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-   -   String Pattern vs String Density: We Need a Better Measure (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=388168)

TimothyO 07-08-2011 09:42 AM

String Pattern vs String Density: We Need a Better Measure
 
Most of use the term string pattern when referring to string density. We call frames with 16 mains "open" and those with 18 mains "dense".

In general that's fair description, especially when evaluating the relative string densities of frames with similar head sizes. This quick reference point provides a general context for discussion on frame power, spin potential, and control as they relate to string density.

BUT...I'm now certain this quick reference point can be very misleading if accepted whole cloth. 16 mains means an open, spin friendly, powerful frame, right? 18 mains means a dense, control friendly, lower power frame, right?

I had been a huge fan of frames with 16 mains in a never ending search for spin-controllable power. I started out near the upper end of the spectrum of 100" frames with 16 mains working my way down to the 90" AG 100 and 93" PB10 Mid. After trying all sorts of 16 main frames I then tried the PSLGT with 18 mains. Low power but very spin friendly and control oriented, even at 95".

Curious about how far I could push this "dense pattern in a large frame" I tried several 100"+ frames with 18 mains settling on the Head Speed MP 18x20.

Now here's the interesting part...

The 100" Speed MP 18x20 has the same string density as the 16 main 93" PB10 Mid as measured across the 12 center mains. I enjoy both frames for the level of control they offer. They feel pretty darn precise. The PB10 Mid is certainly spin friendly but the MP18x20 definitely has the edge in that department. the PB10 Mid feels more powerful to me. The result is that I enjoy both frames with the PB10 Mid generating deeper, lower, faster shots and the MP 18x20 generating spinnier, safer, but somewhat slower shots for the same stroke.

After examining the "12 Center String Density" of other frames I've used I realized that my preferred limit is about that of the "open" PB10 Mid and "dense" MP 18x20. In other words it's not really number of mains but the space occupied by the 12 center mains. As I go past that density into more open spacing I have progressively greater difficulty controlling the ball. As I move below that point I have an easier time controlling the ball (eg PSLGT and AG 100). And along that spectrum spin potential rises or falls and becomes more or less important with head size and power.

It all makes me wonder if there isn't a better measure for string density than total number of mains. Maybe some value such as the ratio of space occupied by the 12 center mains which dominate the sweet spot. As far as I can tell it's that value plus head size and stiffness that best describes how a frame plays...16 vs 18 seems less important in light of the fact that frames with 16 mains can be as precise as those with 18 while some 18 main frames can generate more spin than their 16 main counterparts.

VGP 07-08-2011 10:32 AM

I know what you mean. It depends on the string spacing. I'll take from a few frames of mine.

The Wilson Pro Staff Midsize is a 16x18 but it was advertised back in 1984 as having the strings centralized to minimize the trampoline effect and thus offer more control. I can compare it to another frame of mine, the Wilson Graphite Force midsize, an 85 sq. in. head without the PWS. It's a 16x19, but the strings are relatively evenly spaced and at the center of the string bed it's more "open" than the Pro Staff Midsize. Honestly, I think that's one of the contributing factors on why I prefer the Graphite Force over the Pro Staff.

Another frame is the Prince CTS Synergy DB 26 MP. I think it's a 16x18 on a 98 sq.in. head. There is quite a bit of space from the sides of the frame to the first mains as well as the top and bottom to the crosses. The center of the stringbed is quite dense. I think that translates to a firm response.

The 16 main vs the 18 main is at least a starting point for looking at string pattern as a specification, but I agree with you that it's the spacing (density) of the overall stringbed that is key.

Agent Orynge 07-08-2011 01:50 PM

You have to take into account the 'all else being equal' clause. A mid might seem more powerful than a midplus for any number of reasons, not the least of which being that the control a mid provides really lets you swing out. The same is true for string pattern and spin potential, or stiffness, or any other variable. Basically, you can't take a generalization for granted if you're not going to do an apples-to-apples comparison.

Hit with an RD Ti-70 mid and a KPS 88, and then tell me which one has more spin potential.

Tennis Is Magic 07-08-2011 01:58 PM

Racquet head size (in sq in) / (number of mains + number of crosses) should be a fairly accurate measure of string density.

