I have a cheap kendama. By spending twenty or so bucks, will I actually see an improvement in play?
The weight/balance of a nicer kendama has a noticeably different feel in play. Also the finish of the tama can really improve certain tricks. Nothing if a substitute for practice though, if you practice enough with any kendama you’ll improve.
It will vary by how the balance is on your current one. Some I have owned have almost zero chance at lunars without keeping them moving as the ken was so out of balance for them. The surface on the tama has shown a noticeable effect for me too. I’ve been fond of the Sweets cushion on some although I wonder if they’re in the middle of an exit strategy since they haven’t really had stock for weeks.
The Catchy Street has an oversize base to help with light house etc. and the tama has a nice tack.
I started with a hand me down, 3$ one. It was awful. Then I got a 20$ one, it was better. A 30$ one, about the same.
I then put together one from a hickory ken, and purple heart tama with silk string and bearing spinner. HOLY CRAP. that thing slays so hard its not even fair.
It wont give you better skills, but it will likely give you a better experience.