Questions about the difference between the Sanwa compared to the "cheap stuff"

I have a blaze arcade stick sitting here, i got on ebay for £12, :slight_smile: its pretty decent, but the buttons aren’t tactile and the stick itself is so floppy and loose.

I’m close to upgrade to full Sanwa, and just had a few questions about the JLF, is it sturdier and stiffer and smoother? what is it that make its better than the cheaper sticks.

As a beginner I have to ask, are all sticks supposed to be loose? (for quicker movements?) I know the buttons will be a lot more responsive and snappy, but im just worried that the money im spending and the stick may not feel that different to my cheapo stick,

So really some details experiences of guys who have made a similar transition (I have never played on a real arcade cabinet either, and live in the middle of nowhere so couldn’t find one :()

Sorry if this topic sounds so simple, I swear I have tried searching for similar ones without much success.

This site will explain to you anything and everything about any component in an arcade stick.

The biggest difference between a real JLF and a knockoff is the components of the stick itself. The spring, actuator, and switches are all of a higher quality or material.

All my arcade sticks have Sanwa JLF’s in them. I have never touched the particular knock off you are talking about, but if it’s anything like the one in a Madcatz SE, you will definitely see a huge difference by upgrading to real sanwa.

How “floppy” or “snappy” sticks or buttons are are largely based on preference. Sanwa JLFs for example (possibly the most ubiquitous joystick) is definitely on the loose side. Sanwa buttons, likewise, are extremely sensitive and offer very little resistance. If you prefer stiffer buttons, try Seimitsus. If you prefer a stiffer stick, you can also try a seimitsu, or you can change the spring and/or microswitches in the JLF.

The most important difference in high quality parts and knockoff parts is:

  1. Reliability (if you press the button, the game will register it every time)
  2. Durability (the button will keep working after a hundred, a thousand, or a million presses)

from the sounds of it, it seems like £12 for a stick that will work pretty well for 6 months, is better than £80 for a stick that doesn’t FEEL close 7 times the price, even if it does last a lot longer.

im having second thoughts, i know its an odd question to ask, (in terms of the defference in feel). It just needs to be a substantial difference to justify spending so much on a gaming accessory,

i guess i need to get to an arcade next time im in a city and try out the official SF machines.

Sounds like you might be more accustomed to western-style arcade parts. Japanese pushbuttons rarely have tactile feedback, and the sticks are looser and are normally operated more with wrist movement than arm movement (sit-down cabs). If you’re looking for the western-style feel in a Sanwa upgrade, you won’t find it.

They are good parts though, once you adjust to the difference in feel.

So you want to compare your stick to a higher priced stick? Not just swap out the parts in it?

I checked out the ‘‘Blaze’’ Arcade stick on Ebay, and compared to a madcatz TE, or Hori VX, or Qanba Q4raf, the blaze stick looks like a dollar store toy.

Does it have a metal bottom plate or top control panel? And the buttons look like total garbage.They almost look like button plugs instead of actual buttons.

Aside from better quality Sanwa parts, a higher end stick will also have more weight and room for your hands than that little blaze stick. You’ll have more customization options, like the ease of changing the parts to seimitsu or whatever you like, changing the art, bezel, etc.

I can see a person who is new to arcade sticks having hard time justifying spending so much on a stick. But as with anything, you get what you pay for. I’ve had cheap sticks in the past (several PS2 pelican sticks.) And none of them ever made it past the 3 month mark. Something always went wrong, and there was no way to change the parts or anything like that. With these high end sticks, if your JLF stops registering a direction or a button stops working, it’s extremely easy to change. No need to go out and buy a whole new stick, instead you just buy the part you need.

Try to find someone with a higher end stick in your area and ask to check it out a little. Maybe that will help you decide.

I have both JLF sticks (tournament editions mostly) and the Blaze. Looks like you got a better deal then me. The Blaze is actually stiffer than the JLF. Not super stiff like a Happ, just a little bit. Doing some quick momentary rotations of the sticks, I can tell you that the Blaze doesn’t seem to move around quite as smoothly. I’m not sure if that’s the fault of the low grade components of the stick itself or the fault of the textured balltop. The Blaze joystick uses real microswitches, Precision branded if I recall correctly. Can’t really say much 'bout them myself other than that I like the Sanwa joystick better but my personal opinion is you probably won’t notice as huge of a difference as you’re looking for.

A JLF balltop is glossy, smooth and easily fits on Blaze’s stick. You just need to unscrew the bottom panel, put a screwdriver in the slot on the bottom of the Blaze, unscrew the old one and screw on a new one, being sure to tighten it with both your hand and a screwdriver.

