How do you handle "The Question"?

#1
The millionth customer came in today and asked me "What tension is my racquet at now?"

After all these years (and I've been doing this for over 30 years) you would think I would be ready for this question.
Instead as time has passed I am less prepared for it than ever. So when I hear it, I am wanting to bang my head against the wall.

Now, don't misunderstand me. It's not that I lack equipment for measuring string bed stiffness. I have plenty meters.
And I try to talk to my customers in terms of percentages, i.e "You've lost 15% of your original tension" when DT readings drop from say 40 to 34.

But everyone wants to talk pounds and I can't even comprehend what they are imagining is actually going on in their racquets.

Today the question came from a guy whose racquet had been strung 38/40. Now, is he imagining I have a meter that is gonna say,
"Well, now your racquet is at 34/36"????

I think we as stringers are all aware that what he is imagining would constitute a drop in tension would in reality constitute an increase. And if the
cross strings ever ACTUALLY were tighter than the mains, something would be really, really wrong.

And then, there is the reasoning behind the asking of this question. Like, if I tell him his racquet is now 34/36 is he gonna say that he likes the way it
is playing now, so now we need to restring it AT 34/36?

So, I am curious how other stringers handle this question and whether I am the only one whose eyes begin rolling at the first hint this question is coming.
 
#2
I get the same question all the time. I tell all of them, "I don't know." Then I try and explain a little about factors that effect the tension. How they start losing tension after stringing, and after getting played, heat, cold, etc, and the best way to try and replicate it is to string exactly like last time.
 

MathieuR

Professional
#4
No one can measure stringtension in a strung racket.
You can measure the stringbed-tension/stifnes; and even for that there is no uniform method.
 
#5
I was asked that a couple of weeks ago. I told the guy I had an ERT which would give me the reference tension, but that there were a lot of factors involved; how long it had been strung, how much it had been played with, had it been left in the car, etc. I then asked him what he didn't like about it. He said that it was too loose. I asked him what tension he requested when he last got it strung and he told me. I suggested we restring it and bump it up 3 pounds. I never heard back. :)
 
#6
No one can measure stringtension in a strung racket.
You can measure the stringbed-tension/stifnes; and even for that there is no uniform method.
You can measure the stringbed dynamic tension by measuring the force needed to deflect the string bed a specific distance. You can measure the tension of a string by measuring the force needed to deflect a single string. But the stiffness of the string and friction in the stringbed can give you errors.
 
#7
[1] I don't get this question from advanced players because they break their strings or restring like clockwork.
[2] People ask me if they should restring more frequently then what is the tension. If it has been more than a year, I will polish their strings to let the strings move against each other. Most of the time, they end up saying it is too powerful, so I will restring. And that topic belongs in another thread.
[3] I do carry the iOS RT app and if it is one of my jobs, I can pull the stuff up and check the tension. I do carry a soup spoon in my racquet bag. :D
 
#8
I used my ERT frequently and I know it's not the proper way to approach this deal but some people just love seeing numbers... I dont know why people see numbers and charts and they will be like bingo! That being said I ask them what they had originally strung and how long... use the ERT check the numbers and give my opinion... I only use it to check some of my work when I'm dealing with multi racquets or if the client is a stickler on racquet info.. besides that it is just another money making tool for me
 
#9
When I first started stringing for the WTA event, very few of the girls had ERTs. That is no longer the case. What they do give me the tension and then they check the string bed with their ERTs when they pick up. If it's "X" number of pounds off, then they know something's not kosher. One of my cohorts strung one and I had to redo it because the number on her ERT wasn't right.

I suppose this is the right way to use an ERT. If you, as they do, do this for a living, then you'd know what the number is and you could reference it. You could also, as some players do, check the number during play.
 
#10
When I first started stringing for the WTA event, very few of the girls had ERTs. That is no longer the case. What they do give me the tension and then they check the string bed with their ERTs when they pick up. If it's "X" number of pounds off, then they know something's not kosher. One of my cohorts strung one and I had to redo it because the number on her ERT wasn't right.

I suppose this is the right way to use an ERT. If you, as they do, do this for a living, then you'd know what the number is and you could reference it. You could also, as some players do, check the number during play.
My clients are so in tune they tap it and they can tell but for those who can't they do check with the ERT
 
#11
I'm kind of surprised none of the RacquetTune aficionados have chimed in. I've never used it but I was under the impression RT purports to read out in pounds.

Anyway, Mr. 38/40 Lbs came back today to pick up his racquet and his timing was a little better than when he dropped it off. Not quite so busy here and he didn't bring his kid with him so I wasn't on edge about the muddy footprints on the seat cushions. I handed him MY racquet and a Stringmeter (yes, Irvin, I own not one but two of those) and I showed him how to use it. My racquet (KI 15 PSE) was strung with Optimus at 54 lbs. Average main string tension was 41 and average cross string tension was 32. Nothing surprising to anyone who has ever used a Stringmeter.

