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Holabird Sports

I appreciate your contributions to this forum and I will publish your letters on this page so that other players can learn from your experiences.
Please write to info@stringforum.net or use the feedback form.

Letters are in chronological order. Please scroll down to view the latest contributions.

Michael P. about string tension (12.7.98):
I would like to use different tensions on cross strings to get more durability out of the string. Does anyone know if professional players use different tensions on certain strings or patterns? mickel1@earthlink.com thanks

Jimmy Becnel about the Polyfibre 19g (6.2.00):
Hello Jens:

My name is Jimmy Becnel. I love tennis and I play to a 4.0 level in a USTA tennis league. I am considered to be a string breaker. I hit with a lot of topspin and I also like to cut the ball. I have played with all types of tennis strings. The problem is that normally they don't last long enough. I string my own rackets. Most strings only give me 6 to 10 hours of play. I have tried the hybrids, Kevlar and they last a little longer but they hurt my arm. I will give you my opinion of Polyfibre 19g.
I played 32 hours of continuous play with Polyfibre 19g. I play with a Midsize Wilson Hammer 5.8. I strung the racquet at 60lbs. tension. I use Polyfibre 19g on the mains only. I used Head T-20, which is a 17g synthetic gut for the crosses. The combination of Polyfibre 19g and Head T-20 gave me a durable yet very good feeling combination. I had plenty of power and I also had good control, which resulted in being able to finesse the ball easily. The Polyfibre 19g seems to be very strong, but has more playability than the other 17g Polyester strings I have tried. I have come to the conclusion to continue playing Polyfibre 19g. The Polyfibre 19g cost about $70 US currency for a 660' reel. I will strongly recommend this string to all string breakers. I can most assuredly say that Polyfibre 19g plays better than most of all the Hybrids I have tried. My arm does not suffer and I'm very satisfied with that. I really wish someone would sell this string in the USA. I purchased this string from Germany. I hope this evaluation of Polyfibre 19g will be helpful.   AceMeifUCan@aol.com

Darnell Caballes about his experiences (23.6.00):
Hi, great site for string reviews... I too have been experimenting with strings. I am a strong 4.5 NTRP player that hits hard with a western grip (i.e. lots o' topspin). I use the Wilson Hyper Hammer 6.3 110. If a play with normal synthetic (nylon) strings like Wilson Sensation, my strings will typically last no more than 3-4 hours of play (I play 5 days a week - 2 hours a day). I tried the Gamma Edge 20 and Gamma Edge 17 (no longer being made!! but still available) and found the cross strings would bring every 6-8 hours of play and the main strings (basically piano wire!) lasted 10-14 hours. It was great for control, spin and power (not much feel).

my $0.02

Manchester, New Hamsphire, USA

Nathan Mattick about Stringway Machines (9.8.00):
I stumbled across a "Stringway" stringing machine (www.stringway.com) and wondered whether anyone can comment on their design. They have essentially a 2-point support (they claim 5, but I they're not wide enough apart to like normal 4/6 pointers). Looks very well made - though haven't yet seen it in the 'flesh' so to speak.
Has anyone used one? Anyone pass on any opinions/experiences?

Thanks in advance,
Nathan (NMattick@scigen.co.uk)

Darren Thorne about Kevlar/Polyester combination (13.9.00):
I thought I'd share my favorite combo as a hard hitting topspinner who breaks synthetic gut string in 2 hours. With these trings, the tension stays for a long time and I have never broken the main strings before the crosses. Plus with the polyester, I find that the control isn't too bad even when the strings are close to failure.
Ashaway Kevlar MAIN strings 17 gauge - they are braided and they feel solid but not too stiff.
Your favorite Polyester 17 or 16 gauge string strung 4 pounds heavier for the CROSS strings.
If you usually string at 60 pounds, you might try 58 mains and 62 crosses (not exactly the same, but close) This combination is awesome, please try it and let me know of your results.

I'm surprised that in your stringing reports you don't seem to mess around much with hybrids. Heavy hitters should always use hybrids, since the lifespan of cross strings is so much longer - you might as well use a softer string there. And if you are a topspinner, hybrids are the only way to go. Careful selection and tension can create a stringbed in which the cross strings don't move, that is the most important factor in keeping the mains from deteriorating. Plus hybrids can cut costs by allowing less expensive, more flexible strings to comprise half of the string job cost. Better feel and durability for less money :)

Kirschbaum Super Smash- cost: $7.50
might feel kind of stiff to most players.

