Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Head MegaBlast

By Greg Raven

Head MegaBlast is a new high-end racquetball string that comes standard in all Liquidmetal and MegaBlast racquetball racquets. It is the choice of five-time Pro World Champion Sudsy Monchik as well as dozens of top touring professionals.

Head MegaBlast 16

MegaBlast features a mulitfilament center core with co-polymer braided multifilament wraps, and slightly textured carbon co-polymer coating. Head tells us this combination produces a string with highly elastic “snap-back,” which delivers maximum power. They claim the new coating delivers added durability and less string movement.

MegaBlast is designed for racquetball players looking for increased power and feel.

MegaBlast is available in 16 in black only. It is priced from $8 for coils of 40 feet. For more information or to order, contact Head at 800-289-7366, or visit head.com.

IN THE LAB

We tested the 16 gauge MegaBlast. The coil measured 40’8”. The diameter measured 1.29-1.31 mm prior to stringing, and 1.21-1.23 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 41 RDC units immediately after stringing at 35 pounds in an Ektelon Strobe Lite 95 (14 × 17 pattern) on a constant pull machine.

After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 35 RDC units, representing a 15 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 23 RDC units immediately after stringing and 20 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 13 percent tension loss. MegaBlast added 10 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 37 USRSA playtesters. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 21.4.

Head MegaBlast is easy to intall, and knots were not a problem. MegaBlast’s thin gauge and the unstrung softness of the string make it a nice string to work with, even though you might have to trim the end before finishing to negotiate blocked holes. Not surprisingly, it’s unstrung flexibility were great for getting the string through the “power channels” on the newer Head racquetball racquets.

Two playtesters broke the sample during stringing, seven reported problems with coil memory, one reported problems tying knots, and two reported friction burn.

ON THE COURT

Overall, our playtest team was impressed with Head MegaBlast. They gave it above average scores in almost every category. Playability, Durability, Power, Control, Touch/Feel, and Comfort all received above average marks. This really demonstrates that MegaBlast is a solid all-around performer. Most strings have to give something up to score well in other categories, but MegaBlast doesn’t seem to have had to do that. Playtesters also gave it top marks in Holding Tension, a category in which it placed second overall of all racquetball strings we’ve ever playtested (first place is another Head racquetball string: Intellistring 17). Its high scores in Holding Tension were also reflected in our lab-testing. A week after installing it in our test racquet, it still had a higher stringbed stiffness than our test racquet when freshly strung with our control string. So, it’s not just durable in terms of not breaking, but it continues to feel solid longer than other strings as well. Five players broke the string during playtesting, one each after 7, 9, 12, 16, and 30 hours.

CONCLUSION

Any racquetball player seeking a string with virtually no weaknesses should check out Head MegaBlast: It offers balanced performance across the board, with above-average scores in all the important categories. It takes a long time to break and even more importantly, it holds tension well through that whole time. It’s easy to install and it offers above average Power, Control, Touch/Feel, and Comfort.

COMMENTS

“Very good string.” Male using Wilson Triad 150 strung at 30 pounds LO (Wilson Killshot 17)

“I’ve always used 17G string and always string my racquet at 29 lbs. At first, right after pulling my racquet off the stringer with test string I noticed/felt lower tension than usual. But when I started hitting, I was impressed with the playability.” Male using Ektelon More Dominant strung at 29 pounds LO (Ektelon Showdown 17)

“The string plays well. I like the slight amount of texture. Helps with “splat” shots and “cut” serves.” Male using Wilson Triad 170 strung at 28 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“This string had lots of power to it. It seemed a little stiff, but only took a couple of hours of play to adjust. I would recommend this string.” Male using XT 165 Wilson strung at 35 pounds LO (Forten 18)

“The string played much like the Head Megablast that I am currently using. Breakage was typical and power was the same.” Male using Head strung at 28M 36X pounds LO (Gamma Syn Gut / Head Mega Blast 17)

“I really like this string. There was an adjustment time required by changing string.” Male using Head Megablast 175 strung at 32 pounds (Ashaway Superkill II 16 & 17)

“Due to string texture and susceptibility to kinking, it required more time than usual for stringing. Even after over 40 hours of play strings show no signs of wear. Performance has remained consistent. I would play with this string if it became commercially available.” Male using Wilson Triad 170 strung at 30 pounds CP (Tecnifibre 505 17)

“Seemed like a pretty comparable string to my usual Prince Synthetic Duraflex.” Male using E-Force Judgment Stun 175G strung at 28M × 30X pounds (Prince Synthetic Duraflex 17)

“It was an especially responsive string. What it may have lacked in “pop” it made up for in control. I would carry this in my pro shop.” Female using Bedlam Stun 190 strung at 32 pounds CP (Platinum E-Force 17)

“Strings moved in the sweetspot up to half the distance between the strings. I feel this is due to the slightly slick surface of the string. I would use this string again. ” Male using Ektelon More Dominant strung at 31 pounds LO (Forten Boss 16)

“I really liked the feel of this string when restrung compared to other times the racquet was restrung with other string. It seemed to play very solid and vibration free, which often isn’t the case when I get a racquet restrung. Also, I tend to like notching, provided string doesn’t break too fast. I did not play long enough on this string to know for sure, but I do think notching was just beginning to happen.” Male using Ektelon Fusion strung at 34 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 16)

“At first this string was difficult to get broken in and was difficult to play with. But once it was broken in it played nicely with a lot of power, but lacked some control.” Female using Bedlam 170 strung at 32 pounds LO (Gamma Synthetic gut 17)

“Overall a good string (aside from the color). I wasn’t expecting the power I got from this string.” Male using E-Force Judgement Stun 175 strung at 35 pounds LO (Ashaway Superkill 17 17)

