Low Friction Poly X's For Gut Mains : Softer Alternative to MSV Co-Focus?
I'm on a hunt for a low friction, and most of all, comfortable option for a cross string with gut mains. I've been playing with Gut/Poly for about five years now, and Gut/Co-Focus for a majority of those years. But I'm searching for something a little more comfortable. I've cross referenced the string friction rankings  with string stiffness, as well as tension loss. Below is a list of demo possibilities that popped up based on those criteria. My approach is to use the available testing data only to trim the demo pool from the 900 or so commercially available string, down to a more manageable 20-30 to demo. Then I forget about the data entirely once I'm on the court, and I use what works best and feels right. I'll be updating my experience as time permits.
March 17, 2014 Edit : Underlined means I've demoed it. The Grey Font just means it's a non-poly string. One of the surprise discoveries while fishing for slippery poly, was that there are a few nylon based string with very low COF living in the same neighborhood, so I gave them a special pass onto the demo list.
( stiffness lbs/in ) ( actual pre-test tension, reference tension was 62 lbs, fast swing ) ( inter-string friction )
( 086.3 ) ( 54.4 ) ( 0.103 ) .. Pacific Prime 16
( 089.2 ) ( 53.8 ) ( 0.180 ) .. Pacific Classic 16
( 092.6 ) ( 54.2 ) ( 0.173 ) .. Wilson Natural 17
( 097.7 ) ( 53.1 ) ( 0.147 ) .. Babolat VS Team 17
( 099.4 ) ( 51.9 ) ( 0.245 ) .. Wilson Natural 16
( 104.6 ) ( 54.3 ) ( 0.298 ) .. Klip Legend Uncoated 16
( 101.7 ) ( 51.1 ) ( 0.124 ) .. VS Natural ThermoGut 16 Touch
( 105.2 ) ( 54.2 ) ( 0.194 ) .. Klip Armour Pro 16
( 118.3 ) ( 39.0 ) ( 0.088 ) .. Ashaway Zyex MonoGut 16 Nylon/Zyex
( 161.2 ) ( 48.1 ) ( 0.085 ) .. Volk Gripper 17 Nylon
( 166.3 ) ( 27.5 ) ( 0.098 ) .. Topspin Cyber Flash 17L
( 171.5 ) ( 47.6 ) ( 0.079 ) .. Gosen Compositemaster II 16 Nylon
( 176.0 ) ( 50.4 ) ( 0.089 ) .. Head FXP Power 17 Nylon
( 178.9 ) ( 49.3 ) ( 0.080 ) .. Gosen Powermaster II 16 Nylon
( 180.6 ) ( 37.8 ) ( 0.090 ) .. Gosen Sidewinder 17
( 181.2 ) ( 49.1 ) ( 0.082 ) .. Volkl Synthetic Gut 17 Nylon
( 181.2 ) ( 48.8 ) ( 0.088 ) .. Gosen Nanosilver 17 Nylon
( 181.7 ) ( 30.0 ) ( 0.102 ) .. WC Silverstring 120
( 182.9 ) ( 48.5 ) ( 0.075 ) .. Gosen Powermaster I 16 Nylon
( 183.5 ) ( 49.7 ) ( 0.089 ) .. Gosen AK Pro 17 Nylon
( 188.0 ) ( 47.8 ) ( 0.081 ) .. Klip Synth Gut 16 Nylon
( 188.0 ) ( 30.9 ) ( x.xxx ) .. Yonex Poly Tour Pro 1.25
( 000.0 ) ( 00.0 ) ( 0.000 ) .. Weiss CANNON Mosquito Bite 18 (Not In TWU Data Base)
( 189.2 ) ( 44.7 ) ( 0.114 ) .. Technifibre Pro Mix 17Nylon/Poly
( 191.5 ) ( 34.3 ) ( 0.083 ) .. Big Hitter Black 7 17, edged
( 192.0 ) ( 34.2 ) ( 0.083 ) .. Big Hitter Silver 17
( 192.6 ) ( 32.9 ) ( 0.112 ) .. Polyfibre Poly Hitec 18
( 192.6 ) ( 30.2 ) ( 0.070 ) .. IsoSpeed Pulse 16
( 193.2 ) ( 33.3 ) ( 0.071 ) .. Gosen Polyon Polybreak 18
( 193.7 ) ( 33.1 ) ( 0.092 ) .. Head Sonic Pro 16
( 197.2 ) ( 38.3 ) ( 0.120 ) .. Babolat Pro Hurricane 18
