New all-wood blade recommendations wanted

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So here I am, about 2 months in making my "comeback", training at an actual club, and making a couple of extra hours a week at work. I'm *really* happy with the trainer, he manages to squeeze a good and useful training out each and every time despite the gigantic skill differences in the group, and I feel like I am 90% back on my old skill level.
I want to go back to playing competitively in the second half of the year, maybe do a couple of tournaments before that to get my juices flowing.

But, now that I am a few weeks in with my current setup, I am really understanding the difference the 40+ ball makes.
(Setup on the left, but for posterity: Donic Appelgren Allplay Senso V1 - Rakza 7 2.0mm on FH/BH)

My game is pretty all-round, pushing, slow fast placement, and I love to not choose the usual diagonals when making an attack but rather going straight, or even using my FH from BH position to attack diagonally to the opponen't BH.
I've gotten used to Rakza 7's characteristics pretty quickly and it feels completely natural playing this setup already.

I'm considering making a blade change (I'll be keeping this one for work or backup) for the following reasons:
  • I feel like I have grown accustomed so quickly to this setup that I can handle more.
  • Hitting top spin winners purely on power+spin seems impossible with this ball and setup, unless I include very sharp and risky placement. It feels like I am missing a bit of punch in spin, and one of the guys I'm training with who has a decent skill and technique, does generate that kind of snappy, quick spins that I'm looking for so it's not impossible.
  • I am using a very flexy blade and it shows. (The Senso version is even flexier than the regular) While it's extremely forgiving, it really lacks in the spin+power department. Also, playing away from the table it just lacks the power to make an offensive shot so I can't take over a rally like that. Once I'm forced to back up I'm in a losing position. With the old 40-ball I was able to take over rallies, albeit also with high power requirements.
  • Also, not in the least, I feel like I can grow beyond my old skill levels in my current club environment. But that will not happen if my setup is becoming a bottleneck for playing an allround, very geary playstyle. I'm missing out in the higher gears, so as soon as I take the rally to higher tempo I'm bringing myself into losing position.
  • I have a very fast and snappy FH killshot (at the table) in the form of a direct drive that apparently is impressive to club players and the trainer, too. Let's be fair, impressing people at work is much easier, so when I also managed to impress the club crowd I realized my FH kill is (still) actually strong. Playing R7 allows me to hit that shot very reliably, too, as opposed to the softer rubber that just bottomed out. So I don't need a super-fast setup for that, but a consistent step up might help it grow into a very strong weapon.

So here's my question for help. I have a list of do's and don'ts which is not completely set in stone, but I only want to divert from it on solid argument basis.

I do want:
  • Wood. I can consider other "natural" materials like compressed paper, but I don't want to use synthetics, especially carbon fibre, because it doesn't fit in my ecological standpoints. So my main focus is all-wood.
  • Gears. All-round for me means playing through a lot of gears, from slow, touchy dropshots to killer (loop) drives while standing 2-3 steps back. Variation is a strong point in my game.
  • Versatility in rubbers. My Appelgren Allplay is too flexy to reliably play softer rubbers on - the combination becomes unpredictable and jumpy and makes playing in different gears very hard. I would like to be able to move from R7 to R7 Soft, Rakza Z, or towards a touch harder rubber in the future.
  • Feeling. I think this is inherent to the points above. Playing lots of gears requires getting a decent level of feedback. The Allplay is extremely good in that aspect, and I can use less of it, but it's not something I want to disregard.
  • I'm thinking of a budget in the €100 range. I could go slightly over that for something extremely nice but I'd need to be really convinced.
I don't want:
  • Carbon or other synthetics. Explained above. I've been going through plenty of blade articles, reviews, and other writeups, and even without the ecological considerations I think carbon is not for me.
  • Overly stiff/hard blades
Some suggestions I've read before that are interesting to me:
  • Donic Persson Powerplay - 7 ply (5 wood, 2 paper?)
    • I'm expecting a familiar feel/style by sticking with the same brand, but on the other hand it feels weird to switch to a blade of the same generation. Compressed paper sounds like a pretty useless marketing feature to me. So it's almost like switching from a 5-ply Donic to a 5-ply Donic... I'm not convinced yet that it will actually be a step up.
  • Stiga Clipper (Wood) - 7 ply wood
    • From what I know the results vary wildly. Lighter versions might be more useful to me? I haven't got a single clue how handle size compares to Donic but I guess I'll get used to it.
  • I am also partial to aesthetics. Beautiful products from brands like Nittaku and Darker are really appealing to me. Nice, woody aesthetics really tickle my head in a nice way.
  • That being said, I'm also tempted to try an artisanal blade from one of the great craftspeople around here.
    • Downside is it will be harder to compare with commercial products, I like to do numbers on things.
  • I'm also considering a Hinoki blade, since everything I read about its characteristics sounds like it fits my game. I don't know anything about how it plays in reality though, so getting one would be a gamble. This one might be an option for the future rather than right now.
Before I get all carried away with all the beautiful options, what makes sense is likely to, same with the rubber choice, go with something towards the middle of the road. The two concrete suggestions are pretty similar in numbers and I think they are around that middle of the road I'm looking for while also offering a significant difference to what I'm playing now.
 
