Professional Racket Stringing Service
So – how long IS a piece of string?
Well, in the case of the average midplus tennis racket, its about 10.5 metres!
There are many misconceptions out there about stringing and the greatest myth of all relates to the tension (or tightness) of the strings. You will often hear people complaining that their strings have gone soft and they are losing power. FALSE!
Strings have an in-built elasticity which wears out over time and a fresh re-string will give a much livelier response with the result that you will have much better feel. Depending on the tension of the restring, you may also have more power – but this will be down to the fact that the new strings are more elastic and therefore you are getting much more rebound off the racket face. Comparing like with like, higher tensions give a more consistent bounce off the racket-face and therefore, more accuracy. However, the sweet spot in the racket will get smaller, you will get less power overall – and it makes it harder to get spin on the ball. Conversely, lower tensions will give you more power as you get more of a trampoline effect – but with that also comes less accuracy and the tendency to ‘spray’ the ball more.
The longer you leave it between restrings, the bigger the difference in feel will be – and for some people this can lead to more problems adjusting to the new strings. As a general guide, if you are playing twice a week you should probably be getting your racket re-strung twice a year – 3 times a week, then 3 restrings a year. There are literally thousands of different strings out there to choose from but they can be broken down into a few main categories as follows:
|NYLON||Nylon was for many years the go-to option, but was superceded in the 1990’s with the advent of synthetic gut strings. Nylon is the cheapest string out there and is still used in most junior/starter aluminium frames. We have not used nylon in our restrings for many years.|
|Nice to play with. Good balance of playability and durability. This is normally our standard/default restring option. One particular version of synthetic gut (called Topspin) has a rougher texture thereby imroving grip on the ball – however, feel is slightly compromised.|
|MULTIFILAMENT||Multifilament strings were developed as the closest alternative to natural gut in terms of playability/feel – but without the drawback of being vulnerable to wet conditions. They are the most elastic of all the non-natural string types resulting in the largest sweet spot with the most power and should be the string of choice for anyone with tennis elbow problems.|
|POLYESTER (MONOFILAMENT)||Polyester is the hardest wearing string and is the least elastic of all the string types. Originally they were developed as an extruded single strand (hence the term MONOfilament) – although there are now many variations on the composition with hybrid variations comprised of polyester and other materials. As a general rule, restrings with polyester strings should be looser than with synthetic gut or multifilament. Full polyester restrings are really for the heaviest hitters who break strings very frequently. Although polyester strings will stand up to wear and tear in the middle of the racket better than the other options, they are probably more prone to breakage from mis-hits near the edge of the frame – especially when freshly done.|
|POLY MIX||This is a generic term for a combination of 2 different strings in the racket – a polyester and synthetic or multifilament. Usually the polyester is used for the mains (up/down strings) – which take the brunt of the wear when hitting with topspin. The mix of two string types is intended to give most of the durability of a full polyester restring, while being easier on the arm and having a more forgiving feel.|
|NATURAL GUT||No cats were harmed in the making of this string! – actually it is made from sheep or cows intestines. It is extremely expensive and any dampness or moisture has a seriously harmful effect on the playability and durability. It is also very prone to damage when being strung so should only be used by very experienced stringers. It is, to this day, still the most elastic and resilient string and cannot be matched for playability by any of the synthetic options. Federer uses a mix of Luxilon Natural Gut in the mains with Luxilon Alu Power Rough (polyester) in the crosses – but bear in mind that his rackets are restrung after every use – and he is being sponsored!|
|STRING GAUGE:||Most rackets will be strung in 16 gauge (~1.28-1.32 mm diameter). Thinner options – 17 gauge (~1.2-1.27mm) and 18 gauge (~1.15-1.2mm) are also available, as well as 15 gauge (~1.33-1.38mm). Thinner strings will give better feel and usually grip the ball better – but will also break more easily.|
Squash, Badminton and Racketball Strings
Squash strings are generally thinner than tennis with the gauges varying mostly from 1.1mm to 1.3mm. Polyester is rarely used and the most common/popular options are versions of synthetic and multifilament. The choice is usually down to personal feel as similar gauges will have similar durability.
Badminton strings are the thinnest – going from about 0.6mm to 0.8mm. Like squash, the common options are synthetics and multifilaments. Usually the most important factor is the gauge as the thinner the string the better the feel – but with obvious drawbacks in terms of durability.
Racketball rackets usually use tennis string – with all the options available – but polyester would not be recommended.
For those of you out there with 2 or more ‘identical’ rackets, you may have wondered why you always had a favourite?
Well, we may be able to confirm for you that it is not, in fact, all in your head!
Although each model of racket comes off a mass-production line and should therefore be identical to the one before and after, it is definitely not rocket science and so the manufacturing tolerances are not what you would find in aerospace technology. The overall weight of the frame will fall within a certain range to be sure but the difference from the lightest to the heaviest can still be considerable. Furthermore, the balance-point will fall within a particular range – but even with two frames of identical weight, this may not be the same point.
Now, consider you have 2 rackets – one happens to be at the light end of the overall weight range and also at the more head-light end of the balance range. The second one is actually at the heavy end overall – and also with a balance point leading it to be more head-heavy. These might as well be two completely different rackets. Even in the case of two frames which happen to be the same in weight but with varying balance-points, the difference will become apparent when you swing them so it can affect your timing and will definitely affect the feel.
This is why we believe that when you are trying to match frames, by far the most important characteristic is the actual swing-weight. This is the compound effect of the total weight of the racket with the balance factored in – and is the one overall measurement that determines how the racket feels to you as you are swinging it. We have a machine that can actually measure this and therefore it allows us (with the addition of weighted tape) to match one frame to another.