Are all ALC blades the same?

says The sticky bit is stuck.
says The sticky bit is stuck.
Well-Known Member
Jan 2017
2,775
2,630
8,179
Read 8 reviews
I have no spec sheet, but there certainly are differences.

- Different wood layers (koto or limba outers)
- Different layer thicknesses
- Maybe even differing grain orientations?
- Different glue process
- Differen handles
- Different ALC types (blue, yellow)
- Different brands/pricepoint (so different placebo effect)
- Different layering (2nd layer ALC, or 3rd)
- Different head shapes and sizes
- Different wing shapes

Many ALC blades are koto/alc/limba/kiri/limba/alc/koto, but even in that family some blades are stiffer, thicker.

The Placebo Viscaria, Timo Boll ALC and Zhang Jike ALC are similar, but by no means identical. Handle, wings, thickness, balance differ. The Maze/Freitas ALC is a different beast, as is the Innerforce ALC and as is the Tomokazu Harimoto ALC.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: LucasMcCaine
says The sticky bit is stuck.
says The sticky bit is stuck.
Well-Known Member
Jan 2017
2,775
2,630
8,179
Read 8 reviews
No, several thicknesses coexist. The last TB ALC I held was 5.8mm, I’ve seen Viscarias half a mm thicker and ZJK ALCs slightly thinner than the TB. The Inner Layer ALC.S even thinner, 5.4mm or so.

Especially noticable in balance and flex. The TB ALC (with its ultrathin handle) is medium stiff and head heavy, the Viscaria a bit stiffer but less head heavy.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LucasMcCaine
says Spin and more spin.
says Spin and more spin.
Well-Known Member
Super Moderator
Dec 2010
16,242
17,842
55,238
Read 11 reviews
Many of the Butterfly ALC blades that have these plies:

Koto-ALC-Limba-Kiri-Limba-ALC-Koto

are, in many ways very close to the same. Differences in handle, blade shape, slight differences in thickness as noted above.

So, pretty close. But still not exactly the same. Blades include Viscaria, TB Spirit, TB ALC, ZJK ALC, Kenta Matsudaira. Very close. But slight differences.

However, other Butterfly ALC blades like, Innerforce ALC, Innerforce Layer ALC, Michael Maze, Marcos Frietas, those are completely different.

Any blade that is not from Butterfly that is also ALC will also be different. Even the ones where they were doing their best to make them as close to a Viscaria as they could, they are still noticeably different from the Butterfly ALC blades.

I think ML 5 is also an inner fiber ALC blade and it is different than any of the blades mentioned above. :)

So, not really.

But, if someone was trying to decide between Viscaria, TB ALC, TB Spirit, ZJK ALC, or Kenta, here is how I would parse it. If there is one where you like the handle best, get that one. If the handles of all feel fine to you, then get the least expensive one: ie Viscaria or TB Spirit. :) They are different, but they are close enough that the similarities outweigh the differences, and whichever one you use and get used to will be a good choice.
 
This user has no status.
Many of the Butterfly ALC blades that have these plies:

Koto-ALC-Limba-Kiri-Limba-ALC-Koto

are, in many ways very close to the same. Differences in handle, blade shape, slight differences in thickness as noted above.

So, pretty close. But still not exactly the same. Blades include Viscaria, TB Spirit, TB ALC, ZJK ALC, Kenta Matsudaira. Very close. But slight differences.

However, other Butterfly ALC blades like, Innerforce ALC, Innerforce Layer ALC, Michael Maze, Marcos Frietas, those are completely different.

Any blade that is not from Butterfly that is also ALC will also be different. Even the ones where they were doing their best to make them as close to a Viscaria as they could, they are still noticeably different from the Butterfly ALC blades.

I think ML 5 is also an inner fiber ALC blade and it is different than any of the blades mentioned above. :)

So, not really.

But, if someone was trying to decide between Viscaria, TB ALC, TB Spirit, ZJK ALC, or Kenta, here is how I would parse it. If there is one where you like the handle best, get that one. If the handles of all feel fine to you, then get the least expensive one: ie Viscaria or TB Spirit. :) They are different, but they are close enough that the similarities outweigh the differences, and whichever one you use and get used to will be a good choice.

I guess, that'd be better if we buy similar blades to alc with less money spent. I'm not a fan of alc because it is a high price, low reward type of blade and is not worth it.
Maybe I'm wrong, but OTC blade performs waaaaaaaaay similar to a viscaria.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: LucasMcCaine
says Spin and more spin.
says Spin and more spin.
Well-Known Member
Super Moderator
Dec 2010
16,242
17,842
55,238
Read 11 reviews
I guess, that'd be better if we buy similar blades to alc with less money spent. I'm not a fan of alc because it is a high price, low reward type of blade and is not worth it.
Maybe I'm wrong, but OTC blade performs waaaaaaaaay similar to a viscaria.

