So is everyone playing a softer stringbed than they think?

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by Maui19, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    I have decided to do my own stringing and have been doing a lot of reading about stringing. One of the things that struck me is how imprecise the process is with regard to tension. My takeaway from all this is that due to a variety of factors (string elasticity, stringing technique, machine variance, etc), most people are playing a stringbed that is softer (perhaps much softer) than they think.

    So someone who has their racquet strung with poly at 62 might be playing a racquet that is actually 55 or even lower. Racquets strung with other strings may or may not vary this much from the target tension. Is this correct? Do you guys take this into account when you are stringing? It seems like stringing is as much art as science.
     
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  2. rich s

    rich s Hall of Fame

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    that's why it is called "Reference Tension"

    resulting tension after stringing will alway be less than the tension at which you set your machine.
     
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  3. rufusbgood

    rufusbgood Semi-Pro

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    It is a mistake to think of it as "target tension". It isn't a target. As Rich S stated, it is known as reference tension and it's simply the number you set the machine at to get the feel you are looking for. That feel you are looking for is the target and yes it is lower than the reference tension.

    An analogy perhaps would be shooting an arrow. If you are trying to hit the bulls eye and you find that you have to aim 3 ft above the bulls eye to hit it, that doesn't mean 3 ft above the bulls eye is your target. It's your reference point for finding the target.
     
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  4. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    Tomato, tomahto.
     
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  5. Boxer

    Boxer New User

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    I use an ERT300 to get dynamic tension "reference" numbers (DT value) that relate to stringbed stiffness once the strings are in there.

    I measure right after a racquet comes off the stringer and then I measure again every two or three times I play. Doing this I got a pretty good idea of what reference tension to set my stringer to in order to achieve a DT that corresponds to a feel I like when I hit the ball. By doing the DT measurements over time as I use a racquet I have a pretty good idea of how long it takes for strings to get too mushy as they degrade and the rate at which various strings degrade. And of course I've been able to figure out which strings hold tension/feel in the comfort zone I like for the longest.

    All the numbers in the above are "magic" -- there's no real meaning other than they relate to each other in fixed ratio and using them as a reference I can consistently achieve results that feel good to me.
     
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  6. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    If you are going to be dismissive on the account of semantics... then your answer is "yes."


    A reference tension really is just that: a reference. You're targeting feel, not final tension. Even IF you were able to eliminate that variability, you'd have an overnight tension loss of (loosely) 10% for ANY string. In the end, it doesn't matter what the reference tension it, you'll always be below.

    HOWEVER, if you really think about it: people are playing as soft a string bed as they expect, because they use a reference tension to get a reference string bed stiffness, and once they get it back into their hands, they're getting exactly what they expect. (again, it all boils down to the understanding of reference)
     
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  7. rich s

    rich s Hall of Fame

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    Great analogy.....
     
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  8. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    True. But I am thinking about this from the point of view of the average player, who will tell you with confidence they play their strings at a certain tension. It is just interesting that, apart from real equipment junkies, most players don't have any idea what tension they're actually playing.
     
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  9. rufusbgood

    rufusbgood Semi-Pro

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    Absolutely correct.

    Thanks to the internet though and inexpensive measuring devices, it isn't unusual for the average player to learn that they are getting less tension than they've been requesting and suddenly ask for more tension. This is what I was trying to convey to you/caution you against with my arrow analogy. The bulls eye is the target. 3 ft above it is the reference point. Actually hitting the spot 3 ft above the bulls eye is a wild miss.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
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  10. Xenakis

    Xenakis Hall of Fame

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    No no no.

    Tomato, Tomayto.

    :)
     
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  11. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    As a stringer, my question is: who cares? I absolutely understand where you're coming from, and to the average player, they ARE playing with "60 lbs" (or whatever). It's a stiffness, and it's exactly the same (in their minds). Equipment junky or not, the idea is the same. While we may know that they in fact have a string bed roughly equivalent to 40 some lbs, even WE don't know for sure.

    Even if we have reasonable measuring devices, they only give us dynamic "tension," and/or stiffness measurements. Even the string meter is only a reference device (used to track tension loss, etc).

    At the end of the day, i assert that nobody knows exactly what tension their racquet is, nor should they lose any sleep over it. If someone requests 60 lbs, and they feel like the strings are "too powerful," i will educate them about what can cause this, and what it means to string at "60 lbs," but I find that most players don't really even care to understand that much! I will often give a brief "pep talk" to a new customer about who strung their racquets before, and that it's common to have a string job feel a little different (for different reasons, including technique, machine type, etc). I find that tennis is an extremely mental game, and taking a little bit of the doubt out of switching to someone new does wonders for repeat customers. If it doesn't feel right, I ask customers to let me know HOW it doesn't feel right, make adjustments accordingly, and without their knowing it, I just helped them understand better what a reference tension really is.
     
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  12. aussie

    aussie Professional

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    Yes, spot on diredesire. I always check my stringjobs with an ERT 300 immediately after stringing and the DT converted to the tension is generally consideably lower than I supposedly strung the frame at. Doesn't matter at all - for example I like what my Klippermate tells me is 60 lbs and the racquet at that 60 feels exactly how I like it. It is most definitely not 60 (probably more like 54) but I believe it to be 60 and so long as I can keep reproducing that 60 on the machine I'm happy.

    So when I string for players (mostly friends) and they tell me they want 60, I always check with them a couple of weeks later as to does it feel right, or would they like a little more or less tension next time. I then make that adjustment next time. I and I guess most of us just use a tension number as a reference point to make future adjustments from. It is all about reproducing that stringbed tension time after time. Once you get that consistency, it is the feedback that allows you to make the necessary adjustments to give the player the "tension" he or she wants.
     
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  13. airman88

    airman88 Semi-Pro

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    The arrow analogy is actually not a good analogy at all. If you are stringing at 60 pounds and you actually were able to hold 100% of the 60 lbs, you would absolutely hate the stringbed and have to cut it out. Some people are still underestimating how much lower actual, dynamic tension is to reference "pull" tension. You actually lose about 20-25 lbs from reference, so 60 lbs pull tension will be slightly under 40. You would never be able to play with a stringbed that had an actual tension of 60 lbs, it would be a brick wall. It is just much easier to use the "pull" tension since every string machine and stringer loses a different amount of tension each time they string. As some others have suggested, the best thing is to try and stay consistent and when you switch stringers you will need to adjust a little. For instance, constant pull machines will produce a stiffer stringbed at the same reference tension, and those stringers that use flying clamps will lose some tension too.
     
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