My BLX2 Blade experiment

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by klementine, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    Just wanted to share my experiment with the new, 18x20, BLX Blade. Originally, it was purchased for my wife, she ended up sticking to her old racquet, so I kept this one for myself.

    I played it stock for 2 weeks or so. Liked it. But I'm used to heavier, more head-light sticks, so I ended up making some modifications. I own various racquets, of different weights, light ones, heavy ones, etc.

    First of all, the hoop is stable, and there seems to be a fair amount of weight up there. This particular frame came in at 295gr unstrung (9 grams below spec) and even-balanced (strung).

    Anyone who's messed around with injecting silicone into the handle of a racquet knows that it can get messy. You don't know how much you're getting in there and have to constantly weigh the frame and try to get an even amount in each chamber. Not to mention the time it takes to dry.

    So I grabbed my fly-fishing tackle box, laid down some saran wrap and made little silicone molds.

    [​IMG]

    Each dried cube weighs ~5 grams and takes about 3 days to fully dry. I emptied out the Blades' chamber from the 'wilson foam', about 7 inches high in the handle and removed the buttcap and staples. I quickly found out that the cubes would be difficult to jam in there, so I cut them in half and shoved a cotton ball inside each chamber, as a block.

    Using a dab of silicone on each cube, as an adhesive, I proceeded to slowly insert them into the chambers. 10 minutes later, I was done and had successfully filled the handle with dried silicone and used a bit of silicone at the end to fill the handle up and make it uniform. Took around 2 hours to fully dry.... and stopped smelling as well.

    I had ended up adding 35 grams of silicone into the handle. The Blade was now 330 grams unstrung, 346 strung with a balance of 8pts. HL strung and a swing-weight of 338 (strung). Pretty much 6.1 95 specs.

    The racquet came around much quicker and felt considerably more pliable and softer, much softer. Flex felt ~60ra. So I ended up adding a Wilson leather grip.

    [​IMG]

    After the leather grip was wrapped (+8 grams total), I also added 1 gram of lead at 12 (for balancing purposes). The racquet has reached 355 grams strung (339gr usntrung) and 10 pts HL. The 6.1 tour 90 specs. Except the swing weight is now estimated (tw-method) to be ~345.

    It plays stiffer (feels ~62ra) with the leather and 1 gram at 12o'clock. I'm liking it a lot, still comes around quick and packs a 'wallop'. I'm not missing anything from heavier frames, like the 6.1 tour, it definitely has more punch than the 90 and is WAY more forgiving.

    [​IMG]

    Best thing, the modifications are completely reversible, in case I change my mind. Anyone who has scooped not fully dried silicone from a racquet's handle can appreciate this method. Other substances can be used, but in my experience, nothing dampens quite like silicone and provides such a soft feel.

    Will keep playing with it and see if it's a keeper.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
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  2. Pure Babs

    Pure Babs Rookie

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    This is really interesting. I'm really liking the new blade, (18x20), but like you mentioned it does feel a little heavy in the hoop. I'm thinking with some mods like you made, I can really make this stick my holy grail.
     
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  3. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    You can add as much weight as you want. Knowing that each cube weighs ~5 grams, just lay them out on top of the handle before anything, to see how far up you need to remove the foam in the handle and approximate your weight and balance.

    I might remove some weight, definitely won't add any more. But, since I don't like the polarized feel, the more the weight is distributed further into the handle, the better.

    I've played around ~2 hours with this set-up and it is uber-comfy. I've gotten positive remarks on the feel of the frame from others, the balance and weight. It does not come around like a 12.6oz racquet and the swing weight is more than manageable at this balance.
     
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  4. Doubles

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    Nice mod. That's a low of weight to add just to the handle. Does it effect the sweet spot that much?
     
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  5. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    It does not lower it or raise it, if that's what you're asking? It does make the entire racquet more solid feeling and softer. So I guess the sweetspot feels more soft and solid.

    The stock blade seems to have quite a bit of weight at 10&2 (from my estimation) and considering this one was even balanced, I added enough to bring it to 8pts. HL. I, personally, would not add this much weight to the handle of a more HL racquet.

    EDIT: Now that I think about it, and recollect, on how the racquet played before the mods, the sweet spot seems/feels bigger. It was pretty high, on the string-bed, stock and now it seems to have moved ever so slightly south, in essence enlarging the center.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
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  6. realplayer

    realplayer Semi-Pro

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    And how would this racket compare to the blx 6.1 18 x 20 in terms of power and control?
    This might convince me to purchase the blade.
     
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  7. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    ^Well, power and control huh?

    Seems like a contradiction but I get what you're saying. ;)

    The 6.1-95, 18x20, for some reason (especially the new one) swings club-like. As in, the balance is off for me. Older versions, in particular the n-code series, fair better in this category.

