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David I. 03-01-2004 11:31 AM

Thinner strings are stiffer?
I have always thought that thicker strings would be stiffer and you should string at a lower tension. The following paragraph is from an article from the latest TennisOne website about strings and stringing:

A thinner string is thought to be softer. However, when you string the same model racquet with a thicker string and one with a thinner string at the same “reference” tension, the racquet with the thinner string will have a greater “dynamic stiffness” (firmer feel) than the racquet strung with the thicker string. Therefore, when choosing between similar string but in different gauges, you will want to decrease the “reference” tension of the thinner string to achieve a lower “dynamic stiffness” in the string bed compared to a thicker string. The exact amount to decrease will vary, but consider subtracting 2 to 4 pounds from your normal “reference” tension.

David Pavlich 03-01-2004 02:58 PM

Hmmmm...according to the USRSA, "...a 17 gauge string will be about twice as elastic (100%) as a 15 gauge string, all other factors being equal. This increased elasticity results in lower dynamic stiffness (meaning the strings will feel more elastic) during ball contact".

My tendency is to believe the USRSA. They've done a tremendous amount of scientific study of what goes on when ball meets strings.


NoBadMojo 03-01-2004 04:02 PM

With all respect to David, I don't believe much of what the USRSA says..arent they they the same people that bring you "Thicker strings produce more spin'? and the ever famous 'Most of the pro's can't discern a difference of 10 pounds of string tension in identical bats'. Just like TW rates the stiffness of the VEngine9 within 1 point of the Tour10MP..there is no way..not even close...not in real life playing conditions anyway. It's just info like you read in the to discover for yourself if you can IMO. Ed

Gaines Hillix 03-01-2004 05:19 PM

I don't believe there is an absolute rule on this. According to lab testing done for the USRSA about 40% of 17g strings are stiffer than their 16g equivelants. The rest are softer. I believe it was a piece in Tennis Magazine that made the claim that thick string at low tension was best for generating spin, not USRSA.

David Pavlich 03-01-2004 06:00 PM

Ed: You might want to read "The Physics and Technology of Tennis". While it's not all real world playing conditions that allowed the USRSA to come to the conclusions they did in the book, they did use a lot of real world science to prove or disprove many myths.

Dry reading, but for the techy side of tennis, quite eye opening, indeed.


coachrick 03-01-2004 07:55 PM

Ah, the old 'all other things being equal'--not usually the case. A solid string reduced from 16 to 17ga might play predictably, BUT, most strings are not mono construction. String X in 17ga may get more of its playing characteristics from the core rather than the additional wraps in the same string in 16ga. Lots o' other factors to consider, as well. Even multis may differ in construction from gauge to gauge rather than simply being more or less 'material'.

bcaz 03-01-2004 10:03 PM

Gaines, thanks for chipping in on this one. Your observations are always helpful, and you've weighed in on this before. As someone who usually plays 17g but sometimes uses a 16L or a 16g (or even an 18g in 18x20 stringbeds), I'm always wondering about the power/stiffness/playability/feel/durability tradeoffs.

Of course, the proof is in one's own experiences. Unfortunately, life is short, and there are only so many combinations of strings/tensions/gauges one can try in a racquet before it goes dead, especially if you like some of the set-ups along the way. So, I'm always eager to read what you folks have to say.


borisboris 03-02-2004 08:42 AM


coachrick 03-02-2004 12:08 PM

bb, one of my regular poly customers would always INCREASE the tension on 17 vs 16ga with the 17 being strung 4# TIGHTER. Ex tour player, very string sensitive...I thought I had a strong wrist until I hit with this guy!

Gaines Hillix 03-02-2004 02:41 PM

Borris, it depends on the brand and type of string. If you give me an example, I can look it up for you in the USRSA database. One caviat, they don't have every string in every gauge in their DB.

borisboris 03-03-2004 05:24 AM

:P I'm using Kirschbuam Super Smash 16 & now 17 (1.25) Thanks for the tips - they really are practical.

Steve Huff 03-03-2004 05:46 AM

The idea that thinner strings produce tighter stringbeds comes from the idea that there is less friction when pulling the crosses. But, the thicker string makes up for that by the tightened cross string displacing the main string more, making it tighter. The study Gaines refers to about some thinner strings creating stiffer stringbeds should be clarified. It's more that some thinner strings reach the end of their elasticity sooner, so appear to feel stiffer. In diagrams of their study, they show that the string's polymers line up in single file faster (can't stretch any further). Does that make it stiffer, or just near the end of the line?

Gaines Hillix 03-03-2004 09:19 AM

borisboris, the Kirsch SS 16g has a stiffness rating of 246 and the 17g's is 233(the higher the number, the stiffer the string is compared to nat gut). The tension increase during ball impact is also higher for the 16g, so the dynamic stiffness is greater too.

borisboris 03-03-2004 10:04 AM

:x What your saying is ^^^^~~~~*****##%#^%# I don't speak stringer-I'm just a player. The 17 ga = less stiff? 240's = is that an ultra stiff string?

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