older Frames vs. actual frames

@rob@

New User
Hi,

I´m a user of a Head Radical 690 ("bumblebee") since 1993 (!!!).


Actually got 8 of them, and tried different rackets, e.g.:

Head i.radical OS, Head Ti.Radical OS, Head Liquidmetal Instinct, some Pro´s Pro Babolat Pure Drive clones and Head Microgel Extreme Pro.



No racket gave me the feel like my 17 year good old Radical!


My last tester was the Head Microgel Extreme Pro, feels somewhere nice to handle, but had a really hollow play feeling.

The Radical bumblebee feels more solid and nothing like hollow.


In the last week my tennis buddy cracked a Head Microgel Radical Team and I got the chance to look inside. :)

The frame looks very hollow except of a thin extra inlay of graphite.



Is it possible that today´s frames are more hollow (..probably they have to be lighter and cheaper to produce?..) than oldschool graphite frames?


Sorry for my english, I´m from Germany.




Greets, Rob.
 
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joe sch

Legend
Hi Rob,

Yes, lots a agreement on this topic.

The old school graphite was thicker and more flexible which played with a more solid feel. Todays graphite is harder and thinner. The racket weights and RDC values prove these findings. I also prefer and play the older head, donnay, and dunlop rackets.
 

kalic

Professional
I played with famous "modern racquets", and it was OK until I developed a good long swing. Then I discovered "classics" (especially Head constant beam tour frames), and there's no turning back :)
 

tennisdad65

Hall of Fame
I have played with or owned some of these older classic and more modern 'classics'.
Volkl PB10, PS GT LTD, PK Copper ace, K90, K95, PS 85, PS 95, KPS 88, POG etc..

I use the copper ace 95% of the time and that's the oldest of the bunch.. That says something about my feelings on newer technology :)
 

Roadway

Rookie
I found the wall of my old 80's racquets was much thicker than today's even than KPS88. I love the soft yet stable feel of the old racquets. Never like the "high-tech" racquets.
 

Kaz00

Semi-Pro
I started out playing with the new high tech racquets about 6 years ago (Im only 16) and about a year ago I hit with an old Dunlop and loved the depth my slices and forehand got. Idk to me older racquets play waaaay better than today's racquets it is just unfortunate I never played with an old Wilson Prostaff (yet :D).

Also why stop making the good racquets everyone likes and make these new ones that have no feel and hurt elbows??
 
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khw72004

Semi-Pro
I'm always bringing out my good old classics and schooling people who rag on my rackets and tells me to buy what ever they are using.

The classics really give you that solid yet crisp feel that a racket should have. New racket technology is overrated and people should learn mechanics before they lecture others about equipment. I have tried a few new rackets but I always revert back the classics
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
Also why stop making the good racquets everyone likes and make these new ones that have no feel and hurt elbows??

it's all about driving profits and there's 2 ways to make money. in a nutshell, they either need to grow revenues or reduce costs or do a combination of both.

let's address the first one. in order for companies to make money, they need people to constantly consume & buy to maintain and grow top line revenues. the constant release of new technology gives the companies something to advertise & market touting the benefits of newer advancements and technology. we, consumers, buy into the advertising, spend our hard earned cash on the newest, latest and greatest racquets in hopes that next years stick will indeed take our game to the highest level and give us eternal hope in becoming the next GOAT.

in regards to the 2nd point...in order to reduce costs, they have to either use less material (graphite) or use a cheaper material (cheaper quality graphite or some graphite alternative material) or both. the other way to reduce costs is to reduce labor costs which means moving manufacturing from the good ol' US of A and old world Europe, both regions with high labor costs to China.

this is basically why manufacturers stopped making racquets the way they did in the past.

IIRC, the POG and Pro Staff 6.0 sold for ~$200 back in the '80s. if you factor in inflation over the past 30 yrs, if these racquets were still being manufactured, they would probably cost ~$400. the Head YT Rad sells for ~$180 new. in order to keep the price at the same level as 30 yrs ago, something has to give and that something is material.

and i agree...the Bumblebee is an awesome stick!
 
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Kaz00

Semi-Pro
Thanks for the explanation Mad Dog1. Well tomorrow morning I'm going to all the local pawn shops to look for older tennis racquets hope I find something good!
 

joe sch

Legend
Thanks for the explanation Mad Dog1. Well tomorrow morning I'm going to all the local pawn shops to look for older tennis racquets hope I find something good!

