Is My String Dead?

In a word, No!  In two words, Probably No!  What is “dead” string anyway?  This word “dead” has been associated with resiliency of a string.  Resiliency, is, of course, the ability of a plastic material, such as string, to stretch and return many times.  So it stands then when someone says “My String is Dead” they are saying the string is no longer resilient.

I have no evidence that this, lost resilience, is the case, however, and have created some short videos to confirm this.  In the videos you will see the bounce height of a ball off of a string bed that is over twenty-three (23) years old and one off of a string bed that is about three (3) months old.  What the videos show is the ball is bouncing higher off the 23 year old string bed than off the 3 month old string bed.  We know, then that the string has not lost enough resilience to be “dead”.  So what is happening?

For this discussion string looses tension, and that is about all.  Lower tensions can provide a little more energy return to the ball and you can see this in the ball height off the old string bed.  Lower tensions will increase dwell time, that is the amount of time the ball is in contact with the string (very short!).  This increase in dwell time can contribute to the perception that the string is “dead” because it will not sound the same and the ball may be a little less controllable.

Can I make a string “dead”?  Sure, if you exceed the elastic limit of the string but this would put you in the tensile strength (maximum weight the string can hold) area, and there are very few strings that will encounter that stress in stringing or playing.

Take a look at the video and let me know if you have any questions.  In the meantime rest assured that your string is not “dead”.

Posted on March 10, 2013, in Good News!. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Nathan, I don’t know exactly how many hours the 1990’s string has on it but I know it is more than I would recommend before re-stringing.

    Just as you, I am skeptical when I hear the word “dead” associated with string and am trying to understand exactly how this may, or may not, be the case.

    Thanks for the message!

    • Thanks for your reply. I’m satisfied that the string has been sufficiently used now. I just needed to confirm this. I’m just going on a “tennis players’ feel”. If I had two identical racquets, same string, one strung at 50lbs, the other at 60 lbs and I used the 60lb one until its string tension was 50 lbs, my feeling is the one that became 50lbs would feel “dead” and the one that was originally 50lbs would feel “lively”.
      The ball itself has resiliency, so that it will bounce off a solid wall in a few short milliseconds. With a stringbed, the question is, will the strings have enough “life” in them to snap back on the ball before the ball merely bounces off them of it’s own accord?
      I believe this is what is happening when a player reports back, saying, ” Oh, the strings have gone dead “, is that the ball is bouncing off the strings before the strings have snapped back on the ball. The strings have been too slow to act.
      Now the power level of this so called “dead” stringbed maybe greater or smaller or even the same, but something just doesn’t feel “right”. There’s this innate sense that something feels peculiar, and that it’s detrimental.

  2. I’m skeptical about it. How often has the older string been used? If it’s never been used I wouldn’t expect it to lose any resiliency, or at least any significant amount of resiliency.

Let us have your thoughts on this!