Category Archives: Natural Gut String
String savers are on my mind today for several reasons so I thought I would post something about them that may be of interest. Let’s see!
String Savers are tiny little pieces of material that are “grooved” to cradle the string and provide a tiny barrier between rubbing strings, therefore creating a longer, happier life!
String Savers are normally used when stringing your tennis racquet with natural gut string to help the $75.00 job last longer.
But what else do string savers do?
Well, in the case we see here it increases the swing weight from 332 to 341! So 286 of these tiny things have an impact on swing weight!
The Elephant in the Room!
I suspect we all have heard that expression!
It means there is something that everyone tries to ignore, but it is too large to do so!
I recently read an article in Racquet Sports Industries authored by Georgetta L. Morque. The title is “Tackling Tennis Elbow.” Tennis elbow is an important topic and deserves much attention. Georgetta is writing about ways to mitigate tennis elbow after the fact.
Let’s try to prevent tennis elbow, so it does not need to be treated!
When we say stiff, it means a string with less than 4% elongation at 60 pounds which is our testing parameter. Most strings, and for this discussion, strings exhibiting that property will be monofilament PET-based (polyester).
Fully understanding this required a lot of testing, both lab and play, for many playing styles and racquets. To make a long story short, as a racquet technologies business, we decided not to promote polyester strings for most players. That sounds silly, but why take a chance when you don’t have to!
Our success is based on helping you, the player, perform the best you can, so it does not make sense to promote something contrary to that philosophy. Probably 75% of our clients have come to us for something different, so we have a “head start.”
So why do so many players use it or want to use it?
We believe it is because they have not been exposed to alternative string materials. Some outstanding players at the pro level use it, so it must be good, and it is for about 10-11 games. Of course, manufacturers and marketers of polyester string stand to make a nice profit! It is in their best interest to promote products by adding some terminology and material to make the string less stiff.
A polyester string is deficient in power and needs to be walloped, and the harder it is hit, the stiffer it becomes, which is the problem. Developing bodies can’t tolerate that level of impact for long.
SBS…what is it and why should we care?
We have made several posts regarding SBS, which is “String Bed Stiffness” and this is another one!
If you read this post we really need your comment(s), really!
String bed stiffness is the “feeling” when the ball hits the string on a tennis racquet. Due to the various string materials there will be “soft” and “hard” feelings. But wait, there’s more!
The string bed is made up of several strings, some longer called the Main string (M)and some shorter called the Cross string(X). Using “reference” tension each of the sets of string will be pulled at the same machine setting! It the machine is set at 50 pounds the tension head will stop pulling when it feels 50 pounds of resistance, regardless of what he tension inside the racquet head may be.
Let’s say you come into the world headquarters and we ask you what SBS you would like to have? Would you know? Probably not and not many would! We have grown up using the term “reference tension”, not SBS.
Reference tension is “number” you would ask your racquet technician to set the stringing machine tension system on. That number will probably be between 30 and 60 pounds (≈13 to 26 Kilo).
So, depending on many other variables, such as string material, string pattern, stringing machine, stringer technique, etc., you can end up with may different versions of the same “reference tension”.
A better way, and one we have been using for over thirty (30) years, is SBS but not everyone has bought into the concept, even though a qualified racquet technician will have a way to measure SBS! Maybe because it is too much trouble to figure out what your desired SBS from machine X would be from machine A! It is not!
There have been several really good SBS data collection devices but they have been difficult to use, and pricy! Not to mention gigantic!
Would you purchase a SBS data collection device?
How much would you pay for such a device?
Would you prefer a mechanical device or an electronic device?
The device must be portable, that is easily carried in a racquet bag or backpack
Yes or It doesn’t matter
It must be easy to use.
If you use an SBS device would you use a racquet technician that did not know what SBS is or how to measure it?
Thank you for adding your comments to this discussion! It is important stuff!
What Can Pictures Tell Us About String?
It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” which may be true as long as the picture tells a story.
This story is about natural gut string, and the pictures will show what we can achieve, informationally, with our testing equipment. The two (2) strings are Babolat VS Touch 17 and Luxilon Natural Gut 125.
Our Questron software scales the images to suit the data so the graphs will not be the same size.
Our testing loads the string from 0 pounds force to 50 pounds and back to zero then up to 50 pounds three (3) times. This is the “stress/strain” curve. Fifty (50) pounds is arbitrary and because we are using the same methodology for all string materials it is a good number. The closer these lines are together the better.
The farther it takes to reach 50 pounds the “higher elongation” the string is. In this case it is about 44mm.
The important property of this string is the linearity! That is the “straightness” of the line from beginning to end. This indicates predictability, stability, and consistency.
This picture tells us the tensile strength and the knot strength. In this case the knot strength is 52.3 pounds and takes a stretch to very close to 60mm before failure.
What is, probably, the first thing you notice about this “picture”? Could it be the squiggly lines? What could be causing this?
We believe it is the “break-in period” players associate with Luxilon gut! We have heard it from the players but have not been able to “see” it! It could be the bonding agents realigning as the load is applied.
You will notice a couple of things: the similarity of the “stress/strain” curve and the displacement to “knot strength” of the two strings. This string will feel a little less “soft” than the Babolat VS Touch 17. The linearity is quite good up to failure.
So, based on these pictures, could you make a recommendation? If so, let us hear them!
Our Favorite String
A frequently asked question by our clients at the World Headquarters of Racquet Quest, LLC is “what is your favorite string?”
I am going to tell you what it is, and tell you why it is, and why, I believe, it should be your favorite string as well!
It should come as no surprise that natural gut is our favorite string! Well, of course, you say! It is probably everyones favorite but it is way too expensive for most recreational players! You are correct that natural gut is everyones “favorite” string, however, you may not be correct about it being too “expensive” for recreational players!
What follows is predicated on the belief that “performance” is the primary factor in selecting a string.
On the positive side:
- Natural gut plays better longer than any other material.
- Natural gut is more stable than most string materials.
- Natural gut is more forgiving (comfort) than most other materials.
- Natural gut is more eco-friendly than other materials.
- Natural gut is a good hybrid component.
On the not so positive side:
- Natural gut is expensive @ $70.00 to $75.00 (installed).
- Natural gut is more expensive than other materials.
- Making natural gut string is very labor intensive.
- Making high quality natural gut is limited to a “few” major manufacturers.
- Natural gut can be affected by moisture.
And, how do you quantify “plays better”, anyway? Some players are fine with string that has long since offered any performance! Some strings have a “play”life of a couple of hours! So, the player must decide on what is important.
But, if you ask us, natural gut is our favorite string!