Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Gamma Asterisk 16

By Greg Raven

Asterisk is a nylon string with a center core made up of six large wedge-shaped filaments that are arranged in the shape of an asterisk (hence the name). These fibers are encased in a high tenacity polyamide matrix that is surrounded by an outer wrap. As you might expect, Gamma applies its patented TNT2 processing to Asterisk.

Gamma Asterisk

Gamma claims that Asterisk holds tension and offers superior playability longer, has crisp vibration-free feel for ultimate comfort, is extremely resilient for extra power and added control, has improved ball bite for spin and slice, and is easy to install.

Gamma tells us that Asterisk is for players of all ability levels, from NTRP 2.5 on up.

Asterisk is available in 16 (1.30), 17 1.27), and Spin 16 (1.30) gauge in natural only. It is priced from $16 per set of 40 feet, and $144 for reels of 360 feet. For more information or to order, contact Gamma at 800-333-0337, or visit gammasports.com.

In the lab

We tested the 16-gauge Asterisk. The coil measured 40’ 2”. The diameter measured 1.29-1.32 mm prior to stringing, and 1.24-1.26 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 72 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine.

After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 63 RDC units, representing a 13 percent 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 percent tension loss. Asterisk added 14 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 40 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.0 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 32.1.

Gamma claims easy installation for Asterisk, and it’s correct: This would be a great string to use in a speed stringing competition. It feels smooth and soft, so it floats through grommets and crosses glide across the mains, but we had no problem with blocked holes.

No playtester broke his sample during stringing, one reported problems with coil memory, one reported problems tying knots, and two reported friction burn.

On the court

Our playtest team agreed that Gamma Asterisk is a comfortable string to use, ranking it seventh place overall out of the 113 strings we’ve playtested to date. Our playtesters also ranked Asterisk well above average for Playability, Power, Control, Touch/Feel, and Spin Potential, and above average for Durability.

Five playtesters broke the sample during play, one each at .5, 5, 8, 9, and 16 hours.

Conclusion

It has been a couple of years since we tested a string that was this easy to install. In fact, our playtest team’s rankings make Gamma Asterisk the second-easiest string we’ve tested to date. This is especially significant considering how many positive comparisons our playtesters made of Asterisk’s playability versus natural gut. Bolstering this comparison is Asterisk’s high score in the Comfort category, accompanied by well-above-average scores in other key categories.

Playtester comments

“This is an extremely comfortable string. Great touch, playability and power. This is a great comfort option for those without durability concerns.” 5.5 male all-court player using Dunlop Aerogel 300 strung at 63 pounds LO (Nylon 16)

“As a Kevlar user, I anticipated a mushy trampoline. This, however, turned out to be a very crisp, responsive string. The combination of comfort and control is very impressive.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson nSix Two strung at 64 pounds LO (Ashaway Crossfire I 16)

“This is a great string, ideal for doubles and all-court play. From heavy baseline exchanges to angled touch shots, this string has a wonderful all-around playability. Perhaps the best string I’ve tested.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 5.1 Surge strung at 60 pounds CP (Klip Screamer 17)

“This is one of the most comfortable nylons I’ve ever used. Other than natural gut, I have yet to try something this playable. Perhaps I’ve found a less expensive alternative to my current set-up.” 3.5 male all-court player using Wilson n1 strung at 56 pounds CP (Natural Gut 17)

“This soft string has superior touch, comfort and control. Very easy on the elbow, tendons and shoulder.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson nPS strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string feels soft and solid at impact. String movement is not a factor, with little notching. String has great bite, making topspin and slice a cinch. Overall, a comfortable, arm friendly string.” 5.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical MP strung at 60 pounds CP (Nylon 16)

“This plays like a high-end multifilament. With its combination of comfort, control and overall playability, it is as good a nylon as I’ve ever played.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson nSix One strung at 56 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string has the perfect combination of playability, power, and feel. Off-center hits have very little shock. Heavy baseline exchanges, crisp volleys, soft touch shots — you name it, this string can do everything.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince Turbo Beast OS strung at 63 pounds LO (Head FiberGel 16)

