Shootout: Theragun, TimTam, Percussive Massagers
article & images by Nick Salazar
Mar 26, 2019
Next up in my quest for a good percussive massager: the TimTam. Before testing, I thought this might be the Goldilocks of the group: not too cheap, not too expensive. Not too fancy, not too basic. I hoped it would be just right.
Compared to the homebrew unit, there's a lot to like. You only have to make one purchase, and it's not a lot more than you'd spend when going the DIY route. $200 gets you the unit, battery, charger, case, and one massage head. But that last bit bothers me a little. There's only ONE massage head. You can purchase a couple other options from the TimTam site, but they're essentially the same tip, either with heating or cooling elements inside. No different shape options, material options, firmness options, etc. You get a round ball that is fairly hard (like, baseball hard), and it's either room temperature or some other temperature.
The unit is also the same volume as the homebrew jigsaw. Meaning, it's loud. If you're watching TV, you'll want to pause while you use this guy. On the plus side, it's pretty compact, although it has a weird shank that juts off to one side, making it slightly awkward. It's also noticeably lighter compared to the jigsaw. The included case is handy for putting it away and keeping everything tidy. It also has a two-position head so you can use it in a couple different orientations. And that big drawback of the jigsaw - the thin shank - is gone here. You can use this thing off-axis all day long and it will hold up.
In short, I like this unit a lot, but for $200 it should definitely come with some more heads, and definitely in more levels of firmness than what it does. Ultimately I didn't end up using it that much, not only because of how loud it is, but because I never really felt great after pummeling my muscles with the overly-firm ball. It wasn't the Goldilocks experience I quite wanted to have. That left the hugely-priced Theragun. Hit the jump and let's read about that one.
Theragun, TimTam, and the homemade variety, side by side.
The G3PRO is the latest and most refined massager from Theragun. It's incredibly slick, MUCH quieter than the competition, and comes complete with a spare battery, seven tips of different sizes/shapes/firmness, and a case. At $600, it's extremely pricey, but it is undeniably head and shoulders better than anything else in this review. Is it worth the extra cash? That's really a decision for the individual user. Personally, I did't want to see my review unit go back.
TimTam Power Massager
TimTam is kindof the budget version of Theragun. It works just fine, but it's no quieter than a shop jigsaw, and only has one tip. That tip is a very hard rubber ball, which offers you just one shape and one level of firmness. Honestly, it'll get the job done, but it's loud and not particularly refined.
The Homebrew (Black + Decker Jigsaw)
At about $100 complete, this is by far the cheapest setup, and comes with the added bonus of being useful as a shop tool. After all, it's just a jigsaw. It also features variable speeds, which is pretty nice, but you have to control that speed with the continuous trigger, which can be a bit tricky. And finding different tips is a pretty tricky situation, you basically scour Amazon or eBay to find something that will fit the jigsaw shank.