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blipblop
07-11-2010, 01:37 PM
hey, long-time lurker, first-time poster here.

so my question is: what is the deal with people who claim that the graphite used in rackets from before (80's early 90's) is better than the graphite used in today's production frames?

i know there has been a shift towards stiffer rackets in general, but is there scientific proof that the "old" graphite is in fact superior? and in what ways superior? resistance to fracture? resistance to fatigue? tensile strength?

i'm no material science engineer, but to me it doesn't make sense, graphite is graphite. :neutral:

JavierLW
07-11-2010, 05:08 PM
It's probably more likely that the production process was better in some of the 80's models then they were in the 90's and 2000's.

If you cheapen the production process the fibers of whatever dense material you are using are not as closely bonded together so the majority of the frame is filler material (resin) which is very breakable and makes for a frame that is not as solid.

It also allows them to make them "slightly" better, so they can sell gimmicks like nCode, KFactor, BoLloXs, etc....

That way they can always sell new racquets, versus the old days where people still have old PS85's and POG, etc... and they still play great today.

Otherwise I agree, graphite is graphite (even when it's "Karophite")

joe sch
07-11-2010, 06:03 PM
hey, long-time lurker, first-time poster here.

so my question is: what is the deal with people who claim that the graphite used in rackets from before (80's early 90's) is better than the graphite used in today's production frames?

i know there has been a shift towards stiffer rackets in general, but is there scientific proof that the "old" graphite is in fact superior? and in what ways superior? resistance to fracture? resistance to fatigue? tensile strength?

i'm no material science engineer, but to me it doesn't make sense, graphite is graphite. :neutral:

NOPE ... NOT "graphite is graphite"

Todays modern graphite is heat treated high modulus carbon fiber. If you want to really believe in the nano Nfactor, Kfactor and other stuff, it really gets thick ;) Anyways, the old school graphite rackets were much more flexible and thicker layers, not air shells. See below ref for a little more info on some of these issues:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_fiber

Agent Orynge
07-11-2010, 06:11 PM
If you cheapen the production process the fibers of whatever dense material you are using are not as closely bonded together so the majority of the frame is filler material (resin) which is very breakable and makes for a frame that is not as solid.


According to this - http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=338022 - the resin is what makes the carbon less breakable.

blipblop
07-11-2010, 07:55 PM
ok production processes could have changed, yes. but would they really have changed for the worse? again, i'll ask for real evidence other than "oh my old frame feels better." not to mock anyone who likes old frames.

for most other materials, the production process has changed for the better over the years. the linked thread makes a good point about using less material to achieve the same goal, but is there really that much of a graphite shortage in the world?

at the heart, my question is: is this a case of old-timers saying "they sure don't make 'em like they used to" out of nostalgia, or is it a real phenomenon and we should all buy rackets from the 80's? i doubt that even if it is a reality that old graphite is better, it's not that much of a pure advantage. that's what i meant with "graphite is graphite." to me a lot of it seems to be explained that older people who have played with the older graphite simply got used to the feel. do the new young pros use the "good" graphite?

cars used to be made out of heavier, more robust steel, but it also made them much heavier. does that make it better? i'll take a modern day race car over a 1970's race car.

thanks for your inputs.

anirut
07-11-2010, 08:12 PM
I heard something like the old sticks had "course-haired" fibers.

Agent Orynge
07-11-2010, 08:22 PM
The short answer to your question is that QA/QC isn't what it used to be. It's not the graphite so much as the business practices.

ok production processes could have changed, yes. but would they really have changed for the worse? again, i'll ask for real evidence other than "oh my old frame feels better." not to mock anyone who likes old frames.


What is evidence? At the heart of argumentation lies the precept that all truth is simply observation, whether made by yourself or others. There are cold, hard, logical observations - which is what I suspect you desire here -, emotional observations, and ethical observations. The latter refers to the credibility of the person making the observation rather than his moral character, but all three are every bit as valid as the others.

As an example of an ethical observation, take history as we know it. Most of what we accept as truth we were taught by others, or learned from a text book in school. Did the people who taught you, or the people who wrote the book, experience any of the things you learned first hand? Unless it was recent history, then I doubt it. But we accept it nonetheless because some of those people who taught you were your parents, who you've (presumably) accepted as authority figures your entire life. Others still were teachers, who had to achieve some level of higher learning before they could pass their knowledge on to you. And finally you have the text book authors, who in addition to meeting similar preqrequisites as the above mentioned teachers had to do a fair amount of research themselves. All three of those examples have one thing in common; they, too, got their information from somewhere else.

My point is thus; you came to a forum looking for 'evidence'. At best you might get a link to an article somewhere telling you the same things you can learn from the posters here, but in the end you still have to take someone else's word for it. Ultimately it's up to you to assign whatever level of credibility seems fitting to many of the denizens here, and you'd be doing many of them a disservice by ignoring their words just because they're consumers like you.