I would agree with everything you say here. The Ovtcharov True Carbon is as close to one of the Butterfly ALC blades as you get and it is a good value.

I also agree that I don't want to play with an ALC blade. I like all wood. But, I was simply giving info. And I would still take a Viscaria over an OTC because Butterfly's build quality is really very solid. But you can't go wrong with an OTC.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: LucasMcCaine
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Well-Known Member
Jul 2018
1,011
558
1,962
Buy the Xiom Stradivarius, cheaper, well built, plays 97.5% the same. You'll have a better time debating batch variations than how it's different from vis-boll and whatnot.
 
I think that the eventual differences in feeling are more a matter of the player sensitivity, and the sensitivity does not depend at all on the players level. A very newbie may be much more sensitive about equipment than a high-level veteran, and the opposite.
But the objective differences are always there.
 
says Shoo...nothing to see here. - zeio
says Shoo...nothing to see here. - zeio
Well-Known Member
Jan 2018
7,849
9,713
19,397
Official family tree of shakehand offensive ALC blades.

Did43ne.png


Viscaria is the 1st ALC model, 5+2 structure, released in 11/1993. All subsequent models are derived from Viscaria.

Lineal ALC rackets
TBS
TB ALC
ZJK ALC
Kenta Matsudaira ALC

Light and high COR models
Kong Linghui SP

Easier to use
Michael Maze
Freitas ALC

3+2 structure
Iolite
Cofferlait
Garaydia ALC

Innerforce models
Innerforce Layer ALC
Innerforce Layer ALC.S
 
Last edited:
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Member
May 2019
200
236
438
Wow, this is a great chart, zeio.

Where do you find it? Does it has something similar for all wood or other materials?
 
says Shoo...nothing to see here. - zeio
says Shoo...nothing to see here. - zeio
Well-Known Member
Jan 2018
7,849
9,713
19,397
Butterfly has just released a 2-part series on the story of ALC. Honestly, nothing new except for that chart.

Viscaria was met with a lukewarm reaction upon release and for nearly the next 2 decades. Composite blades were like a 3rd wheel back in the days of 38mm and speed glue. It'd been a collector's item more than anything in China. Demand was so low in Japan it was taken off the shelf in late 2006.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: RidTheKid
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Member
Mar 2019
33
19
52
All this said, keep in mind that you are dealing with pieces of wood which are largely unprocessed, other than being sliced into the thin plys we use. Because oof this, you could literally buy 10 Viscarias made in the same year and each might still play slightly differently.
 
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
This user has been banned.
Oct 2016
1,279
253
1,648
Read 5 reviews
Yes. But kenta matsudaira alc is very different. The quality of blade is something special and reminds me of Butterfly Golden Era, top ply looks amazing, the feeling is harder and slower than godfather Viscaria but spin is better.
I think that Kenta Matsudaira is made for professional players in Japan and if you are looking Old models with black tag Viscaria\Spirit you will be very happy with kenta alc
 
Last edited:
says ok, I will go back and make sure you have access. Be...
says ok, I will go back and make sure you have access. Be...
Well-Known Member
Nov 2010
3,568
5,936
10,356
Read 8 reviews
One can certainly have preferences.

The ones with ALC closer to the surface ( Viscaria type) are enough alike that one can reasonably easily switch from one to another. They are pretty much intended for the same kind of player. The same is true fir the Innerforce types ( with deeper ALC layers). Those two classes are definitely different from each other.

Handles and weight and weight balance are a big part of what you will prefer. A lot of the reason Btfly has introduced so many is 1. Marketing and 2. It is good formula and often results in great blades. IMHO the Viscaria has never been improved upon. Zeio is right that it was obscure for a long time. I bought my first one around 2007 and I only knew one other guy who used one.. If not for ZJK it would be long forgotten (and if that had happened I would be perfectly happy with a TB ALC).

Edit added. Just reminded by Zeio's post of the Iolite types. Those 3-2 blades are definitely a different animal. I personally don"t like them at all. At the beginning thiugh it was a lot more popular than Viscaria. Around 2000 to 2005 I saw a lot of them. Iolite seemed like it had a handle sized for children. I also found it quite uncontrollable in short game and anything that required some feel.
 
Last edited:
Top