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BBC Large Handle "Hinoki Ghost" Review

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    Posted: 08/13/2021 at 12:11pm
Background:

Like many, I grew up playing ping pong for fun in my basement. However, after going to my local table tennis club for the first time in May 2019, I quickly realized there was a lot more to the game. For instance, I had no experience with underspin serves.

Luckily, the players at the club were great in welcoming me and helping me out. In particular, TwiddleDee (a member on this forum) and I became friends and he took me under his wing and helped coach me about mechanics and continues to guide me along my journey of learning this game.

After about 3 months of playing at the club once I week, I played in 2 tournaments and got an initial USATT rating of 1372. I had continued playing and was excited to play in some tournaments in summer 2020 to gauge how much I had improved, that is until covid hit and things shut down.

Right before covid, I decided to look into a custom-made blade with a larger handle. I am a 6ft 4-inch tall, former collegiate basketball player with good size hands. Even with my Stiga clipper classic legend flared handle (the larger of their 2 handles) that I was using, the handle stopped not even ¾ of the way down my palm, and would move around in my hand during a rally, especially when transitioning between forehand and backhand, and over the course of a longer volley, my pointer finger tended to compensate and move upwards onto the backhand rubber, which I was informed wasn’t ideal. I even tried to thicken up the handle with grip tape, which helped some, but still didn’t feel quite right.

After emailing with and talking to Blades by Charlie (BBC) on the phone (we are on opposite sides of the country), I ended up working with Charlie and he made me a Hinoki Ghost 5-ply blade with a straight handle based upon my hand measurements. The handle is roughly 112mm long and 1 1/8 thick. It weighs 94 grams. It was made on the heaver side as that is what I was used to. My Stiga clipper classic (7-ply blade) was 96 grams.

I received the blade in March 2020 and managed to use it once at the club before covid shutdowns started.  Ever since, I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to use it more in live play before writing up a review for it (Charlie mentioned he’d appreciate it if I’d be willing to share my impressions of the hinoki ghost for him), while still commenting on a few others post in the meantime who inquired about large hands/handles. Well, I’ve had the opportunity to start playing live again regularly at my club for the past few weeks and here are my impressions on the hinoki ghost…

Hinoki Ghost:

First thing first, the larger handle feels so much more comfortable! It rests more naturally in my hands and without gripping it too tight, I no longer have to make adjustments to my hand positioning (like my pointer finger creeping up on the rubber) when transiting between forehand and backhand strokes because the blade is sliding around in my palm.

As for the blade, when warming up with a forehand drive without too much power, my Stiga Clipper Classic has a little more linear ball flight compared to the Hinoki Ghost, which gives the Clipper an initial feeling of being a bit faster. This makes sense since the hinoki ghost is a 5-ply blade vs a 7-ply blade, and that the hinoki ghost has softer outer plies. That said, I’m definitely getting more spin with the Hinoki ghost, and when I start hitting the ball with more force it's like the blade finds another gear, the ball will arc up over the net and zip down hard and fast, to where the Hinoki Ghost feels like it manages to get closer in speed to the clipper classic when hitting with a fuller stroke. And because of the added spin, I feel like there is more control with the hinoki ghost.

And I’m guessing it’s because of the higher arc/dwell and the softer outer plies of the hinoki ghost, but I find looping heavy underspin balls on both my forehand and backhand easier, which is a skill I’ve been practicing with my robot.

Blocking seems fairly similar to the clipper classic. They both do that well.

As for rubbers, I had been using Donic Bluefire M2 rubbers on my Stiga Clipper Classic, so I have been using the same rubbers on the hinoki ghost (up until last week). With a little over 100 hours on my M2 rubbers (most of which had been robot play), I thought it would be worthwhile (and fun) to give a slightly harder rubber a try with this blade, considering the blade is slightly slower than my previous, and I am (hopefully anyways) continuing to improve 😊

I had been considering possibly trying one of a few different ESN rubbers to compare to my Bluefire M2: Bluefire M1, Tibhar MX-P, and was leaning towards Nittaku fastarc G-1. However, when discussing this with my friend/coach mentioned above, he is a fan of Tenergy rubbers and he had an extra sheet of Tenergy 05 that he wanted me to try as he thought it would be a good fit for me. So that’s what I did/am doing.

