Mystery Gut 16g / MSV CoFocus 1.23mm
This playtest is brought to you in part by levy1. He posted that he had found a natural gut supplier having run out of Performaxx. I asked him about it, and he offered to sell me a set to test. I agreed, so here we are! To start: all details about the gut itself will have to be answered by him because I know absolutely nothing whatsoever about where this gut came from or who manufactures it. Now, let's get on to the string.
This is without question in the "cheap" gut class. I have strung the majority of the cheap guts including Global, Mamba, Volley, Unifibre, an unnamed e Bay brand and of course Performaxx. Out of all of these, Performaxx is second to none as far as quality. It truly strings like and appears to be Pacific gut. The mystery gut, however, does not. It is very brittle feeling and has the very rough texture that the rest of the budget guts do. It has, however, a singular advantage over Mamba, Global and Volley, but not Unifibre. Although rough and dry, it is consistent in gauge. It is 1.36mm unstrung per my calipers whereas the Unifibre is 1.33mm in gauge. Now, from set to set, I cannot be sure obviously, but it is fairly uniform although not smooth. There is no protective coating of any sort and has typical budget gut coil memory.
It took me about 8 minutes longer to string this gut than it does with VS, Pacific or Performaxx. The reason is because knowing that it feels like a cheaper gut, I don't want to rush anything whatsoever for fear of it breaking. While weaving the crosses, the roughness is very apparent because the gut does not let you slide the poly into straightening position very easily. After tensioning, the amount of touch-up straightening is exactly like that of the other cheap guts. You get the same "violin" sound when fanning the poly which is indicative of a very rough surface.
So, here's my stringing conclusion. Although less expensive than Performaxx, it is indeed a cheaper gut than Performaxx. I don't have confidence while stringing it, and since it is so thick, I would not want to do this in a full bed. It is not a product I would offer to my customers for the very reason that I cannot guarantee that I will be able to have some recourse in the event of premature breakage. Now, that is a tad unfair since I bought it through someone and not from a company, but given what I've been told, it's not a gut to buy a few sets at a time. In summary, it strings just like the other dry budget guts, but gets marks for being consistent in gauge, but still is not in the same quality league as Performaxx. I will hit with it this evening to give the playability verdict. Strung at 52/47lbs, no prestretch.
As I said, this was just decent from the baseline. It plays very much like a budget gut. It took about an hour and a half to break in, and once it did, it played slightly better than a multifilament. You will not find the spin of a high quality natural gut string. You also won't find the same amount of power. The responsiveness also isn't there. However, for the <$20/set price, it is indeed superior to all multifilaments. Caveat incoming: I would still side with the multifilaments because they are easier to string, and they provide similar amounts of spin. So, in short, this might as well be Unifibre for all I know.
This is a huge category for me, and natural gut setups need to shine here. This did not. It instead felt as though the CoFocus was restraining the natural gut instead of complementing it as it should and does with other guts. After only 1 hour, the poly is all over the place as well, and the gut does not return to center. In my experience, this is a sign to expect less spin on serves and that came up here.
Obviously, feel is paramount for natural gut. As I said in my brief review before, this does not have the feel of natty. It's fairly...solid on volleys, but is not crisp and that is a pre-req for me. What I mean is that it doesn't let you use touch and different amounts of spin to create angles easily.
Since the poly was next to impossible to straighten after stringing due to how rough the gut is, the poly started to "sink" into the gut quickly. I am fastidious about notching, and it is not notched. Rather, the string is so soft that the CoFocus just sits there unable to move with ease. The gut is fraying a lot much like Mamba Supra, and although it did not pop yet, the fact it took two hitting sessions to break in means I can't give it high marks here. Although not traditionally a sign of durability, I find that a string that takes a while to break-in is a sign of its stability. In other words, if you spend 2 hours wearing it in just until its playable, you get that fewer hours of prime playability. With an uncoated gut like this, that's not a good thing.
Please keep in mind two things as I've said numerous times: firstly, I am not a 5.0 level player, and secondly, your mileage may vary. However, the tedium in stringing simply counts this out for me before starting to play. Once I did play, it was just like all other inexpensive gut strings which isn't particularly better than a decent multi. Also as I've mentioned many times, NRG2 is my favorite multifilament, and I would choose it in a heart beat over this string.
Nonetheless, many thanks to levy for finding the manufacturer and allowing me to playtest it.