The J011yroger guide to strings.

Discussion in 'Strings' started by J011yroger, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    OK TWers, the time has come, for the long awaited and much ballyhooed J011yroger guide to strings. Please read, discuss and feel free to ask questions. All I ask is that you keep it respectful, and thoughtful.

    Firstly, we begin with a disclaimer.

    This guide is my opinion, entirely. It is based strictly upon my opinions observations and feelings. I have no scientific experimentation, proof, or other support for the statements that I make. I have not tried every string on the planet, nor do I intend to.

    Strings are an extremely important thing to pay attention to. As much effort as you put into finding a racquet, you should put an equal amount into the strings, because if all goes as planned, the strings are the only thing that touches the ball. You spent $200 on your racquet, why scrimp and put some jive string in it?

    Now a rundown of the basic string types.

    Tournament Nylon. The cheapest, most basic, junk string on the planet. Suitable for absolute beginners who can't tell at all the difference in strings, tensions, whatever. Also for the most frugal of all tennis players.

    Synthetic Gut. The go-to string for 80% of all tennis players. Made of nylon (Not to be confused with tournament nylon) syn-gut is cheap, plays fairly well for a short time, and is very common. Highly reccomended to most players 3.5 and lower. Prince Synthetic Gut is the most popular string, but several other companies make good quality fine playing syn-guts. If you are a string breaker, syn-gut is not very durable and if you are a hard hitter you may find it to get soft rather quickly aswell. If you are just starting out experimenting with strings, the first thing you do is get a basic syn gut installed, and use that as your starting point to determine where you go from there, what you want more or less of. You may just find that the syn-gut suits you just fine, and end up staying with it for the rest of your tennis playing days.

    Multifiliments. The next step up from Syn-Guts. Multis hold tension better, are more powerful, are soft and easy on the arm/joints. If you find that your syn-gut stringjob is getting gooey before it is breaking, if you want a bit more feel, or if you want a bit more zip or bite on your ball, then a nice multi would be the next thing to try. Multis are more expensive, and generally they are not terribly durable.

    Natural Gut. The golden standard for strings since the days of old. Natural Gut, especially the top tier brands, is the standard against which all strings are judged. They are the most powerful strings, they hold tension the best, bite hard, and are fairly durable. The downside is that gut is expensive, and that it doesn't like humidity. If you play gut, make sure you have a backup frame with a synthetic string in case the weather gets bad. If you are a serious player, try it, splurge on a full gut stringjob to see what it is like. For 95% of the tennis playing population, gut is the best string, for your arm, your health, and your game. Very few people play it due to the cost, but it plays so well for a long time, that it is actually a pretty cost effective solution for non string breakers.

    Polyester All the rage, what the pros use. What 95% of the tennis playing population should NOT be using. Poly is a stiff, durable string, that if you have sufficient batspeed will allow you to generate wicked spin. Newer polys (Called Co-Polys) are softer and hold tension better than older polys, but poly strings in general are still stiff, harsh, and don't hold tension well at all. If you don't have the racquet head speed to make these strings bend, then you would be best suited trying something else. Polyester strings are only good for a very short amount of time before they "Go Dead" and stop working their magic. After Poly goes dead, it is about the worst string on the planet. This happens long before the strings break. Generally poly stringbeds do not need to have the strings straightened out because they slide back after every hit. If you see that your poly stringbed needs straightening, then it is VERY DEAD and needs to be re-strung ASAP. Poly is not at all good or reccomended to anyone with arm issues or injuries. If your arm starts hurting, try something else.

    Kevlar The ultimate in durability. Kevlar is highly abrasion resistant, and is usually strung up in hybrid form with a synthetic cross string. It is a dead low powered string, with terrific bite. Most people who formerly used Kevlar have switched to Polyester, but there are still some holdouts. Reccomended if you have no arm troubles, and nothing else lasts you long enough.

