why would top pros use lead tape?

Discussion in 'Pros' Racquets and Gear' started by treblings, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    they get their racquets customized exactly how they want them anyway. so is there an advantage in using lead?
     
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  2. Tempest344

    Tempest344 Professional

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    The lead would part of that customisation
     
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  3. master_stringer_mitchy

    master_stringer_mitchy Banned

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    Most pros rackets come out of the factory quite light, lead is used to add the desired weight and balance and also to match every racket they have so there all identical. Its almost impossible to do this from the mould in the facotry
     
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  4. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    see that´s what i don´t understand. if a pro knows what he wants regarding weight, swing weight etc., than why not produce them to that exact specifications. wouldn´t that be better qualitywise than to add lead?
     
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  5. alextennis0805

    alextennis0805 Rookie

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    nadl puts lead tape also he puts it under the grommet
     
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  6. ag200boy

    ag200boy Hall of Fame

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    no, it is much easier for a factory to produce a bunch of light frames so that players can get places like P1 and **** to add weight until they are perfect
     
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  7. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Because for a "regular" pro, it's not cost effective. For a top tenner, the manufacturers see a potential ROI. But, for pros outside of that elite group, they can get the same thing by employing racket techs.
     
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  8. mary fierce

    mary fierce Banned

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    Uhhh, yeah, but guys like Nadal, Roddick, Sampras are in the elite group and use lead tape.
     
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  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Maybe pros use different weights and balances for different court conditions, like speed, abrasiveness, humidity, temperatures, altitudes, their physical and mental beings, and all that jazz.
    If the racket came exactly "right", then there is little room for adjustment.
     
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  10. ericsson

    ericsson Hall of Fame

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    Cos it much easier to fine tune them with lead and silicon.
     
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  11. Ronny

    Ronny Hall of Fame

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    not all racquets from the factories are made to their exact desired specs, whereas if u use lead u cna make them the exact same. if not, at least closer
     
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  12. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    But then, why would Sampras still use lead tape when the k88 is supposed to be made exactly to his specifications ?
     
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  13. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Well, if you're talking about now, I don't think Sampras qualifies as one of the few, the proud. So, the racket may or may not be close to his specs. He could be getting them off the line with no weight added.

    If you're talking about when he was numero uno, it was because he stockpiled the entire St. Vincent production run after they closed. So, Sampras played with what we played with abeit heavily customized. Jim Courier got what was left over after Sampras picked the frames he wanted.
     
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  14. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    Hey Andrew,
    Does anyone with real knowledge say this, or is it just something that is talked about around here?
    Hope all is well downunder..be in touch if you like.
    Mojo
     
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  15. JediMindTrick

    JediMindTrick Professional

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    To produce a racquet to exact specifications, the factory would have to add lead tape. Obviously the pros preffer to do that themselves instead of trusting some underpaid factory worker.
     
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  16. Gorecki

    Gorecki G.O.A.T.

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    that raises a good question...

    if Wilson made a Sampras Autograph, we are to assume that it would be made to his specs. that alone tells us that at least wilson regards him as important as any current pro.

    and if they do make pj's of older frames for pros, i hardly believe that they are stripping old frames and pjeing them...

    so the question remains... why dont they get custom weight and balance frames?

    i for sure dont know the answer, and so far all the explanations are pretty much worthless!
     
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  17. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Well reason would tell us that if Sampras' spec was out of what is playable by at least part of the masses, Wilson would have to defer to something more palatable. In other words, Wilson ain't gonna build something that only Sampras can play with and then try to sell it to Joe Blow.
     
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  18. makinao

    makinao Rookie

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    My hypothesis is that players will change the properties of their racquet from time to time. I read once how many players would use different tensions and strings for different surfaces. The same could be true for the frame. The frame is only the starting point, and because the customization is done with easily applied lead tape, it allows the player to vary the setup depending on the situation.
     
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  19. Gorecki

    Gorecki G.O.A.T.

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    88 sqin? maybe its me (pure osizer) but that seems freightening to the average joe...
     
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  20. Gorecki

    Gorecki G.O.A.T.