Checkout the thrift shops like good will and salvation army, you may find some great classics for close to nothing. Good luck in your hunts !
 

@rob@

New User
Thanks for all interesting and good replies! :)


Will for sure play further with my beloved good old Radicals and forget all the new technology bunch. :)
 

@rob@

New User
Thanks for the explanation Mad Dog1. Well tomorrow morning I'm going to all the local pawn shops to look for older tennis racquets hope I find something good!


Hi Kaz!

I´m also a collector of classic frames. :)


For example I bought a mint Prince Graphite 90 ("4-stripe") with this calfskin bag for 1 Euro (about 1,30 US $) on the flea market.

Good Luck!
 

pshulam

Hall of Fame
Hi Kaz!

I´m also a collector of classic frames. :)


For example I bought a mint Prince Graphite 90 ("4-stripe") with this calfskin bag for 1 Euro (about 1,30 US $) on the flea market.

Good Luck!
I don't realize that flea markets exist in Europe.
 

mtommer

Hall of Fame
it's all about driving profits and there's 2 ways to make money. in a nutshell, they either need to grow revenues or reduce costs or do a combination of both.

let's address the first one. in order for companies to make money, they need people to constantly consume & buy to maintain and grow top line revenues. the constant release of new technology gives the companies something to advertise & market touting the benefits of newer advancements and technology. we, consumers, buy into the advertising, spend our hard earned cash on the newest, latest and greatest racquets in hopes that next years stick will indeed take our game to the highest level and give us eternal hope in becoming the next GOAT.

in regards to the 2nd point...in order to reduce costs, they have to either use less material (graphite) or use a cheaper material (cheaper quality graphite or some graphite alternative material) or both. the other way to reduce costs is to reduce labor costs which means moving manufacturing from the good ol' US of A and old world Europe, both regions with high labor costs to China.

this is basically why manufacturers stopped making racquets the way they did in the past.

IIRC, the POG and Pro Staff 6.0 sold for ~$200 back in the '80s. if you factor in inflation over the past 30 yrs, if these racquets were still being manufactured, they would probably cost ~$400. the Head YT Rad sells for ~$180 new. in order to keep the price at the same level as 30 yrs ago, something has to give and that something is material.

and i agree...the Bumblebee is an awesome stick!

I agree, sort of.

With graphite the racquet manufacturers have to use what the graphite manufacturers are offering. I've said this before, consumer goods, by and large, do not dictate material manufacturing, especially with graphite composites. The cost of going with material that is not readily available, while possible to do so, is extremely cost prohibitive. Marketing just helps to make this reality profitable and keeps racquets and racquet choice available for the consumer.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
...With graphite the racquet manufacturers have to use what the graphite manufacturers are offering...

the graphite suppliers/manufacturers are just as keen on increasing their bottom line too. therefore, the idea of keeping material costs down is just as important to them as it is for racquet manufacturers.
 

mtommer

Hall of Fame
the graphite suppliers/manufacturers are just as keen on increasing their bottom line too. therefore, the idea of keeping material costs down is just as important to them as it is for racquet manufacturers.

You'd be suprised I'd bet. Toray and Teijin get the majority of their money via large military or aviation contracts with governments. Airbus and Boeing in particular are HUGE contracts for cf mfg's. These industries require precision, stict QC and this naturally is going to mean best of the best which involves a lot of waste. Those companies pay for that too. The point being the "bottom line" is less of an issue when you're dealing with industrial to industrial contracts and transactions. R&D alone is a lot of "waste" but necessary for material advancement.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
^^ are toray and teijin publicly traded companies? methinks they are...most companies are interested in their bottom lines. publicly traded companies even moreso because shareholders demand a decent return on their money and the only way the corporation is able to offer this is thru increasing profits.
 

pshulam

Hall of Fame
What is the evidence to suggest that carbon fiber of today is inferior that of the 80s? I thought the material now is stronger and lighter. Thus, it is more durable and last longer. The feel is definitely different as it is stiffer, lighter and seems to be tinny.
 

mtommer

Hall of Fame
What is the evidence to suggest that carbon fiber of today is inferior that of the 80s?