    String Gague

    Now that you know which string you are looking at, the next thing to choose is gague. Strings come in gagues from 15-20. 15, 19, and 20 are very rare. The average string gagues run from 15L to 18, the vast majority of people play 16 or 17. The higher the number the thinner the string. The L after a number if seen signifies light. That can be considered 1/2 of a gague. So 16L is thinner than 16 but thicker than 17.

    The thinner the string, the more bite you get on a ball, generating more topspin with the same stroke. For some people this will allow them to swing harder and keep the ball in play, for others it will result in them hitting too much topspin and not having enough carry on their ball, otherwise known as not having enough penetration, or not piercing the court. You want your ball forcing your opponent back, not landing and sitting up for him to hit.

    Thinner strings allow you to better feel what is going on with the ball, but are less durable than thicker ones.

    I reccomend determining your acceptable durability/string life range (How often you are willing to restring) and playing the thinnest string that you can which meets your criteria for durability. If you are not breaking 16, try 17, not breaking 17 try 18. If you find that your ball is landing short with the thinner gague string, first try to reclaim your depth by string tension before reverting back to your old thicker gague string.

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
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  2. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    ...Continued from above.

    Next topic.

    Restringing.

    If your strings break, they need to be restrung.

    If you are not a string breaker, and are using synthetic, or natural gut, or a multifiliment. The general rule of thumb is to restring as many times per year as you play per week. If you live in a cold winter area, and don't play over the winter, then make sure you have a nice fresh stringjob for the beginning of your season, and then restring accordingly during the season.

    If you are not a string breaker and are using Polyester, then as soon as the strings stop sliding back into place, and need to be straightened between points, you should restring.

    If you are not a string breaker, and you are using Kevlar, restring at once, with something that is not Kevlar, then follow the guidelines for your new string.

    Most people don't realize that string performance is going downhill until it is way too late. Because you play with the racquet every day, you don't notice the gradual decline in string performace. It is like if you bought two identical dark navy blue t-shirts. If you put one in your dresser and left it there, and wore and washed the other one every day for two months. The one you were wearing every day would fade, but you wouldn't notice until it became really pronounced because it happened slightly every day. But when you went back to your dresser and pulled out the brand new one, holding it up next to the one you have been wearing every day and you would immediately see the difference.

    Only difference with strings is that you don't have a Wife/Mother/Girlfriend to say "When are you going to throw that ratty old t-shirt out?"

    How tight to string?

    The reccomended tension range on the racquet is there for a reason, and is a good place to start, in fact, right in the middle of it is good. But it is just that, a reccomendation, feel free to go higher or lower than the range if that is what you feel you need. With Polyester strings, I would start out 10% lower than you would with a syngut, and take it from there. You may end up higher or lower from there, but it as most things with string is a process of experimentation.

    When looking for your tension, you are going after two things, and depending on how serious of a player you are, you are going to choose one over the other, to be your primary focus.

    Depth, yes, I know, broken record, dead horse. Depth, is key, so important words cannot begin to describe it. Hitting deep is to tennis as eating is to living. You need to find a tension that allows you to take a nice smooth even swing at the ball, and have it land deep. Beyond the service line, preferably in the back 1/3 of the court. It should not take effort to hit deep, you should be able to swing easily, and smoothly, and have the ball land in the back 1/3 of the court. String tighter to shorten up your ball, string looser to get it deeper.

    Feel, the second thing, some people like the way a firm stringbed feels, some people like the way a soft stringbed feels. Stiff stringbeds, tight stringing etc, are harder on people with arm injuries so that is a consideration aswell. Feel also has a lot to do with targeting, and accuracy, especially volleying. Most feel that stringing tighter helps with this, but I feel having something that you feel comfortable with will serve you better, and give you better accuracy and control than just randomly stringing tighter.

    Do you play for fun, and want your racquet to feel good, or do you play because you want to play your best tennis. That will sort out weather you prioritize feel or depth.

    Be certain that if you are hitting the ball long, that the problem is not you. There is a difference between driving the ball long, and not hitting a good stroke, and having the ball land when it runs out of steam and drops to the ground. If your balls are floating long at a blistering 7mph, your setup doesn't have too much power, you don't need to string tighter, you need to put that Amex card away, and make your way to the practice courts.