Bhagi Katbamna
07-11-2010, 09:54 PM
Braiding graphite also increased the strength(and the weight).

joe sch
07-12-2010, 05:33 AM
ok production processes could have changed, yes. but would they really have changed for the worse? again, i'll ask for real evidence other than "oh my old frame feels better." not to mock anyone who likes old frames.

for most other materials, the production process has changed for the better over the years. the linked thread makes a good point about using less material to achieve the same goal, but is there really that much of a graphite shortage in the world?

at the heart, my question is: is this a case of old-timers saying "they sure don't make 'em like they used to" out of nostalgia, or is it a real phenomenon and we should all buy rackets from the 80's? i doubt that even if it is a reality that old graphite is better, it's not that much of a pure advantage. that's what i meant with "graphite is graphite." to me a lot of it seems to be explained that older people who have played with the older graphite simply got used to the feel. do the new young pros use the "good" graphite?

cars used to be made out of heavier, more robust steel, but it also made them much heavier. does that make it better? i'll take a modern day race car over a 1970's race car.

thanks for your inputs.

Im not going to really go into much detail but mostly the rackets produced today are not made to last. They are cheaper and easier to produce. They are "air shells" ! It was expensive to make the old layered composite graphite rackets with kevlar, fiberglass, and other longer lasting materials that offered more flex and durability and co$t.

ayuname
07-12-2010, 07:00 AM
This is why I love Yonex. Top quality. :)

blipblop
07-12-2010, 07:03 AM
agentorynge: yes i see your point. i guess i shouldn't come to the forums expecting academic journal-grade content. and don't get me wrong, i do listen to the people on this board (sometimes).

joe sch: how do you know that? i'm pretty cynical myself, and probably most companies are out to simply turn a profit on unsuspecting lemming consumers, but i do believe that some people are still trying to make the best quality frames they can for their customers. it's a conspiracy!!!

i play with yonex, hopefully they are one of the good ones...

Povl Carstensen
07-12-2010, 07:10 AM
Wow, a troll-free subject.

TheRed
07-12-2010, 07:17 AM
The short answer to your question is that QA/QC isn't what it used to be. It's not the graphite so much as the business practices.



You pretty much lost me here. Quality Control used to be 100% worse. If you said the racquets had better feel/better materials, I may agree.
Take two of the same Head racquets from 20 yrs ago and see how close they are in balance and weight. These "Austrian" models were all over in specs. I had prince graphites where one was 10 pts headlight and one was 2 pts headlight. QC is not perfect now (especially with Wilson) but far better than what it used to be.

Keifers
07-12-2010, 07:21 AM
Yeah, I'd love to know the differences, too. It's too bad we don't have access to any industry insiders (real racquet designers and manufacturing engineers) who can give us the scoop on graphite then and now.

In the end, though, we ARE ABLE to evaluate the performance and feel of current and older racquets. And then choose the ones that play the best for us and give us the greatest pleasure to hit with.

For me, outstanding older frame: POG OS. Outstanding newer frame: the box-beam AG and 4D Dunlops.

ollinger
07-12-2010, 09:07 AM
As usual, not a single cogent answer to the OP's question. We've learned that the "racquets produced now are for profit" -- I can't tell if this is intended to suggest that racquets produced a few decades ago were an act of charity on the part of the manufacturers. I've used graphite racquets for as long as they've been widely available and feel they're as good, if not better, than they've ever been.

Rabbit
07-12-2010, 09:26 AM
From what I understand, the advance(s) in manufacture have been largely geared toward making a stronger, longer lasting, and cheaper-to-make product. The reasons for stronger and longer lasting are warranty claims. The more warranty claims you can eliminate, the more profit. And, the better material you use, the less expense goes into manufacture which means more profit as well.

The way this has been done, again according to what I've been told, is to use more material (graphte, kevlar, titanium, whatever) and less resin. It seems that over time and due to temperature extremes and restringing, the resin breaks down considerably faster than the material. This results in a "de-bonding" in the frame which leads to structural deficiences. By eliminating as much of the resin as possible, the product lasts longer and can be abused without failure, or as much.

Likewise, if the manufacturer can use less material, i.e. graphite, in the construction because it is stronger, then they can produce frames at less cost. The weighting of the frame then occurs using something other than material and can be done more to a spec which produces a more consistent product.

I can say from experience that the racquets are considerably better than they were to begin with. I remember breaking 3 or 4 Yamaha YFG50's during play over a two year period. That doesn't happen now. A buddy of mine and I were hitting just last week and his Head frame broke at the 3 o'clock. But that is the first time I've seen that in a long time.