( 199.5 ) ( 34.3 ) ( 0.090 ) .. Topspin Cyber Blue 17
( 200.0 ) ( xx.x ) ( 0.089 ) .. MSV Co-Focus 17L .. [estimated stiffness, USRSA digits n/a]
( 200.0 ) ( 30.9 ) ( 0.100 ) .. Polyfibre TCS 17
( 200.6 ) ( 35.3 ) ( 0.097 ) .. Kirschbaum Pro Line II 18
( 203.5 ) ( 33.4 ) ( 0.087 ) .. Head Sonic Pro 17
( 203.5 ) ( 34.9 ) ( 0.079 ) .. Topspin Cyber Blue 16
( 205.0 ) ( xx.x ) ( 0.072 ) .. Solinco Revolution 18 .. [corners estimated data]
( 205.5 ) ( 35.7 ) ( 0.075 ) .. Solinco Tour Bite 17, edged
( 206.3 ) ( 35.6 ) ( 0.085 ) .. Gamma Zo Twist 16
( 206.9 ) ( 34.9 ) ( 0.074 ) .. Gosen PolyMaster II 16, flat
( 210.9 ) ( 35.4 ) ( 0.082 ) .. Volkl Cyclone 18
( 210.3 ) ( 30.0 ) ( 0.085 ) .. Polyfibre Hitec Premium 16
( 211.5 ) ( 35.1 ) ( 0.083 ) .. Gosen Polyon SP 17
( 211.5 ) ( 36.5 ) ( 0.092 ) .. WC Scorpion 1.22
( 213.2 ) ( 36.3 ) ( 0.089 ) .. MSV Co-Focus 16L
( 214.3 ) ( 35.6 ) ( 0.074 ) .. Solinco Outlast 17
( 214.3 ) ( 35.9 ) ( 0.085 ) .. MSV Hepta Twist 17 edged
( 218.3 ) ( 37.4 ) ( 0.090 ) .. Kirschbaum Pro Line II 17L
( 222.3 ) ( 38.7 ) ( x.xxx ) .. Signum Pro Poly Plasma 17L , 1.18
( 227.5 ) ( 38.87 ) ( 0.101 ) .. Kirschbaum Pro Line II 17
( 228.0 ) ( 45.7 ) ( 0.069 ) .. Head Hawk
( 225.0 ) ( 39.6 ) ( x.xxx ) .. Tecnifibre Black Code 18
( 228.6 ) ( 39.6 ) ( x.xxx ) .. Prince Beast XP 16
( 323.6 ) ( 36.8 ) ( x.xxx ) .. Signum Pro Hyperion 17
( 237.0 ) ( 37.3 ) ( 0.098 ) .. MSV Focus Evo 17
( 262.3 ) ( 45.6 ) ( 0.071 ) .. Ltec Premium 4S 16L
( 273.2 ) ( 51.3 ) ( x.xxx ) .. Luxilon 4G 16L, 1.25
Play Testing, String Review Links:
1. 60/52 … Mains: Wilson Natural Gut 16 | X's: Yonex Poly Pro Tour Black (16L / 1.25mm)
2. 60/52 … Mains: Wilson Natural Gut 16 | X's: Wiess CANNON Mosquito Bite (18g / 1.16mm) Red
3. 54/54 … Dunlop Black Widow (18g / 1.21) (Rainy Day Back Up)
4. 60/52 … Mains: Wilson Natural Gut 16 | X's: Gosen SideWinder (17g /1.22-1.24)
5. 60/52 … Mains: Wilson Natural Gut 16 | X's: Gosen PolyMaster I (16g / 1.02-1.46)
6. 60/56 … Mains: Wilson Natural Gut 16 | X's: Ashaway MonoGut Zx Red (16g / 1.27mm)
7. 60/60 … Full Bed : Ashaway MonoGut Zx Red (16g / 1.27mm)
Links:  String Friction Rankings , String Movement , Inter-string Friction , String To Ball Friction , Rank Strings By Spin Potential , USRSA String Selector Map 2012 , Gosen Sidewinder Video Review , Big Hitter Black 7 Video Review , Volkl Cyclone Video & Written Review
I've been fiddling with Gosen Polymaster II as a cross for Pacific Classic and like it so far, but I have not tried Co-Focus as a cross. I went with Polymaster due to its shape, so that its flat profile would lengthen the life of the gut by not sawing into it as readily, but the ribbon shape also of course reduces friction: a full bed of it has a static CoF of 0.074, almost as low as it gets. Low stiffness, too: 172 lb/in (strung at 51 lb, fast swing). It's a little pricey for my taste, not being available in reels, but since I won't be cutting it out before the gut breaks I guess I can live with it.
