Hybrid 101


Hall of Fame
There have been several posts about hybriding two strings. I thought I'd start a thread that just focus on the basics of hybriding vs getting into any specific string (though they may be used to illustrate a point).

It's best to start with a known string. Ask yourself, what do you like about the string? Think in terms of:
  • power (energy return)
  • spin potential
  • comfort
  • durability
  • playability.
The mains account for the majority of the performance of the stringbed. So select one that has most of the characteristics you are looking for:
  • Gut, Multi, S-gut tend to have more power, comfort, accuracy and hold tension well.
  • Poly tends to be lower powered, high spin potential, stiff, more durable, lose elasticity and tension faster.
Then ask yourself, what don't you like or what do you want more of or less of?

You can then select a string for the cross to help enhance or suppress characteristics of the mains toward the balance that suits you better.

Remember, there is no free lunch. You are just shifting the balance of the string performance towards a point that doesn't come from the factory that way. You may gain in some areas but lose in another area. Sometimes it feels like magic. Sometimes it feels like garbage. Only you can decide what is right for you.

Also remember that selecting the correct tension for the mains and crosses will also change how it feels and performs. So it may take a few iterations of a certain combination to dial in the correct tension(s).
I personally think poly offers more accuracy than the multi/gut line. The low resilience means less variability off the string bed.

Multi/gut mains offer comfort and power. Gut offers superior tension maintenance. Multi and syn gut are hit and miss in the durability/tension holding realm.
Poly is control and spin combined with durability at the cost of comfort and power. Tension maintenance is variable but it's really the loss of resilience that is the issue with poly over nylon and gut.

If all you are focused on is power and comfort there is no reason to hybrid, point blank. Full beds of multi or gut will be fine for you. Only reason to hybrid would be cost savings. Gut mains with syn gut crosses is a cheaper way to get that gut feel and tension maintenance without spending as much cash.

If you are focused on spin only, again no reason to hybrid. Full bed shaped or textured poly will be your go to setup.

Hybrids are all about nuancing your string bed to get characteristics of power, spin, comfort, feel and control all into one string bed.

Most players these days want access to spin and controllable power for best performance. They may or may not have comfort needs.

No comfort needs:
1) shaped or textured poly mains with a smooth poly cross
2) Textured poly with syn gut or multi cross to add some power

Comfort needed:
1) Gut mains with smooth poly cross
2) Soft co-poly mains with multi/syn gut crosses

From those basic decisions you need to then nuance gauges and tensions to find that right mix of power and feel. Much will depend on your frame and string density.

I've done most of my experimenting with Gut/poly hybrids and here would be my go to recommendations:
Gut: go inexpensive. Even cheap gut offers oodles of feel and good tension maintenance. Legend and Tonic would be my recommended gut strings.
1) For tension maintenance, 4G (reg or soft), Max Power
2) For comfort, Cream , Pro Line II, Poly tour pro, Sonic Pro
3) For spin and control, ALU Power, Revolve
Two of my racquets have very similar specs and they are both Dunlop 200 series (see signature). But they do have different materials and the Bio200 is polarized and the MW200G is de-polarized. I've found that the Bio200 takes a reverse hybrid very well and the MW200G prefers a poly/multi or poly/sg. I don't know any rules to follow to determine this. It took me a while and many different setups to figure it out. Maybe knowing to look for the difference will help some people narrow down the field.