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    that is so far the only choice that makes sense at least to me...
     
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  21. master935

    master935 Rookie

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    pros like to do it because they don't always like the same thing. AND, it's more accurate to put on little bits of lead here and there as they please. you can also change the properties of the balance and(in the end effect) change the recoil of the ball. if you put a large amount of lead in a small(lets say 3 inch strip) at the very tip of the racquet, it would feel as though the racquet it's-self were only a few inches wide. on top of that it would act like a hammer and there would be little to no felt recoil from the ball.

    on the other hand if you put the same amount of weight at three places(2 inch strips at the tip and either side of the head) the racquet would feel less head heavy, have a lower swing-weight and feel as though you were using the whole string bed(not just the three inches one would feel using the other weighting). doing this would also lengthen and widen the sweet spot, the other method would only lengthen it(although it would feel longer than that of the three strips of lead).

    now these are merely the dramatic differences in feel. you can fine tune them to find the right combination for you, pros have this down to a T, and they may have different weight preferences for different surfaces(another probable reason the use stock frames with lead).

    if you want to know how I learned all that, it's because I've tried all of it. I use a stock N-pro open with 1 ounce of lead at the throat(on the Y, just under the stringbed)(pics http://echopic.com/4vx7). this is what seems to suit me best right now.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Post number nine? Blah blah blah blah.....:shock:
     
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  23. DNShade

    DNShade Professional

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    Real knowledge here. Have held and swung Pete's actual KPS88s and they are real KPS88 and they do have Nate's leadwork on there as well as having a synthetic grip under the TournaGrip not the leather. All just fine tuning the sticks to his liking etc.
     
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  24. master935

    master935 Rookie

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    who's post are you replying too?
     
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  25. akoni

    akoni Rookie

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    it's easier to make a racquet heavier than lighter.
     
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  26. BigApple

    BigApple Banned

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    Even you have pros exact specs, you cant change the mold from the factory. They are not able to make one area more "dense" or heavier than another by putting more graphite. That would change the playing characteristics of the racquet! The lead allows for fine tuning, and quick adjustments when needed. Many pros add lead for clay, and take off lead for hard courts. Without lead tape, it would mean you would need new racquets almost every court change!

    -BA
     
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  27. master935

    master935 Rookie

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    Arguing for the other side, ^ ^ that would explain why pros have so many racquets :D
     
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  28. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    No, I'm talking about now. Wilson have stated that the k88 is made specifically for Pete Sampras, not as a popular commercial release (according to Tennis magazine, "Wilson is not expecting the frame to appeal to a wide segment of the tennis public. It’s also not part of what the company considers its core group of frames"). That being the case - racquet made specifically for Sampras, not intended as core commercial release, etc - it does stand to reason that if all of that were true, they'd have made the racquet to exactly his specifications. If they were going to release something that wasn't to his specifications, why make it so heavy (unless that is the eventual weight of his frames after he adds all of his bits and pieces - lead tape, specially designed handles, power pads, etc).

    Remember, the k88 is Sampras's signature racquet. Now, given that only Roddick and Federer have signature frames I'd absolutely be calling Sampras "one of the few, one of the proud".
     
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  29. Blade0324

    Blade0324 Hall of Fame

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    Speaking not from experience with top pros but open players and other high level college players that I know and have known they do change their set ups a little bit from match to match. More often than court surface they change for the opponent. I have known several that add lead at 3&9 or in the throat when they play against players that hit with more power or spin. This allows them to maintain the same kind of game they like to play against different players. Why would top pros be any different. As others have said there is simply NO way for the factories to make every racquet to precisely the same spec. Since this is the reality of production the manufacturers must produce frames slightly lighter than what is requested and then lead is added to ensure that every frame matches. I know with my frames I started with one and then every one I got after that I weighed on my scale and measured before buying to be sure it weighed less than the original and was not different in length. This allowed me to match every other frame to the first one by adding weight where needed. I know have 5 frames that are all exactly the same in weight, balance, and even SW.
     