“This string is a pleasure to install. Very smooth and quick. It plays with great feel and solid all-around playability. It provides a crisp poly response with nice comfort and tension maintenance. A great mix of playability, feel, durability and power.” 6.0 male using Wilson nTour Two strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string provides a crisp feel and has great control. The spin potential and durability would make it the perfect hybrid main. I would definitely carry this string, as it provides many options.” 4.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 White MP strung at 68 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This string notches early, but this minimizes string movement. The lack of tension loss surprises me to no end. The resilience and playability are, predictably, the most noticeable qualities. This would be the perfect compliment to a stiff polyester main.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson nBlade strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“This is a comfortable string with a high degree of control. Not quite as much spin as a poly, but adjustments are easily made.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Yonex RDS 003 strung at 55 pounds CP (Polyester/Nylon 16)

“String movement is quite high. This is an arm friendly string with tons of control. The spin and comfort are there from the first hit to the last. This is recommended to those in search of a comfortable string with low power.” 3.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Head Liquidmetal 5 strung at 56 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire Professional 16)

“This plays a little too powerful at first. It settles quickly and plays remarkably thereafter. Very easy on the arm. Perfect for someone looking for more depth.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Flexpoint Prestige Mid strung at 60 pounds LO (Head FXP 16)

“Wow, can a string be easier to install? This stuff glides across the stringbed and through the grommets. After the first few hours, this string played with a nice combination of control and power. It loses tension fairly quickly. I’d add it to my inventory.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson nTour strung at 55 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough 16L)

“Power, durability and tension maintenance all stand out. This a comfortable string with average control and spin.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince Airstick B950 MP strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“Very easy to install. You can feel a lot of energy being returned to the ball, which usually leads to control problems. However, the depth and directional control seem more predictable with this string.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince Triple Threat Warrior MP strung at 66 pounds CP (Polyester/Nylon 18/17)

“This is an exceptional string. It plays like a high-end multifilament. The minimal tension loss is a huge plus. Ball pops off the racquet. String requires no break-in period. Plays well from the first hit. Excessive string movement is the only downside.” 4.0 male all-court player using Yonex RQS 11 strung at 60 pounds LO (TNT 2 17)

“This is one of those strings that you know you’re going to like from the first hit. The string bed feels remarkably comfortable and responsive. I didn’t have to change my strokes one bit to control the depth. You might want to put in some string savers though, because there is substantial string movement.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 5.0 Stretch MP strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)

“I’ve tried many multifilaments and this one seems to pocket the ball more effectively than others. The added dwell-time allows for maximum ball rotation. The stringbed has a comfortable, broken-in feeling from the first hit. It would add comfort to frames with small sweetspots. The ball feels like it is being catapulted to its target.” 4.0 male all-court player using Prince Tour Diablo MP strung at 52 pounds LO (Gosen OG-Sheep Micro 17)

“This string installs like a dream. Very easy to weave, yet stiff enough to push through tight holes. The strings move too much, but the comfort and control are outstanding.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Ti. Radical OS strung at 65 pounds LO (Alpha Gut 2000 17)

“After a short break-in period, this string plays with impressive comfort and control. It is a “make your own power” string with good durability. Recommended to hard hitters who are seeking a more comfortable option.” 4.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Nylon Multifilament 16/17)

“This string has a wonderfully crisp feel and even better control. While I prefer a softer stringbed, I did not have to make any stroke adjustments with this string. It has that low-powered predictability that allows for confident placement.” 5.0 male serve-and-volleyer using Prince O3 Tour MS strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Sweet Perfection 16)

“I typically do not prefer nylon based strings. I’ve been using natural gut for years due to some tendon issues. This string is quite a surprise. It is extremely comfortable and easy on the arm. This could very well be the less expensive option I’ve been looking for.” 4.0 male all-court player using Volkl Tour 10 MP strung at 56 pounds LO (Pacific Tough Gut 16L)

