Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Klip Blast

By Greg Raven

BRAND & MODEL

Blast 17 is one of Klip’s “Pro Doubles” line of hybrid strings. Blast combines their Hardcore polyester (for the mains) with a soft compound synthetic gut (for the crosses), which according to Klip deliver a unique combination of power and control for players of all levels looking for a durable string that will hold up to the rigors of today’s tennis yet allows some give for added comfort. The durability comes from the Hardcore, which resists notching, while the comfort comes from the nylon, which was chosen largely for its elasticity. Klip reports that Blast has been very popular with college programs all over the U.S. because of its great durability and affordability.

Klip Blast 17

Klip Blast is available in 16 gauge (1.27 mm poly mains, 1.30 mm nylon crosses) and 17 gauge (1.23 mm poly mains, 1.25 mm nylon crosses) in gold (mains) and yellow (crosses). It is priced from $6.00 for sets of 40 feet. For more information or to order, contact Klip toll-free at 866-554-7872, or visit Klip on-line.

BENCH TESTING

We tested the 17-gauge Klip Blast. The poly coil (mains) measured 22 feet and the nylon coil (crosses) measured 18 feet 10 inches. The diameter measured 1.25 mm (mains) and 1.30 mm (crosses) prior to stringing, and 1.20 mm (mains) to 1.22 mm (crosses) after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 74 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 × 18 pattern) on a constant pull machine. After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 67 RDC units, representing a 9% tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9% tension loss. Klip Blast added 9.8 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

THE TESTERS

Tested for five weeks by 27 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages, to reduce preconceptions and biases regarding manufacturers, type of construction, and materials. Average number of hours playtested was 17.9.

STRINGING

Our playtesters were less than enthusiastic about stringing Blast, but it is actually fairly easy to install: the mains and crosses are already pre-cut, the more difficult of the two strings (the Hardcore poly) goes in the easier-to-string mains, and Klip recommends no change in tension between the mains and crosses. The soft nylon cross string is easy to weave, yet firm enough to enable easy passage through blocked holes.

One playtester broke his sample during stringing, ten reported problems with coil memory, two reported problems tying knots, and one reported friction burn.

PLAYTESTING

Just about all of our playtesters agreed that Klip Blast 17 is a durable string. Not only did 24 out of 25 of our playtesters report that Blast 17 was as durable or more durable than other strings of similar gauge, they also gave it high scores for durability overall. Backing up this durability, our playtesters rated Blast 17 well above average in resistance to movement, and above average in tension retention.

One of the benefits of using a soft nylon in a hybrid string set with a polyester main is that the nylon mitigates the traditionally stiff feel of a pure poly string job. Even so, Klip Blast has a surprisingly soft feel, some of which can be attributed to the Hardcore poly, which Klip has designed to be softer and livelier than normal polys. With this soft feel, there is a corresponding sensation that there is a great deal of control available, a characteristic reflected in our playtesters’ above-average rating of Blast 17 in the categories of control and the often-related category of spin potential.

Six playtesters broke their samples during play, one each at 3, 5, 11, 18, 32, and 200 (!) hours.

CONCLUSION

When strung up with the Hardcore mains at the same tension as the soft nylon crosses, Klip Blast 17 is more comfortable than pure poly, and the durability is still very impressive. Yet this is only the beginning, as the relative tensions of the mains and crosses can be varied to suit your taste, and you could even use the soft nylon as the mains and the Hardcore poly as the crosses if you want, for tremendous versatility from one string. And if that’s not enough, there’s a 16-gauge version as well. At this price you can afford to experiment.

