Hammer Midnight Vibe Ball Review

“Good Vibes”
A medium to light condition go-to ball with a proven core from Hammer.

Midnight Vibe Pic
Drilling
Midnight Vibe Layout

Won’t spend much time on drilling as this will vary and coverstock accounts 75% of the reaction. As usual, I suggest to work with your local pro to find what best works for you.

First Impressions
A lot of people really like the blue and black swirl color, the name is apropos. It is a very attractive piece on the rack or return. First impression was that this ball gets very easy length and has the very recognizable backend move of the Vibe core. The ball seemed very clean all the way to the breakpoint, almost too clean out of box. After a couple of games, the touchiness settled down. I could tell right away that this can be a go-to ball when the lanes have a couple of games on them.

Price 9/10
This is an affordable ball. The Vibe series is no longer the entry level ball in Hammer’s lineup, with the Backlashes filling that spot. This is still a very inexpensive piece of performance equipment. The Vibe lineup has always been very versatile and this ball continues the trend.

Core
The specs are an RG of 2.51 and diff of .042. This is a Symmetrical core. It is a relatively early revving core and a medium differential. This is a hard working core. It is a relatively flippy core which can be tamed by the cover and the drilling. It is an hour-glass shape, but the overall cylindrical shape of the core creates a very recognizable ball motion across all Vibes. It likes to flip hard and gets into a roll pretty quickly. This core sets up nicely to the pocket.

Cover 8/10
The Midnight Vibe has a “weaker” cover, allowing it to be very clean through the heads. It will provide pretty easy length. It is likely usable on varying conditions from medium to light volumes. Ultimately, it’s best reaction will appear when the pattern is a little broken in. Once a couple of games are on a pair, this ball will work well. If you have lots of traffic, it may only take a game or so for this ball to come out. When it comes out, it can be used for quite some time. Like most covers these days, you can play with the surface to get the desired reaction. I think this cover works very well once it has some games on it. In other words, with a little less polish than it comes out of box, it is less sensitive to over/under.

Reaction 9.5/10
I am falling in love with the Vibe series. I think this is one of the best and most complete series of balls for a typical house shot ever made. I didn’t have Vibes very early when the series began, but I’ve thrown the Emerald and Cherry, in addition to this Midnight. The covers are complimentary and the overall shape of the reaction is very recognizable.
Much of this reaction is due to the core characteristics. Looking at the shape of the core, you would think there is a significant risk of it rolling out. Think about it. Envision a cylinder tumbling end over end. Once it reaches it preferred spin axis which will likely be the on it’s side, there is no more side to side dynamics. That will make it go into a roll. These cylindrical shapes can also transition from skid to hook to roll very quickly. In other words, the hook phase is pretty short. That may appear as a skid flip but that can be controlled by the cover and the drilling, as mentioned before. I just find the downlane motion one of the most predictable shapes and reactions I’ve seen from any ball/core.
What I also found is that set or roll really helps this ball carry well. It is rarely hooking while hitting the pins which is a good thing. You want the ball to be rolling at the pins for the proper deflection and carry.
I found this ball a little sensitive to the fresh shot in the out of box condition. If you take the surface down a little, it is much less sensitive. Right now, with the out of box surface, i.e., as the factory intended it, I think the best use is after some traffic has broken a pattern in a little. That will allow less sensitivity and a good amount of forgiveness.

Overall 8.5/10
This ball is a very good addition to the Hammer lineup. It compliments their other equipment for medium to drier lane conditions. It has a 10 hook rating on their scale. Although the Onyx Vibe has a 9 rating, I think the Midnight is a slightly weaker ball which has a longer and sharper hook shape than the smoother Onyx. I don’t believe the Onyx is as weak as they indicate. They’ve combined a cover that provides easy length with a very predictable core and it works very well. On drier conditions, this ball can hook a ton, while on medium conditions, it will cover less boards, but still have fantastic carry. The biggest strength is it’s core, no question. This core is a house shot monster. There is so much talk about balls being continuous through the pocket. Sometimes, this is construed as the ball still hooking in the pocket. This is not what you want! The ball needs to be rolling end over end when it hits the pocket. This allows the proper deflection for ideal carry. This core seems perfectly designed to ensure just that. This will be (or is already) one of the most popular cores of all time.

If you are looking for a medium to dry condition ball or have ever thrown a Vibe, this is a great ball. If you’ve never thrown a Vibe, here is one of your last chances to do so.
This is a very good second ball, when your fresh shot ball has lost its reaction or is simply too much ball.