“This string does not have a lot of juice. It’s very comfortable, but does not seem to return as much energy to the ball as other comfort strings. Perhaps it should be used in a hybrid for a hard hitter with control issues.” 4.0 female all-court player using Head i. Tour MP strung at 52 pounds LO (Nylon Multifilament )

“Stretches almost excessively when stringing. Very soft in play. Power is good, but the tension maintenance, string movement and playability leave something to be desired.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 White strung at 58 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 16)

“With minimal coil memory, this string can be installed fast. On the court, it has great feel, playability and power. There is significant string movement, and there are definitely durability concerns.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Flexpoint Instinct strung at 61 pounds CP (Pacific Poly Force 17)

“Big hitters and string breakers might want to hybrid this one. My heavy topspin strokes chewed through this string pretty quickly.” 6.0 male using Wilson nSix-One Tour 90 strung at 53 pounds CP (Polyester 17)

“This string loses nearly 11 percent of its tension in 24 hours. In play, I notice a high elasticity with nice pocketing. The strings move too much, however, and control suffers. Given the tension loss, I recommend the high end of the tension range. This might help with string movement as well.” 3.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Blue strung at 65 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger TiMO 17)

“Depth is hard to control without some stroke adjustments. Given the pronounced trampoline effect, I recommend using high tensions. The strings tend to move sooner rather than later, and there is some tension loss after 6 hours of play. This is a very comfortable teaching string, but for competitive play, it probably has too much power for big hitters.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Protector MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough 16L)

“String movement starts early. Control is adequate, but the tension loss is significant and the spin potential is poor.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson n4 OS strung at 50 pounds LO (Polyester 16)

“Very pliable and easy to install. Balls come off the stringbed with a solid feeling of comfort. Big hitters should consider this only as a hybrid cross, as it does not have high durability.” 4.0 male all-court player using Tecnifibre T Feel 290 XL strung at 58 pounds CP (Klip Excellerator 17)

“This string does not reach out and grab you. It has tons of comfort, though, and appears to be quite durable. It would definitely add some comfort to a hybrid.” 4.0 male all-court player using Prince Triple Threat Graphite MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Polyester/Natural Gut 16)

“These strings make a slight brittle twang when they move (which is often). The control is decent, but the touch and comfort are sub-par.” 3.5 male all-court player using Fischer Pro No. One strung at 65 pounds LO (Natural Gut 17)

“At 60 lbs. this string is too springy and hard to control. String movement is excessive. It is, however, very comfortable and would be perfect for the more compact stroke styles.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Six.One strung at 66 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“This string is very unimpressive. It is nothing different from your standard nylon offering.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Tour Diablo Mid strung at 55 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough 16L)

“Plays a tad stiff. Great spin, low comfort. Not enough feel for touch shots.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head i.Prestige Mid strung at 60 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 16)

“Plays stiff and boardy with very little feel. Even at lower tensions, the string was dead and unresponsive.” 5.5 male all-court player using Head Prestige Tour 300 MP strung at 56 pounds LO (Natural Gut/Polyester 16/17)

“This string lacks feel. It moves on nearly every hit. I couldn’t wait to cut it out.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson nPro strung at 58 pounds LO (Gamma Synthetic Gut w/Wearguard 16)

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

Playtester ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
Number of testers who said it was:
much easier 8
somewhat easier 18
about as easy 11
not quite as easy 3
not nearly as easy 0
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 0
somewhat better 12
about as playable 12
not quite as playable 12
not nearly as playable 3
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 0
somewhat better 11
about as durable 20
not quite as durable 6
not nearly as durable 2
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.5
Durability 3.3
Power 3.4
Control 3.5
Comfort 3.8
Touch/Feel 3.4
Spin Potential 3.3
Holding Tension 3.1
Resistance to Movement 2.7

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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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