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I have made a similar change recently and have tried a few all wood blades, so my thoughts on what has worked for my topspin based game;

1. Nittaku Acoustic - great feeling and decent speed. Handle in std size a deal breaker for me but large or SG good.

2. Vodak - I currently use a 5 ply with Hindi outer ply's and it's absolutely fantastic in feel, speed, control and build quality. There are many that might suit if you check the website. Given what you say about Hinoki this may be a good fit (Jiri Vrablik is the model) The Hinoki feels softer but on this blade it's not bouncy and I am liking it a lot.

3. Butterfly Falcima - a little faster and crisper and similar to an all wood Viscaria. Nice balance and handle.

4. SDC - hand made, superb quality. I have a Timo Boll ALC clone without the ALC and it's a great blade

5. Yasaka Sweden Extra - a classic, with a harder feel and decent off speed but to me build quality the lowest in this list (also the cheapest)

6. Butterfly Korbel SK7 - stiffer, heavier and a little faster than the others but a great blade.

I am sure there are a lot more options, but I have tried these and they all offer something to consider.

Good luck

Peter
 
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Xiom Solo is one of my personal favorites, but it is on the stiffer side. Compared to thinner more flexible blades the feeling is also less "deep" but it still retains some of the allwood feeling. Another great blade is the Tibhar Szocs, its thinner and more flexible than Solo/Clipper but more aggressive than faster 5ply woods like Korbel.
 
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After all the intense research to "blankly" dismiss carbon blades is a mistake. 😦
Not if you read that I feel strongly about carbon in an ecological sense. It's not a very environmentally friendly material and very hard to recycle.
 
Without detracting from other brands, check out Andro, have been supplying very good rackets from 5-ply wood for years. The TP_Linga All really belongs to the top of playable woods with an outstanding feel and very good grip.
A little above your budget
 
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Nittaku Acoustic is written all over your post. Go for SG if you don't like thin handles.

Aforementioned Yasaka Sweden Extra is a slow All+ blade.
 
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says toooooo much choice!!
says toooooo much choice!!
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BTY Primorac all wood (Japan made) is great blade, a little more expensive than the Euro made version, which is also a great blade, one of BTY’s all time best sellers!! Which speaks volumes in favour of this blade. Pairs well with a lot of rubbers.
Wrighty67 mentioned SDC, excellent hand made blades, to your specification. I have 4, 1 all wood primorac all wood clone, 1 with Hinoki top veneers, 2 (as good as identical) 7+2 ply Def rated blades.
Sergio will be able to advise on types of wood, different glues, different materials, compositions of different woods and how they are likely to play when combined, balance, speed Etc etc. well worth checking the website, you’ll have a blade that is ‘special’ a ‘one of its kind’ ‘yours’. Which is a nice thing to have!! A bit more expensive but top notch build quality.
 
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Some of the suggestions being given above may not meet your flexible not stiff requirement (e.g. clipper, szocs) while other may have been discontinued (Solo).
Falcima is nice feeling blade with some attacking potential, but I would suggest Xiom Offensive S over that blade (it is a 5-ply off- blade). It has slightly more attacking potential again, feels great and is a lot cheaper. Rakza 7 will be complimentary as well. FWIW it is a very popular blade.
If your budget is 100 pounds, the world is your oyster.
I have a Nittaku Septear in the cupboard. Its a nice, well made Hinoki blade but I found it a bit bouncy in the short game. @Wrighty67 suggestion of the Vodak blade would be worth considering, given his comments above and elsewhere.
 