Mr. 38/40 was incredulous. Not just at how much lower the readings were, but that the main and cross string tensions were so far apart.

Apparently, he was under the impression that all the strings in the racquet would be the same. They were, after all, all installed at the same tension. And here, I confess that I don't actually understand this myself (yes, I know, Irvin will tell me to buy a copy of the Physics of Tennis).

The question is, of course, why are the cross strings so much lower in tension than the mains?

Now, in an attempt to answer this question for myself, I strung up a racquet without weaving the crosses to test "the friction hypothesis". I just laid the crosses in nice and straight and tensioned them the same as the mains. I did this with a Ti Radical OS that was just sitting around. And the average main string tension is about 40 and the average cross string tension is about 30. So, I would say that eliminates string to string friction as the cause.

Next I took a Blade Lite and mounted it at 3 and 9 instead of 6 and 12 and I installed the crosses first and then wove the mains through them (53 lbs). Not exactly sure what hypothesis I was testing here but always wondered whether this would reverse the outcome with the Stringmeter. Now, dismounting this racquet was a bit scary. I've never had a racquet pinch the mounting supports quite so much. Racquet unmounted at 27-5/16" long. The average main string tension is 37 and the average cross string tension is 32. Now, I installed the crosses as I would have installed mains, starting at the center and working outwards and I will say that the outer crosses read out much higher than the center crosses so the averaging is a little misleading. Nevertheless, the mains are still reading higher than the crosses.

I am wondering if anyone out there has a Spalding Orbitech or a Wilson T-2000 that they could check with a Stringmeter. These are racquets that are nearly round. I am wondering whether main and cross string tensions would be closer in a round racquet.

Disclaimer: No viable racquets were damaged in the making of this post. Both had been in a bag that was run over by a car first.
 
#12
I tell them "string losses tension as soon as it comes of the string machine!",
so what ever the initial tension, its much lower now, 5, 10, 15, 20lbs less
I then ask how long its been,,, their usual reply, "not long,, 1yr, maybe!?",, I proceed tohand raket back and walk away......
 
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#13
I couldn't resist taking the Blade Lite that I had strung backwards (crosses installed first) out for a hit against the wall. It hit really nice. Makes me wonder what it takes to make a racquet play like crap.
 
#16
Answer that question with questions:

How long since last stringing?
Original RT?
How frequent playing?
How long did it take until broken in/feeling good?
What is playing style?
Budget?

Shift right into qualifying and recommending a string & tension. If they are persistent in wanting an answer just say, "At this point in the life of the string bed, no one knows exactly."

From the title I thought you were going to talk about the outside mains bowing out.
 
#18
I like that a lady brought in her racket to the club to be restrung and asked for "same string but tighter", even though she hadn't previously had her racket strung there.
 
#19
I like that a lady brought in her racket to the club to be restrung and asked for "same string but tighter", even though she hadn't previously had her racket strung there.
This is why I always put a sticker with tension, string, and date in the throat of the racquet. This way, if the player ever needs to have their racquet strung by somebody else, the stringer will know what string and tension was used.
 

MathieuR

Professional
#20
, the stringer will know what string and tension was used
Yeah, but that does not give a warranty for "same result"!
Every stringer will get a different result. (and if it is a good stringer he will get same result over and over again).

That's why I start from DT. When I know the required DT, I know what tension to use.
 
#21
That's why I start from DT. When I know the required DT, I know what tension to use.
My labels have the DT on them. But I have been measuring DT with an ERT-1000 for the last several years.
Readings on the ERT-1000 are typically 2 to 5 kiloponds higher than on an ERT-300 even though both units
were made by Beers. You would be misled following the DT on my labels.

Additionally, I see you are into pre-stretching. I am not sure about the effect pre-stretching has on DT but I'm inclined
to think there is a huge difference in feel, even if you manage to match DT.
 
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am1899

Hall of Fame
#22
“GET OUT,” in my best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice.

Edit - What do you all say when the customer comes in and says, “I’d like these tightened up (the strings)?”
 
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#23
“GET OUT,” in my best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice.