Comments

  1. Richard McCusker says:

    Coach T: In regards to a THS, sounds like you’re more excited about the Midnight Vibe than you were with the Freeze back in Sept/2010. My impressions are: (1) the Freeze can handle fresh oil and the Vibe does not; (2) the Vibe’s performance is superior in medium to light conditions; and (3) given your appraisals of the cover stocks, the Vibe has more versatility.

    Assuming med-to-dry lane conditions and the same bowler, I would think the Vibe may therefore have a few advantages over the Freeze.

    How about giving us a direct comparison between the two on a THS, pointing out your opinions of advantages and disadvantages of each?

    • Hi Richard, Thanks for the question. I realize taking the reviews independently makes it a little difficult to get a sense for how they compare so let me give you some specific comparisons.
      As I mentioned, I hadn’t personally tried Hammer equipment until very recently. However, I simply love the motion of the Vibe core on a house shot. I feel like it sets up very well, in other words, it seems to have a knack for getting into a roll at the right time. Remember what I mentioned about a cylindrical shaped-core. The Freeze has a more light bulb like core.
      Looking at your impressions: for #1, you are correct. the Freeze can handle fresh oil better than the Vibe. You could probably take the Vibe cover down to 2000 and it will likely be able to handle fresh better. For fresh shots, polished equipment is rarely ideal. For #2, I will also say you are correct. The Freeze is honestly a little strong for light conditions whereas the Midnight Vibe thrives on it. For #3, I’m not prepared to say that the Vibe cover is more versatile. Both the Freeze and Midnight Vibe have a pearlized cover. I’ve never been a big fan of altering pearlized covers from factory until recently. I’ve played with many surface adjustments on the Freeze and you can turn it into a fresh oil ball by bringing the surface to 2000 and you can make it handle lighter volumes if you take it to 4000 and polish it. On a house shot, you can get most any ball to the pocket. It’s all going to be about carry in the end. I find the Vibe generates more effective entry angles on drier conditions than the Freeze where it is the opposite the fresher the shot is.
      Arguably, if I could only have one ball in my bag, I would pick the Freeze. So far, I consider it the more versatile ball because the cover is intrinsically stronger than the Midnight Vibe cover. Alas, my bag has several balls and thus I have balls I use for the fresh shot and balls I use when I need different angles to the pocket and when the shot breaks down. So I can pick balls that I think are ideal for me on the particular condition I bowl on and that compliment each other. The Midnight Vibe happens to be ideal for when the shot is broken down a bit.
      One other nuance is that I find the Freeze to be strong but doesn’t like too big of a swing. In other words, it carries more effectively when the volume of oil is a little higher because you can throw more direct. When the lanes dry up and you need to move in, it doesn’t seem to create the same entry angle. That’s mainly because the Freeze reads the midlane more than the Vibe. So because the Vibe is so clean through the fronts and mids, when the lane dries up, you can move in and swing it and it will generate plenty of entry angle to carry the corner pins.
      I hope that helps.

      • Richard McCusker says:

        Coach T: Yes, this helps. The reason for my curiosity is because where I bowl I see a few Freezes but no Vibes. This may just be a local thing, and maybe if I went somewhere else the opposite would be true. I do like the way the Vibe looks and, of course, I’d like to throw one. But right now I have a 2-Fast and a Vital Sign. I’m very happy with the Vital Sign, which boosted my scores immediately. For some reason I’m struggling a bit with the 2-Fast. Both balls have the exact same grip but different pin positions and cores (symmetrical/asymmetrical). The 2-Fast doesn’t like the first League game, but scores well (for me) when the lanes are a bit drier. On the other hand, I’m finding the Vital Sign will last through 3 games if I start making target adjustments after the first game.

        Maybe I’m looking for an excuse to buy that good looking Vibe when I should learning more about handling my 2-Fast.

        Thanks!

        • Hi Richard,
          I know how you feel. It’s always tempting to want the “latest and greatest”. I’ve also found the 2 Fast too touchy on a fresh shot so it’s not surprising. It’s polished and that finish rarely plays consistently on the fresh. The truth is that the Midnight Vibe Out of Box finish will be similarly sensitive. You might want to take the 2 Fast down to 4000 or even 2000 which will have it react more evenly and less sensitive to over/under. However, given that you are having a good reaction with the Vital Sign that’s lasting into the night, you may want to only take the 2Fast down to 4000. Otherwise, you may lose the ability to “ball down” from the Vital Sign when it’s too much. There’s no reason to force yourself to use a different ball.
          Good Luck!

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