VS / Pre-Stretched Focus Hex Experiment

Discussion in 'Strings' started by TimothyO, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,592
    Location:
    Baseline
    Picked up the experimental frame from the stringers today and hit for an hour with my son. He hits full western, big loopy ground strokes that leap from the court. His pace is actually lower than his younger brother as a result but timing and positioning against his shots is tougher as they spin, curve, and jump so much.

    Frame: Pure Storm GT modified to SW 330

    Mains: VS Longevity @ 57# (NOT pre-stretched!)

    Crosses: Pre-Stretched Focus Hex 1.23 @ 52#

    In this case pre-stretching means, "kill it". I told the stringer about the experiment and asked him to pull as hard and as long as he could. He cut the string into two 20' segments so the second half would be safe for later use. The pre-stretched segment survived the extraordinary abuse.

    After hitting a bit with the modded frame I stripped off the tape in the head to reduce the SW to somewhere around 317 or so which was that frame's unmodified SW. Of course the extra heavy Shock Shield grip and silicone in the handle remained.

    SPIN
    Spin is mostly a function of RHS and technique. Hardware can enhance spin but technique must be sound. There's evidence that low friction between mains and crosses enhances spin and this hybrid exhibit extraordinary low friction. The mains slide silently and smoothly over the crosses.

    This was probably the most spin-friendly setup I've tried. There were two very clear bits of evidence for this and both pertain to RHS's role in spin generation.

    Generally, faster RHS means more spin. But faster RHS also means less accuracy and consistency. With this hybrid I was able to swing slower and still generate very effective topspin to drive the ball into the court and then see it leap a considerable distance and height off the court.

    There are two strokes that I personally struggle with when trying to hit with topspin: my one-handed backhand and my kick serve. On the kick serve I can generate great spin but my lack of experience means controlling depth is difficult. On my one-handed backhand my timing can suffer when trying to hit with extra topspin.

    In both cases this hybrid provided enough spin access that I could slow down my RHS, thus increasing my accuracy and consistency, while still generating very effective topspin. I suppose it's like using a powerful frame to generate higher pace with a slow stroke. The hybrid allowed my to generate accurate, consistent topspin with an easier-to-hit lower RHS.

    Given my past experience with Focus Hex I'm not surprised that it's spin friendly but I am delighted at how much the spin access was enhanced. This "lower speed spin access" is a keeper since it augments spin primary benefit: larger margin for error. I was able to hit the ball higher over the net and still inside the baseline/service line using topspin at much lower Racquet Head Speed.

    COMFORT
    This was the biggest surprise. Conventional wisdom is that pre-stretching poly would kill it. Un-pre-stretched Focus Hex becomes uncontrollable over time. Other polys become painful. In this case that famous MSV comfort was fully intact. The best indicator I can give is my son's comment when he tried the frame: "It feels like a pillow". This hybrid was far, far more comfortable than either fresh or aged Luxilon 4G. I did not expect this at all.

    CONTROL & DURABILITY
    I put this two together because both are TBD. Focus Hex crosses provide good control initially but this drops significantly with age. The pre-stretched FH provided control as good as or better than 4G. The question is whether or not this will be true with the pre-stretched FH over time. In theory tension loss should be low enough that control will not suffer. I should have a good idea by Monday night or so after team practice since FH control can drop pretty fast compared to 4G's extraordinary longevity.

    FEEL
    Normally I'm perfectly happy with muted setups. I like hitting with a pillow! :) But this might be one downside to the setup. Even for me on touch shots I felt like I couldn't get a feel for the ball. I executed just fine (Take that EDWARD!) but there was less connection to the ball compared to even the very stiff 4G. On the other hand the stringbed had a bright, exciting pop compared to my VS/4G frames. It's difficult to explain, especially in light of the fact that the FH frame felt lower powered than the 4G frames. It's truly a paradox that I can't understand. At low speed touch shots there was less feel. On high speed impacts there was a delightful pop, especially on flat shots. Weird!

    HIGH SW versus LOWER SW
    Hitting with the two swing weights was a fun last minute experiment. The setup felt even lower powered than VS/4G. And there was so much spin that even with the higher SW frame shots remained in the baseline. OTOH, the lower SW frame felt really great too. Sometimes I've felt that lower SW frames can make it harder to generate spin. When I first acquired these PSGTs I HATED them unmodified and wrote that I couldn't recommend them unmodified. But even without the extra lead in the hoop I had tremendous fun hitting with the lower SW version. I still feel like it needs a wee bit of augmentation but maybe only to the low 320s instead 330.

