Vibration Dampeners -- My experience with this dozen +
Vibration dampeners are so inexpensive making it easy to buy a ton and have some fun with 'em. I've had play time figuring out which were a waste of money, average, or even fantastic. Although I'm pretty meticulous in my testing, your mileage may vary since what works for me may not suit your taste.
TRADITIONAL (covers 2 strings)
Babolat Custom II - square
It is an improvement over the circular ones they used to sell as this square one stays in better. It’s soft rubber, medium weight, expensive but good.
Babolat Custom - circle
One of my favorites. Made of soft rubber, medium weight, only downfall is it costs double most others.
Dunlop - square
Looks cool and the rubber is soft but still harder than most other damps I’ve tested so not recommended.
Interesting having six sides. A nice damp for medium weight and made of soft rubber.
McMaster-Carr ½” Grommet - item 9600K22 (My pick -- best traditional damp)
A buddy gave me some to try and I was hooked. They’re taller, fatter, and weight more than other “O” ring damps and remarkably flexible. That squishiness coupled with being gummy (not sticky though) grips the strings so well. I don’t understand why this one works so well but it’s on all my racquets.
Menard's Grommets - 1/2" ID (4 pack)
At under 30 cents each it’s extremely cheap. It’s soft, flexy, has thin walls and a low weight. It's for those who want a light to medium damp feel for very little added weight and perfect for those on a shoestring budget.
Made of a plastic and harder than all other damps. Not recommended.
Pete Sampras Tourna
I bought this from two different vendors and had mixed results. In the first package, the black was soft flexy rubber while the red was stiffer and like more a mix of rubber and plastic. In the second purchase from another vendor, both red and black damps were quite hard so had to toss 'em.
Very small and shaped like a multivitamin. I was skeptical at first at such a small damp with almost no weight. It’s made of soft rubber and is perfect for those who want low damp and very low weight. This is certainly a step up for the rubber band users and more elegant to boot.
Tecnifibre Vibra Clip
Very small and shaped like a multivitamin. Very similar to the Prince Tour but not as flexy. Like a rubber / plastic mix and has almost no weight. Interesting hard clip built in under the soft rubber. Good for those who want low damp and very low weight but I still like the Prince Tour ones slightly better. Get rid of the rubber band and try them both.
Tourna Shock Off
Good luck on getting it installed! Once you get this thing on you won't be taking it off to try new ones quickly. It’s like a giant rubber band with a fat brass dumbbell in it which makes it heavier than most damps. I love the design and works well.
Yonex Vibration Stopper
My favorite for the traditional category. It's soft rubber, flexy, and heavy weight because it is big. I’ve even customized these so the bottom “V” slides down slightly into the port of my frames.
WORM STYLE (covers 6-12 strings)
Babolat Racquet Vibration System (1.75")
Even though I didn't notice a big change in low frequency frame shock, it's good to try out. It does damp a little and may help, albeit ever so slightly, those who have tennis elbow.
Forten Spectra Worm
Covers 6 to 8 strings and made of soft rubber. It has tiny "fins" that grab the strings so it has a little more string contact than tube worm damps. Other damps are better.
Gamma Shockbuster (4")
Covers 8 strings and made of soft rubber. If a ball hits a plastic clips on the end it will come off and flap around. But the whole damp will never fly off. Although it works very well, eventually it'll rupture and the gel will leak all over your strings so not recommended.
Gamma TNT Core (2.5")
Only seeing it online I was prejudiced against this from the start figuring the name is a joke. When I got it in on the strings I liked its soft rubber as it is the softest of all I’ve ever tested. It applies to the racquet nicely and looks good. Yea Gamma.
Head Smartsorb (4.25")
I swap back and forth with this and the generic TW damp. The Head is flatter, shorter and has very short “fingers” to grip the strings. This one compares much to the TW generic damp and, between the two, I still like the TW damp slightly better.
Prince / Ektelon Silencer (4.5")
Nice damp across 10 strings. Its has fairly low weight, great damp-to-weight ratio, and a very clever way to adhere to the racquet so will never fall off. Have a friend push/pull the a main/cross apart, slide the O end between, he lets go, done. If you do it alone take your time or you may cut the end open like I did only on my first try. Illegal to use in USTA.
Serpent Dampener (My pick -- best worm damp)
Essentially a super fat black rubberband that has an intelligent way of attaching. It’s extremely soft which is good and it seems to do a nice job dampening. Still it is the heaviest of all worms at 3.1g but it's really quite nice (and also my favorite for the category). Comes in a pack of two for just $2 so icing on the cake.
Tennis Warehouse Worm (3.75")
Soft rubber has tiny "fins" to grab the strings, fatter in middle and tapers near the end which is a smart touch having more damp near the middle. As with all conventional worm damps, the rubber connecting the end plastic clips will ultimately weaken and tear even if it takes a couple of years. Hey, but for only a buck you can’t go wrong.
Vibration Dampeners -- My experience with this dozen +
WHICH STAY PUT?
It is nearly impossible to knock a worm type off since most have two plastic clips that attach in an area where you should never hit a ball. The "O" shaped damps can get knocked out perhaps if you're lunging for a net shot. An easy fix for that is to tie a piece of sewing thread through the hole and around a string. May come out when hit but still hang from the thread saving your from ceaselessly roaming the court trying to find an untied one.