    The 6.1-95 is a strange brew of power (when you're on) and not enough depth (when you're off). It's characteristics don't suit my game, ie- tough on scrambling shots and a defensive type of game.

    The Blade (modded) is much more forgiving than the 6.1 95. It has longer mains and is more open, in terms of string-pattern density, thus I get more clearance and spin potential, yet still have a control oriented, 18x20 frame.

    Beware, these exact mods on the blade make it feel very old-school and classic. It's plush, soft, very head-light and has a high swing weight and static weight. Not for everyone.

    I might settle on a different set-up (less weight) in the end but right now am enjoying the feel and play as is, especially on serve.
     
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  8. realplayer

    realplayer Semi-Pro

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    Used a pro staff classic 18x20 and liked it in terms of power and control. It sounds like a contradiction but too much power and you lose control and not enough power and you lose control as well.
    The modded blade has the perfect specs and would suit me if it is close to the pro staff classic besides that you have the advantage to change the specs.
     
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  9. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    Never swung the pro-staff classic but spec-wise, you could get the blade there.

    I made these mods because I wanted to use those smooth, relaxed strokes, as I do with my heavier sticks, yet keep the forgiving feel of the Blade + get it more head-light, thus all the weight (-1gram) is in the handle.

    Not saying you can't use smooth, relaxed strokes with the blade stock but the balance and weight weren't what I was used to.
     
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  10. iowaviking11

    iowaviking11 Rookie

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    so all you did is put the silicone in after it dried? and before you put it in the handle, you added a small amount of silicone so it would stick to the inside of the handle? Just wondering as it sounds much easier than adding silicone directly into handle!
    Thanks
     
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  11. Doubles

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    That makes sense. Sounds like it hits nicely.
     
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  12. Sundan

    Sundan Rookie

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    Have you played more with this stick ? Would love to read how it goes.

    I bought the 93 version.but i am actually considering to change to the 98,its just the HH that stops me,i really like a bit headlight frames better,just for volleys and manouverability(spelling?).

    I will order some lead this week and experiment on an old racquet just to see how it changes,and get some exprience in general. ( Have never removed standard grips or anything before:) )
     
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  13. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    ^Unfortunately, no. Will do so this Tuesday/Thursday.

    Pretty much, yeah. A nice, quick explanation of my 'rant'. ;) And it is much easier, in all aspects.
     
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  14. Sundan

    Sundan Rookie

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    So,any update ? :)
     
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  15. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I am going to mod one of my BLX 98s as I want to find the heaviest SW I can handle.

    From 2 pts HL, 329 grams , SW 331 - I am going to add 4 grams of lead at the top from 11 to 1 and 8 grams in the grip.
     
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  16. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    ^It will stiffen the feel up for sure. The blades are great for modding. Any spec you want, as long as you don't mind a high swingweight. :razz: Should play nicely PP. Let us know your thoughts in the usual thread. Or here.


    At work, so I'll have to make it quick and leave more detail in the evening. Played last night, fast indoor courts. Doubles. Freshly strung with vanquish/4g, 60/55. Thank Tod it's the last of the vanquish, **** sucks!

    Great set-up (339 unstrung) for receiving pace/heavy shots. Against no-pace, had to be extra-careful, was sailing on me every now and then. Powerful.

    Likes- Volleys, Serves, Slice (heavenly) and the 2hdr.

    Dislikes- Forehand. Really, the stock blade has the perfect balance of swing weight to static weight ratio stock, for me, the forehand feels much more 'whippy' and versatile, ie-reverse forehand, forehand slice and all the grips in between a full to semi-western, continental, etc... Every other shot deserves the extra weight. But really prefer the stock blade on the forehand side.
     
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  17. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yep, I am going for the high SW. That is the next level, as the Blade is excellent stock for me, but I feel like I can handle a higher SW.
     
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  18. Sundan

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    I almost posted a full A4 sized post here,but ill shorten it up ;

    1;Does the silicone really soften the feel if you compare to a stock ?
    I would like a RA at perhaps 62,my 93 is 67 and its board like,2 points down to 65 as 98 has stock might not be enough.

    2;Does the racquet really feel easier to manouver when you changed the balance,despite adding alot of weight ?
    In my case i would just add a overgrip and perhaps ~12 grams of silicone,desired balance would be ~6-9 pts HL. It felt stable enough in stock and had bombs for serves so i dont feel the need for more weight in the head.

    That would keep the SW at 330,and the static below 340 grams,my 93 weighs 347 according to my scale so it would be the same or lighter.

    What im most worried about is the stiffness,i need to be careful for a while so i heal up,so id really like a objective opinion about the stiffness feel after silicone.

    Thanks for your time and effort !
     