Plenty of tech white papers. It's a superior material BUT only in comparison to itself. It may not be superior for an intended application.
 

mtommer

Hall of Fame
^^ are toray and teijin publicly traded companies? methinks they are...most companies are interested in their bottom lines. publicly traded companies even moreso because shareholders demand a decent return on their money and the only way the corporation is able to offer this is thru increasing profits.

I'm not saying the bottom line isn't important. What I am saying is often in industry the bottom line isn't AS important as other matters for often profit generation is a result of wasteful (could be read as unsure, for example what R&D might produce as opposed to will produce) practices. Also, with many contracts, government with their security requirements chief among them, many items/actions are simply not reviewable to stockholders and therefore not accountable to them.
 

tennis005

Hall of Fame
Well, I do know that almost all of my modern frames feel tinny and hollow after a hitting session with my Prince Graphite Pro 90.
 

mctennis

Legend
Well, I do know that almost all of my modern frames feel tinny and hollow after a hitting session with my Prince Graphite Pro 90.

I agree with you in this point. I think all the newer racquets have this tinny sound and feel to them. I tried explaining this to someone that has always used a newer racquet and they just couldn't understand what I meant about until they used my older ( 80's) racquets. Then they knew exactly what I was talking about.
 

Fearsome Forehand

Professional
What is the evidence to suggest that carbon fiber of today is inferior that of the 80s? I thought the material now is stronger and lighter. Thus, it is more durable and last longer. The feel is definitely different as it is stiffer, lighter and seems to be tinny.

The trend is toward stiffer, stronger, lighter in terms of composites because that is what the market demanded. Materials used in today's composites are "better" than they were in 1980's in terms of strength to weight ratio, etc. However, if one likes the feel of old school graphite rackets, the improvements in advanced materials although fantastic in most applications are somewhat wanting when it comes to tennis rackets.

Modern resin systems are a big factor, too. It isn't all a matter of carbon fibers and unobtainium or whatever gimmicky fiber is tossed into the matrix to add some marketing pizazz

I don't buy the new rackets are cheaply made theory. Are the new rackets different than old rackets? Yes, of course they are. Technological improvements in advanced materials and manufacturing techniques have occurred over the past twenty years and modern rackets reflect those improvements. Some of us just don't happen to like the feel of these "better" rackets. Now, if you happen to enjoy light, stiff frames then you are in heaven using most modern rackets. If you like relatively heavy, flexible players frames from the 1980's or early 1990's, you are SOL, save a few players rackets here and there that somewhat mimic that old school feel.

And don't kid yourself, there were many rackets made in the 1980's and 1990's that were stiff as hell and offered little, if any, feel. They were marketed as being powerful. And if you have short strokes, they are great. But if you hit the ball hard and have loopy long strokes, you either need a longer tennis court or you have to hit with silly amounts of topspin to keep the ball in play if you swing full out.

I hit this weekend with the a bunch of 1980's and mid 90's rackets; liked all of them except one which I found to be too stiff for my tastes. You can surmise from my taste in frames that I am SOL as far as modern frames are concerned. :)
 
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pshulam

Hall of Fame
^^FearSome ForeHand,
Great job of explaining the difference. It really depends on the style of play. My preference is old-school, but some modern racquets I also like, e.g., Babolat Pure Storm, Dunlop AG 100 4D.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
well, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

remember cars back in the 70s? they all came w/ heavy steel doors and heavy steel bumpers. gasoline & iron became more and more expensive forcing manufacturers to figure out alternative ways to keep costs down and make autos lighter to improve fuel economy. the need to make smaller, lighter cars that were capable of better gas mileage was the driving factor to push technology towards the use of stronger, lighter, and cheaper plastics.

i think a similar thing has happened in the racquet industry.
 

Fearsome Forehand

Professional
well, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

remember cars back in the 70s? they all came w/ heavy steel doors and heavy steel bumpers. gasoline & iron became more and more expensive forcing manufacturers to figure out alternative ways to keep costs down and make autos lighter to improve fuel economy. the need to make smaller, lighter cars that were capable of better gas mileage was the driving factor to push technology towards the use of stronger, lighter, and cheaper plastics.

i think a similar thing has happened in the racquet industry.