    Different racquets, different tensions, same number on the stringing machine

    If you string a 90" frame at 60lbs, and a 115" frame at 60lbs, the 90" frame will be strung tighter. The longer the strings, the more there is to stretch and the looser it will become. Kind of like taking a shoelace and a 30' rope and tying them to a fixture. It doesn't take much to pull the shoestring taut, but you need to pull pretty hard on the rope to make it taut.

    Same Racquet, Same number on the stringing machine, different machine, different tension.

    All stringing machines string slightly differently, some string vastly differently. A high end constant pull electric machine will string much tighter than a low end lockout machine. Keep you racquets going back to the same machine, if you want the same tension every time. Different people stringing on the same machine set at the same tension will give you different stringbed stiffnesses, not that either would be a bad stringer, but some people string looser, and some tighter. So if you are picky, same person, same machine.

    On Hybrids

    Hybrids are when you use a different string in the main and the cross, this started for durability reasons, as players would break strings often, and need a more durable string. The durable string was harsh feeling and low powered, so since the mains normally broke players would put a durable string in the main, and a soft string in the cross to regain some of their feel and power. This is the case with most kevlar or Poly blends today. You use Kevlar or Poly as the main string (The long ones that go from the head to the throat) and syn gut, gut, or a multi, as the cross string (The other ones that are not the mains ;))

    Also players hybrid gut putting the gut strings in the mains, and a cheaper synthetic in the cross so that they get most of the benefits of playing gut, but don't have to pay for a full set.

    Lately people have been putting a gut or multi main, with a poly cross, going for the power and feel of the softer string, and the spin characteristics of the poly. This is an expensive proposition for most as this is probably the least durable blend that one can have.

    A few jumbled together closing thoughts.

    If you break syn gut, and multis, but are not ready for poly/kevlar because you either don't like the feel and stiffness, or don't have the batspeed, or have arm troubles. Try Head RIP control. It is a very durable synthetic with ribbon construction. Softer than poly/kevlar, and lasts a good long time for most players.

    If you like the idea of polyester with the added spin, and constant stringbed without having to adjust the strings, but you don't have the batspeed to really make it sing, (If you are currently playing poly and leaving it in for a month, then this is you), or if you like the idea of something that performs in a similar manner, but is softer feeling and more powerful. Try Prince Recoil. I was very impressed with it, and think it will help a large number of players. On the downside, it is pretty expensive.

    Lastly, if you want to try something, try it. Stringing is about experimentation, and don't let another person, or this handy dandy guide stop you. If you have only been playing a year, but you want to know what Luxilon feels like, then hey, give it a shot, you won't play your best tennis with it, but at least you will know what it is like. Just keep in mind the things I have written, and understand the things you are trying for fun, and the things you are trying to make you play better. Keep your health in mind above all else.

    J
     
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  3. Zhou

    Zhou Hall of Fame

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    Another Great Guide by the Great J011yroger.
    I put PHT in the mains because I like the spin and NXT in the because it really softens up the string bed.
     
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  4. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    Should it be as many hours we play per week.
    JR, Thanks a lot for the guide.
     
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  5. Pro_Tour_630

    Pro_Tour_630 Legend

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    thanks for this thoughtful review,

    You did not mention the most important aspect IMO in strings is the GAUGE of these strings and how they play.

    Stuff like most people play 16g, what will happen if you go 17g or 15g in open or dense pattern etc...... don't forget to mention us lonely (under %5) 18g players:)
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
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  6. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Not really, I was going to generalize and say restring every 3-4 months, but decided to go with the old standby, I might go back and change it.

    I don't really think someone who is not a string breaker, but plays 2 hours a day 5 days a week, needs to restring almost monthly. That is a bit of overkill.

    If you are not a string breaker then time is doing more damage to your strings, than hitting the ball is, hence my 3-4 month theory.

    J
     
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  7. cliuc

    cliuc New User

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    This thread should be made sticky ASAP!
     
