USATT Equipment Review - Butterfly SK7 Korbel

By Matt Hetherington | June 27, 2017, 2 p.m. (ET)

 

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This week my review is of the Butterfly Korbel SK7 table tennis blade, one of Butterfly premier all-wood offensive blades. I was fortunate enough to be in Ostrava training with Petr Korbel at the time and so arranged to do the video review with the man himself. Again as always a big thank you to our partners from Butterfly, Paddle Palace, Zeropong and Joola for coming on board for our new series of video reviews!

Equipment Tested: 

Blade: Butterfly SK7 Korbel
Forehand Rubber: Butterfly Tenergy 05
Backhand Rubber: Butterfly Tenergy 64

Blade Specs:

Classification: OFF
Composition: 7-ply all-wood
Weight: 90 grams (avg)

Supplier Statement:

The Korbel SK7 is an attacking blade that offers a relatively soft and controlled feeling even at high speed. It is an all-wood 7 ply blade - heavy, but the weight is concentrated in the handle, well balanced.

Initial Impressions: 

My first impressions of the blade was that it was very easy to handle, great control and consistency and immediately noticed the softer feeling and ability to handle oncoming strokes with ease. My first thought was to see how it compared to the Korbel Classic, I felt the foundations of that blade (outstanding control and all-round play) had been expanded on with some extra speed and versatility for attacking strokes.

Base Strokes (Block and Counterdrive):

This blade was incredibly consistent in testing for both driving and blocking strokes. I found I was quite comfortably able to deal with the heavy amount of spin on Korbel's forehand loop when blocking with this setup. I think the 64 on the backhand combined well with it in order to maintain a very high level of backhand control for me. I was also able to vary my block and successfully take a lot of pace off the incoming ball as well. 

Topspin Against Underspin: 

I felt this blade was really well geared to making a heavy spin opening ball. It had a very smooth feeling in all topspin situations and allowed me to make my strokes very fluid. I felt the acceleration into the ball was much more spin oriented. It was a little more difficult to make strong or powerful balls against backspin as the wood is a bit softer and of course it lacks the offensive bite that a carbon blade would offer. In saying that, I made a high number of consistent and high quality openings and was able to move to follow up on them.

Topspin Against Topspin (Counterloop and Against Block): 

This was probably the greatest strength of the blade, playing topspin against block or counter against topspin. I had a great control ration and was very successful in maintaining offensive strokes at a 70-80% power margin. This I felt was the most effective threshold for the blade. As a player who likes to play with heavy spin and make a lot of redirected and angle plays, this blade is definitely created with Korbel's game in mind. While against the easier ball it is fast enough to put the ball away, it is certainly most effectively geared to playing an accurate and high quality 70-80% topspin game within rallies and offers superb control when playing inside out or wide angles.

Serve and Return: 

The blade offered a reasonable level of spin on service and good control on receive. I of course had to test out the backhand banana flip, which Korbel is the pioneer of, I was able to generate a good level of safety in the shot and good spin. It was a little more difficult to generate more depth on the table and higher speed ratio, this required a faster acceleration of the wrist. I was able to control the short return very well and felt this was a strong area in serve return.

Weight (Distribution) and Vibration: 

This blade is a little on the heavier side and holds the balance of the weight in the handle, there are certain players who prefer this weight distribution. It is a little on the heavy side overall with an average weight of 90 grams, but due to the balance of the blade being closer to the handle it wasn't too much of an issue. There was very little vibration in the blade also, some players like more vibration feel in their strokes, some prefer less vibration, so here is some supplementary information for you all.

Strengths/Weaknesses and Recommendations: 

This blade I felt was a fast wood blade, a great step up with the foundations of the Korbel Classic maintained. Ample attacking ability with consistency and control kept at the forefront of the design. While it was a little on the heavy side, the blade was well balanced and offered a lot of versatility in play, the control across strokes was very high and allowed for a great level of consistency. 

This blade is not really for the all out attacker who goes for the big 100% shots, it is better geared to a more consistent offensive rallier with 70-80% attacking buffers and someone who prefers to take 3-4 balls to win a point rather than go for the winner straight off serve. It would be a little difficult for players who are used to carbon to switch to as, while it has good speed for a wood blade, it still doesn't offer the offensive edge that most carbon blades can offer. 

I felt this would be a great blade for players who are transitioning past their development stages into intermediate and more advanced competition and training or possibly for a player who wishes to transition to a faster carbon blade as an intermediary. 


Win a Signed Korbel SK7 Blade

Now I'm going to give you a chance to win this new blade (used only for the testing). It is in its original packaging and I had it signed by Petr Korbel himself. So how can you win it? It's really simple:

- Comment in the Facebook comment section below (must be ON this website page) to enter. You just have to tell us this:

How many plies of wood are there in a Butterfly SK7 Korbel Blade?

Comment your answer at the bottom of this page and go in the draw to win! Entries close at 12pm EST on Tuesday 4th July, winner will be drawn and announced soon after!

Congratulations to Zaw Thwe! After allocating a number to each entry (removing duplicate entries) in order of entry, we used a random number generator and Zaw was drawn as the winner. Well done! Please send an email to matt.hetherington@usatt.org and we can arrange your prize!

A sincere thank you to everyone for entering and stay tuned there will be more reviews and more giveaways to come!