You really can't compare the automotive industry to the tennis racket industry. The auto industry is immensely more complex. Tennis rackets are a relatively simple product. A piece of molded thermoset with some paint slapped on it. While it is true that auto companies look for cost savings measures, because of things like CAFE, auto companies were actually willing to pay a premium to replace a heavy part made from metal with a lighter composite part of equal strength. In those cases, they ended up paying more for a composite part than the metal part simply to reduce the vehicle's curb weight. Depending on the application, an engineered composite part might actually perform better than a metal part.

Old cars really sucked by the way. The overall quality of cars now is much better than it was in the 1980's or anytime before.

All companies attempt to reduce costs, be more efficient, etc. In that sense all industries are similar but comparing a tennis racket to a car is like comparing the space shuttle to one of those balsa airplanes with the rubber band and the plastic propeller that I used to buy as a kid. I wonder if they still sell those things?
 
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mtommer

Hall of Fame
You really can't compare the automotive industry to the tennis racket industry.

What you can "compare" is the effect that the automotive industry has on the carbon fiber industry and subsequently every single consumer good industry that uses carbon fiber from bicycles to tent poles. Now granted, it's not just the automotive industry but they are a large player, just like the aviation industry.

What large industry has brought to carbon fiber is far better quality and a superior product. As a result of better carbon fiber, it's no surprise that today's racquets feel hollow and "tinny", they are. There is more carbon in the weave with less and better resins. This means the carbon plays even more into the feel and structure of the racquet which naturally means stiff (from the carbon) and hollow (from the thinner walls as thicker walls simply aren't needed). Of course lower RA stiffness ratings can be designed into racquets but it's still utilizing different layups of thinner and stiffer material. That means hollow and "tinny".
 

coachrick

Hall of Fame
one of those balsa airplanes with the rubber band and the plastic propeller that I used to buy as a kid. I wonder if they still sell those things?

I couldn't find one with the propeller; but, I almost bought a glider for my 5 year-old nephew @ $4 !!! Figured it would last about ten minutes!
 

Fearsome Forehand

Professional
I couldn't find one with the propeller; but, I almost bought a glider for my 5 year-old nephew @ $4 !!! Figured it would last about ten minutes!

They are making them out of modern carbon fiber now but I find them to feel hollow and tinny compared to the classic balsa wood models.:)

Simple pleasures. We used to get them at the drugstore down the road. I think the basic non-propeller model was about a dime and the super deluxe propeller driven model with the rubber band damper was a quarter. Came in a plastic bag. Can't for the life of me remember the brand name though.
 

Fearsome Forehand

Professional
What you can "compare" is the effect that the automotive industry has on the carbon fiber industry and subsequently every single consumer good industry that uses carbon fiber from bicycles to tent poles. Now granted, it's not just the automotive industry but they are a large player, just like the aviation industry.

What large industry has brought to carbon fiber is far better quality and a superior product. As a result of better carbon fiber, it's no surprise that today's racquets feel hollow and "tinny", they are. There is more carbon in the weave with less and better resins. This means the carbon plays even more into the feel and structure of the racquet which naturally means stiff (from the carbon) and hollow (from the thinner walls as thicker walls simply aren't needed). Of course lower RA stiffness ratings can be designed into racquets but it's still utilizing different layups of thinner and stiffer material. That means hollow and "tinny".

I concur. :)

RA stiffness ratings are a mysterious thing. I wonder if there is a lab that tests rackets independently (like UL) or if the manufacturers submit their own data (like tire companies do) rendering comparisons between manufacturers all but meaningless. I am often surprised by the stiffness of rackets that have relatively low RA scores (to the point that I don't assign much, if any, meaning to RA scores.) The only test that seems valid is to go out and hit with the racket.
 

coachrick

Hall of Fame
They are making them out of modern carbon fiber now but I find them to feel hollow and tinny compared to the classic balsa wood models.:)

Simple pleasures. We used to get them at the drugstore down the road. I think the basic non-propeller model was about a dime and the super deluxe propeller driven model with the rubber band damper was a quarter. Came in a plastic bag. Can't for the life of me remember the brand name though.

My thoughts exactly! :)

They are still packaged in the clear plastic sleeve. I can almost picture it...not Wham-o, but something like that. I remember moving the weighted clip around to get the perfect flight pattern. Sound familiar??? :) :)

I may have to drive by the specialty hardware store where I spotted them. The gentle fall breeze will be perfect for gliding. Ah, the simple pleasures!
 

retrowagen

Hall of Fame
Guillow's balsawood gliders and rubber-band powered planes. Technologically, a step above the diamond kite, but two steps below the Estes rocket kits... (non-USA readers will scratch their heads as they read this...)

