strokes. It boosts the player’s confidence as each stroke feels more powerful and stable, creating a sense of continuous strength and control.
The blade’s thickness, typically around 6.1mm, adds to its solidity and provides a reassuring sense of power during forceful loops from mid to far distances. With the Stiga CLCR in hand, players can focus on their strokes without worrying about the opponent’s power and spin, trusting the blade to deliver a solid and reliable performance.
Handling short shots near the table becomes effortless with the Stiga CLCR, as it offers excellent control and responsiveness. Players can rely on this all-wood blade to provide accurate and authentic feedback during their gameplay.
The Butterfly Korbel (also known as the New Korbel SK7) is a table tennis blade that strikes an excellent balance between control and feel while also providing increased speed and improved power transmission. It is designed to synergize effectively with inorganic rubbers, allowing players to produce high-quality shots with precision and ease, making it an ideal choice for the modern inorganic rubber era.
The blade offers remarkable control, ensuring players can accurately execute their shots and finesse. Additionally, it provides a satisfying and responsive feel, enhancing the overall playing experience.
At the same time, the blade’s speed has been enhanced, allowing players to generate faster shots with greater force. It enables players to harness the energy more effectively, resulting in powerful and penetrating strokes.
The KORBEL blade’s compatibility with inorganic rubbers is a significant advantage. It allows players to capitalize on these rubbers’ strengths and execute various attacking shots with precision and consistency.
Yinhe Uranus U-2
The Yinhe Uranus U-2 is a table tennis blade produced by Yinhe (Galaxy). This blade is known for its outstanding performance and features. It offers a combination of speed, control, and a versatile playing style, making it a popular choice among table tennis players.
Compared to the Yinhe Uranus U-1, the U-2’s outer ply is slightly harder, resulting in a bit faster ball speed while still maintaining the U-1’s excellent feel and solid playing characteristics without excessive bounce. When applying power, the U-2 blade exhibits a slightly larger amount of flex, creating a subtle vibration and giving it a touch of the feel in the Galaxy E1 5-ply blade. However, the U-2 does not have the same pronounced spring effect as the E1, providing better control for players.
The U-2 blade has a bit more power in the stroke, but some players may find that it lacks the same solid feel as the U-1. Both the U-2 and U-1 are designed for fast looping play, but the U-2 emphasizes a strong looping arc in its shots, while the U-1 leans more towards quick and aggressive attacking play.
Butterfly Michael Maze
The Butterfly Maze is a table tennis blade named after the Danish table tennis player Michael Maze. It has been one of my favourite all-wood blades. When Maze achieved remarkable performances, this blade became incredibly popular. It offers moderate speed and power, but its strong points lie in excellent control, defensive capabilities, and the ability to perform well with high ball placement.
The speed remains quite impressive when paired with hard rubbers, especially with Butterfly Sriver on the forehand. The blade excels in strong counter-attacks and aggressive topspin shots near the table, producing low and flat trajectories. It delivers fast shots with notable spin when lifting the ball higher. But pairing it with Chinese tacky rubbers such as DHS Hurricane 3 is not recommended.
Have you heard of the Chinese brand SANWEI? Some players might not be very familiar with this brand and may not have heard about these two new all-wood blades introduced by SANWEI – the Sanwei Echo and Sanwei Parla. Among these two, I personally prefer the Parla, which is specially designed for European players, aligning with the characteristics of European table tennis – aggressive play, high speed, and excellent control.
The Parla is a 7-ply all-wood blade, offering a speed comparable to the Butterfly Maze but with a more distinct and clear feel. Its 7-ply all-wood construction provides ample power, making it stand strong even in mid-to-far-distance topspin rallies. The overall weight of the blade is around 80 grams, allowing for quick transitions between forehand and backhand strokes.
Additionally, the Parla is also well-suited for defensive players like me. It can be paired with long pips or short pips rubber, providing a clear and steady feel with excellent control for defensive play. The blade is versatile enough to be used for chopping as well. As a relatively new product in the market, I personally believe that the Parla deserves a spot in the top ten all-wood blades, and it performs exceptionally well with no issues at all.
The Nittaku Violin is a top-tier table tennis blade that caters to the needs of offensive players. Nittaku has employed a special binding method borrowed from the craftsmanship of the finest stringed instruments to create this exceptional blade. This unique process preserves the natural elasticity of the wood, resulting in a blade that perfectly balances speed, control, and feeling.
The Nittaku Violin is a 5-ply blade, falling within the All+/Off- category, making it an excellent choice for players at various skill levels. I have seen many of my teammates use this blade when I play in the Spanish league.
The Violin blade boasts impressive speed, providing offensive players with the power they need to dominate the game. At the same time, it offers excellent control, allowing players to maintain precision and accuracy in their strokes.
If we were to point out any drawbacks of this blade, it might be its relatively higher price. After all, among all the table tennis blades available, Nittaku stands out for daring to use materials from musical instruments in their equipment. As a result, the Nittaku Violin can be considered a bit luxurious, especially for budget-conscious players, particularly beginners who may not yet be ready to invest in more expensive table tennis equipment.
Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition
Vladimir Samsonov, a legendary player in the world of table tennis, has always been known for his mastery of the “Tai Chi Sword”(Chinese TT fans give this name) – his preferred weapon of choice. However, during the intense battle against Zhang Jike in 2016, Samsonov surprised everyone by using a special version of the Tai Chi Sword. Its full name is the Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition, commonly known as “Black Samsonov.”
The Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition is a classic and highly effective 7-ply all-wood table tennis blade. It is renowned for its practicality, ease of use, and well-balanced performance.
Due to the changes brought about by the 40+ ball era, professional players sought to enhance their attacking power. Thus, the Black Samsonov was created, based on the original Samsonov Force Pro, with a more power-oriented tuning, becoming Vladimir Samsonov’s new favorite weapon on the competitive stage. It caters to the demand for increased hardness with the 40+ ball, while also slightly boosting the single-ply’s attacking prowess while maintaining stability.
Despite being a seven-ply blade, the Black Samsonov retains the sharp and agile feel characteristic of the Tai Chi Sword, even surpassing the sensitivity of many five-ply blades. The blade’s side coloring has transitioned from the original Samsonov Force Pro’s blue to a more combative red. The Black Samsonov offers a crisp hitting sensation and delivers even more power than the Samsonov Force Pro with the same level of force.
DHS Hurricane Long 3
Since the introduction of the DHS Hurricane Long 5, Long 3 has been forgotten by many people. However, this blade was a powerful weapon used by Ma Long in international competitions before the Long 5 came into the scene in 2013. Starting from the Long 2 blade, the Long series set itself apart from common market blade sizes. The larger surface area in the Long 2 and Long 3 blades enhanced their ball-holding capabilities with their all-wood construction.
The Long 3 is a 7-ply blade that emphasizes the quality of the shots. Its relatively stiff and solid body provides a clear touch and feel. While focusing on stability, it also emphasizes the power and speed of the strokes, perfectly aligning with Ma Long’s playing style of controlled aggression and concealed sharpness.
Even Ma Long himself acknowledged that the Long 5 blade he currently uses feels different from the previous Long 3 blade. The Long 5 is a carbon fiber blade, which makes it feel faster in touch. Overall, it offers a better feel for backhand shots, while the stability in the forehand is not as good as an all-wood blade.
Of course, as one of the world’s most exceptional table tennis players, Ma Long seeks higher ball speed, leading to the development of the Long 5 with a carbon fiber structure. However, one should not underestimate the Long 3, as it provides excellent stability and forgiveness with a particularly great touch. If I were not a chopper, I would undoubtedly choose the DHS Long 3 as my blade.