I used the Tenergy 05 last week for the first time and what probably won’t surprise anyone is that I immediately noticed an increase in speed to my Bluefire M2 rubbers. That said, even with the faster rubber, I still felt like I was able to control the ball as well. I’m guessing this at least in part has to do with the softer hinoki outer plies. And I also felt like I was producing more spin with this rubber as well as I felt like more of my opponents’ blocks went long off my side of the table in comparison to what I was used to with my Bluefire M2 rubbers.

Below is a link to a video I’ve made with some pictures of the blade along with some of my live practice over the past few weeks using both the Bluefire M2 rubbers and also the Tenergy 05 rubber. In the beginning of the video I’m practicing looping against varying levels of backspin with a hardbat defensive player, and then later hitting with some inverted players.

https://youtu.be/AcMvO0CvQfU

Hopefully this review helps others out that either have larger hands (or is the case with someone at my club with the opposite situation of having smaller hands) or are looking for a new all wood blade with a nice combination of feeling, spin and speed. I am very much enjoying my hinoki ghost blade and the few players that have hit with it have commented on how nice it feels and how much control it has.

Lastly, Charlie is very knowledgeable and was a pleasure to work with. I have a feeling at some point, I will be ordering another blade from him. But in the meantime, I’m happy with my hinoki ghost. 


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TwiddleDee View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TwiddleDee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/13/2021 at 2:25pm
The hardbat player in the Youtube link is the great Ralph Stadelman, who reintroduced me to Hock Hardbat play, for whom I am very grateful to. The Syracuse Table Tennis Club has 2 playing locations. Its a club that has members who donate their time and money to ensure that everyone is pleased with the time they spend there. Of the very many players that I have coached over the years, I was very fortunate to have met Brian, who picked up the game very quickly. I'm glad that he finally found a blade that is comfortable in his hand. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/13/2021 at 11:12pm
Thank you for an enjoyable review, I feel the bond with the blade there! Clap

I had a matching pair of hinoki ghost +-90g and they were awesome. it is so solid the hitting and blocking are fantastic, the softness in the looping is divine. There is no point going away from it once comfortable with that blade, I only did to finance more stuff to try and settled on something else eventually.

What is also awesome in the hinoki ghost is that even at 82 gr and not necessarily smaller shaped, they are still solid and precise. Those who like fast lighter 7-ply all wood should really try a 85gr ST hinoki ghost, it's one of the best bridge between the 5 and 7-ply dimension.

I recommend the reviews from forum member rocketman222 who helped Charlie in the promotion of the blade here and there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bmontana33 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/14/2021 at 10:10am
Originally posted by stiltt stiltt wrote:

Thank you for an enjoyable review, I feel the bond with the blade there! Clap

I had a matching pair of hinoki ghost +-90g and they were awesome. it is so solid the hitting and blocking are fantastic, the softness in the looping is divine. There is no point going away from it once comfortable with that blade, I only did to finance more stuff to try and settled on something else eventually.

What is also awesome in the hinoki ghost is that even at 82 gr and not necessarily smaller shaped, they are still solid and precise. Those who like fast lighter 7-ply all wood should really try a 85gr ST hinoki ghost, it's one of the best bridge between the 5 and 7-ply dimension.

I recommend the reviews from forum member rocketman222 who helped Charlie in the promotion of the blade here and there.

Thanks, stiltt! And I'd also recommend Rocketman222's reviews of Charlie's blades. I had read, watched, and enjoyed his reviews prior to reaching out to Charlie for the first time. Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Robin.w Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/15/2021 at 12:59pm
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