Discussion in 'Strings' started by TW Staff, Mar 25, 2010.
Did you tried with a low tension? How did it worked?
So you felt the stringbed was harsher at 38lbs rather than at 54 ? That's weird. I'd thought it was the opposite.
Like I said my experience with low tensions have alway revolved around control issues. I have friends that have played low tension all their lives and do it well, the difference is that I play with very fast swing speeds to generate my pace. Control for me has always been what I am looking for... power I have at my disposal.
Prior to returning to tennis from my haitus I was playing with a PS 6.0 85 strung at 72lbs. It provided me with the control I was looking for. Since my return I have switched frames to a PS Tour 90 and have lower my tension slightly to 64lbs using a hybrid of mulit and co-poly. My timing is not what it was... but I am playing a comfortable game.
But like I said... after reading this thread I have been bitten and am looking to see what low tensions may have in store for me. My initial thought is that things have not changed and that this combination is not made for players that rely on fast swing speeds in their games... but I am willing to give it another shot. And I will try hard to approach it with an open mind.
My plan is not to go to an ultra low tension like is being tested here... but a hybrid solution at around 42lbs.
With Genesis SpinX it felt great at ~38lbs. Much better than 55.
The stringbed was much softer at 38, but I felt like the stringbed stretched to a point where it couldn't stretch anymore which felt like a bottoming out feeling and that was the harshness I was feeling. I would liken it to setting up your suspension on a mtn bike or car too soft. It feels great going over the small bumps but when you hit a big one it blows through the travel and hits the bumpstop and BAM! That is where I was feeling the harshness if that makes any sense...
So is poly in 30# range arm friendly? I stayed away from poly due to fear of arm issues.
The experiment continues. Chris hand pulled tension today. Here's his blog:
I'd like to hear what Spencer has to say about his experience at low tensions with his Pure Storm LTD, please!
I think you guys have established that 30 pounds with poly in a mid is a playable, and for some players, an excellent tension.
Chris noted with surprise that he's seeing little string movement initially even at these low tensions. How about after 5-10 hours of play?
And how about effects of tension loss/string wear over those durations? I would think that with lower starting tensions you'd lose less tension due to creep, or elastic deformation, over time, but I'm not sure. Are you finding that the change in feel/performance due to tensions loss over time is greater or less than with your normal tensions?
Thanks for sharing your great experiment.
This is absolute heresy! :twisted:
A good post - I'm also very interested in this.
The first racket I ever strung was by hand and a dowel back in the mid 70's, I was 15 at the time and had no money but some string I had recovered from a broken racket I had found. So between what string I could recover from racket plus this additional string I was able to complete a string job. Hmm... maybe the first ever hybrid?
Anyway... I just wanted to say that it is easy with a dowel and an awl you can get some decent string tensions. Now getting a consistant tension well that is something else. I personally just tried to do it like tuning a string instrument and plucked each string going by sound. But I was 15 doing the best I could with what I had. And remember no internet back then we were left to our own devices.
Oh and from what I remember the racket played ok.
That is quiet disturbing, bet he wont be happy you are telling everyone.
Below are some graphs that show how polys might behave at very low tensions compared to what you are used to with any material strung at higher tensions.
First a note about procedure. The data is for all strings we have tested so far, not for a particular string at different tensions. So each dot represents a particular string that was pulled to a particular reference tension (basically, 62, 52, or 42 pounds) and impacted at a particular speed (fast, medium, or slow). Each string sit for a minute after being pulled to tension and then struck 20 times at high speed to break the string in. The pre-impact tension you see on the bottom axis is the actual tension remaining after this preconditioning procedure.
But the lesson is the same in all cases. If you get a poly (any poly) into your racquet such that its pre-impact tension is hovering at whatever low tension you are looking for, it should behave as indicated below relative to other strings and other tensions.
A note of interpretation follows after the graphs (also, please forgive the mixed units, but that is the only way the program can report them at the moment--1 kg = 2.2 lbs--the turquoise dots show the 10 and 30 lb locations).
The shaded yellow area contains all the strings that the 30 lb poly exceeds in performance for the characteristic on the vertical axis. The blueish area contains all the string the 10 lb poly exceeds in performance for the characteristic on the vertical axis. (In this case, "exceeds" means softer, longer dwell, more deflection, lower force).
So for example, for the 10 lb poly:
Graph 1: it is softer then all most all nylon at tensions you might have tried in the past.
Graph 2: It has a longer dwell than any string at any tension here measured.
Graph 3: It has greater deflection than any string at any tension here measured.
