Category Archives: String – New

New string information

Is This the Perfect Combination?

It seems like Ashaway had this very racquet in mind when they developed their Dynamite Soft 18 string!  This blue string is a perfect match to the blue accent color on the Ultra 100 CV and Ultra Tour!

And, the gauge, a very thin 18, is a perfect match to the very stiff frame (73 RDC, 70 FF stiffness).

I think the 18 gauge string may not be durable enough for hard hitters but this combination could be very good for many players.

You can be the judge of that, of course.

The string tension of 48 lbs (21.7 kg) combined with the racquet stiffness returns an effective stiffness of 30.3 which is a very comfortable number.

This stiff, 100 square inch racquet, should pack a powerful punch with a weight of 318 gr (11.2 oz) and swing weight of 318 kg/cm^ (11.2 oz).

Ashaway Monogut ZX/ZX Pro – Update

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.

Ashaway, RI – In a recent article on the growth and use of its popular MonoGut® ZX family of monofilament tennis strings, Ashaway Vice President Steve Crandall noted that, “it seems we’ve done something more than simply make a successful product.” While the company’s initial goal was to produce “a synthetic string to rival the performance of natural gut,” MonoGut ZX has emerged as a viable — and healthier — alternative to today’s arm shock inducing polyesters.
Says Crandall, “testing has shown that MonoGut ZX is indeed closer to natural gut in dynamic stiffness than any other synthetic string material. But it’s in the context of the current craze for polyester, and the need for more and more spin, that MonoGut ZX has made the greatest mark. These days everybody wants to improve their ‘up and down’ game, and play like the top pros with ‘heavy balls’ that drop like stones just inside the baseline. To generate that spin they think they need to use those so-called ‘high-tech,’ high-performance polyester strings, and many are paying a high price in impact related injuries.”
Not only do MonoGut ZX and ZX Pro strings generate spin as well as polyester, claims Crandall, but they do so without generating the same arm jarring, injury causing impact shock as the polyesters, and even help players recover from their impact related injuries. In the article, Crandall provides comments and testimony from a number of players and noted stringers on why they switched and continue to use the Zyex® based Ashaway string. These include two rising junior players, Clare McKee and Aditya Srinivasan; expert technician and recent Tennis Industry Racquet Stringer of the Year, John Gugel (; well-known stringer and MRT Geoffrey Jones; and veteran player/stringer Eric Burke (
Crandall reports that while players initially switch to MonoGut ZX (or ZX Pro) for its ability to eliminate their arm pain — “its ‘healing power’ if you will” — they stay with it because it provides other playing benefits as well. “They love the power and control,” writes Crandall, “the ‘softness,’ comfort and overall feel of the string.” 
For example: Of his daughter Clare, stringer/coach Geoff McKee said, “since the switch [to MonoGut ZX], my daughter has had no elbow or wrist problems for four years.” And Clare herself: “I get good pop with these strings and good control. It helps me get more spin, especially on my serve and forehand.”
The parents of East Boys 12-year-old division player Aditya Srinivasan wanted a string that was durable but not a polyester that might injure him. Well-known stringer Geoffrey Jones said, “With Ashaway Monogut ZX Pro they found a soft durable string that almost has the same resilience, softness and safety as natural gut.”
John Gugel says, “The high elongation of the Monogut ZX series almost guarantees no arm issues… It is well known that natural gut is the string to use if there is an arm issue, but now Monogut ZX is an option.” That’s why MonoGut ZX strings have become his “primary strings.” MonoGut ZX, “works and looks like the “other” black string,” he said, “and is a perfect string for the player looking for comfort, spin, power, and durability.”
National level player/stringer/coach Eric Burke said: “Ashaway MonoGut ZX is the ONLY string that provides durability, feel, power, comfort, and tension maintenance. It is by far the best string to use as the crosses for hybrid stringing in those popular new ‘spin-enhancing’ racquets.”
Writes Crandall, “the MonoGut ZX bottom line for us is more than the business bottom line (which is OK, too!); it’s the satisfaction of knowing that we’ve been able to develop a string that is not only fundamentally healthier than the current injury causing polyester offerings, but one that disproves the conventional wisdom and beats those strings at their own game.”
He also notes that many people still want, “More… They want the same ‘healing’ properties as MonoGut ZX in a softer multifilament string bed. So,” he concluded, “stay tuned for some MonoGut ZX Multifilament news in early 2016.”
To read the complete article, ” Users Praise the Playability, Spin Generation, and ‘Healing Power’ of MonoGut® ZX Strings,” visit the Racket Stringing Tips section at
Ashaway Racket Strings are made by Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co., the only U.S. manufacturer of string for squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Operated by the Crandall family since 1824, Ashaway has been making racquet strings since 1949, and is responsible for several important technical innovations. Ashaway has been the Official String of USA Racquetball for more than ten years, and is also the Official String of Professional Tennis Registry. Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. also makes braided products for medical and industrial applications. For more information visit Zyex is a registered trademark of Zyex Ltd.
For additional product information, contact: 
Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co.
PO Box 549
Ashaway, RI 02804 USA
Tel: (800) 556-7260 (U.S. only) or +1 (401) 377-2221
Fax: +1 (401) 377-9091
Twitter: @Ashaway1824

Head Graphene XT Extreme MPA

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.

Head Graphene XT Extreme

Head Graphene XT Extreme

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!


ASP Insert

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!

Acelon Wildfire Hex String

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.

Try it!



What Shape is Your String In?

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.

Solinco Not Released 16L

Solinco Not Released 16L

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?

Octave String Natural Gut

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!

Octave String tip diameter.

Octave String tip diameter.

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.

Ocatve Natural Gut 17 Gauge

Ocatve Natural Gut 17 Gauge

Babolat/Octave Visual Comparison

Babolat/Octave Visual Comparison

More later…


Shape…what do you like?

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.


Shaped and Twisted Polyester based string.

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!

PEEK…take a look!

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 is PEEK

This is PEEK!

Racquet Stringing Frequency…really!

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?



Shopping for a New Tennis Racquet?

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 Model:

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 Model:

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.

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