Category Archives: String – New
New string information
As most of you know I am a big fan of Ashaway Monogut ZX (16g) and ZX Pro (17G) string. These models are PEEK mono filament strings that resemble polyester strings but these contain no polyester!
Here is the latest PR from Ashaway for your review.
Please let me know if you have any questions, and of course if you want to try this string.
As you know Head has made incredible strides in terms of racquet technologies and important players using them!
The racquets I received recently are the new Head Graphene XT Extreme MPA. Richard Gasquet, a talented and great player to watch, has been using the “Extreme” model for several years and has been making it into the late rounds at more tournaments!
The bright yellow finish with bright red and black certainly makes a statement! The black grip is a slight departure from the more usual white synthetic grip used on many racquets.
The new model incorporates the ASP technology that allows the racquet to be strung either in a 16 x 19 pattern or a 16 x 16 pattern! One racquet two string pattern options! Great idea, I think!
This model weighs in at 319 grams (11.25 ounces) with a swing weight of 322 (11.36 ounces) with a RDC flex of 60 (compare to 71 for the Babolat Pure Drive).
I installed a new Head string that is not polyester! The new string is Velocity MLT, a multifilament polyamide (nylon) with about 10.2% elongation. The string bed stiffness is a comfortable RDC 61 and DT of 38.
If you are considering a new racquet consider this one for sure!
For several months, as you know, we have been discussing “shaped” strings. Most of the current shaped strings are polyester based but now there is a new, or actually two (2), shaped strings that are primarily nylon material.
You all know the difference between polyester and nylon string so I am excited to have a “soft” option available. This option allows more serious players to experience what shaping can do (maybe contribute to spin) and the high elongation of a multi-filament string.
I have been using the standard round Acelon Wildfire for a long time and it is one of the best “value” oriented multi-filaments I have found. What is “value”? Of course it is different things to different players but I assign “value” to a string that will play well, protect wrist, arms and shoulders, and be reasonably priced. Most multi-filament strings are in the $35.00 range, so the Acelon Wildfire Hex at $31.00 does represent value.
To make this string even more valuable I am going to make it this periods “special” and offer either the 16 gauge or 17 gauge Acelon Wildfire Hex for $24.99 while this supply lasts.
Normally when we ask this question it is regarding the “playing” shape, i.e. how is the string bed stiffness, how is the notching, how long has it been in the racquet and some others.
However, this time the question is “what is the shape of your string?”
For many years tennis racquet string has been round. The round shape is fairly easy to manufacture, using many materials, including multi-filament constructions. Round strings present a uniform shape that reacts similarly regardless of installation procedure. Round strings typically provide uniform tensions because there is no “sides” to create additional friction during installation.
The last ten (10) years have seen the increase of polyester, or combinations called co-poly’s, as a tennis racquet string material. Along with this material came a new, for tennis racquet string, manufacturing process which is essentially extruding a molten material in a nice long continuos strand.
This process can produce a lot of string in a very short time! This processing technique can produce very inexpensively to be sure. It also allows for shapes! Almost any shape! All it takes is a “die” of the shape you want as the last thing the string sees before it gets to the cooling tanks or “embossing” wheels.
Make no mistake, however, these strings can be very technical in design and material formulations. So,if you pay $40.00 for a stringing using one of these strings don’t be surprised.
Back to shapes…
It is common to see three, four, five, six, seven, and even eight sided strings all over the place. Some of these strings present challenges in terms of installation and, therefore, performance because not only are they shaped they are “twisted”. Twisting a string creates huge variations in tension unless installed in a controlled way.
A couple of weeks ago a client presented me with a reel of Solinco string that is intended to be similar to the very popular Luxilon ALU Power Rough. The Solinco is silver, (the image below shows it sort of blue) low elongation, textured string, mostly typical of polyesters. The unusual property is that the shape of this string is oval! It should be noted here that Gosen, a major string manufacturer, has made oval shaped strings for years.
In addition to being oval the string is very aggressively “textured”, actually embossed, which, I believe contributes to the oval shape. Heres why. When the string is finishing the processing it is passed through an embossing wheel that creates small indentations in the string. When this happens the string will flatten out, or become oval. This process can also contribute to elongation.