All that said, I'm not sure how much guidance the friction tables are going to give us for poly crosses to be used with gut. TW Prof has noted in the articles about string friction that the full-bed CoF's are not reliable predictors to the friction between two different strings, even two polys, and the oils released by gut mains introduce another friction-affecting mechanism.
A gut/Hepta-Twist 17 combination does appear on the friction tables, at the very top, and Hepta also has a lower stiffness rating than Co-Focus, so that seems worth looking into. Seems like the Hepta would shred the gut, though, doesn't it?
I don't know what to think about nylon-based synthetics that have lower CoF than some polys. It does seem worth trying with gut, but it's an expensive experiment!
Looks like there is some other polys that seem to have lower friction and stiffness than MSV CoF 17.
I would truly be interested to hear about the comparisions. I'm not willing to do the expensive tests myself. I am perfectly happy with the vsTouch 1.30 / Cof17 hybrid at 57/53.
The big question to us who pays their stringing is the durability. And more precisely the question "how the poly ages?". This is where CoF really shines.
The Hepta Twist is a great hybrid with gut. I got away from it looking for more tension stability in a poly, and I don't think I am getting better performance from anything else I've tried.
I'd be very interested in this. I tried a zillion polys with OGSM as a cross when I was first testing polys. I always compared them to gut/CoFocus. I never tried to find anything better than CoFocus... mainly cause cutting out a bad string pair when gut is involved is pricey and just seems wrong :)
I hated hepta-twist as a main, never tried it as a cross though.
Not sure about the stiffness but a partner of mine uses the same setup and eventually switched from Co-Focus crosses to Outlast crosses after playing them side by side for a good while.
Just ordered some hepta twist 17 and some cyber Blue 17 to compare them. Both of these are lower stiffness than the CoFocus. Should be interesting.
Also Some sidewinder 17, Cyberflash 17l, and TCS 18
The Powermaster also looks interesting - very low CoF! But that's almost surely due to a coating rather than an intrinsic property, like with copoly, so the CoF might rise rapidly with play and scuffing. Also, the nylon strings tend to dent at the intersections due to low surface hardness. But definitely worth a try if money and time aren't issues.
I've compared various models in different gauges and based on this I would estimate that Co-Focus 18 has stiffness of around 190 and CoF of .097.
Other copoly strings to look at:
Solinco Revolution 18 (estimated): (205) .... (0.072)
Gosen Sidewinder (shaped string): (181) ... (0.09)
This one is shaped, so might slice the gut mains, but is probably the most flexible copoly on the market. It also loses much less tension than the others, so the stiffness number is actually a bit deceiving: it's actually less stiff than the 181 number indicates! (I want to try this one in a full bed at low tension.)
Gosen Polymaster II (flat string with 1.0 mm cross-section, equivalent to 20 gauge): (207) ... (0.074)
The Polymasters remind me of the poster Mokongs method of gluing bits of aluminum to the gut mains at the intersections, which he said made them slide and snapback essentially forever:
Studies have shown that it's notching of the mains that disables the snapback mechanism the most. If you can stop that you should be able to get maximum playable life and value out of your gut mains/copoly setups. There is the hypothesis that Don't Let it Bounce mentioned - that notched guts exude a natural oil that actually helps them slide freely on copoly crosses - and I think that that probably happens, but the CoF numbers we have for gut/copoly setups are taken prior to notching, so if we can avoid notching altogether it might be better on balance, even if we miss out on this self-lubricating function.
Another thing to consider is that all of these stiffness numbers are taken post-tension loss. The nylons lose much less tension than the copolys, so the numbers make the copolys look pretty soft. But I believe TWU's procedure for tension loss measurement is too aggressive. Basically, their tests make the copolys lose more tension than they would in the real world - basically they are testing them "dead" (although I don't believe strings go dead in the way people believe them to). Adjusting for that, the copolys are probably about 10-15% stiffer than they appear in comparison to the nylons.