TimothyO 07-08-2011 02:31 PM

I agree Agent that it's just one variable in how a frame plays. In fact that's central to my point.

The traditional manner of defining string density (eg 18x20) is clearly misleading. A simple measurement of the distance covered by the 12 central main strings, perhaps in mm, would be more informative imo.

According to conventional wisdom the PSLGT and MP 18x20 are equally "dense" string patterns while the PB10 Mid is an "open" string pattern. By that standard the PB is the odd man out. But that's not experience with these frames.

When you measure a Twelve String Distance Value (TSDV) the results make more sense relative to how these frames play. I own all three, all are strung with gut mains and smooth poly crosses at similar tensions, and I have all modded to around 12 oz and roughly 10-11 pts HL. The TSDV below dovetails far better with how they feel to me compared to the conventional open/16 and dense/18 nomencleture.

PSLGT (18x20, 95", stiffness 59)
TSDV: 112mm

PB10 Mid (16x19, 93", stiffness 59)
TSDV: 124mm

Speed MP (18x20, 100", stiffness 65)
TSDV: 123mm

Limpinhitter 07-08-2011 04:05 PM

Funny you should mention this because I was looking at a Dunlop Maxply Fort recently with it's 66si frame and 18x20 string pattern. Oddly, the spacing between strings didn't look much, if any, smaller than the 18x20 pattern on my Dunlop 4D 300Tour, or the new Bio 200.

ben123 07-08-2011 04:10 PM

isnt it kind of easy if u know what u like? there are 3 factors which influence the string density: head size, string pattern and string gauge.
so if u have a favorite setup of string density it should be easy to change racquets without changing string density too much

TimothyO 07-08-2011 05:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ben123 (Post 5823550)
isnt it kind of easy if u know what u like? there are 3 factors which influence the string density: head size, string pattern and string gauge.
so if u have a favorite setup of string density it should be easy to change racquets without changing string density too much

Nope. I used to think that too. Then I went on a sustained demo binge and learned that string pattern is NOT the same thing as string density! :)

ben123 07-08-2011 05:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TimothyO (Post 5823707)
Nope. I used to think that too. Then I went on a sustained demo binge and learned that string pattern is NOT the same thing as string density! :)

i didnt only say string pattern. i said head size string pattern and string gauge.
if u keep them equal theres not a huge difference between most frames at all

Cup8489 07-08-2011 06:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ben123 (Post 5823869)
i didnt only say string pattern. i said head size string pattern and string gauge.
if u keep them equal theres not a huge difference between most frames at all

but even this isnt true. even similar headsizes and string patterns dont always yield the same results. I've hit with the Redondo MP and currently use the MG Radical MP, both are 18x20 and 98" heads, but the Redondo feels much denser, and gives much less spin. at first glance, it has the denser string spacing in the sweetspot, as well. So I also agree with the OP, and it has been my experience as well.

The spinniest frame I've ever used was the BLX90, which has a very evenly distributed 16x19 frame. It's almost as open in the sweetspot as a 16x19 POGOS.

OneMoreShot 07-08-2011 06:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ben123 (Post 5823869)
i didnt only say string pattern. i said head size string pattern and string gauge.
if u keep them equal theres not a huge difference between most frames at all

All 16 main 100 inch frames are not spaced the same. Some can be more evenly distributed across the entire 16 mains while others can be tighter in the middle and significantly wider on the edges.

hoodjem 07-08-2011 07:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TimothyO (Post 5822684)
In other words it's not really number of mains but the space occupied by the 12 center mains. As I go past that density into more open spacing I have progressively greater difficulty controlling the ball. As I move below that point I have an easier time controlling the ball (eg PSLGT and AG 100). And along that spectrum spin potential rises or falls and becomes more or less important with head size and power.

It all makes me wonder if there isn't a better measure for string density than total number of mains. Maybe some value such as the ratio of space occupied by the 12 center mains which dominate the sweet spot. As far as I can tell it's that value plus head size and stiffness that best describes how a frame plays...16 vs 18 seems less important in light of the fact that frames with 16 mains can be as precise as those with 18 while some 18 main frames can generate more spin than their 16 main counterparts.

