wind_comm on 12/4/2013
let's be clear about this right off the bat: this blade isn't for everybody.
when I first got my hands on it, I (naturally) started tapping a ball up and down on the bare wood, and was NOT impressed. it has a SEVERE sweet spot (shocking right?) and hitting near the handle (where the fingers go/rubber markings) would be instantly fatal in a game as there is ZERO power available there.
so, it's not a carbon blade. it's not a marvel of high-tech wizardry with synthetic fibres or blending of different wood plies, or special gluing techniques, not a hair of charring/thermal treating in sight, least of all any mysterious technobabble that gets all sorts of people inappropriately excited in the pants.
nope. what it is, is 7 plies of Japanese Cypress, grown somewhere on a chilly mountainside. then they're cut and sawn again and again until they get exactly what they need. the resulting plies are then cut to shape and glued together by a very skilled craftsman.
and it shows.
the edges are SO nicely fitted, sanded and beveled (even, round and smooth) that my usual habit of fiddling sandpaper to get the part that sits in the web of my hand is completely unnecessary. it reminds me of a Joola WSI handle.
the handle: I'll be honest, it's not my favorite thing in the world. I've grown quite used to the Fineline handles used by seemingly every big company on their blades (Butterfly, Donic, Yasaka, you name it, they're probably using it) and I happen to find that type of wood quite comfortable in fact. so the handle of the 7p surprised me a little bit. it's not dyed some strange shade of blue/purple/red/neon yellow like some others, instead it's a very VERY smooth bit of stained/varnished wood. I'd like to assume it's also Hinoki, because of the very consistent feel, but I can't be certain. again, this blade isn't for everybody, and the handle isn't really for me. I'll probably rough it up a little with sandpaper or find some grip tape/overgrip padding. you, however, may be craving a very finely crafted and finished smooth handle, if that's your thing, then so be it. my only other small nitpick about the handle would be it's fitment; whilst it's very finely crafted, the size wasn't quite matched perfectly to the blade plies, it's totally livable and most people wouldn't mind, especially if they're used to the (very occasionally) shoddy quality control from several Chinese manufacturers (then again, all companies have their lemons). basically, the edge of the blade plies extends about .2mm out from the side of the handle, and as a result, literally two small grains of the handle splintered. it's not a problem in the slightest, some people's equipment looks worse after just a few sessions.
and then we get to how it plays. people that've used pure carbon-plied blades, or even very fast wood blades, would scoff at the "mushy soft" feel, and the lack of power. 1-ply Hinoki purists would shake their heads in disapproval for having a 7-ply, very thin blade. I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped when I first tried it.
but that's not the point. the point would be that I'm absolutely sick of the way blades with arylate/kevlar/whatever deaden the feel, and then charge you out the arse for this "feature". that's garbage. sure, I can understand if the vibrations are too much for some people (in other sports, I'd totally buy into vibration dampening, if it were beneficial in some way. for example: slapshots in hockey, or making contact in baseball. in those two examples, my past injuries to my arm tendons demand that I use a form of rubberized dampening. that's fine, but in table tennis, I _need_ to feel what's happening.
so again, this blade isn't for everybody. the main complaint most people would have is the lack of speed. let me just tell you: it doesn't lack speed. if your strokes are good, and you catch it clean, you'll be rewarded with more than enough speed. in my case, being quite tall and strong, especially for a TT player, generating "enough" power has NEVER been an issue. the problem was in my thinking that I needed the blade/rubber to do it. sure, there's something to be said for it (and there's really only so much you can do with very very slow defender/chopping rubber) but believe me when I say I bought into it a little too heavily.
to say a blade lacks speed, is to say that your tires move your car. your tires don't move your car, the engine does. to completely ignore the tires would be a mistake, but let's all get it straight, you're always going to get the speed you need if your strokes are good. relying on the latest this and that won't make up for the most serious flaws in your play. (unless you're really short and small as an adult. if you are, and you play an attacking game, then go for it.)
now, coming from very very fast carbon blades, or even that crap the manufacturers call "Off-", this blade is very different. your favorite rubber that you used on those blades probably won't work very well here. the first thing I did was slap on one of those aforementioned favorite rubber, a very very soft attacking rubber. now, I'll preface this by saying that I've discovered that I benefit by playing with a much faster, softer and higher arc rubber on the BH, and to speak ill of my fondly-remembered Neos Sound would be heresy...but I wouldn't play with it. at least not on the forehand, heck no. feels like bad mashed potatoes. it's mushy and...well, vague, would be the right term for it. personally though, I don't think it'll be a problem because BH short game isn't at all a weakness for me, and the mushy feel disappears SO fast if hit hard (but you could say that about almost anything).
generally though, do avoid soft rubbers with this.