In my opinion, by the numbers, Ashaway Zyex Monogut (now called Monogut ZX) has the most promise as a non-poly cross option. It's almost as flexible as natural gut and like gut does not increase in stiffness when strung at higher tensions. Therefore, a gut/Monogut ZX hybrid could be strung at higher tensions and still be comfy. Since gut returns more energy at higher tension (maxing out around 60 pounds), a high-tension hybrid with this cross could give fabulous power and snapback. But I haven't had a chance to try it out, so don't listen to me.
I've been comparing ToughGut/CoFocus to a ToughGut/WC Mosquito Bite setup. I think the TG/MB outperforms TG/CoF in terms of playability over time. In my dense, flexy racquet, strings take a long while to break, so I've logged plenty of hours on each. Both are very comfortable, but CoF became harder to control after a number of matches, while MB crosses maintain softness AND control over a very long span of time & matches.
It would be interesting if twu decides to test MB to see where it falls in the spectrum of lab tests; however, from my experience MB has a more consistent playability over time, so while CoF crosses are just as comfy, I find them to get too springy after the same time period. MB wins the tension stability battle. CoF is a great second place. I've decided to settle on the tg/mb setup and end my string experimentation madness. Out of the handful of hybrids I've tried, CoF & MB crosses both stay the softest for the longest period of time. That's a tough attribute to find as most polys get a bit harsh if you don't break/cut-out the strings within a few matches.
While I do agree that low string-string friction results in easier spin, I think the small differences between the various polys will result in negligible (if any) difference in actual rpms. Regardless of the poly, a gut/poly setup yields great spin and playability; after testing out at least 10-15 different gut/poly setups, to me the real decider is *playability over time*. Some setups you can feel the poly Die within a few matches and some even a few sets. Few setups stay soft or consistent for a long time, while most others become harsh and/or lose control match by match. Some setups create a mismatch of properties where the stiffness of the poly overshadows the feel of the gut. Some are great for only a match. All these factors and various *subjective feel* components that I've noticed have lead me to ToughGut/MB, but this may not work for others with different racquets, preferred tensions or preferred feel requirements.
That said, if you like a dense, flexible frame, and employ a variety of spins and flat shots, looking for a good pocketing feel and consistent playability over time, I'd take a look at Gut/MB.
What gauge and tension in your ToughGut/WC Mosquito Bite setup?
I'm using ToughGut 16L. Mosquito Bite is only an 18 gauge (1.16mm), and I'm using the blue version (some say different colored strings of the same gauge/type can play differently). This was compared to CoFocus gold 1.18
Maybe 1.16 mm would not work in a 98" open pattern racket.
Something softer than CoF would be nice though. I must consider this.
Many people do not have the same control-over-time issue as I do, with CoF, as it is a very popular cross string, and a close second on my list. CoF also comes in multiple gauges, so that is another benefit over MB, which only comes as a 1.16mm. Open patterns and stiffer frames may not get much mileage from MB's thin profile. Maybe just stick with what you have, I know I did get caught up in a very long and tedious experimentation kick... while fun and informative, also can make you go nuts sifting over all the possibilities and thinking of the 'next best thing'... hopefully I can finally take my mind of string changes (for at least a few months I hope?) :mrgreen:
I know what you mean about going nuts trying different strings. I tried nearly every poly as a main trying to find something better than a gut/poly hybrid. I got burned out and when I could find nothing better than the gut/cofocus benchmark I stopped. I never tried experimenting with the poly part of the hybrid though. This should be interesting.
I've been reading about this MSV Focus Evo Soft which just came out. It is not in the database yet, and I have not personally try it.
I've been using full beds of Evo-Hex. When I ordered my reel of Evo-Hex from GGT I asked about the differences between the various MSV strings. I was told that anything w/ "Evo" in the name has a softer outer coating which makes it not only softer but it will also remains elastic (I have one set installed w/ about 40 hours on it and it's still elastic but control is long gone) and does not stiffen like most other poly. However, the softer coating is not as slippery so it does not snap back as well thus possibly reducing spin.
There's no Evo Soft, just Focus Hex Soft, which I'm told is between Focus and Evo in softness and does not have the softer outer coating like the Evo.
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