I've been wondering if manufacturers cound not provide us with the spacing of the four central stings (mains and crosses) measured in centimeters, or something like that as a better indicator of spin potential.

tennisnoob3 07-08-2011 07:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OneMoreShot (Post 5823981)
All 16 main 100 inch frames are not spaced the same. Some can be more evenly distributed across the entire 16 mains while others can be tighter in the middle and significantly wider on the edges.

this. drill patterns can be very different. wouldnt the exo3 port and hole grommets have different spacings with each grommet type?

BLiND 07-28-2011 04:34 AM

I think this is a great idea, and does explain why different racqets with the same number of strings and different head sizes play different.

e.g.
Vantage 95" 18x20 = TSDV 113mm
Vantage 95" 16x19 = TSDV 123mm
Vantage 100" 16x19 = TSDV 134mm
Head Speed Pro 98" 16x19 = TSDV 118mm
Head Speed MP 100" 18x20 = TSDV 123mm

I would say the control of each racquet directly correlates with the lower TSDV value.

TimothyO well done on coming up with what seems to be a good way to measure density rather than the stupid number of strings.

Incidentally I'd love to know what the TSDV is for a Wilson PS 85" which is always described as open but I think its not as open as most new racquets.

thug the bunny 07-28-2011 07:38 AM

The final answer to fully characterizing string density for a particular string gauge is to manually measure the dimensions of each square in the bed and give an average along with some indication of the variance such as standard deviation. Period.

thug the bunny 07-28-2011 07:49 AM

Or....# mains + # crosses / total string area (top cross to bottom cross x left main to right main)

BLiND 07-28-2011 08:43 AM

Thug that still doesn't work because all racquets have varying spaces between the strings along the length and more importantly the width of the racquet head. e.g. they are smaller in the centre, where you hit more shots.

TimothyO 07-28-2011 08:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BLiND (Post 5863860)
I think this is a great idea, and does explain why different racqets with the same number of strings and different head sizes play different.

e.g.
Vantage 95" 18x20 = TSDV 113mm
Vantage 95" 16x19 = TSDV 123mm
Vantage 100" 16x19 = TSDV 134mm
Head Speed Pro 98" 16x19 = TSDV 118mm
Head Speed MP 100" 18x20 = TSDV 123mm

I would say the control of each racquet directly correlates with the lower TSDV s.

You're dead right about control correlating to this value. It also has a huge impact on stinging choice.

I just went through four attempts at getting my Speed MP 18x20 strung right. At first I was approaching it as a "dense" 18x20 with respect to string choice. I then switched from 17g Team (used in my truly dense PSLGT) to 18g Touch (used in my more open PB10 Mid.). I was simply stuck in the 18=dense mindset.

WOW! Huge improvement! As one friend noted the Speed MP now plays like a much spinnier version of the Pb10 Mid after some tweaks to the weight and balance. Stringing it as an "open" pattern was the answer...it needed it's power dampened a bit with slightly thicker and stiffer mains. Stringing it as a dense pattern with a thinner main resulted in too much power.

Just as we all have preferred weights and balances we probably have preferred TSDVs. After lots of recent demoing And measuring I find too little control and too much power over 123mm or so.

Darkhors 07-28-2011 09:16 AM

So how do you calculate this TSDV? Do you just take the 6 mains and 6 crosses (going center out) and measure the diagonal?

DH

TimothyO 07-28-2011 11:32 AM

I didn't measure the crosses, only the mains straight across from number 6 on the left to number 6 on the right (in fact you can simply run your ruler along a cross). I came up with the 12 after observing where the ball fuzz peters out on my frames and the relative size of the ball vs string pattern. There might be a better measure but the 12 center mains seem to get a lot of play. One could argue for a smaller value such as 6 or 8 mains but that's too small imo.

I sort of like the idea of the diagonal since it considers both mains and crosses. On the other hand, since mains provide the vast majority of the feel and spin, maybe only using the mains is more accurate.

In any case, after talking to some other players and stringers locally, they too agree that string density isn't really represented well by "string pattern". But like all of us they never really thought about it before. Conventional wisdom is 16 = open and 18 = dense. I think we're learning that it really isn't the case. The Dunlop AG 100 has 16 mains but could never be described as "open". And many 104"-107" heads might have 18 mains but they're far from "dense" in terms of control!


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