Graph 4: It has a lower impact force than all but one gut.
Remember, no nylons or guts were also tested at these pre-impact tensions because they don't get that low during normal usage during our tests. We would have to actually pull tension to 30 or 10 lbs to get comparisons. But the comparison of importance here is that compared to what you have tried before, you can make poly behave in unexpected ways.
These results should help verify, explain, or interpret many of your experiences above.
Very interesting stuff!
Isn't the turquoise 10 lb marker (or dot) incorrectly placed on the x-axis on graph 1?
Yes, thank you. It is changed now.
So Prof, for the English majors in the audience...what you are saying is the low tension poly is softer and has more dwell time than anything except gut?
There is noticeably more string movement at 35 lbs vs 52 lbs. Keep in mind that I am using Luxilon M2, which is a co-polyester. If I was using a multifilament string, I am sure the string would be all over the place. I didn't notice much tension less, but I did notice more string wear. I've used Luxilon M2 before, but I never noticed any ball fuzz on the string after testing it and I definitely did not notice the string fraying at 53 lbs, but at 35 lbs I did. I have never had any co-poly string fray on me and I think the ball fuzz and fraying of the string is a sign of how much more spin and dwell time I was experiencing at such a low tension. Also, I am a bigger fan of how the Luxilon M2 string plays at 35 lbs vs 53 lbs. I thought M2 was a responsive and good string for about 6 hours at 53 lbs, but after that 6 hour mark I felt like the string lost power and just became dead feeling. After testing the string for about 12 hours or so at 35 lbs, I haven't noticed any decrease in play with the M2.
Unless we brought gut and nylon down to those low tensions also.
Right...which begs the question: Why focus solely on poly? Are we that confident that poly offers something unique in the lower tension range?
Also, based on Chris' comments it seems like he prefers poly at 30 lbs. Clearly there are other options available that score better than the poly along these dimensions. So is poly offering something else that nylon and gut don't offer here?
What I'm trying to understand what exactly is it about poly at lower tensions that has Chris and others so enamored?
Because it is less elastic than nylon or gut to begin with, which allows for lower tensions. Stringing a nylon or gut that low would just lead to very low control setup. Plus the fact that gut and nylon tend to notch easily, and at a 30lb tension in either, you will have ridiculous string movement as well as quicker wear from all that movement (although haven't strung either that low, but considering how they wear around 50lbs... well, I'm not willing to try gut at 30lb, or even a nylon).
[pet hate][sorry][pet hate/][sorry/]
Danny, are you using Luxilon M2 Plus or M2 Pro ?
Can we conclude - based on you the TW playtesters experience and the TW Professors calculations, that most (if not all) poly's will lose less tension and less elasticity, when strung at low tension (less than 50 lbs) compared to when the poly is strung at normal higher tension (55-60 lbs) ?
I want to thank you Chris and Danny for this most stimulating post. It prompted me to try some lower tensions and I will report my results from yesterdays on court hit. The lower tension setups I tried are all synthetic gut 16 gauge, one at 35 lbs and one at 45 lbs.
First it should be noted that I am in my late 50's but still produce solid 4.5 level hitting and have had previous wrist and elbow issues. My standard set up is a performance multi main and synthetic gut cross at 50 lbs in a 16x18 prince graphite longbody with lead. This setup provides high power with some trampolining yet lots of touch and loads of spin on demand. I stopped using polys about 5 years ago at the first sign of bodily harm.
First the 45 pounder. Immediately felt much softer, more spin but less control than my normal setup. Nothing solid about this setup and almost had more vibration than normal. I clearly was not hitting as well as normal and I felt it was not a matter of learning to acclimate to this setup.
Next the 35 pounder. Incredibly soft, no sound when hitting. The vibration at 45 was completely gone. I was quite surprised that the power level did not increase at all. The problem was that the accurate sweet spot became tiny. Anything even slightly hit off center would leave at a bit of an unpredictable angle. My hitting partner hits huge serves and I pride myself on my 2 handed return game, but there was no controlling those bombs with this setup. Overall this was way too mushy a setup for me.
So the low tension thing with synthetic gut clearly didn't work for me. I guess I should try poly once again at 30 lbs if you think its safe. Do I dare do a full poly job with my sensitive arms or should I hybrid a poly main with a softer syn gut cross?
Try a softer co-poly at 30 and see what you think (Black Code perhaps.) Personally I think softer co-polys like Black Code are more comfortable in a full bed than a full bed of PSGD or other syn guts. Just make sure you cut it out before it goes dead (this is arguably where the problems occur, that and stringing polys at a really high tension.)
