I have sinned (natty gut)

I strung my Ti Radical OS with Vs Tonic+ Gut mains and ALU Power Feel 120 crosses, at 53/48 lbs, constant pull machine, with some prestretch on both. I have been playing with it for 3 weeks, it felt great, nice and firm. Yesterday I let a friend try it out, and within 4 strokes, a string broke at the grommet. Yikes! He may have framed it, I can't remember. I've strung natural gut quite a few times now, and never had this happen. I suppose it's a right of passage or a lesson to learn.

The dangling string is the last main, it was tied off to another main with a double half-hitch. It seems like the string broke directly at the knot. Is it so simple that I'm pulling too hard when tying the knots? I use a starting clamp to grip the string and pull quite hard to "cinch up" the slack in the string. I will admit that I've been trying hard to eliminate slack and tension loss in the last mains (or last cross) to avoid that pathetic looking loose string. I have heard folks say they tie knots by hand, and I can't understand how that's sufficient.

I have stuck with the double-half hitch because it's easy and I saw no reason to change, maybe it's time to learn other knots. Although, I suspect it was the cinching force that caused this incident.

There goes $20-$30 of string. I've got another stick I'm playing with these days so I'm not too upset. Better this happened now, on my own racket.

Any advice or criticism is welcome. I repent!

Thanks Herb. Good call. I will check tonight if the frame is exposed through the worn grommet, looks quite possible from the photo. These are the original grommets, ~15 years old.
A dollar to a donut it was not a frame shot. When the string shears you hit the ball near the frame and the string bending at the frame is what breaks the string. The tie off string does not bend. Nothing wrong with using a starting clamp I do it all the time but I do not pull hard. A DHH puts a sharper bend in the string that any other knot. The sharper the string bends in the knot the weaker the knot is.
my guess is the way that grommet is split the string got cut on the frame. Change your grommets.
Do you think so? I would think since the string being tied off was the one that broke and that string was right up at the knot, the point where it broke would have been in the center of the grommet. BUT you could be right.
Do you think so? I would think since the string being tied off was the one that broke and that string was right up at the knot, the point where it broke would have been in the center of the grommet. BUT you could be right.
I am just guessing. As you stated above it could be from the bend in the knot. May have gotten a kink in the sting where the knot is and didn't notice it. looking at the string where it broke from one picture it looks like you can see where it was bending around the main going into the knot, it looks like it is flattened out and has a sheared edge. I am only assuming that is due to rubbing against the frame from when he tied the knot, or slight movement in the string from playing. Probably a combination of both. All of this is based solely on the fact that the grommet is split possibly exposing a sharp edge of the frame. Most likely it broke due to a combination of factors that are not related to anything I just typed. But maybe he will get a new grommet set out of it.
When I string gut, I place a slight amount of a lubricant called tried flow with a tiny round micro brush into all the main string grommets, and I don't have any early snaps at the grommets any more.It made a big difference. All it takes is little more time to clean the clamps is all when done.

BTW can you flip that racquet so I can see other side of that grommet, as only the side showing is visable.
Last edited:
I'm with Irvin on this one. If it was the grommets fault, it would probably be the anchor string that would break, not the knotted string. The double half hitch can be hard on strings, and while normally it's fine, you have to be extra careful with gut. If I'm stringing with poly I pull the knots plenty tight, but with gut I do not; I only pull it enough to make sure the knot won't slip. Starting clamps are great for pulling knots, that's what I always use; just don't pull as tight on gut knots as you would with poly knots. You might also want to get that grommet checked out though, either get a new set or use some tubing if the string is going against the frame, but I don't think that was your issue here.
Thanks for the comments, folks. Looking closer, the grommet hole is stretched but not split. The plastic still prevents the string from touching the frame directly, although it's quite thin and it's a sharp angle. I do think the knot was tied too harshly. I was experimenting with tying knots tighter - I suppose you push so far in one direction until you hit a wall, then calibrate it back. Now I know.
When you string with nat. gut it is best to use your fingers to cinch up knots. I use fingers for all strings tying knots. It is more technique than brute force cinching up. I use the now called Parnell knot since 1968 when I 1st started stringing, and once the 1st loop is closed tight, it does no good to pull with excess force on tail and it only stresses string.Gut back then did not break at knots with that knot and gut was much more delicate back then as it did not have the coating that many of todays guts have.
Nobody who can play tennis frames a shot down there, so forget that.

Nothing wrong with the DHH. Frankly, I disagree with everyone who is saying DHH is hard on string. I believe the exact opposite. I use self cinching
knots (the Parnell is just one example of a self cinching knot, there are others) on everything EXCEPT natural gut, for that very reason. And if you
look at the USRSA Stringer's Digest section on stringing natural gut, they recommend the DHH for gut.

When it comes to pulling knots tight by hand, it seems to me I first use a plier inside the hoop to pull the length of string on the outside of the frame snug. I do my best to maintain that snugness by pressing my thumb (and sometimes my thumbnail) against that run of string and then I pull the first loop of the DHH by hand. Then I pull the second loop, again, by hand.

BTW, there are only 3 strings that I can think of that I feel the need to knot by hand. One is gut. The other 2 are Babolat Origin and the cross string in Head Intellistring (now discontinued).

My 2 cents.
Last edited:
When it comes to pulling knots tight by hand, it seems to me I first use a plier inside the hoop to pull the length of string on the outside of the frame snug.
My 2 cents.
I would never recommend using pliers at all when snugging a knot.
There have been many reports of pliers slipping or string snapping and pliers into face.
Could even be worse if in eye.
One poster on these boards many years back had pliers slip and ended up with pliers in face and he even posted his picture of that incident on these boards.Face it, this will not happen if use fingers and you can cinch up a decent knot just with fingers, as I have for years.
Last edited:
Question for @ba4x :

Do you store the racquet in the trunk of your car?
No, generally not.

Oddly enough, the string broke shortly after the racket had been sitting in my car for 8 hours. We were playing after work. It was a very hot day, but the car was parked in the shade. So no crazy temps were reached, just 80 or 90 F from ambient temps.

In general I avoid keeping rackets in a hot car, on principle / superstition. I'm honestly not sure if I believe it makes much of a difference! Would 100-120 F temps really affect the graphite or the string so much? I find it hard to believe... but I avoid it anyway!
Natural gut especially does not like to be baked.

When folks come into my shop, if their strings are not broken I do a quick test of the string bed stiffness. When the readings are really low, the first thing I ask them is where do they store the racquet. More often then not, they are storing the racquet in the car.
I've got $1 on a frame shot exactly where the string broke.
NG is too expensive for me but.... If you wanted to stretch the string job a little ;).... you could always go back 2 mains, tension and tie off, and run a piece scrap gut on the last two mains.


Hall of Fame
another thread where i get to see several views from different stringers...and i try and soak in as much as i can.

I've done this on a couple but not all of the NG string jobs I've done...but put a drop of nail polish on the knot once tied. Haven't really noticed but that is something I read to try so I did.

It takes me a while to break strings and I often cut them out (depending on string and usually poly) before it breaks. The only string I've broken on the first day out was Prince PPC/PPA when I was doing kick serve drills. I often find that I hit my kick serves towards the top of the hoop. After a few serves in I frame it and snap a fresh bed.