FH-wise, you have a choice to make. do you go with what you used to love? heck no. try something awesome like a Mark V. in fact, I'd recommend it. sure you could use a brand spanking new Tenergy, or a 4G Tensor, but that's not the point. the Mark V will do EVERYTHING you _NEED_. it will punish you for bad strokes, and reward you immensely for perfect ones. so will the blade. so yes, it benefits from a stiffer sponge, where a Mark V/Sriver would be a medium to medium-hard. maybe something like a Globe 999 or an H2/H3, F1-HS or Coppa Gold variant.
if you're already here, and don't agree with me...well, I applaud you. it probably means that you depend on your equipment to save your ass, and boost your score. it shouldn't be that way. the argument used against paying extravagant prices for a Tenergy can be used here. you can pay 50% less for 98% percent of the performance, and more than make up the 2% with good technique. sure you can have all sorts of wizardry in the blade and rubber, but does that truly make you a better player? probably not. the reason that "pros" (top 100 world-ranked players) would switch equipment, is very simple: they can take full advantage of it. at your local club, if you take away the best players' equipment, they'll probably still be quite good. if I were to take away your racquet, would you be as good?
the point here is: this blade isn't for everybody. my review won't be for everybody. that's okay. my needs as player are different from yours. if you agree with me, you're probably already on board, and I'm late to the party. if you don't, well, that's for you to decide. this blade is a work of art, made for a very select group of neurotic players. it's not for everybody, but for me...I might just like it.
true to my word, I put a rubber grip over the handle, one of those $1-2 things from your local club or anywhere online. it works very well for my purposes as my palms get very sweaty (gross, I know) and the hinoki handles don't absorb any moisture at all.
with a mark v on the forehand, I've been improving in leaps and bounds. I've never lacked for power, and the mark v gives me more than the required spin and rewards every good stroke. the medium-hard sponge and soft blade make a devastating combination and translate every touch superbly. the linearity of speed (unlike a 2g/3g tensor) is exactly what I wanted. sometimes, you just can't beat the classics.
I went searching for a different backhand rubber and eventually came back to my Neos Sound ST because, whilst it didn't offer anything new to me, it gave me what I was looking for: the "goldilocks" combination of speed, spin and touch for this blade on my backhand.
it uniquely suits all-rounders very well. the touch is unmatched, except maybe by a thicker hinoki blade. you have to dig for it, but the power is there, and more, almost like working with an H2 on the forehand.
the sweet spot is very very sweet. catching it absolutely flush will surprise anybody watching, and will probably terrify you, and probably your opponent. it doesn't have the even nature of a carbon blade on the edges, but it's not supposed to.
if you're technically sound, it will reward you every time, beyond belief. it WON'T cover any weaknessess, and will probably expose them, but how else are you supposed to improve?
every time I play with it, it give me this small smile inside and sneaking suspicion that maybe the old Japanese masters knew what they were doing.
nymose on 11/18/2013
This is the exact blade I was looking for. Light, medium-stiff, soft, lower end offensive, good control and lying good in the hand. The handle would've been perfect for me if it was 1 mm wider and 1 mm thinner. The lenght is little longer than avalox and little shorter than Stiga.
It's not too stiff. Just stiff enough for what I need.
Overall I think it's somewhere between Avalox BT555 and Stiga Clipper. But lighter than both of them. It's exactly what I was looking for
Besides for the minor handle preference, it's the perfect blade for me.
BUT I will use BT555 until my basics gets good. My biggest problem is standing in the right position, the right place at the right moment. Which also means that my looping sucks. Turns more into hitting. And my blade angle is too often too open when flipping and smashing Because of the wrong standing (most of the time). So the best thing for me is having a workhorse right now.
5 ply all-wood blade with cheap chinese euro/jap-style rubbers.
drv1971 on 10/1/2013
The 7p2a is a 7ply ALL hinoki blade. It's rated at OFF, but i find it on the lower level of OFF and maybe even OFF-. Its weight is 75g, so it is one of the lightest non balsa blade around. The hinoki plies give it a very good feeling when striking the ball. My favorite aspect about this blade is its control, it has very good touch for the short game, it never gets out of hand while playing aggressively, and blocks are VERY. Highly recommended.
cogito on 4/24/2013
This blade has the same overall feeling than the 7p-2a.df only at a faster speed. Finally I am playing the blade with a Tibhar 5Q/1.7mm on the forehand and a Neubauer Desperado/0.5mm braking sponge Toni Hold. The control is superb and there is a lot of spin generation with both rubbers.