The original graphite racquets were beasts. They weighed as much as wood and were balanced evenly. Trying to play with one today is a real effort. The years have seen not only a change in the material, but the construction and weighting/balancing of frames to match level. Where once there was one wood racquet for every player, now there are racquets geared toward level. I mention this only to show how much manufacture has evolved.

On the flip side of this, you have pros like James Blake who say the new material or product is "tinny" compared to what he had. Blake, in an interview, said the Dunlop had tried to replicate his old frames and couldn't. From my personal experience with the C10, I can't tell the difference. I have an old fish scale hotmelt C10 and the newer yellow/black and all-black models and they feel the same to me. Well, the fish scale does feel more flexible, but part of that can be the number of times it's been restrung. In any event, the differences are minute and don't cost me any points. :)

marosmith
07-12-2010, 09:57 AM
From what I understand, the advance(s) in manufacture have been largely geared toward making a stronger, longer lasting, and cheaper-to-make product. The reasons for stronger and longer lasting are warranty claims. The more warranty claims you can eliminate, the more profit. And, the better material you use, the less expense goes into manufacture which means more profit as well.

The way this has been done, again according to what I've been told, is to use more material (graphte, kevlar, titanium, whatever) and less resin. It seems that over time and due to temperature extremes and restringing, the resin breaks down considerably faster than the material. This results in a "de-bonding" in the frame which leads to structural deficiences. By eliminating as much of the resin as possible, the product lasts longer and can be abused without failure, or as much.

Likewise, if the manufacturer can use less material, i.e. graphite, in the construction because it is stronger, then they can produce frames at less cost. The weighting of the frame then occurs using something other than material and can be done more to a spec which produces a more consistent product.

I can say from experience that the racquets are considerably better than they were to begin with. I remember breaking 3 or 4 Yamaha YFG50's during play over a two year period. That doesn't happen now. A buddy of mine and I were hitting just last week and his Head frame broke at the 3 o'clock. But that is the first time I've seen that in a long time.

The original graphite racquets were beasts. They weighed as much as wood and were balanced evenly. Trying to play with one today is a real effort. The years have seen not only a change in the material, but the construction and weighting/balancing of frames to match level. Where once there was one wood racquet for every player, now there are racquets geared toward level. I mention this only to show how much manufacture has evolved.

On the flip side of this, you have pros like James Blake who say the new material or product is "tinny" compared to what he had. Blake, in an interview, said the Dunlop had tried to replicate his old frames and couldn't. From my personal experience with the C10, I can't tell the difference. I have an old fish scale hotmelt C10 and the newer yellow/black and all-black models and they feel the same to me. Well, the fish scale does feel more flexible, but part of that can be the number of times it's been restrung. In any event, the differences are minute and don't cost me any points. :)

Ok, cool. So if you like high powered stiff rackets ala current Wilson and Babolat garbage then you are set. If you like the classic feel of a soft player frame you almost need to get a pro stock or the rare current model that fits these qualities.

I'm glad that you like the current crap they are making though. What's your favorite new technology?? Lol

struggle
07-12-2010, 10:07 AM
blades vs. cavity backs.

stevewcosta
07-12-2010, 10:11 AM
This is why I love Yonex. Top quality. :)

I'm not impressed with Yonex. They were much better in the 80s...Their "R" series are still my favorite racs. ever made. Can't find a single one I have liked in 15+ yrs.

Rabbit
07-12-2010, 10:17 AM
Ok, cool. So if you like high powered stiff rackets ala current Wilson and Babolat garbage then you are set. If you like the classic feel of a soft player frame you almost need to get a pro stock or the rare current model that fits these qualities.

I'm glad that you like the current crap they are making though. What's your favorite new technology?? Lol

Well, to be fair, both Wilson & Babolat make racquets that fit the "classic feel" category. A good friend of mine has recently changed frames from a Fischer to the Babolat Pure Storm and says he absolutely loves it. Another good friend of mine narrowed his final two to the Prince Original Graphite Mid and the Babolat Pure Storm.

Looking at Wilson specs, they make racquets that are very flexible as well.

The old feel is available from every vendor it would appear.

blipblop
07-12-2010, 11:02 AM
I'm not impressed with Yonex. They were much better in the 80s...Their "R" series are still my favorite racs. ever made. Can't find a single one I have liked in 15+ yrs.

you don't like the recent yonnex because you feel their quality control (rackets with consistent specs) and/or quality in general (rackets that don't break in 2 hours) have dropped off? or because you haven't found one with specs/feel that you like? or both...

i've used yonex for four years now.