Unfortunately the Blaze itself looks a bit difficult to modify as all of the electronics are soldered on as opposed to attached with modular harnesses and quick disconnects. I think I might attempt doing so with mine eventually but it’s going to be a bit of a hassle…

Yes it has a metal bottom plate but it’s a rather thin one, so it’s not really that weighty, very much a featherweight in fact. There are three largish circular holes on the inside though for lack of a better term, which I think you could stuff small weights into help remedy this.

Also the top panel is pretty much all plastic as you’d expect. The top label even covers a few holes in the main body. All of the plastic for the controls has a rather terrible porous texture to it, which is the part I like least 'bout this joystick.

It’s basically trying really really hard to imitate a real japanese arcade control panel very, very cheaply. Oh and it has rumble motors… Should’ve tested rumble before I took it apart 'cause I broke the ground wires for the joystick.

The smoothness of the Joystick is mostly determined by the Pivot. A sanwa JLF has very high quality pivot.

thanks for your posts.

i want to clarify, im not saying my blaze stick is brilliant, i know its nowhere near the best quality, that was never in question,

i was just hoping the sanwa upgrade would be a big difference and hopefully would be worth the money.

i appreciate all your opinions, any more are definitely welcome

right now i think i just need to play around with a sanwa stick before i can make a decision.

Grech - where about in the UK are you?

Finding out whether a Sanwa upgrade is ‘‘worth’’ it is really up to you. All these different parts are available for a reason and it’s cause different people like different feels their set up. Obviously, it’s much cheaper to just change out the parts in your existing stick to higher qualtiy parts. The problem with this Blaze stick, however, is that it seems to be extremely difficult to modify for a sanwa or any other part set up.

The purpose of purchasing a higher end stick is not just the parts, but the ease of modding, the better layout(as the blaze stick’s buttons seem to be pretty far spaced, and is an odd layout), and like i said, a bigger and heavier stick, which provides a better more stable playing platform for you.

I don’t expect your Blaze stick to last very long, but either way, it is a decent stick to start with. Also, the macro feature may make the Blaze stick not allowed at tournaments.

north wales, barmouth, beach town, has an arcade, but like most arcade in beach towns, its all gambling machines, they dont even have air hockey anymore. :wink:

right now im just playing online on pc, no local tourneys around here thats for sure. but im just really into it and simply wanted to inquire about the higher end sticks.

as i said i will try and find a machine somewhere next time im out fo town.

Well, if you’re ever heading over to Manchester, let me know - more than happy to let you have a go at mine :slight_smile:

Although, there is actually a proper (vanilla) SF4 cab in Manchester Central Arcade…

I wouldn’t worry too much about getting ahold of a JLF to try out given what Tonepoet said about it being looser. What I would recommend though is just take some time with the stick you have and see if you prefer a stick to a pad. Try out some moves that you find hard on a pad (keep practising) and see if it makes a difference. If you like the idea of getting something better after playing for a while then upgrade to a SE or TE. TE comes with all sanwa parts and an SE has knock-offs but you can swap them all out for sanwa or seimitsu parts.

I have never used the Blaze stick so maybe Tonepoet can say whether or not a spring mod is possible to make it a bit stiffer?

the issue of pad vs stick isn’t in question, im used to stick, im just wondering about the upgrade in general because i really love SF4 and plan to play it for a long time. so naturally watching tournament streams, seeing the pros using them, and seeing reviews, the sanwa setup intrigued to the point that i really want to try it.

also i think when i ask about a stiffer stick, and tactile buttons, i think i am simply ignorant to what would provide the best fighting game experience. i “feel” like a stiffer stick would be good, but maybe im wrong. maybe the snappy ultra responsive buttons and loose but higher quality stick will feel more accurate and more fun once i really get going with it.

so yeah, i thank everyone for the responses, i will probably look for a good value TE on ebay, if i can get a decent price, the risk is much more minimal than a custom stick mod as the resale value of the Madcatz sticks are very strong and consistent from what i can see. so if by chance i am not suitably impressed i can pretty much sell it for the same price i buy it.

and thanks so much of the offer Eben01, next time i go to see family in manchester ill give you a message. would be nice to meet up and play for a bit in the arcade if possible :slight_smile:

No worries! I’ve also just thought that there’s a Gamer-base in Manchester too, so you can even get to play on the TE’s (I have two) as well as the arcade - after all, most of the characters I play are only on Super/AE…

Long story short, you get what you paid for. You go for cheap parts, you get cheap feeling and functioning parts.