    More to come as the jury is till out on durability and control over time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
    #1
  2. WileyCoyote

    WileyCoyote Rookie

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Messages:
    154
    Great Work

    Thank you for thinking outside the box with this post. However, I am dumbfounded that you have not had responses to it.

    I will try the poly prestretch as you did it and see what happens. I have been using CoFocus 1.18 with Wilson NG 1.30. If you think the CoFocus is not a good candidate, please advise. If you have any real idea of how hard the stringer pulled on the prestretch, please tell me. Safety glasses will be used.

    Thanks again for being creative.

    Harry
     
    #2
  3. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,592
    Location:
    Baseline
    Well, there's been at least one indirect response. Travlerajm, a member for whom I have great respect, is also conducting a poly-prestretch experiment. It is admittedly a very weird experiment since it's contrary to conventional wisdom.

    But if manufacturers pre-stretch their polys and then sell them, why not?

    In fact, after hitting with this setup again yesterday morning I'm more convinced than ever that some polys with superior tension maintenance (for polys anyway) might be pre-stretched in some manner but not marketed that way.

    For example, 4G has amazing tension maintenance and control over the long haul and is very stiff. Maybe it's pre-stretched? RPM Team is another candidate.

    Based on my hitting experience yesterday I'm having a second frame strung with this pre-stretched hybrid so I can do head-to-head comparisons of different SWs with the same setup. The third frame will remain strung with my standard VS/4G setup for comparison purposes too.

    So far this plays like a VS/4G hybrid but with more comfort, far more spin potential, and more pop (well, any pop is more than pop than 4G offers!).

    Control has been outstanding so far, just need to see how this hybrid ages. Tweaking the lead in my hoop yesterday I can see how this hybrid might work better with a lower SW.

    CoFocus would be another excellent candidate for this experiment since it starts out so soft and slippery.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
    #3
  4. ProRadTour

    ProRadTour Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2012
    Messages:
    219
    Wouldn't surprise me at all if 4G is just Big Banger Original Pre-stretched with a new color.

    Great experiment, keep us posted on how the string bed ages.

    What about trying Solinco Outlast pre-stretched?
     
    #4
  5. colowhisper

    colowhisper Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Messages:
    531
    I look forward the following this post too, thanks for the research. I have been stringing with a similar but less intense prestretch recently with VS mains and CoFocus crosses. I fast pull the gut with no prestretch and I very slowly pull the crosses and leave each cross sit on the constant pull machine for 30 seconds. Not sure how much prestretch that is vs your pro stringer, but I definetley like the results. I think the main reason this works is to keep the tensions closer together between the mains and crosses, otherwise the gut holds true and the ply drops fast and difference makes bed unpredictable. Just happen to have a pack of focus hex that I will try on the next stringing so I can add something here too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
    #5
  6. corners

    corners Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    5,441
    I think that manufacturers usually pre-stretch polys before the plastic has cooled and set, but I'm not sure.
     
    #6
  7. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,592
    Location:
    Baseline
    Outlast provided the most spin of any poly cross that I've tried but it died a horrible, quick death becoming uncomfortable and losing control. I suspect softer polys that die a comfortable, trampoline-like death are probably the best candidates for this experiment.

    Tonight I played a scrimmage set during team practice. It was doubles, not my favorite, but my partner and I won easily 6-0 against two of the most experienced players on the team (4.0 singles players, mid-high B doubles).

    The setup was as above (VS Longevity / Focus Hex 1.23 at 57/52 with the FH pre-stretched.) Based on comments from PowerPlayer I changed the frame a bit to 342g, about 10-11 pts HL, and SW probably around 322 or so. Will measure SW tomorrow. Loads of lead in the handle butt, just a little at 10/2.

    The string and frame taken together were confidence inspiring. Plenty of stability against harder serves while still being very maneuverable. Most importantly it provided tons of easy access to spin and great precision. Very happy with this hybrid.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
    #7
  8. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,592
    Location:
    Baseline
    That would make sense. One challenge in that approach might be maintenance of gauge. Might be easier to maintain an accurate gauge post-cooling.
     
    #8
  9. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2006
    Messages:
    4,415
    Will try my pre-stretched stringbed against the wall tonight.

    I've been scheming how I can best design an easy-to-use pre-stretcher to fit easily in my living room. I'm thinking a simple 6-ft-tall vertical post, with a stable base, and 3 pulleys rigidly bolted to the sides (two at the top, and one near the bottom) would do the job. I could anchor one end of the string to the base, loop it around a top pulley, then the bottom pulley, then the other top pulley, and then hang a bucket from the other end. Then I could fill the bucket with ~100 lbs of steel weights and leave it overnight. Easy and simple, yet it should yield everlasting poly, right?
     