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  8. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    LOL! I wrote half of the guide last night, and half this morning and totally forgot about gague. Last night I planned out what I wanted to say, and this morning I completely forgot to include it.

    Thank god for the edit function.

    J
     
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  9. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Loosing my mind at the tender age of 25

    J
     
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  10. ThA_Azn_DeViL

    ThA_Azn_DeViL Semi-Pro

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    very nice guide, i give it a 10 out of 10 :)
     
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  11. Pro_Tour_630

    Pro_Tour_630 Legend

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    no problem , there are these facts about string on TW

    String Facts


    • [*]Lower string tensions generate more power (providing string movement does not occur).
      [*]Higher string tensions generate more ball control (for experienced players).
      [*]A longer string (or string plane area) produces more power.
      [*]Decreased string density (fewer strings) generates more power.
      [*]Thinner string generates more power.*
      [*]More elastic strings generate more power. (Generally, what will produce more power will also absorb more shock load at impact.)
      [*]Softer strings, or strings with a softer coating, tend to vibrate less.
      [*]Thinner strings tend to produce more spin.
      [*]Decreased string density (fewer strings) generates more spin.
      [*]The more elastic the string, the more tension loss in the racquet after the string job.**
     
    #11
  12. Pro_Tour_630

    Pro_Tour_630 Legend

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    this is also a helpful link

    http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/LC/String/StringReference.html

    String Gauge Generally speaking, thinner strings offer improved playability while thicker strings offer enhanced durability. Tennis string gauges range from 15 (thickest) to 19 (thinnest), with half-gauges identified with an L (15L, 16L, etc), which is short for “light”. A 15L string is thinner than a 15 gauge but thicker than a 16 gauge string. Thinner strings also provide more spin potential by allowing the strings to embed into the ball more.

    Gauge Conversion

    USEuropeMillimeters
    14
    11 1.50-1.65
    15
    9.5 1.41-1.49
    15L
    9 1.33-1.41
    16
    8.5 1.26-1.34
    16L
    8 1.22-1.30
    17
    7.5 1.16-1.24
    18
    7 1.06-1.16
    19
    4 0.90-1.06
    20
    3.5 0.80-0.90
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
    #12
  13. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Looks good :D
     
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  14. jcstennis

    jcstennis Hall of Fame

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    ..."jive string"! Nice! :)

    Nice write up... first thread in a long time, that i sat and read the whole thing!!!

    Sticky, Sticky, Sticky!
     
    #14
  15. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Ya, I wasn't thrilled with/didn't agree with some of the stuff in there, and none of it was explained, hence my guide.

    J
     
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  16. Loco4Tennis

    Loco4Tennis Hall of Fame

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    i perticularly like this advise, well said!!
    also, lots of information on both posts, not sorry i read all of it :)
     
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  17. Lloyd Barcenilla

    Lloyd Barcenilla Professional

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    Funny that, i use polyester, and i see a lot of people on this board using it,

    Maybe i should try some syn gut or a full multi again, instead of thinking im a hard hitter and need a poly, as i do not actually break strings that often, i think im going to lose control if i switch from a poly, but its probably mostly my technique thats making me miss, rather than the strings.
     
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  18. nickb

    nickb Banned

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    Nice guide J...really impressive...

    There is just 1 thing I disagree with...I dont think multis hold tension better than syn guts at all...I find them much worse (they also go mushy fast).

    Nick
     
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  19. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    You are right. Multis fundamentally do not hold tension better than synthetic guts.
     
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  20. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    If you have two frames, string one up with a multi, or syn, and ask your hitting partner which one you hit the better ball with.

    J
     
    #20
  21. Zhou

    Zhou Hall of Fame

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    With my old racket I did not break strings often because I hit pretty flat. Now with my new racket, I use more spin so my strings are fraying.
     
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  22. BounceHitBounceHit

    BounceHitBounceHit Legend

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    Hey Jolly! Fantastic post, as usual. However I do disagree with your recommendation for Head Rip Control as a reasonably durable alternative to poly. I shred that stuff in no time flat. ;) CC
     
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  23. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    I have found it to be both ways, depending on brand and string, as well as how tight you string it.