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5 ply:
Butterfly Peter Korbel
Tibhar Stratus Powerwood
Victas Euro Feeling
Yasaka Sweden Extra

7 ply:
Tibhar Bernadette Socs Signature 1
Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition

The Donic Persson Powerplay has 2 layers of foil whatever that is, I'm not entirely sure it's all wood. In case you open to composite, Joola Rossi Emotion is great.
 
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The good old Korbel is a great blade with a larger head size that can make the setup feel head heavy. I personally think the Yasaka Sweden Extra may be on the slow side, but probably will get the job done. For all-wood blades, I particularly like the Victas Koki Niwa Wood and the Darker 5p-2a. The Koki Niwa Wood just has a really nice, crisp feedback with harder rubbers and is quite fast (I think it’s faster than the Korbel). It’s also very nicely balanced. Downside is that it objectively produces less spin than the Darker 5p-2a. I’ve tested the two with identical rubber setups. Both are very well made. The Darker is just…classy. Added bonus is that hinoki top plies generally don’t splinter easily, but a fingernail can dent them, so just be a little careful when the blade surface is exposed while glueing. The 5p-2a is relatively linear for a hinoki blade, as it’s not 100% hinoki. However, I play with harder rubbers so I can’t comment if you’ll feel it more with Rakza 7.
 
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Some of the suggestions being given above may not meet your flexible not stiff requirement (e.g. clipper, szocs) while other may have been discontinued (Solo).
Falcima is nice feeling blade with some attacking potential, but I would suggest Xiom Offensive S over that blade (it is a 5-ply off- blade). It has slightly more attacking potential again, feels great and is a lot cheaper. Rakza 7 will be complimentary as well. FWIW it is a very popular blade.
If your budget is 100 pounds, the world is your oyster.
I have a Nittaku Septear in the cupboard. Its a nice, well made Hinoki blade but I found it a bit bouncy in the short game. @Wrighty67 suggestion of the Vodak blade would be worth considering, given his comments above and elsewhere.
Fair comment - I nearly added Xiom Off S as I have one too, but found myself hesitating a little due to the handle, which I found a little odd - but it’s a very good blade.
 
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Woof! Tons of input in such a short amount of time, thanks everyone!
Here are my takeaways so far:
- I wasn't considering 5-ply before, but I see that's something I put in my head and need to dismiss. There seem to be plenty of options in 5-ply too that aren't nearly as flexy, soft and vibrating as my Appelgren Allplay.
I need to get the idea out of my head that 5-ply "isn't enough".
- Vodak is completely new to me. Andro isn't a new name as much, but I know absolutely zero about their products. Time to open my mind and read up on those. Xiom too, and Victas is the former TSP iirc...
- I'm getting more and more convinced that the differences between brands are mostly up to preference, even if some brand names offer a higher quality product than others.

As far as what I'm looking for, I think I am getting a better grasp on the characteristics, just not as much on what specifications fit that. Benefits of getting to play 30-60 minutes on most workdays :)

I am missing a predictable/linear response in low and high gear.
In shortplay, I feel I'm hitting a dropoff point on the slow-end that ends up with my balls dropping dead before the net.
Also with fast direct drives that just hit a point of unpredictability because I'm hitting harder than the blade seems to be able to handle. IDK if it's the rubber bottoming out, or the blade's soft/flexy nature hitting a limit where the flex starts to snap back, but the result is unpredictable and balls end up flying everywhere once I go over the speed limit (really, ask my coworkers).
I have countered a bit of these issues in the past by applying a much tighter grip which I presume reduces the flexy characteristics of the whole. However, using such a tight grip is tiring, and makes it much harder to switch between FH and BH.

From the given suggestions (including my own) I am NOT considering:
Yasaka Sweden Extra - I am reading so many mixed stories that it's way too confusing. There's plenty of other options.
Donic Persson PowerPlay - that foil layer or whatever, no idea what it is. Also read some stories about the top ply being too thin and splintering easily. Again, plenty of other options to consider so skipping this one.

A couple of options I think are interesting:
Nittaku Acoustic - ticks the aesthetics box, retains control yet seems to still be a very versatile blade. Not cheap though.
Darker 5P-2A - the "hinoki-hybrid" sounds very interesting and is apparently a little better on the control end than the Septear. Can be found within budget too.
(The Koki Niwa Wood sounds a little too much for me. Maybe I'm underestimating my ability but I feel like I'm not ready for that speed range.)
Tibhar Illusion Killer - interesting option. I can still find it and the specs seem to be a good match. Compact head size has positive and negative points.

