Soft (stiffness) vs. soft (denting/notching) -- Same thing?


OK...this is a bit of a strange question, but I'm thinking about the quality of strings that people refer to as "soft".

I use Cyclone Tour 18, which is generally considered a "soft" (i.e. not stiff) poly. I've been considering going to a hybrid with CT18 in the mains and a smooth poly in the crosses, to improve durability.

I'd like to use a "soft" poly in the crosses, so as not to change the overall feel that much. But here's the crux of my question:

Will soft (not stiff) polys be prone to denting/notching, thus, potentially reducing the benefit? Is it possible to get a smooth, non-stiff poly that will be resistant to denting and notching, or do those 2 things go hand-in-hand?

Sorry if that's a bit confusing...I hope someone out there can make sense of it.


I define stiffness as how much force is required to stretch a string a given amount, e.g agree with TWU String DB Stiffness factor. And it varies with gauge and reference tension. Soft or not soft is the coating on the string and it's ability to resist notching. This should not be affected by reference tension though it could be changed as a result of manufacturers' desire to increase longevity for thin strings. A good example is Wilson's NXT family of strings. Regular NXT is not stiff and is soft compared to NXT OS which is also not stiff, but not soft in that its coating is designed to be used in OS frames and to resist notching. Another example is Monogut Zyex which is not stiff, but has a very hard surface. 2 cents.

To find your 'Holy Grail' of strings (and tension), you will need to experiment. Not everyone hits the same so hearsay can only be used as a guide. You do have some generalizations. A shaped cross is more likely to notch a round main. A shaped main is more likely to damage a round cross. 4 cents.
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Hall of Fame
It's not the same. Softness in hitting comes from elasticity, not directly from softness to denting. This:

I define stiffness as how much force is required to stretch a string a given amount,

This is the definition of elasticity. We feel something as stiff when it is not elastic.
I find that Isospeed Cream doesn't dent much, while Yonex PTP does. Yet Cream is more elastic and especially it will stay elastic a long time while Yonex will lose its elasticity rapidly.

I used hybrid of these two because I actually like control of PTP, so I wanted some middle ground between PTP's control that comes from its deadness and Cream's elastic response. Hybrid did exactly that, plus string bed stays elastic over time (biggest disadvantage of full bed of PTP is that it doesn't) - it's really a middle ground. Cannot say I've found a holy grail, but I'm quite ok with this string bed.

If you want elastic yet not as prone to notching and denting string, you can freely try Cream.

Autodidactic player

It sounds to me like you are looking for a string that is both "elastic", able to stretch and return to its normal shape, (what you are calling "soft") and "hard", able to resist deformation and scratching by the other string, (what you are calling "stiff"). Zyex strings tend to be a good choice to meet these perimeters. Just be aware that most Zyex strings have a outer wrapping that is not made of Zyex and thus the outer wrap, being substantially less "hard", is prone to denting and fraying.

moon shot

Hall of Fame
Stiffness (k) is how many pounds force are necessary to stretch the string lengthwise by 1 inch during a dynamic impact.
Measurements were made with string reference tension of 52 lb with a swing speed for a 120 mph serve.

Approaching this from the other angle, 4G is among the stiffest strings on the market, but is prone to denting. I find that strings more prone to denting also seem to cinch better when tying knots.


I have a question that I think applies in this thread. When you use an elastic poly in a hybrid with a soft cross, will the elastic poly have more movement perpendicular to the soft string and cause more notching? I've been trying Mosquito Bite red/OGSM 17 and the MB notches the OGSM pretty quickly. It plays superbly for a short time, but should I stick with a less elastic poly for hybriding with nylon based strings in the future? Next I'm trying N.vy crosses which are a little more durable, then I'll move on.