Wilson Syn Gut Extreme- cost $3.50
feels great but doesn't last

Kirschbaum/Wilson Hybrid- cost $5.50
Lasts nearly as long as straight Kirschbaum since the mains take most of the abuse, and costs $2 less each time you restring (28% less expensive)

So: String only the mains with Super Smash, and the crosses with a nice feeling cheap string like Wilson Syn Gut Extreme 16 or 17 gauge. You'll get increased durability AND feel for less money!!!! You could even use cheaper crosses than the Wilson if you're mostly concerned with cheap durability.

Hybrids are the only way to go. I haven't used matched sets for about 5 years. And I don't think I'll ever go back, since it doesn't seem possible at this point to create an all-in-one string.

Thanks for all the good evaluations on your site, the more information we all have the better our tennis will be!

Darren Thorne (darren@aerogami.com)

Liam Nolan about stringing and Natural Gut (26.12.00):
Hi Joe, I was just browsing around the web and came upon your pages. I certainly found the contents interesting. I think it is great that a stringer like yourself goes to so much effort to help other. May I suggest a few ideas?
Pulling two main strings at the same time is risky. Firstly, these are the workhorses of the string bed. The quality of the overall stringbed tension depends on the tension consistency and condition of these strings. When you pull both mainstrings at once, there is a great danger of damaging the string and also the grommets. The angle being pulled is extreme and you will lose a lot of the intended tension. If you set out to get a 60 lbs pull tension using this method, due to the large amount of friction involved, you will end up with about 40 lbs. Some rackets, ie Prince Power Rings, can accommodate this technique but not the normal frames. Multifilament strings and other soft strings would not last long using your method as the string will be damaged before the strings ever get near a ball. If you use the clamps to string one string at a time, you will add a little time to the stringing but end up with a far better job.
Natural gut - This has come on so much over the past few years and deserves to be rated much higher. Yes, in the past there was a tendency for the organic string to deteriorate in wet or extreme weather conditions. However, nowadays the manufacturing processes have vastly improved the resilience and life of this "perfect" string. Bow Brand International manufacture their natural gut in their factory about 40 miles away from me. I regularly visit the factory and see the processes in action. The results they get are superb. I am the head of the Wimbledon Stringing Team and natural gut is the choice of all the top pro's. The string just plays so much better than any other type of synthetic copy. No other string has ever managed to duplicate the playing qualities of natural gut. I agree that every player has a choice to make as regards what string is best for him/her. We all like strings for very different reasons. Sometimes we like things because ... we just like them!! No problem with that, but I think that every player should try natural gut at least once in their lives! Yes, it will be more expensive, but you will get so much more from the game, hit more winners and it's a lot easier on the arm. (listen in all you tennis elbow sufferers)
Finally, have you considered joining the USRSA? I have been a member with them for many years, starting off just like yourself. They are a great source of information, inspiration and are there to help and advise all stringers the world over.
Until then, well done on what you do and good luck on avoiding those misweaves!!

Liam Nolan (liam.nolan@which.net)

Howard Stinson on using superglue on the string intersections (28.12.00):
I have had very good luck using superglue on the string intersections. No string shifting and at least doubled the string life.
I thought you might want to add that info to your site. (3 months and still counting - however after 2 1/2 months the superglue joints started breaking. Also be careful to avoid dripping glue on frame, you, or anything else. Glueing must be done outside!! Fumes are deadly...

Howard Stinson (bighcoffee@excite.com)

Richard Parnell about stringing the main strings (27.01.01):
Hi Joe,
This is Richard Parnell, from Malaga, Spain. Just like to congratulate you on your site. A quick commentary on the stringing technique on the mains.
If you pull two strings at the same time you are working on a length of string double the length, your tension should come up about 40% short of the desired tension & that is without taking into account the tension loss created by the friction of going through the grommets. A good example is the Babolat machine where the tension head raises itself to be in exact vertical alignment with the racket to decrease the possibility of friction against the grommet. Also another point to take into consideration when pulling through two strings at the same time is the "frazling" effect on the molecules of the string. The best example is a ribbon when you pull it over a pair of scissors this makes it curl or "frazle".
Hope you don't mind me passing you my thoughts on the matter & again "great site!!"

