Darker Spline Defensive table tennis blades

Darker Spline P1, D1, D2 and D3 table tennis blades


Darker has just release (late 2012) a new series of defensive blades named Spline. Unlike almost every other Darker blade, these blades do not appear to contain Kiso Hinoki plies.

darker_spline_series_packetsIt seems these blades are different enough to justify a different colour box, as these boxes are red in stead of the usual blue ones. All 4 blades are made in Japan, and are J.T.T.A.A. approved.

The handles

The handle design is new from Darker. Although the shape and size is pretty standard, they’ve got some little inserts, to indicate the series “Spline”, and the type by the different colours P1, D1, D2 and D3. P1 and D1 have the same colour, as they are basically the same blade, but one in Cpen (p1) and the other in shakehand (D1). The usual Darker metal plate is still on the bottom, as well as the J.T.T.A.A. imprint. I think they look quite nice. Click on any of the pictures to zoom in.





Handle Options:

The following are all the handle options:

P1 – Cpen

D1 – ST

D2 – ST / FL

D3 – ST / FL

The quality / Finish

The overall quality and finish of the blade is very good, like the most other Darker blades (apart from the Speed 90 and Tanban, which I think are exceptional!). The only thing I noticed is a few tiny holes on the edges.

darker_blade_pitsI suspect this is related to the different materials used (compared to other Darker blades), not a sign of manufacturing quality. Some woods are much harder to work with than other, and invariable some little pits can appear no matter how good your finishing technique. It’s only quite minor and does not affect the performance in any way of course.

The plies

The P1, D1 and D2 all seems to have outer Willow plies, which is quite uncommon and usually only used in high-end defensive blades. You can see the unique grain of the Willow in D1 here:



Only the D3 has a different outer ply, looks like Limba:



All three of the P1, D1 and D2 consist of 5 roughly equal inner plies, quite different from the D3 which has a thick inner core and thinner outer plies. All the Spline blades are 5 ply.

I’m uncertain of the material used for the inner plies, so I won’t post my guess here. If some of you can help identify the inner plies, I’d love to hear it!

Dimensions and weight:

The blade thicknesses are summarised here:

P1, D1 ~5.5mm

D2 ~5.8mm

D3 ~6mm

Blade face dimension are:

P1 ~157 x 150mm (Cpen)

D1 ~166 x 155mm

D2 ~166 x 155mm

D3 ~166 x 155mm


All of the D1, D2 and D3 are in the low to mid-eighties gramms in weight, where as the P1 is a little lighter in the mid seventy gramms.


Speed, control and feel:

The P1 and D1 are clearly the slowest in the series, and are also the thinnest and with more feel and vibration. The D2 feels a little faster and stiffer than these, followed by the D3 which feel clearly fast and stiffer with less vibration. The willow does give the P1, D1 and D2 a real nice soft feel, which can potentially give you dwell time and more spin for your chops.

To put the speed of the Spline series into perspective, by comparing them with some of the more classic and better known defensive blades, the D1 is just slightly slower and with softer feel compared the Donic Defplay Classic and the TSP Yanagi alpha. The D2 feels a little faster than both of these. The D3 is clearly faster and stiffer, and this is more the in all-round catagory. The D3 is slightly faster in speed and stiffer than the Donic Waldner Allplay, so this is clearly in the ALL+ region, but still quite suitable for a modern defense style game.

For modern defenders it’s even viable to have blade up to the OFF range, as the attack of the defender needs to be effective as well. For the true the defender the slowest blade in the Spline range may be the most suitable, for the absolute maximum control and spin. For those that mix in more attack you could consider something a little faster. The choice of rubber can make a big difference too of course.


It’s great to see a new range of defensive blades added to the Darker range, as the 7P-2A.DF was the only one so far. The Spline series are no doubt quality blades, and with their rather unique construction (eg. Willow wood) they offer a unique feel and another good choice for defensive players. The D1 and P1 are clearly the slowest and the more pure defensive blades, whereas the D2 and D3 gives more in speed for the more modern defender that require more power from their blade.



NOTE: You can find the Darker Spline series of blade from the OOAK table tennis shop, the authorised Darker distributor.