Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Klip Lightning 16

By Greg Raven

Lightning is one of Klip’s “Pro Doubles” (hybrid) strings, combining its Legend natural gut with its Excellerator nylon.

Klip’s Legend natural gut is 100 percent Australian top grade gut. Excellerator is a high-end multifilament, with 30 percent more fiber than most other multifilaments, due to a unique bonding of the filaments that uses less glue, providing more of a gut-like feel.

Klip Lightning 16 playtest report

According to Klip, Lightning is designed for players looking for the power and comfort of natural gut, at a fraction of the price.

Lightning is available in 16 and 17 in natural only. It is priced from $20. For more information or to order, contact Klip at 866-554-7872, or visit Klip on the web.

In the lab

We tested the 16-gauge Lightning “both ways,” that is, with the gut in the mains and Excellerator nylon in the crosses, and with the Excellerator nylon in the mains and the gut in the crosses. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of each string combination immediately after installation at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16×18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine, and then retested after 24 hours (no playing).

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 percent tension loss. See the table for our measurements of the 16-gauge Klip Lightning we playtested. Lightning added 15.5 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 65 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.5. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. We instructed one team to install the gut in the mains, and the other to install the nylon in the mains.

We found Klip Legend natural gut slightly dry-feeling and slightly rough, as always, and the Excellerator about normal for a multifilament nylon. It is slick enough that it glides with little friction against the natural gut, and there is virtually no coil memory. Our playtesters, however, reported a bit more trouble installing Lightning than Klip’s Screamer natural gut hybrid (see RSI June 2005), which means our playtesters found that installing Klip Lightning is comparable in difficulty to installing Klip X-Plosive (see RSI November/December 2004).

On the court

Once again, these playtests show that adding a little natural gut to the mix results in a satisfying playing experience. Klip Lightning scored well above average in Playability and Power, no matter which way you string it, and with nylon in the mains and gut in the crosses it scored well above average for Holding Tension and Resistance to Movement. In every other category, Lightning scored above average, strung either way, so that in overall scores, Lightning with nylon mains was well above average, while with gut mains it was above average.

Just as impressive, Lightning with nylon mains garnered an impressively high average vote for playability compared to our playtesters’ favorite strings, while Lightning with gut mains really impressed our playtesters for durability, compared to other strings of similar gauge.

MEASUREMENTS Legend natural gut Excellerator nylon
Coil measurements 20’ 21’3”
Diameter unstrung 1.33-1.34 mm 1.31-1.32 mm
Diameter strung 1.28-1.30 mm 1.25-1.26 mm
RDC stringbed stiffness new 76 (gut mains, nylon crosses) 78 (nylon mains, gut crosses)
RDC stringbed stiffness after 24 hours 70 (gut mains, nylon crosses) 72 (nylon mains, gut crosses)
Tension loss 6 RDC 6 RDC
Tension loss % 7.89% 7.69%
Average playtest duration 19.57 hours (gut mains, nylon crosses) 17 hours (nylon mains, gut crosses)

STRINGING PROBLEMS Gut mains/nylon crosses Nylon mains/gut crosses
Broke during stringing 3 1
Excess coil memory 8 6
Difficulty tying knots 5 2
Friction burn 2 5

PLAYTEST DATA Gut mains/nylon crosses Nylon mains/gut crosses
Average playtest duration 14.75 hours 19.24 hours
Broke during play 8 7
Break hours 1, 4, 4, 5, 13, 20, 35, 36 4, 7, 7, 7.5, 9, 10, 12

Conclusion

In playtest after playtest, our testers indicate that there is a lot to like in Klip’s natural gut hybrids. This may not be surprising, given how well natural gut plays, but one interesting aspect is that Klip’s natural gut hybrids seem to offer superior performance whether configured with the natural gut in the crosses, or in the mains.

As Klip points out (and it bears repeating), this superior performance comes at a discount compared to using a full set of natural gut. This discount comes not only in the form of the initial purchase price, but also in terms of the increased longevity of a hybrid set compared to a pure natural gut string job. And, depending, on how ill-at-ease you are stringing natural gut, there’s also the time benefit that comes from the often faster installation of a synthetic compared to the natural gut.