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  30. lawrence

    lawrence Hall of Fame

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    wouldnt the logical and simple answer to all of this be, for example:

    the new wilson line of 88's (sampras racket) are made so they are still playable by the general public. if they were as heavy as sampras leaded them up to be, well, lets say pretty much no one would be able to use it, leading to bad sales
     
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  31. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Well, that might be the logical and sensible answer for why the retail k88 would weigh less than the version Sampras uses. However, it isn't a logical and sensible reason for why he still needs to use lead tape. It would only make sense if you were of the opinion that Wilson either wouldn't or couldn't tailor a select batch of racquets to Pete's exact specifications so that he didn't need to use lead tape. Of course, we know they can do it.

    Perhaps it's superstition. He's always used lead tape on the outside of his frames and doesn't want to change anything, even if it could easily be hidden. Perhaps it's trust and he needs to see that it's there. Perhaps he even thinks it makes a difference to the feel. Who knows?

    End of the day, it doesn't matter in the slightest and just makes for a friendly little discussion.
     
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  32. 80'stennis

    80'stennis Rookie

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    I hear you on that. You were the first to give that view. Gotta give credit where credit's due!
     
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  33. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    I think you've hit on it here. Sampras is probably more like the rest of us than we'd like to think or he'd like to admit. He probably likes seeing a huge wad of lead tape on his frames...makes him feel like the man or gives him a nostalgic feeling.

    Also, I think a key point that we've all kind of overlooked is that Sampras has the leather grip removed and a synthetic put on, so it's not exactly the same frame as Sampras uses.

    Yeah....nice ain't it?
     
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  34. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    I'm not disputing that his frame comes out of the kps88 mould. to say they are real kps88's you would have to know the composition/layup of his racquets which may or may not be the same as the consumer grade kps88. Nor do you know the specs of the racquets Sampras uses before customization which may seriously differ from the consumer grade k88. often pro racquets are made lighter than their consumer grade counterparts to allow lots of room for customization. The graphite prepreg used in racquets come in different forms...for example the racquets found in Walmart are not of as good quality as pro shoppe racquets...it is reasonable to think that the graphite prepreg used in pros racquets is of better quality than the consumer grade/pro shoppe stuff...even tho they may come out of the same moulds.
     
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  35. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^^^yeah, I see your point. Sampras' frame could be made of wood. To make absolutely certain, the frame in question would have to be sent to the FBI's forensic lab for a battery of testing.

    To add, the frames we purchase stock, in this case the kps88, they may be made out of aluminum. But again, we will never know.
     
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  36. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    ^^^^come on, Drak don't be like that. You know good and well Sampras' frame isn't made out of wood. It's made from the good prepgrag graphite that only Sampras and Federer can get.


    On another note, if this frame were not a retail frame, it would be the first one Sampras had ever had. His previous frames came right off the assembly line in St. Vincent. And one has to ask....for an old pro who plays only the occassional exo, why would Wilson go to such lengths.
     
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  37. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^^^Good points.

    To add, I wonder if the paint on his frame is really paint, or photoshopped??

    Lastly, I wonder if Babolat actually kills cats, and makes string just for him out of their intestines?? I mean, it would make sense that they would go to these lengths since he is a pro. Right??
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
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  38. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Didn't someone post a pic of Sampras with the K88 with a lot of lead still visible? My K88 is 13.0 oz strung. Maybe Sampras wants it as 13.5, but that would just not sell to the average club guy. I would not bet that an autograph racquet means Sampras does not customize it even more.
     
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  39. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Well, special graphite....special gut.....the transitive property of tennis.....

    Although, I have it good authority that Babolat doesn't use cats for Sampras' gut. No, they are using shrews. That's right, shrew intestines. Unfortunately, not just any shew will do. Sampras insists on the Etruscan Shew which unfortunately for that species is the smallest and had the most tender intestinal track. It takes, on average, 3.5MM Etruscan Shews for one set of gut. That's because the intestinal track of the Etruscan Shrew is only 1/16 of an inch long. Further restricting production is the fact that Sampras has been known to prefer the small intestinal portion of the Etruscan Shrew and has before rejected sets of gut that included the large intesting. Yes, his feel is legendary.