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  19. sam_p

    sam_p Professional

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    Stiff?

    I don't find the 93 to play stiffly at all, although I know the stiffness rating is a bit up there. I was coming from the Yonex 89T which gave me some arm and shoulder pain and tried the Blade after reading the TW reviews. No looking back so far after about 1 month, arm feels great (I played 8 times last week!).

    It may be due to my string set up and tension? Because of my recent arm pain, I started out with gut mains at 55 and savage crosses at 52 and it feels quite comfortable to me.

    I am planning on adding leather grips to make it a little more HL but otherwise I love these things (have 2).
     
    #19
  20. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    Hi klem; would be interesting to compare your modded stick with the stock Blade93; have you had a chance to play with the latter?
     
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  21. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    I did own/play with the kblade tour, completely different beast from the current offering and just a fabulous racquet.

    The modded 98 plays like a modded racquet, if you know what I mean, not as sweetly balanced as a stock stick.

    I'd say it plays closer, in terms of feel to the current 6.1 offerings.

    Should have been asleep an hour ago but this semifinal is just getting good. Sloaning anyone?
     
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  22. realplayer

    realplayer Semi-Pro

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    You mean the Kblade tour plays more like the 6.1 offerings?
     
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  23. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    ^this modded blade98 plays closer to the 6.1s. The kblade tour was in its own category, probably due to the nice throat flex and beam width.

    Gonna remove the leather for a syn.grip and add some weight at 3&9, see which I like better.
     
    #23
  24. Sundan

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    I didnt think it was stiff coming from Vcore 100s,but in comparison to the 104 its like a board.
     
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  25. ntinos1972

    ntinos1972 New User

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    I play with the kblade tour for three years and i am thinking to try the new blade 98 16/19 because i want to go to a lower static weight and open string pattern.i will put a leather rip and about 5 gr of lead in the handle.what is your opinion?is the l3 grip size the same as the kblade or thicker as some people say?
     
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  26. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I have my Blade leaded the same weight as Klem now. It is 353, and will be 355 when I change the lead placement. Balance is 4 pts hl.

    Currently, I have 2 8 inch strips at 12 and 15 grams in the handle. The way I did that was by putting a 4 inch strip of lead on every bevel, screwing 2 woodscrews into the foam inside the buttcap, and putting a nickle under the buttcap.

    the 4 grams at 12 cranked up the SW to around 343 or so. I believe this stick twists too much since it is polarized already in stock form. So I am going to put 6 inch strips at 3 and 9 instead. That's 6 grams and should be the same SW.

    I think it should maybe balance the stick a little more HL..just a guess since the weight will not be in the tip. I could be wrong there.

    I will say when you lead up one of these racquets - I could hand it to anyone and tell them it was a pro's stick I got and they would believe me. It just feels and hits so solid that it is unreal. No vibrations at all and the feel is perfect.

    Leading it up like this basically turns the stick into a modern Prestige MP. The feel just gets much more solid and the plow is great. If I can continue to wield the racquet at this weight, then I think it could be even better than stock and a setup that a lot of stronger players would like.
     
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  27. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Update. I am finding that I still prefer the Blade rather close to stock. What I notice is when you crank up the SW to 345, the racquet plays rather well, but the power level is higher than I prefer.

    For my game, I believe this racquet will play well with just a little lead.

    What I do is put 2 grams in the handle by screwing 2 1 gram screws into the foam.

    I then put 2 grams of lead at 12 and thats it.

    Going to spend time with this setup and make sure it is good. From there, if I order a new Blade down the road, I can use TW's racquet match service and just get 2 sticks specced close to how I want with no mods needed.

    Basically the stick seems to really play well at 335/335.
     
    #27
  28. realplayer

    realplayer Semi-Pro

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    Maybe coincidence but I came to exact the same set-up after experimenting with the Blade.
    Never had a racket that felt so solid with only 335 grams of weight and only two grams at the end of the handle. It really feels headlight now.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
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  29. neverstopplaying

    neverstopplaying Professional

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    I feel like Gilligan because I agree with both perspectives (yes skipper and professor).

    If I was younger I would probably bring my Blade up to my traditional 350-360 gm., but I'm not and nothing I can do about it.

    I'm enjoying a lighter stock Blade with lots of plow that can keep swinging for 2 hours of competitive 4.5-5.0 singles. Now if someone has some tricks to keeps my legs going....
     
    #29
  30. NogaroS4

    NogaroS4 New User

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    I didn't think much of modding the 18x20 until I saw this thread. I've only played with it on 2 occasions for 2hrs each. At stock it feels light as I was coming from a Organix 10 325. I was just thinking of adding some lead and putting a leather grip over it. Is that ok or better to stick them inside the handle?
     