At 30lbs it should be fine and if you feel a twinge just stop playing with it.
Mr. TW Professor - I wonder if you and your excellent TW Staff test team have been speculating over how hybrids of a soft string (nat gut or prime multi) and a stiff string (CoPoly or Kevlar) would play, behave and feel at low tension levels ?
Now that you have carried the experiment out with full stiff poly with such good results and positive response, the next step could be to conduct a test of how hybrids strings play at low tension.
Of course not as low tension levels as with full stiff poly, but maybe conduct an experiment on hybrids strung in the low 40's and mid 30's - with the poly string at the lowest tension in the hybrid and the softer string 3-5 lbs higher in tension.
We already see Roger Federer using pretty low tension in his 90 SQ" 16x19 frame with Wilson nat gut mains @ 52 lbs and Luxilon Alu Rough crosses @ 48 lbs.
Hybrids of a soft main (or cross) string and a stiffer cross (or main) string is quite popular on the this board and also very popular out on tour (Murray, Federer, Djokovic, Cilic, Hass, Roddick, Wozniacki etc.)
So are you and your test team up for the next challenge - low tension test of hybrid setups
These are very interesting observations. One would think since more ware is put on the string at 35lbs, it would loss its elasticity/playability and become dead faster, no?
When using these extremely low tensions, would you say there is a bigger chance to mishit a shot than when using higher tensions? I ask this because with this low tensions there is more dwell time, so the ball stays on the strings longer, which may lead to the ball sliding on the strings and hitting the sides of the frame.
I think the idea is that the string cup around the ball more instead of the ball slide on the string bed.
I would string my n6.1 at 30 sometimes using blackcode when i have opportunity.
In the past I have tried multi and syn gut in the 40s on a k90. The syn gut played much better. I had great spin and a lot of the benefits chris was talking about. But, the string splayed everywhere and snapped after a couple hours which is fast for me.
Thanks to chris' post I tried 30lbs alu power in a blx pro tour mp and my results were very similar to his. I will update how it holds up but so far it is notching much faster than normal.
I'm a competitive junior player (3.5-4.0) and I just went out today to try some Hyperion 1.18 at 30 in a stock K Six-One 18x20. I had some very successful results.
Groundstrokes - My groundstrokes were very consistent today. I did not hold back my strokes one bit, and my shots were getting good arc with all the topspin. In fact, I was getting so much confidence from all the spin that I was actually swinging faster than usual and the ball would still land in. My two-handed backhand was definitely a lot better today. Way more depth and spin, and I pulled off some crazy angles that I thought only a one-handed backhand could. I will be honest, I'm not a fan of slicing. I did get pulled out wide a few times, and my slices were average. Not much to comment about the slices since I don't do that shot much.
Serves - My serves were VERY inconsistent based on performance. One game I bombed four first serves. Next I would hit all second serves. First serve I had some trouble. Seemed to me that the ball would either sail long or too much to the left -- I'm a right-handed. Second serve was normal. I noticed some more kick and action on it. Slice serves had a lot of spin and were really pulled out wide. I tried one or two twist serves, and although the spin was not amazing, the angles were. They were really pulled wide.
Volleys and Touch Shots - Against fast paced shots, volleys were hard to control. I did not groove in volleys today. However, when I played a soft-baller later in the day, I was volleying fine. Drop shots were amazing. I usually don't do them at all. Today, I had some fun with them.
A little weird thing that I noticed, as did Chris, was that I noticed more fraying, more notching, and more fuzz on the strings.
This is all coming from someone who is NOT SENSITIVE at all to string or racket changes! I really did notice a change in my shots by stringing at 30 pounds. It really cannot hurt to just try stringing at 30, I am definitely switching to 30 pounds as my regular co-poly tension.
Is this TW Professor a real professor? Or something like the Wizard of Oz?
Thanks for the info Danny
Many thanks for this info Prof - all things are now lain bare
In relation to Tennis Warehouse you're now becoming the veritable definition of value-added, for me at least.
Well, even though I've been stringing around 50 lbs. +/- 5 lbs. for years, I decided I would give 30 a try after reading this thread. Here is my experience:
Dunlop Max 200g - Custom weighted 14.5 oz, 9 pts. head light. Strung with Luxilon Adrenaline, 30 lbs. 5.0 level player.