From what little I know, there are very few actual purveyors of carbon fiber in the world... the machinery required to spin extruded strands of carbon into braids is quite rare and a bit proprietery. Toray (in Japan) has been the main source of carbon fiber as an OEM for decades, and they offer it in a number of strengths based on weaves and materials.

I can't comment as to the cost of producing composite tennis racquets, but certainly relocating entire production lines away from USA, Europe, and Japan (where labor and environmental considerations factor into lower profit margins and/or a higher unit price at the cash register), did necessitate a mass exodus to China and Thailand for racquet production, where labor is even cheaper than in Taiwan. And the cheaper the materials can be obtained, the higher the profit margin.

I do notice that current "consumer" composite racquets are generally heavier on the average (by about one ounce) than those of 20-25 years ago. But the main thing I notice when trying them against my older frames is that they shed vibration differently. The acoustic tuning of modern frames leads to the "tinny, hollow" feel previously mentioned. This would be a function of weight (overall and mass distribution factors) and materials (layups, but also including grommet systems, pallets and grips). String selection and tension (and, to an extent, string pattern and the head size the string pattern is in) play a massive role in that judgment, as well.

Lots of variables here... you can't just tack it down on one.

Also, from my insight into the current automobile industry, I have to correct the assertation that modern cars are way better than older ones. The finished product is in fact generally more reliable (day-to-day), quiet, comfortable, efficient, etc. and put together with more precision and speed than in decades past; however, the reliability is limited to a certain finite period whereafter the car - having lots of very complex extra electronics and systems the older cars did not - is more expensive to maintain than to ditch and buy another. This is known as "planned obsolescence," and is the philosophy of the modern auto industry from the design studio down to the factory. It is true that the decade of the 1970's was abyssmal for the auto industry in general, but that was mostly due to a reaction to a fuel crisis, burgeoning governmental auto design regulations, and trade union shenagains all around the world. Cars produced from the mid-80's through mid-1990's (prior to the OBD-II requirement) seem to have stricken generally the best compromise between function, quality, and price.

And bicycles have turned to carbon fiber for a frame material to exploit the lightness factor. However, the CF frames have proven to be not very durable at all for the intended purpose, by and large.
 
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Don't Let It Bounce

Hall of Fame
MTommer's explanation of how higher-quality materials can lead to a feel of lower quality is, as usual, spot-on.

In theory, it ought to be possible to recreate the old-school feel. While lower-modulus carbon fibers probably are hard to come by, fewer fibers in the resin matrix and more layers (i.e., thicker walls) ought to be possible. I suppose the stumbling block would be economics: higher costs, only a very small market segment that would care about the difference, racquet companies being part of much larger corporations such that merely breaking even with a product line is not enough, etc.

RA stiffness ratings are a mysterious thing. I wonder if there is a lab that tests rackets independently (like UL) or if the manufacturers submit their own data (like tire companies do) rendering comparisons between manufacturers all but meaningless. I am often surprised by the stiffness of rackets that have relatively low RA scores (to the point that I don't assign much, if any, meaning to RA scores.)
TW's measurement of frames' vibrational frequency seems promising along those lines. For example, it appears to predict playtesters' impressions of the BB London's flex better than the Bab RDC measurement does. I fear, however, that it is too labor-intensive to ever catch on as an industry standard.
 

struggle

Legend
interesting stuff. i currently play with new sticks, yet grew up on the 80's graphite/composite stuff.

I wonder what the golfers that play graphites have to say about this.
and perhaps skiers.

I'm sure the Formula 1 guys aren't complaining (like most). I'd guess only a few applications (tennis being the best example) could really yearn for the old stuff.
 

tennisdad65

Hall of Fame
The main reason I play with the older frames are for the arm friendliness. I have demoed lots of current frames listed at RA 59 and below.. no luck. I even ended up buying a couple of RA = 58 frames.. 3 months later .. elbow starts to hurt (even with full gut at low tensions), and I have to go back to my 80s frames.
 

OrangeOne

Legend
This thread amuses me immensely.

The only, and I repeat, the only reason frames are being made differently now is due to market forces - ie. supply and demand.