Playtester comments

(Gut mains, nylon crosses)

“This was an excellent two-piece string. The mains seemed to be natural gut, so I was excited about playing with this sample. Unfortunately I put a kink into the mains while stringing and it broke after 1 hour of playing time.” 4 male all court player using Gamma Diamond Fiber M6.5 strung at 70 pounds LO (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)

“This string has just the right amount of pop. Very lively without being springy. A 17 gauge in this string would be fantastic for spin/touch players. The 16 gauge used in this test showed no signs of wear during the test.” 4.5 male all court player using Völkl Tour 10 strung at 62 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 17/18)

“Obviously, this is a natural gut/synthetic hybrid. I have never played with the gut in the mains and the nylon in the crosses, so this is a new experience for me. And you know what? It is awesome! Although my racquet feels a lot more head-heavy, the power and touch are well worth it.” 6.0 male all court player using Völkl C10 Pro strung at 63 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire XP 17)

“Great hybrid with all the properties that I like: Comfort, control, and playability. When you hit a groundstroke, you can count on the ball going where you aim. I would recommend this to other high-NTRP players.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical strung at 57 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut 17)

“This is a very good string. The feel, the ball grab, and the control are outstanding. The cross strings started to fray a bit, but the strings hold tension very well and really don’t seem to move all that much. I am eager to learn the name of this string.” 5.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson Pro Staff Blitz strung at 59 pounds CP (Natural gut 16 or 17)

“I am very impressed with this string. It is overall one of the best playtest strings I have received. Right from the beginning the control, comfort, feel, and spin potential were better than my normal string. The durability also exceeded my normal string’s.” 4.0 male all court player using Head i.X5 OS strung at 55 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“Excellent string! It has durability and feel.” 5.0 male all court player using Pro Kennex 7g strung at 63 pounds LO (Prince Polygut 17)

“The gut section of this string is the key. It has great feel and good power. I would buy this great combo.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nCode strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“An outstanding combination! Exceptionally quiet during play. I am particularly impressed by the lack of movement despite the low tension I use. The wear is obviously better than an ‘all gut’ stringing, but the response is as good or better than any gut I’ve used. This could be a very fine string for a wide range of levels and ages. I can easily see senior players using this string, especially if they haven’t used gut before. The synthetic crosses seem to crisp up the feel even at low tensions. Great teaching string, too!” 5.0 male serve-and-volleyer using Pro Kennex K15 PSE strung at 44 pounds LO (Gamma Durablast 16)

“Initial installation was pretty good. The mains feel like natural gut. On court the performance was excellent for the first 20 hours. It had a great feel, comfort, control, and nice power. It was one of the best strings I’ve played with in awhile. After 20 hours it had a huge tension drop. It became uncontrollable after that point. I have no feel or control over my shots. What a let down. For natural gut, the strings are very durable, especially considering that my racquet tends to go through strings. I am impressed by the durability and loved the initial hits.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Tour strung at 58 pounds LO (Prince Premier 16)

“This string is surprisingly comfortable to play with for a hybrid, and this from someone who has had arm problems in the past.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One 95 strung at 50/54 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 17)

“I found this string quite good and surprisingly nice playing.” 4.5 female all court player using Prince O3 Red strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre 17)

“Good string! Durability is good but the feel is somewhat left behind.” 5.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 65 pounds LO (Prince Perfection Control 16)

“I really enjoy the way this two-piece string plays. Although I normally don’t like hybrids, this one feels very comfortable hitting either with power or with touch. Other than the peeling of the string, I have to give this one a thumbs-up.” 5.0 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson n1 strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 16)

“This string feels very responsive and lively. I had to use a different racquet than normal, though, because the string lengths wouldn’t have worked with my Wilson Hyper Hammer 3.3.” 5.0 male all court player using Yonex Super RQ 1000 Long strung at 63 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut 17)

“Good combination of strings for a hybrid. I would recommend this string to most recreational players.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince Shark OS strung at 65 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 18)

“This string has a lot lower elongation than my normal string.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Hammer strung at 60/53 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 17)

“My racquet needs 20 feet for the mains, and I ran out of string and had to tie on another piece of string on each side for the final pull. Also, the first main knot broke, but I was able to tie it off anyway. It is fun playing with gut, but I normally use poly so I didn’t have the stringbed stiffness I’m used too, so I seemed to lose control.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Pro Tour 280 strung at 60 pounds CP (Unique Tourna Poly 17)

“This string is a good change from the typical hybrid: It’s not quite as stiff.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Control Z360 strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma TNT 16)

“The test string hasn’t broken after 80 hours of play. It’s close, but not broken.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson nTour mid strung at 55 pounds CP (Wilson Extreme 16)

“Interesting string in that it sounded as if it was losing tension, but the feel seemed fine. I don’t play with hybrids, so I have a tough time getting a clear sense of how this string plays. I’d like to get another set to try, though!” 5.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Tour strung at 70 pounds CP (Prince Sweet Perfection 16)