    Lots of middling string breakers complain of multis going mushy, but I think they hang in there better than syn gut over time (resting time more than hitting time)

    Really to me it is a personal preferance thing and you have to experiment.

    To me personally, most syn guts generally are smoked in 15-20 mins, while multis play ok for a bit longer. And I feel hold tension better in the bag, so I gave them the edge.

    J
     
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  24. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Guys like us don't count. We can scowl at a package of multi or syn gut, and have it pop before it ever goes into the frame.

    RIP Control is a good string for a certain segment of the playing population, and it lasts pretty well when you string it straight up. It would get eaten alive in a hybrid though.

    I did however warn you that you wouldn't like it, and that it wouldn't give you the results you were looking for, but you were a doubting Craig and didn't listen.

    J
     
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  25. Automatix

    Automatix Hall of Fame

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    Great stuff J... I would only consider adding to the jumbled thoughts where you write about the Head RIP Control, something about trying really soft 3rd generation polys like Topspin Cyber Power at lower tension...
     
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  26. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    ^^ I have never played it, so I don't talk about stuff I don't know about :)

    In life I have found that to be a good way to avoid looking like an ass.

    :)

    J
     
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  27. iplaybetter

    iplaybetter Hall of Fame

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    i think cheep string is actualy underratd, my coach used tornament nylon on tour
     
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  28. Automatix

    Automatix Hall of Fame

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    A golden thought indeed! :)
     
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  29. BounceHitBounceHit

    BounceHitBounceHit Legend

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    True, so true! ;)

    In all fairness, you DID tell me I wouldn't like it. I was told by an 'authority' (uh-hum!) that it is in fact the SAME STRING as Isospeed Pro. It is not.

    CC
     
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  30. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Have you tried a Prince Recoil/Klip Legend blend yet?

    I am dying to know how it will play. I think it would be sick.

    My curiosity may get the better of me, and I might just have to fire up a couple of frames to see how it plays.

    J
     
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  31. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Jolly...thanks for another great guide!

    Your advice on the same stringer and same machine is spot on. I have been stringing for myself (Klippermate) since last Summer. In January, I ordered a set of racquets from TW and had them string it. The tension was the same, but they felt tighter and more stiff than mine. I use a drop-weight and TW probably uses an expensive electric stringer, so it made sense to me when you mentioned the different feel you get from different string machines.

    I liked the softer feel I got from my stringer. So I will continue to string for myself.
     
    #31
  32. BigApple

    BigApple Banned

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    Hey J,

    Great Review!

    You know what the funny thing is?

    A gut/poly hybrid will last about 4 hrs of hard hitting, with the poly breaking first! Then a multi/poly hybrid will snap cleanly in the mains in about 30 mins of hitting.

    Gut is cheaper than most multis in the long run, it lasts longer, and has a longer, more playable life.

    -BA
     
    #32
  33. nickb

    nickb Banned

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    Really the poly breaks first?...I have used gut mains, syngut/poly crosses and never ever broken a cross..its always the gut that breaks.

    Nick
     
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  34. Babb

    Babb Professional

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    That's true. More expensive string IS better, but most people convince themselves that they can tell a difference even though they can't.

    I can only tell a big difference between polyesters, multifilaments, and synthetic guts. Any more specific than comparing different types of string and my observations aren't so reliable.
     
    #34
  35. BigApple

    BigApple Banned

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    Hey Nick,

    I had VS 16/Timo 18 at 62/65 pounds. Don't know if it was the higher tension on the poly or the thin gauge, but I thought the thin poly would saw through the mains even faster!

    With a multi/poly hybrid, the multi is fully trashed while the poly is untouched.

    I'm now getting some decent life out of my VS gut/BB ALU Power hybrid. At lower tensions, the strings broke even faster than at a higher tension! At higher tensions the strings locked into place and prevented any excess moving that lower tensions gave. Usually my strings break faster with higher tensions, but not this time.