COMMENTS

“I enjoyed this string from the moment I opened the package: The yellow and orange colors match my Head Liquidmetal Radical OS. Stringing went without a hitch. The string had plenty of power and control, and I got a substantial amount of spin on my serves and groundstrokes. I’m keeping this string in my racquet — it has become my string of choice. The only way that I would reconsider changing to it permanently would be price, and I’d most likely be willing to pay more for this string based on what I experience.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Prestige OS strung at 60 pounds (Gamma Duraspin 16)

“The best string I have ever played with. It has ultimate durability for a hard hitter and someone with lots of spin. For a polyester string it also holds the tension extremely well and offers exceptional touch at the net. The blend of string makes for an overall excellent combination. I would recommend this string to anyone looking for power, durability, and also touch.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince AirDrive MP strung at 61 pounds LO (Wilson Stamina Spin DT 15L)

“This string is really nice. It has very good power, so much so that I can send the ball long quite easily, but it is manageable. Durability is great with little wear so far. The most surprising thing so far has been the enlargement of the sweet spot, which is very noticeable. I would love to try this in a 17 gauge as it needs more spin.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Radical strung at 68 pounds LO (Gamma Advantage 15L)

“You know, I did not expect much from this hybrid. Boy was I surprised! I did end up liking it, almost to the point that I might consider giving it a more in-depth test when I use up my reels of Luxilon. Just wish it was a tad bit thinner. But this one is unique and I think it could possibly be a winner out on the market!” 4.5 male all court player using Volkl Tour 8 strung at 63 pounds CP (Luxilon Ti-Mo Banger 110)

“This is a very durable string that also has decent playability. I generally like a soft string, which this is not, but I was surprised by the comfort and touch. I did string the mains three pounds less than normal. I would definitely recommend this string to string breakers.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince More Game MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Prince Perfection 16)

“Tension tests after stringing showed a huge drop in stringbed tension, followed two hours later by another two-pound drop, without hitting a single ball. I was prepared to hate this string, but during warm-up for a doubles match I was mildly surprised to find that there was very little vibration, control felt quite good, and power was okay. As the match progressed I found that I liked this string. As the days progressed, and I did some teaching and played some more doubles, I found that I did in fact really enjoy playing with this string. Comfort, control, and feel have been excellent. I am impressed.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff Surge 5.1 strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre 515 Gold PS 17)

“The monofilament mains in this test sample did help extend the life of the string, and it was not as stiff as other brands I have used. The different type of cross string helped soften the ball’s impact and gave me a little more power. I have many customers who break strings quickly and are always looking for a more durable string that won’t give them pain in the wrists or elbows. This string is a good compromise of increased durability with control and some power. The string held tension well and the only difficulty was in tying knots on the mains, there were no problems during stringing. I would seriously consider carrying these strings and recommending them to my friends.” 4.5 male all court player using Head i.speed strung at 59 pounds LO (Wilson Stamina 16)

“Suspecting the mains were polyester, I pre-stretched them. The strings performed beautifully: better than any other poly hybrid I have used. I have used some very soft string in the crosses to get the touch and the mains ate them. Not so in this case. In fact, this combination was terrific for touch/feel and spin, without the harshness. Obviously, loads of power and no significant loss of tension. I would definitely recommend this string. What is it?” 5.0 male all court player using Head i.S6 OS strung at 57/61 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“I’ve never played a hybrid set of strings before, so this was especially interesting to me. It was nice having poly only on the mains. Even as difficult as poly can be, stringing the “easy” half of the string job — the mains — was no problem. I set the tension to the low end of the range recommended for my racquet, so I was expecting more power than I got. What I didn’t expect was how comfortable this sample is to play with; it seemed almost cushioned. I would definitely like to try this string in a higher-power racquet to get the pop I’m used to, with better comfort than I usually find in stiffer frames.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff ROK strung at 50 pounds CP (Pacific TourGut 16)

“This string plays better than Aramid-main hybrids, but moves more. A good string for hard-hitting youngsters not trying to generate a lot of spin.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson 5.0 strung at 59 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)

“Sharp-looking string! As a string-breaker I was impressed by the durability. Very little notching until well past when I would normally break a string. It softened up and felt better as it broke in. Not as harsh as most polys would be. A good option for frequent string breakers.” 4.0 male all court player using Topspin CL 633 strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma XP 17)

“Stringing was a little challenging. I did not feel as if I had full control of the mains. It was like threading wire. Playing was another thing. Other than slight discomfort (maybe from too-high tension) the string performed admirably. Quite some pop on all strokes. One playing partner insisted on playing with it. I’d like to try it again, reducing the tension four pounds each way.” 3.5 male all court player using Yonex Ultimum Ti 98 strung at 54/51.5 pounds CP (Bow Brand/Pacific Gut 17)