“A nice string for a player looking for a durable string with a good amount of power. The black color makes it slightly harder to string (unless you put a white or light color piece of paper or cloth towel on machine to offset black), and harder to apply a stencil. The string seemed to have absorbed some of the vibration, which would help players who suffer from slight arm problems. I would like to see more color options, but I would recommend this string.” Male using Ektelon More Performance Attack strung at 34 pounds LO (Ektelon Lightning XX 17)

“String felt and played just like Megablast 16, which I had in my racquet. It played very powerful. Very durable string. Usually I use a thinner string such as 17/18 gauge Intelligence.” Male using Megablast 175 strung at pounds LO (Megablast 16)

“After 40+ hours, strings show almost no signs of wear, just some slight movement in the mains. The coating on this string makes it very easy to string. For the past three years I have used a 17/18 gauge string. This is a bit thicker than what I am used to. I would love to try this in a thinner gauge.” Male using Head MegaBlast strung at 38 pounds (Head Intelistring 17/18)

“Overall it reminds me of 18 gauge Prince Syn Gut, but lasted longer.” Male using Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 MP strung at 60 pounds CP (VS Gut Team 17)

“Has the look and feel of an Ashaway string. Held tension well. Playability decreased with usage. Seems notch resistant, which is good for durability. I would likely carry this string.” Male using Wilson Triad 170 strung at 32 pounds CP (Killshot NXT 17)

“Good overall string. Needs to be available in colors other than black.” Male using Ektelon Outrage strung at 35 pounds LO (Prince Syn Gut 16)

“This is a very difficult string to install. Kinks very easy and is difficult to pull. Power is excellent. However, control is average. The string is very tight at completion of the install, but returns to normal in the first hour or two of play.” 4.0 Male using Pro Kennex Shadow 185 strung at 33 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)

“Average string.” Male using Ektelon Power Ring strung at 34 pounds LO (Gamma Fat Core 17)

“No evidence of gouging.” Male using Wilson Hyper 150g strung at pounds CP (Forten Boss 17 17)

“String felt pretty good first 10 hours or so of play. Had a nice touch/feel for “dink” shots. Tension began to wane after about 12 hours, and a lot of string movement. Not a good string if you want to cut the ball on drive serves. Felt like a decent 17 gauge racquetball string.” Male using E-Force 170 Liter strung at 34 pounds LO (Ashaway Powerkill 16)

“Nice string, although the strings do move more than my normal string. I constantly had to readjust both the mains and crosses. I would be interested to know the brand.” Male using Ektelon More Attack strung at 28 pounds LO (Ektelon Lightning XX 16)

“Very good hitting string. I wished it held the tension longer with less movement.” Male using Wilson Triad 170 (2004) strung at 34 pounds CP (Velocity Plus 17)

“This string wasn’t anything special. I didn’t feel the control I should have with a 17G string. The durability will be the selling factor. It was very good for a 17G. Will any other colors be available?” Male using Wilson Triad 150 strung at 32 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This seemed like an average string with a little above average durability.” Male using Pro Kennex Pure 1 strung at 30 pounds CP (Ashaway Liberty 16)

“Good for about 6 hours, then it lost most of its tension and the strings really moved a lot. It did not break though.” Male using E-Force Bedlam strung at 30 pounds CP (E-Force 17)

“For a multi-filament string, it played quite stiff. I was waiting for it to loosen up and stretch out so it would get more elastic. It didn’t. It had good pop on the ball and the strings didn’t slide around too much, but I wanted a little more life on the ball. Maybe lower tensions on this string.” Male using E-Force 165 Judgement strung at 36 pounds LO (Ashaway Superkill 17 17)

“Pleasant string to install, except it coils a great deal. Slides well while stringing, but somewhat slippery.” Male using E-Force Bedlam Launchpad 170 strung at 26M 30X pounds LO (Tecnifibre 505 HPR 17 or 18)

“The string held tension very well and did not move excessively. I noticed a lack of control as well as a lot of vibration throughout the 20 hours of play. Durability was outstanding, but playability was average at best. Way too much shock for my arm and shoulder.” Male using Pro Kennex Shadow 185 strung at 33 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG 2 17)

“An average string. Not crazy about black.” Male using Ektelon TT Rebel strung at 32 pounds LO (Laserfibre 17)

“It seemed like a good string to play with. This string actually broke very clean and in a way I’ve never seen on a racquet before. I liked the power and had high hopes for this string. I was disappointed when it broke after only 12 hours.” Male using Ektelon More Attitude strung at 32 pounds CP (various 17)

“The string was mush. I used it both teaching and playing and during a tournament and switched back after one game. Strung at my normal tension of 30 lbs. on the mains and 32 lbs. on the crosses, the string had no power at all. My normal string is Tecnifibre 505, 17 gauge, strung at the 30-32 lbs. The difference was dramatic. I would try the string again, but increase the tension to approximately 35 lbs., but I don’t think this may be a good racquetball string. It feels like a Kevlar string, and if it is, may be good for chronic string breakers used on the mains only. I would not stock this string unless for a special use/situation.” Male using E-Force Judgement 175 strung at 30M 32X pounds LO (Tecnifibre 505 17)

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

Playtester ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
much easier 0
somewhat easier 9
about as easy 19
not quite as easy 7
not nearly as easy 1
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to the string played most often)
much better 0
somewhat better 6
about as playable 22
not quite as playable 8
not nearly as playable 0
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
much better 4
somewhat better 11
about as durable 20
not quite as durable 1
not nearly as durable 1
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.7
Durability 3.7
Power 3.5
Control 3.5
Comfort 3.6
Touch/Feel 3.3
Holding Tension 3.3
Resistance to Movement 2.9
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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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