Edit - What do you all say when the customer comes in and says, “I’d like these tightened up (the strings)?”
Haaa, yeah, get that one too..
I guess this is parttly due to older ways of stringing "woodie days",,
havent seen first hand, just videos, of how they used hand dowells and hand cam levers to pull, so you could untie and retighten the strings back then,,
today Its faster AND better to just restring,,
 

Kevo

Hall of Fame
#24
Now, in an attempt to answer this question for myself, I strung up a racquet without weaving the crosses to test "the friction hypothesis". I just laid the crosses in nice and straight and tensioned them the same as the mains. I did this with a Ti Radical OS that was just sitting around. And the average main string tension is about 40 and the average cross string tension is about 30. So, I would say that eliminates string to string friction as the cause.
Think about how frame mounting systems are designed. They are designed to resist the forces of installing mains. Then it's basically up to the mains to resist the forces generated by installing the crosses. When installing crosses you are applying a force to the frame that would lengthen the frame, essentially cinching it up like shoe laces. The mains are resisting this force and gaining tension as you install the crosses. So the mains were strung at the same tension as the cross, but then get some extra tension applied by resisting the lengthening of the frame that would be caused by the crosses. So while friction might play a role in slightly reducing the tension in the cross I think it's minimal.

Mounting crossways did alleviate the differential some, but you are still working against the geometry of the frame, the mount design, and the fact that there are more crosses than mains. At least that's my hypothesis. So the crosses should still have the frame squashing advantage. It would be interesting to see if the differential equalized more if you strung an equal number of mains and crosses. Or other combinations. Maybe the middle 10 strings only. I'm not really sure how you'd even try to guess what would be needed to equalize the squashing stress in the frame. You'd probably have to understand the layup of the frame as well. Might be easier to just go with the middle 10 mains and crosses on a selection of different frames and see what the numbers turn up. Probably picking the most round frames would work best to test theories initially.

Actually, now that I write all this out, maybe installing a brace of some sort in the middle of the frame from 3 to 9 before installing any strings would even things out more. That might not be too hard to do. Unwieldy probably, but a length of bar stock with some slots at the end and some bolts with nylon spacers would probably do the trick nicely.
 
#25
@Kevo

As I said in post #11, it would be really interesting to get the Stringmeter readings off a Wilson T-2000. I have one but I am no longer able to string it. The T-2000 is very nearly round, the frame is steel (so probably very resistant to deformation) and the stringing pattern calls for a substantial portion of the strings to be installed in a box pattern (order of main and cross installation becomes less a factor).

No one here has a Stringmeter and a T-2000 already strung up!?
 
#26
Actually, now that I write all this out, maybe installing a brace of some sort in the middle of the frame from 3 to 9 before installing any strings would even things out more. That might not be too hard to do. Unwieldy probably, but a length of bar stock with some slots at the end and some bolts with nylon spacers would probably do the trick nicely.
That is how the TR Stringer used to work. It does not however maintain the frame shape. Still have my bar BTW.
 
#27
The millionth customer came in today and asked me "What tension is my racquet at now?"

After all these years (and I've been doing this for over 30 years) you would think I would be ready for this question.
Instead as time has passed I am less prepared for it than ever. So when I hear it, I am wanting to bang my head against the wall.

Now, don't misunderstand me. It's not that I lack equipment for measuring string bed stiffness. I have plenty meters.
And I try to talk to my customers in terms of percentages, i.e "You've lost 15% of your original tension" when DT readings drop from say 40 to 34.

But everyone wants to talk pounds and I can't even comprehend what they are imagining is actually going on in their racquets.

Today the question came from a guy whose racquet had been strung 38/40. Now, is he imagining I have a meter that is gonna say,
"Well, now your racquet is at 34/36"????

I think we as stringers are all aware that what he is imagining would constitute a drop in tension would in reality constitute an increase. And if the
cross strings ever ACTUALLY were tighter than the mains, something would be really, really wrong.

And then, there is the reasoning behind the asking of this question. Like, if I tell him his racquet is now 34/36 is he gonna say that he likes the way it
is playing now, so now we need to restring it AT 34/36?

So, I am curious how other stringers handle this question and whether I am the only one whose eyes begin rolling at the first hint this question is coming.
I'd gauge the general knowledge of the customer first. If I thought he is a typical idiot here is what I'd do:

1) Somehow get him to tell you what he strings his racquet at. Let's say he says 38/40.
2) Take his racquet "in the back".
3) Come back and give him hard numbers.
4) For example, you could just calculate a 15% loss on both mains and crosses. Whatever, doesn't really matter.

Of course there is a risk doing this if he ever figures out that giving hard numbers isn't possible. But if he knew that, he wouldn't be asking the question in the first place. And even if he does figure that out, then you can explain to him that you were just estimating based on.....blah, blah, blah.

When dealing with customers, forget truth. Just tell the customer what they want to hear. If you explain to them that you can't get the hard numbers they want, somebody else will.