Richard Parnell (clubdeltenista@mercuryin.es)

Mike Jackson (26.04.01):
Thank you, thank you. I can't believe anyone would put this kind of time into helping others.
I just bought an old Serrano type stringer and, with the help of your guide made it through my first round without error.
Thanks again, Mike Jackson

Rick Weidner about the Forten Ultra Thin Blend (23.05.01):
This is a kevlar/synth gut hybrid, both 18 GA. The kevlar is different to work with in that is stretches very little, and tying tight knots without losing tension or breaking the string in the knot took some learning. They are however excellent strings. The softness of the crosses (Forten Dynamix 18 GA) well offsets the stiffness of the kevlar. The tension maintenance is quite good. The string will feel a bit 'board-like' if you go too tight with them. 58lbs on the mains is about as high as I'll go on a 95 sq.in. frame. You might be able to go a bit higher on an oversize. Also, note that the crosses are about 4lbs tighter than the mains, in reverse of the old thinking. This is due of course to the kevlar composition of the mains. I can't take credit for the idea though, many pros, AA among them, do this with the stiffer main strings available now (kevlar, technora, titanium).
It plays extremely well, and provides great control. One of the best buys under $10.00 at about $7.00 per set. The Thin blend (18 GA Mains, 17 GA Crosses -Sweet 17- are a bit cheaper, but not quite as playable).
I've used at least 10 sets of each of these strings on the two Hammer 6.2s (std./95) I have.

John Weaver about pulling two mains at a time (17.06.01):
I have been pulling two string at a time for several years now, mainly because I have a hydraulic stringing machine with only about 6 inches of pull. To keep the tension uniform I use a pliers to push the second last string through the 180 degree grommet turnaround. I ran a test with two stringing machine calibrators to see the difference in the down string versus the directly pulled string. Before nudging the downward string there was five pounds less tension in it than the direct pull string when pulling at 60 pounds, after nudging the downward string with a smooth pliers the tension was exactly the same as the upward pulled string. It only took a slight nudge and by nudging harder I could not make the downward string tighter than the directly pulled string. Because you are not pulling string at an angle through the yoke, I feel the results are better than pulling each string separately. As for damaging string the new Woofer design of Babolat shoots this concept to pieces because the strings are constantly being drawn through the Woofer grommets. This method of course works best with a constant pull machine.

Gaines Hillix about his favorite string combination (07.08.01):
Great website. Thanks for all of the effort to help fellow tennis players/stringers. I recently stumbled into what seems like a very playable hybrid stringing combination: Gamma TNT Fat Core 16g mains/Gamma Stinger 17g crosses. I think the latter is an inexpensive multifiber synthetic gut that is part of their Stinger hybrid string pack. Anyway, I broke the 16g Stinger main string by pulling too hard on the tie off knot, so I used some left over Fat Core for the mains and the crosses from the Stinger pack. I have tried a lot of strings, but this combination has the best feel with control I have tried. The power is equal to the others I've tried too. My favorite before was Technifibre NRG2 17g. This is on a Prince Thunder 820 MP @ 64lbs tension.

Rod Pakus (29.08.01):
Anyone relate experiences of modifying a drop weight machine with an electronic tensioner? Choices? Results? Recommendations?

Rod Pakus (SJCDad01@juno.com)

Liam Nolan about pulling two mains at once (06.12.01):
In reply to John Weaver and the ongoing matter of pulling either one or two main strings. The only stringers who pull two mains at once are either stringing badminton rackets in a great hurry with new grommets or those who do not know much about stringing and have never done a stringing course.
Sorry to sound a bit cruel but that is the reality. Spend the (extra?) two seconds to pull each string separately and get up to speed on getting a consistent stringbed tension every time.
Soft multifilament strings, designed to give enhanced feel and playability will suffer greatly from double pulling. It is a terrible habit, born of ignorance and a complete lack of understanding of how strings work. Any problems on natural gut stringing? Please test me out!! Keep up the good work and help each other!