If the manufacturer wanted the string to be perfectly round it would subject the string to a pulling process but this is not what I see in the Solinco string, which does not yet have a name.
Initial play tests show significant durability when paired with natural gut. Control seems to be better than average. When finished the strings seem to be laying flat against the corresponding cross string which could contribute to string movement.
So…what shape is your string in?
For many years natural gut has been the target of many attempts to make it less expensive. Most of these attempts have not been truly exceptional.
According to the manufacturer, Octave Strings, this natural gut string will sell for $12.00 per set. Compare this to Babolat, for example, that sells for over $45.00 per set. Octave Strings natural gut is available in natural color at the moment but a black version will be availalbe according to the manufacturer.
Readers, this is not Babolat, Wilson, Pacific, or Bow Brand quality for sure but it can not be discounted without adequate evlauation.
Octave Strings is the latest, as far as I know, to enter into the tennis string market with a natural gut product. I suspect the string samples I recieved were of the sheep serosa. The string is available in a package of two (2) pieces of 6.5M lengths which leads me to that conclusion, and, was just confirmed by the manufacturer.
The foil and sealed bag packaging is the best I have seen from low cost offerings which gave me hope that this would be a “value” alternative. Not withstanding what follows this may be an alternative for use in a hybrid format.
The first lab test I do is to determine elongation and this string has very high elongation. It tested at ≈ 10.7%. Compare this to Babolat VS Touch at ≈11%. This is not the same as “dynamic stiffness”.
When I do this testing I have the opportunity to inspect and measure the string diameter. Here is where this string goes way off. The diameter, or gauge, varies a great deal over the length of each piece. The diameter ranged from .050 to .056 and in fact some areas it was difficult to get the string through the grommet. You can, of course, cut off the very stiff end but then you are subjected to fraying ends that will never work!
I have strung a Babolat Pure Drive with one set of this string and will be reporting more information periodically. One area that is very interesting is that the string is very stable, meaning it is holding tension pretty well so far. The racauet has not been hit with. It has been seven (7) days since the racquet was strung and the string bed stiffness has decreased by ≈8%. This is very stable behaviour but we will see how it reacts to hitting.
I am going to do some work with the 16 gauge to see how it compares to the 17 gauge keeping in mind that there was a large variation in gauge in the 17 gauge package.
We all like great shapes especially when it comes to ourselves! But what about the shape of your tennis racquet string?
With the increased availability of “shaped” polyester based string you need to know what, if any, advantages or disadvantages to expect. String shapes range from round to octagonal, and come in several gauges, or thicknesses, and twist angles.
This is an image of a shaped and twisted polyester based string. The distance between the “shiny” is about .300 inches so that is about 3.3 twists per inch. The finished stringing should reflect about the same twist rate.
Most of the shaped strings we are talking about are easily produced polyester based that is simply extruded from a high temperature molten state to a cooled and finished string. It is easy to extrude this material in almost any shape, and sell it for almost any price! Make no mistake, some polyester based strings are very complex so the price you pay should be based on the complexity, and therefore, performance both proven and claimed.
What does the shape you select actual do? In the simplest terms the shape is intended to “bite” into the ball therefore creating more spin. As far as I know there is no comprehensive study that concludes that, under many circumstances, will a shape produce more spin. The movement of the polyester based string, even round, can influence spin. It seems, intuitively, that the very sharp edges would, in fact, bite into the ball. But, the sharp edges are soon gone due to the stretching during stringing and the “buffing” of the ball hitting.
Having said all of that, if you believe the string is creating more spin for you then absolutely use it.
Installing shaped string, especially twisted shapes, requires a different process to prevent the string from simply twisting itself into a non-performing condition. To install a radically shaped string it is my practice to make sure the string does not twist. This process takes longer but produces a much better, and, consistent result.
If you are using a shaped string take a look at some of the cross strings (the short ones) and see if they are tightly twisted or, hopefully, show a consistent straight condition.
So, when getting into shape do it the right way!