Other options worth considering but still needing more information or experience:
Tibhar Stratus Power Wood/Butterfly Petr Korbel/Xiom Offensive S - all pretty much in the same range (so great suggestions!) so I guess that's up to what handle fits best or brand preference. Maybe I can find one of these or a similar blade at the club, see how it works.
Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition/Stiga Clipper - 7-ply options that are supposedly similar enough for me to not notice much of a difference unless I play them side by side. I need to test either at the club to see if it fits at all or if I need to dismiss this kind of blade.
Last but not least, SDC - I really like this option, but I want to get my preferences clear before choosing this. I'd hate to have an artisan spend time, effort and material and then be disappointed because I wasn't clear about what I want.
 
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Woof! Tons of input in such a short amount of time, thanks everyone!
Here are my takeaways so far:
- I wasn't considering 5-ply before, but I see that's something I put in my head and need to dismiss. There seem to be plenty of options in 5-ply too that aren't nearly as flexy, soft and vibrating as my Appelgren Allplay.
I need to get the idea out of my head that 5-ply "isn't enough".
- Vodak is completely new to me. Andro isn't a new name as much, but I know absolutely zero about their products. Time to open my mind and read up on those. Xiom too, and Victas is the former TSP iirc...
- I'm getting more and more convinced that the differences between brands are mostly up to preference, even if some brand names offer a higher quality product than others.

As far as what I'm looking for, I think I am getting a better grasp on the characteristics, just not as much on what specifications fit that. Benefits of getting to play 30-60 minutes on most workdays :)

I am missing a predictable/linear response in low and high gear.
In shortplay, I feel I'm hitting a dropoff point on the slow-end that ends up with my balls dropping dead before the net.
Also with fast direct drives that just hit a point of unpredictability because I'm hitting harder than the blade seems to be able to handle. IDK if it's the rubber bottoming out, or the blade's soft/flexy nature hitting a limit where the flex starts to snap back, but the result is unpredictable and balls end up flying everywhere once I go over the speed limit (really, ask my coworkers).
I have countered a bit of these issues in the past by applying a much tighter grip which I presume reduces the flexy characteristics of the whole. However, using such a tight grip is tiring, and makes it much harder to switch between FH and BH.

From the given suggestions (including my own) I am NOT considering:
Yasaka Sweden Extra - I am reading so many mixed stories that it's way too confusing. There's plenty of other options.
Donic Persson PowerPlay - that foil layer or whatever, no idea what it is. Also read some stories about the top ply being too thin and splintering easily. Again, plenty of other options to consider so skipping this one.

A couple of options I think are interesting:
Nittaku Acoustic - ticks the aesthetics box, retains control yet seems to still be a very versatile blade. Not cheap though.
Darker 5P-2A - the "hinoki-hybrid" sounds very interesting and is apparently a little better on the control end than the Septear. Can be found within budget too.
(The Koki Niwa Wood sounds a little too much for me. Maybe I'm underestimating my ability but I feel like I'm not ready for that speed range.)
Tibhar Illusion Killer - interesting option. I can still find it and the specs seem to be a good match. Compact head size has positive and negative points.

Other options worth considering but still needing more information or experience:
Tibhar Stratus Power Wood/Butterfly Petr Korbel/Xiom Offensive S - all pretty much in the same range (so great suggestions!) so I guess that's up to what handle fits best or brand preference. Maybe I can find one of these or a similar blade at the club, see how it works.
Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition/Stiga Clipper - 7-ply options that are supposedly similar enough for me to not notice much of a difference unless I play them side by side. I need to test either at the club to see if it fits at all or if I need to dismiss this kind of blade.
Last but not least, SDC - I really like this option, but I want to get my preferences clear before choosing this. I'd hate to have an artisan spend time, effort and material and then be disappointed because I wasn't clear about what I want.
I can only add - don't ignore Vodak because there is limited info. I have played most of the blades listed and the Vodak I have (I stumbled across it or also would not have bought it) is the best by a margin (Including vs Acoustic IMO)
 
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A couple of thoughts to the OP:

I think your first decision point is 7 ply vs 5 ply wood.

Rakza 7 is a great do it all rubber, but probably a little slow in all wood set ups. Getting it in max sponge may help a little.