    #9
  10. PKfan1

    PKfan1 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2012
    Messages:
    430
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Hey traveler have you measured or atleast noticed the diameter of the string before and after? I am curious as to how much it decreases with all of this stretching.
     
    #10
  11. WileyCoyote

    WileyCoyote Rookie

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Messages:
    154
    Prestretching

    You guys are going to way too much trouble to do your prestretching in a small area.

    I do mine in the hanger right next to where I keep the Gulfstream. I clamp one end in a vise and pull it full length all at one time.

    Now, doesn't that sound a lot easier?

    Harry
     
    #11
  12. corners

    corners Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    5,441
    How long do you keep it under tension? Trav is attempting to keep it under tension long enough for it to "settle."
     
    #12
  13. JT_2eighty

    JT_2eighty Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,477
    I'm all for testing new setups and adjusting what we do to strings based on new research, but something in me is finding all this new pre-stretching and/or extra lube business to be a bit overboard?

    The best way to improve one's game is still going to be just find a singular setup that feels good, and focus on not changing your equipment so that you can refine your technique.

    Not to say people should stop experimenting or trying new things, as it's great to read about various setups and everything, and fun to experiment to be sure; but in the end, strings still age and will always play better when they are fresh. No amounts of lube and/or prestretching is going to change that.

    But don't let me poopoo on the parade. I'll go back to using regular gut/poly in my outdated frame until the string breaks.
     
    #13
  14. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Messages:
    2,351
    Location:
    SF, CA
    JT: I believe the intent of the experiments is to find a technique that will maintain poly tension maintenance for more than 15 hours. Or until the string breaks. What do you do when the poly goes dead on your gut/poly job? Restring the entire job or just the poly?

    Adult males are just male kids who 'grew up.' Shrinks say that we should all let our 'inner child' out assuming that we ever grew out of that phase. :twisted:
     
    #14
  15. JT_2eighty

    JT_2eighty Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,477
    Sometimes I will replace the poly only. I simply clamp the racquet First, then cut the crosses out from throat to head, to mimic the stresses the frame receives upon stringing from head to throat.

    Sometimes I just play the job til something snaps. Honestly, the more and more I use the setup, (and I do tinker too, just with different poly crosses here and there) I've noticed that not "that much" really changes as the strings age. I have some used up gut/poly setups and the mains still slide back into place. I think it is also proof of the TWU experiments where they assert that gut secretes some natural oils that allow string on string friction to remain low over time. There is also good evidence on the boards from posters that note the gut/poly "gets better with age".

    Also note that since we are now learning that the only thing happening when "strings die" is that the string on string friction is increasing, then one can also assert that poly crosses in a gut/poly sets are not actually "going dead", especially if the string on string friction in a gut/poly setup remains low due to the relationship of gut mains to poly crosses: that gut continues to slide over poly crosses quite well, even as the gut notches. As we also know gut to be the most elastic string material, and the best at holding tension, it is the most efficient main for this reason, and continues to snap-back into place more efficiently than other strings. I also recall the TWU prof also noted that string on string friction is often lower when you have two different materials (i.e. gut/poly) as compared to the same poly upon itself. In fact, two different polys in a hybrid also yield good results as far as a longer-lasting full poly setup... for those not wanting gut mains.

    I would simply say go ahead and experiment as you please, but don't let it hinder your progression as a player, as I think too much experimentation can be detrimental to your growth as a player. I definitely have fallen into obsessive bouts of string and/or racquet setup tinkering, but then my technique would waver and change and ultimately declined due to too much experimenting. Going back to my 'tried and true' setup, I've been playing better by eliminating those thoughts you have on court about "this setup or that" being the cause of good or bad events, etc.

    When you find a "really good" setup, the tendency is to then find "one better". Sometimes we just need to settle on the "really good" one, so that we can then better our game.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2013
    #15
  16. corners

    corners Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    5,441
    Yeah, gut seems to be the best main for the reasons you mention. The TW Professor also found that gut mains/copoly crosses was the only setup that actually reduced in friction the longer he rubbed them together.

    Travlerajm says that kevlar on copoly crosses also maintains low-friction action for the life of the stringbed. He thinks this is because the braided kevlar kind of squishes or flattens out and so doesn't abrade the cross as much as a hard, round main like a copoly would.

    It's good to be reminded at least once a week that we're all loony, equipment-obsessed fanatics and that we should really be practicing rather than tinkering! Usually this unsolicited advice comes from someone who is not a documented looney tinkerer himself ;)

    BTW, have you ever tried gut mains/Monogut ZX crosses?
     
