Pre-made (factory glued) bats versus DIY blade and rubbers
It's important to develop and improve your game with the right table tennis equipment. You need something with which you can develop the correct strokes, and that allows rapid development of your game when you put enough effort into it. It should not be 'the equipment' that holds back your progress.
Many beginners or those who've been playing for a while wish to upgrade to a decent bat with good rubbers. There are basically two choices; (1) buy a bat that's pre-made ie. a blade with the rubbers already glued to the bat OR (2) DIY ie. buy the blade and rubbers separately and you assemble it yourself.
Note: When I mention a pre-made bats I refer to proper bats with ITTF approved rubbers, not the cheap ones you get from the supermarket or many department stores.
The main advantage of the pre-made bats is that they're ready to go, and they generally work out cheaper. For the beginners this is usually a good choice, since you have not yet developed/discovered your own style, so choosing a blade and rubbers separately can be quite hard and overwhelming. However the rubber on the pre-made bats is not really meant to be changed, so if the rubber get damaged, or wears out, or you need to change to something very different, replacing the rubber is not always an option. This is because the glue used to attach the rubber to the blade in the factory is often a type of 'super glue', which is cheaper than proper table tennis glue, and provides a better and permanent bond. So the old rubber can be very hard to remove (but it can still be done with some solvents and some sanding). Proper table tennis glue is a type of 'vulcanising fluid' or 'rubber cement', which provides a good bond between the wood and rubber, but does not harden, so the rubber sheet can be removed from the blade at a later stage, without damaging either the rubber or the blade.
The main advantages/disadvantages of pre-made bats and buying them separately are summarised below. Note that there are some very high quality pre-made bats available, which don't really fit in any of the catagories below.
- usually cheaper.
- already assembled with a good finish and ready to go.
- you don't need to buy glue or edge tape
- you're not faced with too many decisions on option/choices that you cannot yet make.
- sometimes cheaper quality (but certainly not always)
- the blade is not characterised, so you don't know what type/style the blade is
- when the rubber is damaged or is worn out the bat is no longer useful as the rubbers are not easily removable and replaced
- the rubber is not always ITTF approved (especially on the cheaper bats) so it cannot be used in competition (some DO come with ITTF approved rubbers)
- more choice in type of rubbers and blade to suit your style
- blades are characterised and often of better quality
- as you develop your game (or change your style) you can change the rubbers
- when the rubbers wear out you can replace them as they are removable
- the rubbers can be 'speed glued'
- often more expensive
- can offer too many choices/options, a decision you cannot yet make
- you have to buy glue and edge tape separately and assemble the bat yourself
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