“The gut strings very easily. For the first two hours after stringing, this sample played great! Excellent touch, feel, comfort — the whole thing. But it lost tension quickly and after 8 sets it was unplayable. When I tested it, the tension had dropped from 62 to 38. I had trouble controlling the ball after that because of all the power. I’d like to see it in a 17 gauge: I don’t care if it breaks, as long as it does so before it loses tension.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One 95 strung at 62 pounds LO (Babolat Pro Hurricane/Gamma Live Wire XP 17)

“The mains broke after four hours of use. It played well up until then. It started fraying immediately, so I knew it wouldn’t last too long.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Flexpoint Radical Tour strung at 56/59 pounds CP (Head FXP 17)

“More power than I expected from this hybrid, and comfort is very good. It does have a slight trampoline effect, which translates into a loss of control. I never feel as though I can hit out with this string. Tension maintenance and resistance to movement are above average, and play is very consistent throughout its life. A good option for someone looking for extra power and comfort, although perhaps not hard hitters with big strokes.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Pro Kennex 7g strung at 68 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane 16)

“This test string was easy to install, and looks good in the racquet. Other than appearance, I found no are awhere I would rate the string anything other than average.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson T3 strung at 54 pounds CP (Wilson Reaction 17)

“While this string has decent power and control, and is okay in all other areas, about all I can say is “it is an adequate hybrid.” I can make an adequate hybrid on my own.” 4.0 male touch player using Prince TT Bandit OS strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Pro Plus 17)

“String crimped during stringing.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Flexpoint Radical Tour strung at 57 pounds CP (Head FXP/PPS 17)

“This string was too boardy. It lacked feel and touch. It is actually uncomfortable to play with. The durability is great. I would steer my customers to it if they are chronically breaking strings. It might play better during the warm season, but the chill of fall makes it stiffer.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200G strung at 65 pounds CP (Prince synthetic 17)

“This string is too stiff for me. I could sense I would be having arm problems if I continued to use this string. I should have strung it at a lower tension, as I normally do with hybrids.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal 8 strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16 or 17)

“There was barely enough string for my mains, and when I tried to tension the outside mains the string broke. Wish I’d had a little more string to work with. The string seems stiff and brittle, and the clamps and tension head mark it easily.” 3.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 OS strung at 62 pounds CP (Gamma TNT Fat Core 17)

“This string is definitely harder on my arm than my normal string. No better than other hybrids I have tried.” 4.0 male all court player using Pro Kennex Core 10 strung at 65 pounds LO (Tecnifibre TrC 16)

“Dead string, compared to my regular string. I would not recommend it.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One Tour strung at 57/55 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 18)

(Nylon mains, gut crosses)

“I was very impressed with this string from the beginning. It compares very favorably with my usual hybrid combination, and that’s saying a lot. In fact the crosses are holding up better than expected given the fact they are gut. Strings settled in quickly with good crispness, power, and touch, Minimal loss of tension despite lots of hard play and fairly humid conditions. I would strongly recommend these strings. Using gut is a pleasure, and as they say, worth the investment, especially given the durability of this hybrid combination.” 5.0 male all court player using Head i.S6 strung at 59 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger / Tecnifibre 515 Gold 16)

“I liked this string a lot as a good overall string. It seems very durable yet plays very well.” 3.5 male all court player using Yonex RD27 strung at 55 pounds CP (Kirschbaum 15 or 16)

“I measured 21 feet for the mains and 20 feet for the crosses. There was a flaw in the main string 45 inches from one end, but it was not a problem. These strings play exceptionally well. Great all-around the court for doubles play and for teaching, most probably in the top three strings that I have used in the last few years. A real pleasure to play with.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff Surge 5.1 strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre 515 17)

“This is probably the best string set I have ever had in this racquet. This string really grabbed the ball and I could really feel it hold and pocket on the stringbed. It feels great in a stiff racquet. I am definitely switching to this string as soon as I find out what it is.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Control MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Klip Scorcher 17)

“I am not normally a fan of hybrid strings, but this set made me reconsider. My opponents notice the added power and control. I really like this string. When I went back to my regular string, I noticed a drop in both power and control. I wish I had another set to play with.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince Shark DB OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Premier 16)

“Very soft-feeling main strings; stiffer gut crosses. Gut not difficult to string. This is a very crisp-feeling string. One of the best hybrids I’ve tested so far.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nTour strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson Stamina Spin 16)

“This string has very good overall playability. I like the control the string provides from the baseline. They also have good bite for topspin generation. The brawback with these strings is that weaving the crosses was a difficult and time-consuming task. The crosses exhibited quite a bit of fraying. I am surprised they did not break.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Liquidmetal strung at 69 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16)