Liam Nolan
Bow Brand International
Official Wimbledon Stringers

kgentry about the Luxilon Big Banger Ace 18 (14.01.02):
I've been stringing mine and a few friends racquets for 7-8 years on a Gamma drop weight with a 6 point mounting attachment. I'm not much of a string breaker, but I wanted to experiment. I've used cheaper natural gut and many of the Gamma and Prince strings during this period. Both my racquets are now strung with Luxilon Big Banger Ace 18. This string is the most unusual one I've ever used. It doesn't seem to stretch much and is strung 10% less than normal. It has good power and good control for me. It also doesn't move around very much. I rarely have to straighten the strings.
I haven't broken it yet, but I expect it will last a long time based upon the lack of motion in the string bed. I'm a mid-50s NRTP 4.0 player and play both singles and doubles. This string is $11.95 a pack, but I believe it's a good value. I plan on using it or it's 16 gauge cousin on one of my friends racquets. He's a bit of a breaker, so I'll see how it stands up for him.
At any rate I like your site. You've got some good info. I just got a EAGNAS 700 given to me yesterday, so I'll be stringing on that in the future.

Paul Heneghan on stringing the mains and drop weight accuracy (06.11.02):
Great website!
I string mostly squash rackets, and ever since the Prince PowerRing rackets appeared, I've grown into the habit of stringing the mains two at a time (for all squash rackets, not just the PowerRing types). You seem to have received a lot of criticism for doing this, but I think it can be justified for the following reasons:
Clamping the string causes typically four areas of 'crush' (double that in the case of floating clamps). This cannot be good for the string, and pulling two strings at a time halves the amount of crushing that needs to be done.
There is a risk of leaving the previous main undertensioned (due to the friction of going through 2 x right-angle bends and 2 x grommets at the throat, but I always equalise the tension by tugging the current main and then the previous main with my fingers. Some might suggest that I cannot do this accurately, but I believe that I can!
Somebody suggested that it caused more stress to the string to pull two mains at once, but I can't see why (scientific explanation anyone?).
I agree that the racket will be unevenly stressed by pulling two mains at once, but that's nothing compared to the uneven stress on the racket when the crosses are strung. I wouldn't expect a squash racket to distort significantly (or break!) because one side of the racket temporarily had 50lbs more force than the other side.
Finally, if it's good enough for Prince PowerRings, why shouldn't it be good enough for others (providing some effort is made to equalise the tensions in the two mains being pulled.

I disagree (in a minor way) with your point about the drop weight arm needing to be absolutely level. If the end of a 2' (61cm) arm is 1" (2.5cm) above or below horizontal, then arm is at an angle of 2.4 degrees. This means that the effective pulling force is reduced to 0.99913 of the original (99.9%). I don't think there are many string machines (or stringers) anywhere that work to that kind of accuracy. In fact, if you want to be accurate to within 0.5 lb when using 60 lb tensions, you need to keep the drop weight arm to wihin about 7 degrees of horizontal. That equates to the end of the arm being within 3" (7.5cm) of the horizontal. If you think that 0.5 lb accuracy isn't good enough, I can assure you that the variation in the friction due to the grommets far exceeds this.
There you are, I've had my say!
I'm normally a stickler for accuracy and calibration, but in this case, you don't need to be totaly paranoid about the arm being absolutely horizontal.

Keep up the good work.


Geoff Williams about string combos for hard hitters (08.02.03):
I am a former top ten norcal 5.5 male player and have been stringing for 15 years on an Ektelon model D. Play with Yamaha Secret 04 and 06, very stiff and almost indestructible racquets. But the reasons I have lost many matches are these: serve and return and consistency, due to constant string breaking and extremely hard hitting with a very stiff frame, which I string at 80-70 lbs. Am experimenting now with Ashaway 18 g Kevlar on mains, 18g Big Banger Ace on mains, 17g Super Smash Spiky on mains, NRG2 18 g on mains and Gamma TNT Extreme Spin on mains with a variety of soft crosses. Anybody have any suggestions for the perfect combo? Serve and volley game with plan b back court game.