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  31. realplayer

    realplayer Semi-Pro

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    I use a leather grip of 26 grams plus overgrip and it worked for me so I would go with the leather grip.
     
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  32. NogaroS4

    NogaroS4 New User

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    I didn't add any lead just a TW leather grip I bought a few years ago and an overgrip. I could kinda tell the difference in how I was hitting. My opponent told me the ball felt heavier today than last week when I played him. Ball was coming faster with more spin.
     
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  33. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    Just got the modded Blade spec'd out on an rdc (2 days ago), swing weight is/was 358. :shock:

    That's with the nearly 40gr in the handle, a leather grip and just a gram at 12.

    Looks like my TW-method numbers were off by a large margin. It didn't feel that high during play but considering that the stock 98 was pushing 330sw, it's completely foreseeable.

    Removed all the silicone, took about 10 minutes, added some 'great stuff' foam in there, trimmed it, kept the leather and gram at 12.

    Back to what the stick should be. Less powerful but more consistent and less erratic, more user-friendly.

    But this was less about how the blade98 plays at this weight and more about showing an easier way to add silicone to a racquet.

    It literally took 10 minutes to remove all the silicone and anyone who's tried to remove wet-injected silicone from a handle chamber knows that it is a PITA and even after 3-4 months, still not fully dried.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
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  34. realplayer

    realplayer Semi-Pro

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    But with the removal of the injected silicone the high swingweight won't change.
    Maybe I should measure the swingweight of my blades.
     
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  35. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    ^I'll get them spec'd out again but it swings faster, easier. Definitely feels more in-line with a 330sh sw.

    Remember, any weight added to the stick will add to the swing weight. Weight added to the hoop will have effect swing weight more than when it's added to the handle.

    I had roughly 40gr in the handle and the majority of the weight was above the point where the rdc machine clasps the handle, which is about the last inch of the handle.
     
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  36. realplayer

    realplayer Semi-Pro

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    Assuming that you would remove 40 grams from the top of the handle(around 20 cm) than you would get a difference of 4 pts(from 334 to 330) according to the learning center of TW.
    Now I have done the same thing as you and it most definitely swings much easier but it doesn't translate that into a significant lower swingweight.
     
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  37. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    ^Really?, I was punching in the numbers just now on the automatic tw customizing and it said to add roughly 30gr at that position and a little on the hoop to get a 25pt jump in swing weight but retain an 8pt balance.

    Interesting. I gotta believe that the leather grip I had added 3-4gr in that area as well. So maybe, at best, I had around 10-12gr in that general area, of 20cm up on the handle.

    Only thing that would explain these numbers is if my stock blade has a swing weight ~335, which is completely possible.

    Again, should go and get it measured.
     
    #37
  38. realplayer

    realplayer Semi-Pro

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    I wonder how you got to a swingweight of 358. Even with 1 gram at 12 o'clock which adds 3 pts or heavier strings the swingweight is very high.
    Did you use headguard tape?
    Maybe the machine is not accurate???
     
    #38
  39. stronzzi70

    stronzzi70 Professional

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    could you tell me about your taylor scale , which model it is?
     
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  40. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    ^I have no idea. All I know is they came out with a sleeker, newer model. Can't find that particular model anywhere I know of.


    It was either not measured properly, ie- an average of 3 or 4 swings was not attained or I miscalculated the original swing weight using the tw method. Probably both.
     
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  41. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    klem and PP,

    What are your views on raising the balance a bit on the open pattern black blade? Just wondering, as I think I'm finding the extreme balance (for me) a bit hard to adjust to, if I should stay with it, or alter it to more familiar less even balance? BTW don't feel need to add lead/weight for any other purpose. Frame feels plenty hefty and solid enough and big-hitting for me.
     
    #41
  42. klementine

    klementine Hall of Fame

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    ^Didn't even see this.

    Over the past 3 months or so, I have experimented with all kinds of mods to this BLX2 Blade ( 18x20 ). Weights in all different places and variances. From the 340gr unstrung to a leather grip only and everything in between.

    Had a great hitting session yesterday with my latest mod, which has evolved over time. Here are some mental notes that I've kept, and remember this is all personal preference.

    -I don't like any extra weight in the tail area, the weight has to start 3+ inches into the handle. Feels too sluggish with any weight in this area, the extra grams have to be 'in front of me' so to speak.

    -I do not enjoy any lead at 12, directly. 3&9, again, not 'in front of me', if that makes any sense. 10&2 is the best I've experienced. A nice blend of everything.

    -I prefer leather on this blade, as it feels particularly pliable, more so than the previous iteration and definitely more so than the kfactor.

    My final specs (I believe) are as follows. 334gr unstrung, with the leather grip (+8gr), 6grams at 10 & 2 and ~25gr of silicone in between the 7inch mark and 3inch mark of the handle.
     
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