    I'm tired of switching strings and need to settle on something fast before outdoor season starts!

    -BA
     
    #35
  36. racquet_jedi

    racquet_jedi Professional

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    Should I let my dad, who pays for a lot of stuff and thinks that all tennis equipment is exactly the same, stop me???:wink:

    Great guide J011y!
     
    #36
  37. Richie Rich

    Richie Rich Legend

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    general rule for poly - it's completely dead by 20 hrs of hitting for most people so restringing is necessary. don't keep poly in when it's dead.
     
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  38. iplaybetter

    iplaybetter Hall of Fame

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    behind you, but i have to be somewhere else by the
    i do like x-1 but tecnifibre syn gut is raly solid and super cheep
    amd in all honesty most off us dont need much better
     
    #38
  39. jaykay

    jaykay Professional

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    Fabulous stuff...

    Excellent thread, Jo11y. AGAIN!

    Good job. And thank you.
     
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  40. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Poly breaks first in a VS/ALU blend with poly mains and gut crosses.

    J
     
    #40
  41. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Absolutely not, go get yourself a job, and continue on.

    J
     
    #41
  42. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    You can't really put a timer on it, that is why I like the grab a main and pull it out of position, let go, and see how fast it boings back into position test.

    I mean, I can break ALU in under 2 hours, while there are people who could play with it for 20+ and not even put a hint of a notch in it.

    J
     
    #42
  43. BigApple

    BigApple Banned

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    Exactly! Once you notice poly's going out of place, it's pretty much dead.

    Also, it depends how hard you knock. The harder you knock the faster poly goes dead. Especially the Luxilon line.

    Some people are more sensitive to string changes. Even some good players will not notice if their strings are dead or not. For recreational players, I would change a poly stringjob once a month at the least to prevent any injuries, poly can be pretty rough once it goes dead.

    I cannot stand poly after 3-4 hrs, but it's pretty much burnt out by then.

    -BA
     
    #43
  44. Richie Rich

    Richie Rich Legend

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    in my experience with many poly's, you can put a timer on them. most (if not all) are done by 20 hours. of course you can break poly's before 20 hours but for those who don't it's probably a time limit. i play with an 18x20 frame and i don't break poly. but i know that it feels really tired and dead at around 20 hours.

    i only say that because i know people who keep luxilon in their frames for 6 months. they probably shouldn't be using it but that's besides the point. if you are going ti use poly you have to realize the string is going to lose resiliency pretty quickly.
     
    #44
  45. Richie Rich

    Richie Rich Legend

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    fair enough but if you hit a decently heavy ball you can expect, on average, max 20 hours of playability. for some people this is 3 days, for others it's a month. that's why i specified hours, not days
     
    #45
  46. BigApple

    BigApple Banned

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    It depends truly on what poly your using. For most players I string for, copolys like Topspin Cyberflash and Pro Supex Big Ace play well for longer than any Luxilon, or 1st gen poly.

    Most copoly's will have a longer playable life than polys.

    -BA
     
    #46
  47. bumblebee

    bumblebee Rookie

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    hey, is BDE gut good?
    and if so, is it better as hybrid crosses, mains, or full?
     
    #47
  48. Richie Rich

    Richie Rich Legend

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    true. i had polymono in my racquet for 5 hours before i cut it out. i can get 20 hours out of cyberflash or SPPP with no problem before i notice the dead feeling.
     
    #48
  49. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    Well, that means that you are probably hitting with higher caliber players. I could probably make a set of syn gut last for months hitting against some of my older team mates that only play doubles. If I play a few sets of singles against another good player then they probably won't last more than a set.

    I would love to find some guys around here that could bang the ball well enough to bust ALU in a couple of hours. Just don't know very many. I guess I could crank the ball machine up as high as possible and go to town on that, but it's not really the same thing. :)
     
    #49
  50. LanEvo

    LanEvo Hall of Fame

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    how long does a stringjob of poly last on a racquet? before it goes dead
     
    #50

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