Sure, racquet companies can maybe make a modern frame for less money (it's lighter, there are less materials, costs less to ship, etc), but if the demand was still for max 200gs and PS85s, that's what would be being produced.

Don't forget: There was no massive, single-point shift. It wasn't like companies made PS85s one day and Pure Drives the next. They offered PS85s, and some lighter alternatives. Demand picked up on the lighter. They responded to demand and made more alternatives, etc etc.

If the most demanded frames were still 370g flexy frames with small heads that played exactly like they did 20 years ago, that's what would be being produced. The raw facts are that these are demanded less and less year by year, and they are fading away.

It is almost ridiculous to say that 2010 manufacturing could not produce a tennis racquet that plays & feels identical to a 1990 frame.
 

struggle

Legend
It is almost ridiculous to say that 2010 manufacturing could not produce a tennis racquet that plays & feels identical to a 1990 frame.

i would tend to agree 100%, but James Blake disagrees, apparently.

seems to me one could re-create any such feel, but maybe that is not the case.
 

OrangeOne

Legend
i would tend to agree 100%, but James Blake disagrees, apparently.

seems to me one could re-create any such feel, but maybe that is not the case.

I have posted a bit on that, in fact if I remember correctly I remember creating a thread on it after reading an article.

I think the issue there is possibly that he's had his current frames for a few years (??) and very little they make new can feel like a 3 year old frame with a few years of pro-play in it? Not sure, that's just my speculation. It also could be psychological in his case too.

It seems wrong that so many other things in life can be made to the same standards over decades to think that something as simple as a racquet couldn't, if the demand indeed existed.

I do know that there are indeed 'artistic' examples of such products that due to unique situations at the time of manufacture are hard to replicate (the Stradivarius situation), but on the whole I think such things are less relevant when it comes to mass-production from common materials. Even the legendary Stradivarius often fails to win in double-blind tests, and perhaps if someone took blake's current frames and 10 new ones and painted them all lime green, he'd never really know which was which. Unless, of course, painting them all lime green changed them too much :D
 

struggle

Legend
I have posted a bit on that, in fact if I remember correctly I remember creating a thread on it after reading an article.

I think the issue there is possibly that he's had his current frames for a few years (??) and very little they make new can feel like a 3 year old frame with a few years of pro-play in it? Not sure, that's just my speculation. It also could be psychological in his case too.

It seems wrong that so many other things in life can be made to the same standards over decades to think that something as simple as a racquet couldn't, if the demand indeed existed.

I do know that there are indeed 'artistic' examples of such products that due to unique situations at the time of manufacture are hard to replicate (the Stradivarius situation), but on the whole I think such things are less relevant when it comes to mass-production from common materials. Even the legendary Stradivarius often fails to win in double-blind tests, and perhaps if someone took blake's current frames and 10 new ones and painted them all lime green, he'd never really know which was which. Unless, of course, painting them all lime green changed them too much :D

i hear ya, although if you want to use the Strad situation as a comparison that IS tough. many of my friends are well know bluegrass/acoustic musicians. much of that "strad" thing has to do with the aging of certain woods and the tones that follow. yes, they make impeccable fiddles/violins these days, just like guitars etc, BUT that old wood has tones that new wood cannot replicate until it too is old.

you rarely see a fine musician playing synthetic materials, at least in acoustic instruments.

hell, i came back to the game of tennis last feb. after 23 years off. i grabbed my old quiver consisting of a few classic style sticks and went and played with a buddy. during my first session i tried one of his newer prince rackets and it seemed solid. a week later i ordered three, never looked back.

that could change, i get the feel but these are working just fine.

as for Blake, i really think it's a head game.
 

Virginia

Hall of Fame
Why is it then, that modern racquets feel (and look) so inferior, if as you say, the graphite is still of good quality? I have read that the strands are not as long as the ones previously used, which apparently makes a substantial difference.

I'm certain that quality control in China is nothing like as strict (and therefore measurably better) as it used to be in the United States, Austria, Belgium, Germany, UK, etc, where racquets used to be made. Even Taiwan quality was reasonable.

The public at large doesn't know (or care) much about quality - they tend to believe all the bullsh!t the manufacturers throw out in their advertising. Pro players don't care what recreational players use (or what rubbish they are told), as long as they have their customised good quality (and in many cases) older model racquets.