Alex Slabinsky about the "stringing machine from hell" (05.05.03):
I have a humorous but also quite horrific story to tell about my stringing experience.
Currently I am using Exthree stringing machine, which I bought 3 years ago and it works like a dream. It is an upright, 6-point mount, spring tensioner, 2 sliding single clamps (100% adjustable).
Before my buy I used an old hand built drop-weight tabletop machine (probably around 20 years old) given to me by former #5 singles, #1 doubles WTA player N. Zvereva. That machine was terrible but hey it was FREE!!! It was made completely out of metal, very heavy and looked like something out of Frankenstein. The tensioner was totally manual, to tighten the string I had to manually clamp each time. The actual drop-weight was mounted on a 1m rod, very unpractical, the tension was impossible to judge, I had it on the highest weight and the tension would still be low. The string would constantly slip from the tensioner and stringing something as smooth as polyester was impossible. My solution to this was placing a strip of toilet paper in-between the clamp to give it some more friction, this worked but of course made it very thick in the tensioner and to clamp that I needed to use all my strength, in time I would need to fold the paper more and more times to get grip as the clamp would compress. Clamping just once would sometimes take a few minutes, by the end of the restring I would be heavily sweating from the workout, to string a single racket would take around 2hrs.
I was using THE MACHINE FROM HELL till I was 14, at that point I started playing much more and strings started breaking more and more, which of course meant more stringing. Soon I was walking around with blisters on my hands and if stringing 2 rackets in a row my hands would bleed. During the restring I would sometimes get so angry I would get a hammer and pound the stupid thing, other times I would just sit there crying of my situation. I could not afford to buy a new machine for a couple of years.
When I finally bought a new one it was like winning a lottery, stringing became a pleasure, everything runs so smoothly stringing a racquet now takes under 25mins. I get shivers just thinking about the old one, I had no hesitation in throwing it out. I left it outside my house and funnily enough someone picked it up the very same day, I hope they are enjoying it, even if they only use it to crack nuts ha ha ha
So all those stringers out there moaning that their machines have faults and difficulties should know that they are nowhere near to feeling what it is like to string on a true beast.
I am a pro tennis player myself, 17yrs old now competing on the British Tour, finding it very difficult to travel abroad to play the ATP tour due to lack of funds, finding a sponsor is not an easy task. If anyone can help in any way please write to smash_it_hard@hotmail.com.

Alex Slabinsky

Bill Murray (13.09.03):
Being a beginner in the game, I have learned a great deal from your website. The information is invaluable. Especially being able to access so much information with out prejudiced from a vendor. I'm wowed by being able to go to your site to learn so much about the experience of others.

Thanks so much

W. A. Murray
Mt Morris, IL

Jiri Jirovec (22.09.03):
Hi Joe,

I think that you do a great service to us, tennis and stringer enthusiasts. I look at your site for time to time to look for small tips here and there (I string tennis racquets for a small tennis club in Ontario) and find it quite informative. The Forum is quite well done but there is always room for improvement. It might be useful to create a section with critical information that every stringer should know. For example, the crosses of any Prince racquet must begin at the head, otherwise the warranty is voided. This means that 2 piece stringing is a must for certain Prince frames. You could also post a table with typical length of string for one piece stringing. This information would be useful for stringers who use reels instead of coils. According to my records, most 16x19 midsize racquets do not require more than 10m. Some 14x18 Wilson frames can be done with as little as 8.5m. The most demanding (about 11m) are some Yonex frames with the 18x21 pattern. That section could also contain warning such as "Avoid Wilson frames with rollers!". This is a flawed design because crosses move excessively and cut mains like a saw. (Not bad for stringers, though).



Dr. L. Carl Love about indispensable tools for quality string jobs (26.02.04):
Hello Stringing Technicians,
I have been stringing tennis racquets since 1929, and I can say that the information about stringing has changed more in the last ten years than in the last 100. I do not string for profit but rather look for methods of improving playability while stringing. There are two tools that I think racquet technicians should have, especially if they knew where to find them at the manufacturers cost.
The first one is called a frame micrometer. The main purpose of this tool is to provide the person stringing a racquet with information about how to mount a frame in the stringing machine vise. The pull of 16 to 18 main strings at 50 to 70 lbs can place a severe stress on the frame. A great part of this stress is handled by the stringing machine. The question is how much does a person load the frame against the force before pulling any mains. All stringing machine vises contract when a force is applied. I do not like to guess when I have a customers $300 racquet to gamble with. The frame micrometer will measure the distance of the original pull to 0.001 inches. I have found that this pull moves the frame from about 0.040 to as much as 0.085.
The second tool I recommend is used to measure the string bed stiffness. It monitors how close I can duplicate string jobs for customers who want identical string jobs. I also use it to show customers how much loss they have in string tension. I recommend that the racquet of serious players be re-strung after it changes by 20%. Both of these tools can be purchased for under $150 US currency. Contact me by eMail at <love1sport@comcast.net>.