1.4 - Pete Sampras Tourna
1.6 - Menard's Grommets, 1/2" ID
1.7 - Babolat Custom Damp (no barbell)
1.7 - Tecnifibre Vibra Clip
1.8 - Prince/Ektelon Silencer
1.9 - Babolat Custom Damp II (no barbell)
2.0 - Pacific Vibra
2.2 - Prince Tour
2.3 - Head Smartsorb
2.6 - Dunlop Biomimetic
2.6 - Forten Spectra Worm
2.6 - McMaster-Carr Grommets, 1/2" ID
2.8 - Tennis Warehouse Worm
2.8 - Babolat Custom Damp II (with barbell)
2.9 - Gamma Shockbuster
3.1 - Serpent
3.3 - Babolat Custom Damp (with barbell)
3.4 - Tourna Shock Off
3.5 - Dunlop (square)
3.9 - Yonex Vibration Stopper Dampener
4.6 - Gamma TNT Core
?.? - Babolat Racquet Vibration System (loaned out but never got back so can't weigh)
Normally I prefer worm dampeners that cover lots of strings to get the greatest total damp. Yet lately I've even been using three McMaster grommets that dampen well and add weight right where I want it. Reality is any style, shape or weight will work to varying degrees in deadening the sound. You spend hundreds a year on balls, overgrips, sticks, and shoes so try a few dampeners and have some fun! :)
This is cool. Thanks!
Great post - thanks for taking the time to do the comparisons and report your results. For the traditional any comments on which ones stay in the racquet the best? I find a lot of people I play with have a problem with theirs flying off.
Any chance you tried a 64 size rubber band?
Thanks a lot for the review. :)
I have a dozen of various ones in my bag that I found on the courts over the years.
My favorite was an old Dunlop one---it was a black, square-ish thing that folded in half after you installed it around the bottom string, then was held by a clasp. It never came off, but the little top hinge fell apart over time.
So I tried the 3 cent #64 rubber band, and never looked back.
Money question - How does the Sampras Dampener compare to Menard's grommets? I am a believer in the SampDamp, and love the feel of it.
corbind gets his hardware store grommets for less than 30 cents. The two-pack of Sampras dampeners is priced at $3....so it's like a 5 for 1 situation.
The rubber grommets dampen more being all rubber (and contacting a little more string) and not a plasticy silicone material of the Sampras dampener.
Again, it's a preference thing.
Ahh..yeah what I love about the Sampras is that they don't dampen too much. That is the secret for me. I'll pay the 3 bucks since I usually don't lose them too much.
I still have Unique Sampras dampeners from several years ago. I'm not sure but it's going on 10+ years.
The original Sampras dampener is the rubber cable grommet. I'm sure that's what he was using when he was younger. Then Unique started to market their version with his name on them. I've got both and don't mind too much switching between them depending on the frame.
I still have some in their package from when they came two black ones per pack. I bought them for 50 cents a pack on discount at a K-mart once.
On my current playing frames, I use a "black tennis ball" circle dampener that came with Wilson Ultra Wrap overgrip a few years ago. Black ones were packaged with pink and orange overgrip, yellow dampeners came with the black overgrip. The Wal-marts near me carried these packages. They dampen to the same level as the black Sampras dampener. I didn't care much for the yellow ones and figured they'd get dingy looking after at while.
When those were starting to disappear from the shelves, I bought a bunch of them to stock up. I like them because I haven't seen them anywhere else and they're less poseur-ey than the Sampras dampener when you use a PS85, kPS88, or black Wilson mid.
I have 3 prince silencer/dampners and I'm done. They're the best and all you'll ever need, although they are somewhat weighty. It's basically like attaching 3 small dampners across your mains.
I am never on court without a smiley, sad or surprised face dampener. Tried the flame, shamrock and a Prince Wimbledon dampener but they just make me feel all odd and stuff. Knocked me right off kilter.
I have not tried a 64 rubberband in a long time. Yet I was at the office store today and they sell 1 pound bags of them for $7. Rubber bands dry up and you replace them as needed. I just don't like them much because I'd have to use about 10 of them to get the damp I want. Much easier to just use the Prince Silencer to cover 10 mains and be done with it. Further, I don't like how the ends of the rubber bands flap around. Seems sloppy.
And I did not take into account regional differences (some places don't have Menard's). Home Depot has essentially the same neoprene 1/2" grommets,
thanks corbind for taking the time to review dampeners. I wish there were guides like yours for everything else. Great job!
Thorough well written reviews and clear presentation of the findings. A+ work here.
Awesome job with the review. I am glad you had time to try all of these out. I will give the Prince Silence dampener a shot as I do like cushy feeling racquets. I currently have the Prince Exo3 Tour which I think is pretty good for a such a small dampener. It is also easy to take on and off compared to the Sampras O damepner.
I use the Sampras style little O-rings from the hardware store. I have had a problem with small dampeners flying off (mostly when my strings are about to break). I discovered that if I move the dampener to the bottom of the string bed so it is touching the bottom of the frame, it never comes off.
This is a great post.
I tried 80% of dampeners on the list and ended up with Yonex. It doesn't come off easily compared to other ones.
Prince Silencer Vibration Dampener is hard to install. It was ripped off.
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