Keep in mind Japanese and American style parts feel different. Japanese parts are built for response and tactile feel. American parts are made mostly for Wooden Arcade Cabinets and built to take abuse from thousands of players, extra toughness but they sacrifice alot of the responsiveness Japanese parts are known for.

For a normal house hold user, even with regular daily play, the abuse a cabinet in an arcade will never occur at home. Depending on how well you keep care of your stick, your stick will last years, with the rare and occasional micro switch replacement maybe every few years (regardless if they are Japanese, American/European or Korean style parts).

For Japanese Joysticks that feel loose, you can always replace the spring with a stiffer spring. There are guides on SRK that goes over this.

As for going from Pad to Stick, its like re-learning to walk, or going from a tricycle to a bicycle. You got to practice, practice, practice.

Decided to do a lil’ disassembly and pictorial for you guys using my laptop’s webcam. It was rather tricky for me to get halfway decent angles. I had to flip my whole computer upside-down at one point and let me tell you, 17 inch Macbook Pros are heavy and hard to balance. If mine has a different color than yours Grechen, well that’s because they made them in two different flavors: Mine is “limited edition” black apparently.

First comes a profile shot so you guys can get a sense of the case’s height. A Namco PS1 Joystick and a Dualshock 2 are used for scaling purposes. You can see that the Blaze stick, on the left is just scarcely shorter than Namco’s case at its highest point. The Blaze stick is also flat across, while the Namco has a tapered down slant. While I’m thinking the slant might actually give the Namco an edge in utilizing the room to fit a stick, I think the Blaze might have a little more hight where the joystick is mounted to begin with. It’s hard to tell.

As for the width and button layout comparisons, here’s a picture of the joystick from the top down. As you can see, I had a bit more room to work with in this shot so I threw in my round one T.E. joystick as well. Sorry 'bout the tangled mess of cords. Oh, why is the Player 1 joystick missing? Well it wasn’t until just before I made this post that I found that little white piece on the player start button, which if you couldn’t tell is the spring cover. I mother invited somebody to stay over was rushed into ending my initial experimentations early and that’s the part of the joystick I couldn’t reassemble without it, so I had thrown everything into a plastic baggy. I had to retake this shot to fit in the PS2 controller so I thought I might as well throw it in there. Getting to the main point of this shot, you can see the T.E. is over half as wide, while the Namco stick is under that mark. Both sticks put together come rather too close to having one whole Blaze.

Here’s the bottom plate of the joystick, with most of the screws removed. It has four rubber feet that can’t really keep their grip on anything, probably due to their age. The dipped down holes are where the screws go in. Next to one of them is a sticker stamped Q.C. which I’m guessing stands for quality control. Interestingly enough, near the center there are two more holes in the bottom that seem to serve no purpose whatsoever. Using these, I guess perhaps a mounting board, like the one found on the Hori VLX could possibly be made for this panel. I’m not certain though, as I haven’t really looked into that much yet. It would certainly help the stability, by a fair amount.

This is how it looks once the bottom panel is removed. You can see the PCBs are arranged in a manner that almost mirror each other. You can also see that this case uses snap in buttons that’re annoyingly soldered directly upon the PCB. What you didn’t see is how the Player 2 joystick victoriously spilled the microswitchy guts of the Player 1 joystick and splayed them across the casing. I would’ve had to make this pictorial rated M for mature and everybody knows that the internet has to remain rated at least T for Teen at all times. That and the only way to play Mortal Kombat is on the S.N.E.S. :wink: Seriously though, I accidentally broke some wires not paying attention to how they were originally wrapped around the joystick housing the first time. Moving on, note that the mounting posts for the joysticks are rather long, while there appear to be additional mounting posts for absolutely no reason whatsoever. That shiny golden bit under the P2 joystick is part of a rumble motor. This joystick vibrates.

Seeing guts is perfectly acceptable for kids of all ages as part of a medical documentary though. Here we can take a look at the preparatory stages of a microswitch transplant surgery. Here you’ll notice how the microswitches pop out of their casing rather easily. They slide back in just as easily, it’s a somewhat tight fit but that’s what keeps them in place. I’m not prepared to actually do any real swapping yet but I’m working on that.