Basically, imagine the customer is your wife (or girlfriend; whatever). All you want to say to the customer is "yes dear"; "you're right dear". Explaining things to the customer is not only a waste of time, but is counterproductive to your interests. It will only make them (and you) angry. Best to just understand what it is the customer wants to hear and tell them that (and nothing else). Same way you probably handle your wife (or boss or most other people) I'd imagine.
 
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#29
That is how the TR Stringer used to work. It does not however maintain the frame shape. Still have my bar BTW.
I understood they abanded this approach, cause it gives huge stress on the half past 10 and half past 1 position of the frame.
After finishing the mains, the Pilar's bend 3 mm towards each other. This tension has to find a way out!
 
#30
I understood they abanded this approach, cause it gives huge stress on the half past 10 and half past 1 position of the frame.
After finishing the mains, the Pilar's bend 3 mm towards each other. This tension has to find a way out!
String you racket in the evening about half past 6. The TR Stringer did not have pilars.
 
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#31
I don't think I've ever seen one. So it had 4 mount points? 12,3,6, and 9 o'clock? When were those sold?
Late 70's early 80's, competed with the Klippermate. They had a 12 & 6 mount with a bar that then was fitted across the 3 and 9. It was an iffy proposition at best. The tensioner was a spring loaded crank tensioner with a rotating handle on the end. They sold for $100 back in the day. The model here in this link is the "improved" version. The tension bar pivoted. The first models were fixed.

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/tremont-145-ii-tennis-racquet-140645713

Oh what progress we have made.

Found the original model:

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/tremont-145c-tennis-racket-stringer-105401744

and more than you ever wanted to know:

http://www.tennisindustrymag.com/articles/2015/08/14_2015_guide_to_stringing_mac.html
 
#32
10shoe: I remember the time when I would come with my kid to a local tennis shop and was hoping that employees can somehow determine if the tension of the strings dropped enough to warrant restringing, perhaps by just touching the string bed or moving the strings around. If your customers ask this question, consider this an indication that they respect you as an authority and expect that you know way more than they do :)

Just explain them that players can feel the tension difference when the compare a freshly strung racquet and an old string job, there are some indications that stringbed is getting dead, but there is no tool to accurately measure tension of a strung racquet. This level of question suggests that discussions of DT, stringmeter, racquettune, etc., are not appropriate or necessary.

If this does not satisfy your customers, set up a stress relief station next to your stringing machine:

(bummer! Link to the picture was censored by the server. Type "bang your head against the wall" into Google).

When I worked at a National Lab, there was a piece of styrofoam attached to the wall at one of the beamlines at the synchrotron, with a sign "band your head there", just as in the picture above. I can attest that it works.
 
#33
@Rabbit, that article you posted by Bob Patterson was not all that accurate, as
In 1934 Edmund Serrano invented his machine according to Tennis Machines, (tennis machines dot com article, as they made and sold that machine )
. Patterson comments on the wonder vise as one of the 1st machines in 1936, but the Serrano came out before that. It must have been in that time era that machines were coming into the tennis industry.
I have one of those early Serrano machines and only use it once in a great while to string a wooden racquet.
It is an automatic peddle operated drop weight machine, and it is very accurate. The unit I have, I never got the upgrade to accommodate the larger racquets so now it sits in a corner with very little use. It was my first machine, I purchased it in 1968 when I was 13 years old.
 
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#35
I don't think I've ever seen one. So it had 4 mount points? 12,3,6, and 9 o'clock? When were those sold?
No it was a 2 point stringer with a separate brace in the center to hold the sides in. That brace is in the left center of this picture just below the Styrofoam box.
 
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#37
I see. I think that's sort of opposite what I was talking about earlier. I was thinking an inside support just like a klipper has for the mains. That should counter the cinching forces on the frame while stringing the crosses and somewhat prevent the installation of the crosses from raising tension on the mains.
 
#38
I see. I think that's sort of opposite what I was talking about earlier. I was thinking an inside support just like a klipper has for the mains. That should counter the cinching forces on the frame while stringing the crosses and somewhat prevent the installation of the crosses from raising tension on the mains.
The mains counter the cinching forces of the crosses.
 
#39
The mains counter the cinching forces of the crosses.
Yes, by taking on more tension. That's what we were discussing earlier. Having a separate support to take that load during stringing of crosses should make the installation of crosses more similar to mains and reduce the differential in tension that occurs between mains and crosses during stringing as it's done these days. Whether or not that would be a good or bad thing, I'm not sure.

This discussion has got me thinking about whether or not the unequal stresses in the frame are felt when hitting. I'm guessing the stresses even out over time and maybe that's a small part of the reason why some people, me included, prefer to hit with a frame that has been sitting around for a couple of weeks or more after stringing.
 
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