The TSP Blade with the
so-called “intelligent“ core. The heart of the patented TSP Balsa-Series is
the middle layer. The combination of the elastic fibreglass layers with the
vertical wooden fibres leads to a round and especially large hitting area (sweet
spot). The result is an extremely precise bounce of the ball, free of vibration
and an amazingly high rate of control.
This TSP blade is a very light (around
75g), fast (OFF+) blade with great control and a very soft feel.
Reviews (from internet/newsgroups):
Chapter 1: A few stats for you to
TSP Balsa 8.5 Top Speed, Straight handle, 5ply, Balsa core, 2xGlass Fibre,
2xWood outer ply (Don’t know the wood type)
Weight: 72.5g +/- 0.25g
Head size: 156x152mm
Overall Thickness: 9.7mm
Balsa core: 8.2mm
Handle length: 100.75mm
Handle width: 27.85mm
Handle thickness: 23.075mm
Chapter 2: First impressions
Very, VERY chunky. The handle is slim-ish though and smaller than Stiga Peter,
Butterfly Kong Ling Hui Special Straight handle, Andro Super Core Kinetic
Explorer Off- Straight handle. Very comfortable. The top right part of the
handle is lightly sanded (on both sides) for comfort, gives you a place to put
The balsa core is huge, gives me the impression that they cut a circumference
chunk out of a balsa tree trunk and trimmed it into a blade shape. I can’t
help but wonder where the 8.5 designation came from; mine’s a full 0.3mm
thinner if we’re talking about the balsa core, or a 1.2mm thicker overall. The
sides of the core are soft, very soft; I can dent it with my fingernail if I'm
not careful. The top ply is soft-ish too, not as soft as a KLHS but softer than
a HWL, Andro SC KE, etc. Bouncing a ball on the bare blade makes it feel soft
and slowish. No high pitched ping here.
The blade is light, almost stupidly light. Combined with my well used sheet of
Tango Extrem and Mark V (2.1 and 2.0mm respectively), the paddle comes to a
total weight of... 159g. Head size is normal, not overly large or compact (i
hate these!), a good size. Slightly smaller than standard butterfly blades. My
rubbers are overhanging, though not as much as when they were on an Andro SB
Chapter 3: Playing with the blade.
The lightness emphasises quicker arm movement and I find my forehand loops are
going on without putting much effort into the stroke. The ball's just rebounding
off the Tango Extrem though, so I'm getting decent speed with poor (compared to
what I'm used to) spin. I'm a bit confused; is this fat balsa blades feel like?
My coach pushes me to start looping harder so I grit my teeth and loop harder. A
bit of "hit it you skirt" self-name calling helps me along and I begin
to feel the ball dig into the tensor sponge that the spin starts to come back.
The difference is remarkable, I guess these are the “gears” of the blade.
The ball starts accelerating off the paddle at a blistering pace; this is
definitely not a blade I’d want to play passively with.
Backhand looping is another story for me; I don’t do it that often but when I
do it I really lay into it. The Mark V I stuck to the backhand has been my
backhand rubber of choice for a while now (at least until my Desto F1 and
Revolution Quad 450 arrive), I like the speed and spin I can get out of it.
Backhands with this rubber and blade combo really shoot off when I put effort
into it. More speed than spin though. Bugger. I can imagine that something a bit
softer might do the trick, so I flip over my blade (Noo! There’s no comfy
thumb rest on this side of the blade!) and have a go with the Tango Extrem.
There’s my spin!.
Tonight was a social doubles competition, so I bravely take this quick new
weapon into battle, clad in old, chipped rubbers. People stare at the fat blade.
Can’t say I blame them.
These games tonight were the perfect opportunity to test the blade in battle. We
won the toss and I took up the ball to serve first. Forehand pendulum serves
felt a bit awkward initially; the blade and rubbers are so thick it feels
slightly odd to grasp the head directly between thumb and forefinger. Not a
problem though. Pushing was the next test; I failed miserably. The thick balsa
core combined with the glass fibre layers dampened out extended reach feel, on
both forehand and backhand. Not to worry, as the night wore on, I grew used to
the different feel and touch. Blocking came next. I do not know whether it was
due to the extreme lightness of the blade or just the blade being more stable,
but blocking directional control was extraordinarily easy. I add a touch of
speed to one of the higher blocks, get the ball to dig into the rubber and the
ball returns well and disappears over the barrier and into the next court.
Excellent. Almost a hitter’s dream.
My coach had a hit with this blade, coincidentally he was using the exact same
rubbers (though different colours and in better condition!) than mine on a Joola
Kool. A perfect opportunity to compare these blades head to head. After a few
hits, he discovers the secret to this blade; lay into it a bit; and lets me in
on it. His Kool was faster, bigger, heavier, harder than my Balsa 8.5. Just wait
until my MC1 arrives…
Compared to my baseline blade (it's always good to have a baseline blade you can
fall back to), a Nittaku DHS HWL I use for normal play, this blade is far, far
ahead. I still prefer the touch of my all wood blade and the fact that I can hit
as hard as I want, but it can’t touch this Balsa 8.5 blade speedwise.
Similarly against the Clipper Wood WRB, Viscaria/KLHS/TBS, Kinetic Explorer, 729
Blue Thunder, even the Tube Carbo, this blade is faster.
Slow blade. Oh wait? Fast blade for the enthusiastic. Laziness & weak shots
do not bring out the best of this blade. Fragile, yes, very fragile. At the end
of the night I was pushing underspin to a beginner and lost concentration. Blade
bumped the edge of the table, right in the middle of the balsa core. Net result:
dent in the core. #&^@ @$%&@$ &%$%&% $##$&(* !@#^* #$^%&
More cursing continued…
Yep, minireview. 1018 words. I hope it entertained you as much as it did me when
I was writing it.
EDGE TAPE IS REQUIRED
Review by Silvalis (published with