Your comment about the koki niwa wood above is not my experience. I have tried a LOT of 7 ply all wood blades. Koki Niwa wood is NOT fast at all. One of the slowest and highest control 7 ply blades I have ever used. I have two of these blades and they play identical. Also gave it

If you like 7 ply you can't go wrong with a clipper. I have used the yasaka falck W7 and it is very nice, stiff and has all the gears. It can loop and hit (the koki niwa wood can loop, but not hit at all!).

I think either rakza 9 or X would be a nice upgrade from 7. Max sponge.

Lots of other really good ideas already mentioned. Good look.
 
- I wasn't considering 5-ply before, but I see that's something I put in my head and need to dismiss. There seem to be plenty of options in 5-ply too that aren't nearly as flexy, soft and vibrating as my Appelgren Allplay.
I don't know of any blade that flexes more than an Appelgren allplay. Almost any other blade will be stiffer...
Select a 5 layer blade with a limba top layer and a thickness of 5.8 - 6.0 mm and everything will be hunky dory.
You want some amount of flex or topspin will be difficult...

Cheers
L-zr
 
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I don't know of any blade that flexes more than an Appelgren allplay. Almost any other blade will be stiffer...

Cheers
L-zr
Imagine this - the Senso version is even flexier than the solid handle one! :D I'm opening a whole new world here
 
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Woof! Tons of input in such a short amount of time, thanks everyone!
Here are my takeaways so far:
- I wasn't considering 5-ply before, but I see that's something I put in my head and need to dismiss. There seem to be plenty of options in 5-ply too that aren't nearly as flexy, soft and vibrating as my Appelgren Allplay.
I need to get the idea out of my head that 5-ply "isn't enough".
- Vodak is completely new to me. Andro isn't a new name as much, but I know absolutely zero about their products. Time to open my mind and read up on those. Xiom too, and Victas is the former TSP iirc...
- I'm getting more and more convinced that the differences between brands are mostly up to preference, even if some brand names offer a higher quality product than others.

As far as what I'm looking for, I think I am getting a better grasp on the characteristics, just not as much on what specifications fit that. Benefits of getting to play 30-60 minutes on most workdays :)

I am missing a predictable/linear response in low and high gear.
In shortplay, I feel I'm hitting a dropoff point on the slow-end that ends up with my balls dropping dead before the net.
Also with fast direct drives that just hit a point of unpredictability because I'm hitting harder than the blade seems to be able to handle. IDK if it's the rubber bottoming out, or the blade's soft/flexy nature hitting a limit where the flex starts to snap back, but the result is unpredictable and balls end up flying everywhere once I go over the speed limit (really, ask my coworkers).
I have countered a bit of these issues in the past by applying a much tighter grip which I presume reduces the flexy characteristics of the whole. However, using such a tight grip is tiring, and makes it much harder to switch between FH and BH.

From the given suggestions (including my own) I am NOT considering:
Yasaka Sweden Extra - I am reading so many mixed stories that it's way too confusing. There's plenty of other options.
Donic Persson PowerPlay - that foil layer or whatever, no idea what it is. Also read some stories about the top ply being too thin and splintering easily. Again, plenty of other options to consider so skipping this one.

A couple of options I think are interesting:
Nittaku Acoustic - ticks the aesthetics box, retains control yet seems to still be a very versatile blade. Not cheap though.
Darker 5P-2A - the "hinoki-hybrid" sounds very interesting and is apparently a little better on the control end than the Septear. Can be found within budget too.
(The Koki Niwa Wood sounds a little too much for me. Maybe I'm underestimating my ability but I feel like I'm not ready for that speed range.)
Tibhar Illusion Killer - interesting option. I can still find it and the specs seem to be a good match. Compact head size has positive and negative points.

Other options worth considering but still needing more information or experience:
Tibhar Stratus Power Wood/Butterfly Petr Korbel/Xiom Offensive S - all pretty much in the same range (so great suggestions!) so I guess that's up to what handle fits best or brand preference. Maybe I can find one of these or a similar blade at the club, see how it works.
Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition/Stiga Clipper - 7-ply options that are supposedly similar enough for me to not notice much of a difference unless I play them side by side. I need to test either at the club to see if it fits at all or if I need to dismiss this kind of blade.
Last but not least, SDC - I really like this option, but I want to get my preferences clear before choosing this. I'd hate to have an artisan spend time, effort and material and then be disappointed because I wasn't clear about what I want.
You didn't mention Victor Euro Feeling Off- that has similar blade composition as Nittaku Violin at much cheaper price. I'm currently using it and I really like the feeling.
 
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