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-   -   The J011yroger guide to strings. (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=184942)

J011yroger 03-08-2008 04:39 AM

The J011yroger guide to strings.
 
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...

J011yroger 03-08-2008 04:39 AM

...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

Zhou 03-08-2008 05:15 AM

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.

Sentinel 03-08-2008 05:18 AM

Quote:

The general rule of thumb is to restring as many times per year as you play per week.
Should it be as many hours we play per week.
JR, Thanks a lot for the guide.

Pro_Tour_630 03-08-2008 05:22 AM

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:)

J011yroger 03-08-2008 05:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sentinel (Post 2144897)
Should it be as many hours we play per week.
JR, Thanks a lot for the guide.

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

cliuc 03-08-2008 05:29 AM

This thread should be made sticky ASAP!

J011yroger 03-08-2008 05:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pro_Tour_630 (Post 2144902)
thanks for this thoughtful review,

You did not mention the most important aspect IMO in string/stringing and that 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:)

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

J011yroger 03-08-2008 05:30 AM

Loosing my mind at the tender age of 25

J

ThA_Azn_DeViL 03-08-2008 05:30 AM

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

Pro_Tour_630 03-08-2008 05:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by J011yroger (Post 2144913)
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

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.**

Pro_Tour_630 03-08-2008 05:36 AM

this is also a helpful link

http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/LC/S...Reference.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


YULitle 03-08-2008 05:40 AM

Looks good :D

jcstennis 03-08-2008 05:41 AM

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

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

Sticky, Sticky, Sticky!

J011yroger 03-08-2008 05:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pro_Tour_630 (Post 2144922)
no problem , there are these facts about string on TW

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

Loco4Tennis 03-08-2008 05:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by J011yroger (Post 2144853)
...Continued from above.

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.

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

Lloyd Barcenilla 03-08-2008 06:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by J011yroger (Post 2144852)
Polyester What 95% of the tennis playing population should NOT be using.

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.

nickb 03-08-2008 06:21 AM

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

YULitle 03-08-2008 06:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nickb (Post 2145005)
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

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

J011yroger 03-08-2008 06:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lloyd Barcenilla (Post 2144999)
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.

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


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