So there's nobody around to drive the revival of the so called "classic" frames, even if they could be manufactured these days at reasonable prices.
 

pshulam

Hall of Fame
Also, from my insight into the current automobile industry, I have to correct the assertation that modern cars are way better than older ones. The finished product is in fact generally more reliable (day-to-day), quiet, comfortable, efficient, etc. and put together with more precision and speed than in decades past; however, the reliability is limited to a certain finite period whereafter the car - having lots of very complex extra electronics and systems the older cars did not - is more expensive to maintain than to ditch and buy another. This is known as "planned obsolescence," and is the philosophy of the modern auto industry from the design studio down to the factory. It is true that the decade of the 1970's was abyssmal for the auto industry in general, but that was mostly due to a reaction to a fuel crisis, burgeoning governmental auto design regulations, and trade union shenagains all around the world. Cars produced from the mid-80's through mid-1990's (prior to the OBD-II requirement) seem to have stricken generally the best compromise between function, quality, and price.

And bicycles have turned to carbon fiber for a frame material to exploit the lightness factor. However, the CF frames have proven to be not very durable at all for the intended purpose, by and large.
I definitely would not trade a current model of car or bike for one of yesteryears. The same goes for TV, computer, appliances, phones, camera, stereo, etc. There will always be people claiming the old stuffs are better in quality and durability, such as furniture, houses, and cabinets.
 

Don't Let It Bounce

Hall of Fame
Why is it then, that modern racquets feel (and look) so inferior, if as you say, the graphite is still of good quality?
Modern composite materials are of such impressive strength and stiffness that it takes less of it to make a racquet that will meet the needs of the vast majority of tennis players. (See MTommer's post upthread for more details.) Sadly for the tiny minority that most of the posters in this thread belong to, it is difficult to remain competitive while using more material in a racquet than is necessary.

It should go without saying that supply & demand dictate what products are available in a worldwide market (though I'd never deny anyone the derisive amusement of saying it anyway). However, that does not end discussion of why the market has gone in the direction of racquets that appear (in some ways) to have declined in quality.

Additional consideration: product changes are driven from both sides of the consumer-seller relationship – if sporting goods companies were doing nothing other than responding to demand, marketing departments would have nothing to do. Sales are better when there is new product after a certain point in a marketing cycle, whether or not the engineers have come up with anything objectively better, and new product requires change of some sort (or, sometimes, the illusion of change). The market rewards change that the aforementioned vast majority can be convinced is desirable, and that need not be what is better.
 
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pshulam

Hall of Fame
Additional consideration: product changes are driven from both sides of the consumer-seller relationship – if sporting goods companies were doing nothing other than responding to demand, marketing departments would have nothing to do.
True. Marketing still has to do the other 3 'Ps' (place (distribution), promotion, and price) in addition to defining the right product for the selected target segment. The ultimate goal is to match a company's products to the people who need and want them to ensure profitability.
 

Virginia

Hall of Fame
Planned obsolescence is the name of the game - and has been for quite some time now. Time was when manufacturers actually wanted their products to last a long time. Not any more.

You can argue all you like that quality is better nowadays, but a certain amount of brainwashing is at work here and for most things, it really isn't. You'd need to be as old as I am to really appreciate that fact. ;)
 

mtommer

Hall of Fame
Planned obsolescence is the name of the game - and has been for quite some time now. Time was when manufacturers actually wanted their products to last a long time. Not any more.

You can argue all you like that quality is better nowadays, but a certain amount of brainwashing is at work here and for most things, it really isn't. You'd need to be as old as I am to really appreciate that fact. ;)

From a consumer pov this would appear to be the case. However, what you call "planned obsolescence" is actually called PLM (product life-cycle management). It encompasses a lot of issues. It's a way of designing a product to meet expectations of the targeted consumer and then to recoup valuable resources and other entities once the consumer has discarded the product. In short, there is no point in designing a product to last forever that ends up in a landfill or someone's closet. It's an understanding that consumers crave change and that industry has an obligation to society as a whole to provide an outlet (yes, while being profitable too) for those goods to come back into the manufacturing cycle for reuse wherever possible. Believe it or not but we have recycling on the level we do, of which most is industrial driven, because of PLM ideologies. This has allowed cities to keep up residential recycling programs where before they would have failed due to a lack of coordination, communication and logistics.
 
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