“This string reminds me of Kirschbaum Super Smash polyester. It is stiff and unforgiving on off-center hits. The overall feel is not as good as a multifilament, but a little better than a straight polyester. It lasted a long time, however. In fact, heavy spin players could go a couple matches without breaking it. I think if it sold for $22-$24 retail, it may be successful.” 5.5 male all court player using Prince AirStick strung at 59 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation NXT 16)

“Took time to get used to. It seemed to have a mind of its own until I was accustomed to it.” 4.0 female serve and volleyer using Head S.12 strung at 57 pounds LO (Various 16)

“String is very durable. It feels solid the first couple of hours, then it feels mushy. It is a typical poly string, and I’m not a big fan of poly.” 5.5 male serve and volleyer using Prince More Game MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic 16)

“The mains were difficult to install due to coil memory. The crosses seemed flimsy. I tried very hard to break this string, but couldn’t. After initial hours of play, the string “settled in” and played rather well. I was expecting a very stiff string after installation. It did have a stiff feel, but its a solid overall string.” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson H Tour strung at 58 pounds LO (Head FiberGel 16)

“Although I was optimistic about the performance of this string while I was installing it, it ended up not feeling much different than other polyester hybrids on the market. The polyester mains had a beautiful clean amber look, and the cross strings were resilient and soft. I hoped that it would be a good combination of durability and power. The durability and resistance to movement were wonderful, but the string lacked the “grab” I wanted. The power influence I expected from the soft crosses never showed up until after seven hours of play. For those who love polyester this is certainly a fine string, but don’t expect anything special.” 5.0 male all court player using Dunlop 300G strung at 65 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 16)

“Just your average poly/nylon hybrid. Nothing really special. Did get decent bite from the polyester mains, but like all polys, it lost tension rapidly. The synthetic crosses softened up the stringbed, which made it more comfortable than an all-poly job.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Prestige Classic 600 strung at 53 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Ace 1.12)

“I am usually a fan of stiff strings, but this string was very uncomfortable to me. There was a lot of feedback that I felt in my arm.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“Average hybrid that was not even durable. The coil memory was irritating, and the end result was not worth the aggravation. Overall a C+ string.” 4.5 male all court player using Head i.S2 strung at 68 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“If you need a string to be durable add this one to your list. However, I found it not to have much playability. It felt harsh. Luxilon Big Banger has a better combination of durability and feel. I did not really care for this combination. There was not much change in playing characteristics during the test. Stringing was easy, no major problems with kinking.” 4.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex 5g PSE strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma TNT 18)

“At first the string felt very tight, but after a few hours it felt better. Good control. Strings moved more than I thought they would.” 5.0 male all court player using Head i.radical OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Head Intellistring 17)

“Looks like a polyester, strings like a polyester, and plays like a polyester, although it’s better having the poly in the mains only in this hybrid configuration. Overall though, I found it poor playing, and suitable only for heavy hitting string-breakers with no need for touch or feel.” 5.0 male all court player using Gosen Secret Carbon strung at 62 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire XP 16)

“The crosses moved more than on my other strings. I didn’t have much feel with these strings. It didn’t feel comfortable.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson Surge X strung at 61 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)

Playtester ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
much easier 0
somewhat easier 4
about as easy 9
not quite as easy 10
not nearly as easy 3
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to the string played most often)
much better 2
somewhat better 2
about as playable 5
not quite as playable 13
not nearly as playable 3
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
much better 6
somewhat better 12
about as durable 6
not quite as durable 0
not nearly as durable 1
RATING AVERAGES
Playability 3
Durability 4.3
Power 3
Control 3.5
Comfort 2.8
Touch/Feel 2.8
Spin Potential 3.2
Holding Tension 3.4
Resistance to Movement 3.8

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About the Author

Greg Raven  is an associate editor for RSI magazine and technical writer. He is certified as a Master Racquet Technician by the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association. He can be reached via e-mail at greg@usrsa.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.

 

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