Keifers
07-12-2010, 11:13 AM
Well, to be fair, both Wilson & Babolat make racquets that fit the "classic feel" category. A good friend of mine has recently changed frames from a Fischer to the Babolat Pure Storm and says he absolutely loves it. Another good friend of mine narrowed his final two to the Prince Original Graphite Mid and the Babolat Pure Storm.

Looking at Wilson specs, they make racquets that are very flexible as well.

The old feel is available from every vendor it would appear.
Rabbit,

Just curious... There are a number of Pure Storm models:

http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/Babolatracquets.html

Which one(s) did your friends like?

Thanks.

Keifers
07-12-2010, 11:23 AM
And would you please confirm that the one(s) they liked is (are) made from old graphite, not new... :)

stevewcosta
07-12-2010, 11:58 AM
you don't like the recent yonnex because you feel their quality control (rackets with consistent specs) and/or quality in general (rackets that don't break in 2 hours) have dropped off? or because you haven't found one with specs/feel that you like? or both...

i've used yonex for four years now.

I used Yonex from '83 - '00. Once they stopped making thin, box-beams with feel and meaneuverability, it was game over. They also changed their grip shape. It's terrible now. Modern paint looks cool but it's irrelevant.

NBM
07-12-2010, 04:01 PM
hey, long-time lurker, first-time poster here.

so my question is: what is the deal with people who claim that the graphite used in rackets from before (80's early 90's) is better than the graphite used in today's production frames?

i know there has been a shift towards stiffer rackets in general, but is there scientific proof that the "old" graphite is in fact superior? and in what ways superior? resistance to fracture? resistance to fatigue? tensile strength?

i'm no material science engineer, but to me it doesn't make sense, graphite is graphite. :neutral:

Old graphite is a far lesser product than the new stuff, and not better. It is stronger and it is lighter and is less subject to fatigue..also the prepreg in it's entirety is a much better, much more consistent product making for much tighter tolerances available at the discretion of the Wilson, head, Volkl, etc.

Also, when many people think of graphite, they may consider that before there was graphite racquets, there were fiberglass racquets, then racquets which were graphite/fiberglass matrixes. they used to even label them 30% fiberglass/70% graphite <for example>. What that really meant is that 30% of the material that was either graphite or fiberglass is fiberglass in that particular model. It didnt consider the % which was resin, binders, etc. same thing for a modern graphite racquet..perhaps 20% of the total layup or less is actually graphite material.

You can still get old school feeling racquets. Volkl is using fiberglass in many of their layups in part because of the current pricing of graphite prepreg. Doesnt get much more old school than fiberglass. They strategically stiffen the racquet to make it very playable, less subject to torque, etc for the modern game by fusing dnx material at key locations. The dnx is many times stronger and stiffer than even current day basic graphite and light years stronger and lighter than the graphite of old.

Don't Let It Bounce
07-12-2010, 06:29 PM
Old graphite is a far lesser product than the new stuff, and not better. It is stronger and it is lighter and is less subject to fatigue..also the prepreg in it's entirety is a much better, much more consistent product making for much tighter tolerances available at the discretion of the Wilson, head, Volkl, etc.All true. It suggests that when older players complain about the quality of the graphite, they are mistakenly attributing the subjective feeling of "cheapness" (hollowness, tinniness, etc.) to the original material. A better explanation is that improvements in the manufacturing of carbon composites have allowed racquets to be manufactured more cheaply while still being strong enough, being durable enough, and feeling good enough for the vast majority of players. The market rewards companies that produce such racquets, for spending more money on marketing and less on R&D, and for swapping them out rapidly with minor gimmicky changes... so they feel they owe it to their shareholders to do just that. It is naive to expect them to do otherwise. And, to be fair to them, what percentage of tennis consumers can feel enough of a difference between a Prestige Pro and a LM Prestige to care, and what does that percentage really mean in a worldwide corporation's bottom line?

(As NBM notes, some companies survive in the modern era while still producing high quality frames reminiscent of the best of the 80's and 90's. I'd guess that these companies tend to be smaller and therefore less subject to the above mass-market demands.)

The old sticks were not made by less bloodthirsty companies; they simply needed more layers and thicker walls (as mentioned in an earlier post) just to be strong/durable/good enough. It was luck, not charity: their greedy little hands were tied by the physics of materials engineering! Many players who remember how those frames felt (not just the grog***** and the terminally nostagic, though of course there are such people) prefer their feeling of solidity.

I guess I'm one of 'em, though I wouldn't kick a Fischer, Volkl, Yonex, Vantage, etc. out of my racquet bag. I recently picked up a Sting Mid to give to a practice partner who used it back when we met, and I just hit a few with it before giving it to him. Man... This was supposed to be a lesser frame, a poor man's Pro Staff or Ultra II, and yet it is the Rock of Gibraltar. There isn't a "ping" to be heard from this thing.