Played 2 sets of competitive doubles this evening. Unfortunately, 30 lbs. is just not for me. I found it very difficult to control my shots, especially service return. My serve was very inconsistent, flat, kick, or slice. I did not notice any additional spin as some here have indicated. Groundstrokes were ok just hitting, but in a match taking a full cut at the ball, I was all over the place. I switched back to my 47 lbs. and after a game had things dialed back in. Serves much more consistent and could control the service return again.
Maybe the loose tension works well for many, just not for me.
However, I still find it interesting and will continue to follow the experience of others.
Best of luck.
FYI... Big Hitter Blue at 40# stinks. No control and no power. Cutting it out and trying a stiffer poly at low tension.
This virtually mirrors my experience with Big Hitter Blue at 40#
When I switched back to my frame with Global Gut mains/Black Magic crosses... it was like heaven. All of a sudden my shots had pop and control, again.
Does anyone feel like the lower tension makes teh feel stringbed feel too soft? I want to try a full poly but might not if it makes it feel too soft because I like my stringbed on the crisper side.
I hit tonight with Blue Gear 17g 30lbs in a Prokennex 5g. Everything worked great. I could switch back and forth between that and my Ki15 PSE hybrid with out much adjustment. The 30 pounder had amazing spin. Serves had a little less pop, but lots of spin, weird spin. I can only imagine what it will be like in a match. I play doubles Tuesday night. I can't wait!
As I type, I have two racquets here waiting to be strung at 35 pounds. They are for an old, local pro. He credits the low tension for him never having any arm problems. I have been stringing them like this, for him, for many years.
I tried one of my RDS 001 Mids with Premier Ace at 32 lbs. Nice muted feel and indeed, I noticed higher arcing shots. However a huge loss of directional control. Groundstrokes were less noticeable because of the greater margin of error (and spin). But, as others note, I lost consistency on serves and reflex volleys were tough to place. Coming from my normal control hybrid - WC SS 1.20 mains / Forten Sweet crosses -- the loss of control was very apparent.
Fun as an experiment, but IMO not for match play.
I've been trying various poly's for the last year, after reading and hearing about how much innovation they've brought to the game, and after seeing so many people around me switch. So far, no good. I'm currently playing Tornado, which I don't mind, but I still prefer the feel of a syn gut or a multi. I have one pack of SPPP left, sitting on the shelf and was wondering what to do with it. Sounds like this might be worth a try.
Thanks to all for the responses and please keep posting your experiences.
Some say, he is The Stig on Top Gear.
For these super low tension set-ups, which gauges are you guys experimenting with?
I tried 17g Blue Gear. Good results.
got my k95 back with SPPP 1.23 at 35lbs. just tapping a ball to the door it feels really really soft! hoping it plays with the softness/touch of a multi and the bite of the poly. I can dream anyway, can't wait to give it a go
Tried something new today: Kirschbaum Long Life (Spiky 1.38mm) at 35lbs in a Volkl C10 Pro. The C10 Pro has always been a silky smooth playing racquet, but today, wow, the racquet was incredibly smooth with this set up.
Note: We do not currently carry that string, but I will recommend we bring it in.
I was finding excellent control, lots of spin and just really enjoying the racquet. Lots of penetration on serves and some nice hop on spin serves. Off the ground I was really enjoying the feel and all the spin I was getting.
I was going to take the last two days off to rest my body as I was starting to feel tight and tired from all the testing of late. Managed to play through it and was feeling pretty loose today!
Well taken the plunge and strung up my RDX500 MP with full SPPP 1.18 at 32lbs this morning.
Would have strung at 30lbs, but my machine is a crank lock-out to upped it a couple of pounds.
I hit the courts in a couple of hours. Looking forward to seeing the results.
Wow Wow Wow
Just had a couple of hours with my Mantis power at 32lbs and all i can say is f*****g WOW.
The improvement i had when moving from 55 to 45 is relatively the same again from 45 to 32. I have to say the control element is excellent, infact its amazing. I was hitting bombs from the back, loads of topspin but what impressed most was the consistent depth. It suited my swing and extreme grips. I also noticed the higher trajectory hitting from the baseline, i liked that when im hitting out as i can sometimes net it hitting at the top of the bounce. I wasnt doing that with the higher trajectory off the racket.
The touch was great too, real soft and lush.
My serve was the pretty much the same but i did notice a few extra mph on the heater.
One downside was volleying but i think once adjusted......
If i was a flat hitter then id stay away but if you hit with plenty of topspin I think you will deffo like the control and power you get with this tension.
Unbelievable, very happy boy.........
ps...cant wait to try this with full Alu.
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