    Not many know this, but Sampras also doesn't use ink on his stencils. Well, not ink that is man-made. No, Sampras prefers the ink of the giant squid which is some 1/4 gram lighter per cubic liter than regular ink. Sampras employs specially equipped divers from Japan. These divers "milk" giant squid at great depths to obtain the ink. It is very costly because it takes two divers. One has to scare the squid into ejecting the ink and another collects it quickly before it disperses in the depths.

    The graphite that makes up Sampras' frames is also of a very special build. The material used in Sampras' rackets is selected from the radar absorbing material that is used on the F-117 Stealth Fighter, B-2 Spirit Bomber, and F-22 Raptor. The material is selected from batches made before the aircraft manufacturers get their quantities. Wilson does this to ensure that only the best materials are used. In the upper echelons of Wilson, this product is referred to as Ultrapreg or Stealthpreg.

    Lastly, Sampras' rackets aren't painted at all. Wilson, in addition to the special radar absorbing material described above anodizes it. This is done to ensure that the flex of the frame is consistent from stem to stern, head to butt as it were. The anodization of the frames is very costly, but it ensures that the frame color is constant from the outer layer to the center. Sampras requires this as differing colors can be a distraction to him while he's playing the occassional exo.

    I certainlly hope this helps explain a very complicated manufacturing process and dispells any urban myths that have grown around Sampras.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
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  40. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    But I have also read that custom PJs for the top pros are done by hand at a cost of several hundred dollars each.

    I am thinking of opening an outsourcing company which will get it done much cheaper abroad. It will also be cheaper to do the customization work there as it is labor-intensive.
     
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  41. vsbabolat

    vsbabolat Legend

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    And where did you read this urban legend?:roll: They are done at the factory with no more cost as applying the paint to any other racquet.

    Or are you joking??
     
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  42. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I read it in a newspaper article. I believe the NYT had a section on this during a USO.
     
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  43. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Here:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/usopen04/news/story?id=1872892

    "Quietly, for the past several decades, racket painting has become a common practice in the tennis industry without many consumers being aware of it. It emerged as racket companies sought to break out their latest and greatest in technology; players, though, often prefer to use the same model that allowed them to reach elite status.

    Painting was first seen as a temporary solution to that issue, but it's still prevalent today. Graphic designers paint the rackets to resemble the marketed model to the very detail, including the model names, at a cost of hundreds of dollars per racket."
     
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  44. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    My company, Global Paint Jobs Inc., will do it for $10 a racquet. After all expenses including labor, my profit will be $8 per frame. I will market it as "affordable paint jobs for everyone."
     
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  45. vsbabolat

    vsbabolat Legend

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    If that were the case companies would go broke at spending hundreds dollars per racquet on top of the manufacturing costs.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
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  46. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    They do it only for the top pros, on whom they already spend millions in endorsement. In fact, to get a return on their endorsement money, they have to pay for the PJs, otherwise it is a total waste.
     
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  47. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Someone cut open a head Prestige in another thread, and the handle had a lead beam running down the middle....stock.

    So, maybe there are certain weights that can't be achieved with just graphite? Maybe other materials have to be introduced to get up to 12 oz+ weights, and lead is the easiest one to use to achieve this?
     
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  48. vsbabolat

    vsbabolat Legend

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    They don't just do it for the top pros. There are guys that play on the Challenger level and on the Futures level get "Paint Jobs".

    So you thimk it costs hundreds of dollars to paint a racquet red and put some decals on.
    It does not cost anymore to put cosmetics on a Pro's racquet or on a cunsomer racquet at the Factory.
     
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  49. matchmaker

    matchmaker Hall of Fame

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    So it doesn't cost hundreds but millions per frame actually.:)
     
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  50. vsbabolat

    vsbabolat Legend

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    If you think these cost hundreds of dollars to produce with their pretty decals to produce. Than I have a Bridge in Brooklyn for sale. It is cheap just a few thousand dollars and it is yours.

    I was told what it cost to produce a tennis racquet. But since I don't have a article about it I won't repeat it.
     
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