“I am surprised at how good the playability is.” 5.0 male all court player using Princo O3 Red strung at 65 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)

“I liked stringing this sample, and the way it played and held tension. It’s a quality playing string.” 5.5 male all court player using Head Radical strung at 65 pounds LO (Head Intellitour 16)

“I like this string for its durability, and think that for a blend containing natural gut it feels alright. It’s not as soft feeling as what I’m used to, but overall I’d recommend it for advanced players who want durability with better feel than most polyester type strings.” 5.5 male all court player using Prince AirStick OS strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation NXT 16)

“Even at 50 pounds this test sample seems tight. Very little movement. Very good control. The crosses frayed right away but never seemed as though they would break.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Flexpoint Radical MP strung at 50 pounds CP (Wilson Stamina 16)

“I would definitely carry this string in my stock. It has a great feel to it, and nice power. Next time, I’ll increase the tension a little bit for better control.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre E-Matrix 17)

“Best string I have tested with regard to holding position during play.” 3.5 male all court player using Prince Vortex strung at 50 pounds LO (Gamma synthetic gut 16)

“Nice hybrid string with good durability, power, and control. It has some sense of feel with the cross string, but overall pretty stiff. Also holds tension well. Not a bad string, but not enough feel for my taste.” 6.5 male all court player using Wilson nTour strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“I think this string is excellent. Playability is great. The only downfalls are the fraying and peeling. The crosses started after first hour of play.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One 95 strung at 66.5 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“Not a bad string overall. I was surprised at how well the string held its tension, and equally surprised how quickly it broke.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince Tour Diablo strung at 66 pounds CP (Unique Tourna Poly 18)

“Nice string. Good crisp feel. Would expect much better durability of the main and cross strings were swapped.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Triple Threat Graphite MP strung at 65 pounds CP (Forten Ultra Thin Blend 18)

“The string was okay for teaching, but started peeling when I used it in a match.” 5.0 female baseliner with heavy spin using Völkl C10 Pro Tour strung at 63 pounds LO (Gamma 16)

“This string provides very poor feedback, and feels boardlike. At first it moved a lot, and then it lost tension fairly quickly. I did not care for any facet of this combination.” 4.0 male all court player using Pro Kennex Core #1 6 strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma TNT 18)

“I thought this string played excessively harshly compared to most strings I have used, and this is on a 14×18 pattern racquet that rarely feels harsh with any string. I also rarely break strings in fewer than 16 hours of play, and these strings notched early and then broke after nine hours.” 4.0 male all court player using Tecnifibre 290 XL strung at 60 with 10 percent prestretch pounds CP (Klip Excellerator 17)

“I love the string but its durability is not good enough for me to use on a regular basis.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Triple Threat Bandit strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma synthetic gut 16 or 17)

“The cross strings were a bit of a problem and needed to be waxed before installation. Tying knots wasn’t easy. I was afraid to break the string while pulling out the slack beforehand. They played pretty well in the beginning, but I find after playing and teaching for a few hours my wrist starts to hurt. This string is a little hard on your body, but it will give you plenty of control. I like hybrids, but I don’t think that these two strings complement each other well.” 4.5 male all court player using Fischer GDS RT strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“One of the worst strings I’ve ever played with. The string has great durability, but horrible comfort and playability. Each shot produced much buzzing and vibration. I haven’t had arm problems in years and had to cut out the strings my arm hurt so badly at the end of the day.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nPS 95 strung at 59 pounds CP (Wilson Reaction 17)

“The durability of this string is satisfactory, but I’m not happy with the overall feel.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson nSix-One 95 strung at 57 pounds LO (Gamma synthetic gut 16)

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

Ratings

EASE OF STRINGING Gut M’s Nylon M’s
(compared to other strings)
Number of testers who said it was:
much easier 0 0
somewhat easier 5 4
about as easy 21 9
not quite as easy 10 13
not nearly as easy 1 2
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 1 7
somewhat better 8 5
about as playable 13 5
not quite as playable 9 8
not nearly as playable 3 3
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 3 4
somewhat better 19 6
about as durable 5 7
not quite as durable 4 6
not nearly as durable 3 4
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.5 3.6
Durability 3.6 3.4
Power 3.5 3.6
Control 3.5 3.6
Comfort 3.4 3.3
Touch/Feel 3.2 3.2
Spin Potential 3.3 3.2
Holding Tension 3.2 3.6
Resistance to Movement 3.3 3.7

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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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