    #16
  17. JT_2eighty

    JT_2eighty Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,477
    I have not yet tried Monogut ZX. I'm really trying to be good, and not buy any more strings until I use up the ones I already have... so it may be a few years before I get to try it! LOL :lol:
     
    #17
  18. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,592
    Location:
    Baseline
    I pretty much agree and there are two extremes here.

    Extreme A: You start playing tennis, pick your first frame, and never change no matter the result. If the frame isn't a good fit then you may adopt bad and even unhealthy habits to adjust to the frame and never develop to your full potential.

    Extreme B: You start playing tennis and never figure out the style of frame and string that works for you. You radically change frames and strings constantly which makes it harder to develop consistent strokes.

    Somewhere in between is what I believe to be a rational middle ground: spend time finding something that works for your body and game; stick with it as much as possible perhaps tweaking as you develop; and limit experiments to tweaks around the edges so as not to hurt your stroke development.

    I tried A when I first started playing and developed some nasty TE.

    I then struggled through B trying to find something that made sense to me and felt natural. During that time I learned the importance of getting a good fit.

    I'm now solidly in the middle. I know that high 11oz to low 12oz, SW 320 to 330, head size 95-98", flex at the bottom half of the scale, and 16 mains works best for me. With those specs I know my favorite string is gut mains and smooth poly crosses around 55/50 to 57/52. Anything else is a minor detail which is fun to tweak and experiment with while not inhibiting my development.
     
    #18
  19. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,592
    Location:
    Baseline
    That's true in my case.

    I love gut/poly and don't see how tweaking the choice of poly cross can really hurt one's game, at least at rec level. If trying a new poly cross next time I re-string means that I save money down the road by finding something that lasts longer, then why not?
     
    #19
  20. JT_2eighty

    JT_2eighty Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,477
    Yea, that all sounds about right. I just see the prestretching as an additional variable, which added to the mix can throw other things off. A prestretch will make the string a little stiffer, if using the same tension as before, so then you have to adjust tension if you don't want overall stiffness and feel to change. Then by changing tension to adjust for the prestretch, there could be more factors that waterfall into necessitating more changes. But, if it works and gives people a longer lasting stringbed and all the other new tension and other changes don't mess you up, that's cool!
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2013
    #20
  21. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,592
    Location:
    Baseline
    The "art" of pre-stretch is certainly cause for concern over consistency. Seems like every stringer has a different method!

    But we who pay to have our frames strung by others deal with that anyway. At a local shop you can request the same stringer but that might not always happen. And they have multiple machines which might be calibrated differently.
     
    #21
  22. treo

    treo Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2004
    Messages:
    370
    I did an experiment with my crank machine. I took a piece of poly and tightened it to 58lbs. The crank went to 10 (using clock face as reference) when it locked. I let it sit for a few minutes under tension then I released it and cranked again and this time it locked at 7 o'clock. My take is prestretching makes poly stiffer. Kevlar locks at 7 o'clock.

    Unstretched syn gut takes 1 full crank revolution and 5 o'clock to lock and after stretching it locks at 4 o'clock.
     
    #22
  23. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    19,968
    Location:
    On my iPhone
    Tim nice to see the setup is working for you. If you get really into stringing, I'd suggest hunting down a stringway machine. It is a constant pull machine and you will get much better tension maintenance this way.

    It is the machine used in the JET method. I don't use that method, but I do let the machine tension my poly for at least 5 seconds before clamping off.
     
    #23
  24. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,592
    Location:
    Baseline
    Here we are nearly two weeks later and the string beds feel excellent. Very comfortable, lots of spin, great control.

    The most interesting aspect of this setup is the level of notching of the mains compared to the condition of the crosses.

    The crosses remain perfectly smooth and the mains glide across them with zero dents and zero "ripples" on the surface of the crosses. We're talking nearly freshly-strung perfectly smooth.

    Meanwhile the Focus Hex is embedded more deeply in the super-thick VS Longevity than I've ever seen in a gut/poly hybrid.

    Usually you can pull the crosses out of the mains and they move back into the groove with a loud clicking noise, almost like snapping together a plastic model kit.

    In this case the crosses below #4 are nearly impossible to move. They're locked into the grooves they've worn into the surface of the gut. Only with great difficulty and some discomfort can I pull them from the groove. It actually sort of hurts my fingertips when trying to dislodge some of them.

    If this had been VS Touch it would probably already have broken and Team would definitely have broken by now. The extra thick Longevity is holding up nicely.
     
    #24

Share This Page