I am not talking about the “peeking” type of peek but instead the material PEEK. For all of you chemists it is Polyether ether ketone and it is being used as a material for tennis racquet string, which, of course, is what we care about!
I have been working with Ashaway Line & Twine Company for several months to understand how this material can be a viable alternative to very stiff string, and, even a cost effective string for those needing a more “forgiving” gut like impact. In fact the Ashaway MonoGut ZX Pro has a dynamic stiffness similar to natural gut! As most players know natural gut is the very best string for those wanting arm protection but it is sort of expensive.
At first glance PEEK string looks exactly like many polyester based string. But that is where the similarities end. PEEK has elongations of 10% to 12 % at sixty (60) pounds whereas polyesters will be about 4% to 6% elongation. Power Potential is directly related to elongation so the PEEK material should return more energy to the ball.
Player response to PEEK string has been very positive and I see it as a material that will increase durability, stability, and playability in tennis racquet strings. MonoGut ZX can be used as a 100% system, and, in fact, I would recommend using a PEEK material as 100% the first time. I have clients using MonoGut ZX Pro in a hybrid format with natural gut and this may be the ultimate setup!
As with any engineering material some care is required to assure the string is installed in the racquet properly. Through our long association with PEEK material we have developed the techniques that are required to assure a winning result.
So, if you are looking for playability, durability, and stability (tension maintenance) you should consider taking a PEEK!
This subject can go on forever but to make it simple we need to forget the old standard of “as many times a year as you play per week” or something like that.
So, what shall we call this elusive property we need so badly? Let’s call it “stability”. Stability means a resistance to change, and, assuming the string was properly installed, we don’t want change.
To maximize the performance of your racquet we need to consider how long the the string maintains it’s best properties. For many new string materials, such as polyester based, the “playability” can be measured in single digit hours! This is not good news since the string may appear to be in pretty good condition. You need to get rid of it anyway!
Let’s establish new stringing frequency “standards” to assure the string is playing as well as you are, or can! We will consider hours as the standard time basis without regard to whether it is tournament play, training, or match play. Remember, string may break in advance of these recommendations. The following is my recommendation(s) for maximum playability if the string is not broken.
1. Polyester based string is really good for ten (10) hours. Add two (2) hours to this if you are using a non-polyester in a hybrid configuration.
2.. Polyether ether ketone (PEEK) , Zyex string is good for thirty (30) hours.
3. Nylon based strings are good for thirty (30) hours.
4. Natural gut strings are good for thirty-five (35) hours.
So, if you play two (2) hours per week with polyester I will be seeing you every five (5) weeks! Great!
When will I be seeing you?
The holiday season is a time when many tennis players think about a new tennis racquet. If they are expecting one as a gift be sure you know exactly what they want, or buy one together, or just give them your credit card and turn them loose!
Selecting a racquet for another person is risky business so here are the things you must know:
Brand: What is the “brand” name of the manufacturer:
Racquet Head Size:
Racquet String Pattern:
Racquet Grip Size:
Racquet Length: (this may be part of the model designation)
If you are purchasing more than one racquet please request that the swing weight is “matched”, not balance!
Now comes the stringing portion of the decision!
String Material: (this may be part of the model designation)
String Reference Tension:
There are other characteristics, of course, but knowing these will make your selection a little easier. Your can print this page and put the desired information in the proper category. If you have any questions during the process just give me a call and I can help you @ 407.491.4755 or 407.494.4702.
I am just about finished with my latest evaluation of tennis strings for the GSS Alliance web site and I am stunned at the number of strings available! Of course there have always been several strings that stand out from long time “brands” but with the new view toward “shaped” string the number of new strings is exploding!
The old standards that we called, unscientifically, “synthetic gut” are being joined by an amazing number of strings that are being processed with a certain “shape”. The shape can be a triangle, square, pentagonal, octagonal, septagonal and about any other “agonal” you can think of. The shape is intended to add “bite” between the string and the ball and, therefore increase spin. It seems most of these string offerings are in the co-polyester family.
However, when I was testing strings from a number of manufacturers I discovered several shaped strings outside of the polyester family. If you want to try a shaped string but don’t want to move to a polyester based string ask your racquet technician about the options.
There are many!