Here are some comparisons of a mostly disassembled consumer grade Blaze joystick next to a more industrial J.L.F. fully assembled, with the Blaze’s balltop on. Here you can see left to right the body of the joystick, being held up to size by the spring, the shaft, the actuator, the pivot, the E clip (on Sanwa’s dust cover) and the Blaze’s dust cover. The spring cover is omitted from this shot because, well, I didn’t know where it was when I took the picture. XD It’s noteworthy that the shaft is much shorter on Blaze’s joystick. (No, I don’t know all that by heart, I’m just looking at Lizardlick’s parts list.) There’s no silicone grease on the pivot of the joystick, which may in part account for the difference in smoothness. Here’s an overlay of the gates: Both are square gates but I think the Blaze has a farther throw. Well that might not be fully the right term, since I believe that’s supposed to also be a function of the shaft’s length if I’m recalling correctly, and that’s almost half as short as the JLF’s but I think you can see what I mean.

One last comparison shot here is meant to demonstrate two things as best I can under the current conditions, with that red glue having prevented me from removing the mounting plate to do anything better: The first is that the Omrons would appear to easily fit in the body of the original joystick if the PCB was removed, assuming they aren’t still too thick. The second is that without a mounting plate, the four screwholes for the original Blaze joystick mounts and the two farthest out screwholes on the top and bottom of the JLF’s body (left/right with the joystick as currently pictured) would appear to match up. One other thing I’m wondering is if the Sanwa S or the Seimitsu VF mounting plate would also match up. The holes seem to be in the right relative positions (center side as opposed to kitty-corners) but going by pictures only, I can’t really match up the measurements.

I’m debating whether I should just refurbish the smaller cheaper body to emulate a real stick as best as it possibly can or to modify the Blaze case to fit in a real arcade stick by cutting into plastic. Since the stick comes apart so easily, I’m assuming the former would be much, much easier and I could also never go back to stock configuration if I did the latter.

B.T.W, I’m aware there’d been one other mod project on this stick on these forums. There’s a thread referring to it here. However the link to the actual mod is broken, due to the forum upgrade I presume. I’m not sure how to hack the url to fix it so if somebody could help me out and show me what they’d done it’d be much appreciated.

I don’t know how stiff other springs are in comparison to this one so I can’t say if another japanese replacement spring would be any stiffer, nor did I get so far in the JLF disassembly as to compare their scale. I think I’ve just shown pretty well that the joystick part can be completely disassembled though so you could probably double them up, like in the Ultimate JLF mod if all else fails. If the secondary spring is too long it could probably be sniped down to size with wire cutters and made to match.

There’s a lot to be said about personal preference and there’s a lot to be said about budget, however there’s also a lot to be said about the design of one of your favorite games. If it makes any difference, if it’s for SF4 specifically, I’d say go with a Sanwa Denshi based stick with a vewlix layout since that’s what they used on the original SFIV cabinets in japan. The game was designed in part to be played with them. To show that most, here’s what the 20th anniversary certificate on the Round 1 T.E.'s box says, as closely as I can format it on a web forum:

This certificate or similar ones isn’t found on any of the other T.E.s, like the Marvel vs. Capcom ones I got some time later, so I’m disinclined to think it’s a blanket statement meant to attest for how a T.E. would perform on all games. Given that much it would seem that Capcom thinks it’s the way to play Street Fighter IV. Granted corporate opinion doesn’t necessarily guarantee customer satisfaction and nobody bats a perfect 1000, however they do have a certain air of authority to them that doesn’t quite match up to that of randomly picked fans.

I don’t think anybody was confused over that. Personally I just like to go in depth about anything I can, whenever possible. It’s worth saying that it’s a pretty good stick for what it is. With an M.S.R.P. of $50 and at one time going on clearance for as little as $15, it looks like a fairly respectable effort for a 2P setup. Probably one of the better budget sticks you could find. I think you’d have trouble finding an equivalent for a 1p setup at 12 quid considering it used real microswitches. Even Sega’s 6 button Power Stick for the Megadrive, solid as it felt, used contact membranes.

That was awesome sir. Great information, and well laid out too.

Great posts :slight_smile:

Anyway managed to nab a mint condition 1st round ps3 TE stick (don’t worry i have a VIA USB pci card so it will work on my PC :)) for £70 in delivery last night, should be arriving later today hopefully.

I feel very excited especially at that price. the guy had a high reserve and poor auction title and description so it didn’t do well. i had enquired about it earlier so he contacted me and asked if i was still willing to buy it for what i had originally offered when i first saw the auction.

I’m very happy with the price, and know that if the stick doesn’t impress me much, i will make all the money back reselling it (with a much better auction title and description) without worry.

will post hopefully in a few hours on my opinion on it :smiley: