String Selector 2015
Use our exclusive guide to find the perfect strings for your customers.
By Dave Bone
The string industry finally seems to be tapping the brakes on the expanding universe of strings. Last year, we explained that most of the established string brands in the U.S. seemed to be slowing the introduction of new strings, but the number of new brands entering the market had still resulted in a growth rate in the number of strings available that seemed almost out of control. But, this year, we did not see as many new brands enter the market and the existing brands still reduced the number of new introductions. So, while the market did still grow again this year, it didn’t grow as fast as it has been growing for years.
One of the big reasons for the continued growth is that manufacturers are hesitant to discontinue models of string because it seems like every string has at least some loyal users. This is probably because stringers are not pushing enough of their customers to try the new, improved strings being introduced. Too often, the whole conversation between stringer and client is, “Same string? Same tension?” So, a lot of players aren’t even trying any of the new offerings.
The USRSA now has lab-test results for a little over 900 models of string. We don’t know anyone who can say they’ve actually played with all the different models available, or who can say they know what every string on the market feels like.
That’s why our String Selector tool is still growing in importance. It offers an apples-to-apples comparison of all the different models on the market because all the strings were tested using the same exacting procedures.
What does this mean for you? Stringers and retail shops can use the information in our String Selector to find models that offer exactly what their customers are looking for.
Note that this year, we’re changing how this information is being presented. We are moving away from trying to pigeonhole every string into one of four categories (Natural Gut, Nylon, Polyester and Kevlar). We’re doing this for multiple reasons. First, because the manufacturers are not introducing many new Natural Gut or Kevlar strings. Second, because over the last few years, some Polyesters are being made softer than some Nylon strings. Third, because many of the new introductions don’t fit neatly into the Nylon or Polyester categories; rather, many of them belong in both categories (or neither). This is because companies are now mixing nylon fibers with polyester fibers as well as a myriad of other proprietary materials. So, instead of grouping the strings into subgroups, we’re letting each string’s measurements tell its story.
For advice on how to most efficiently use this information, make sure you read the section on “Using the String Selector.” For a better understanding of the string graph, read “The Geography of Feel,” and the “Test Procedure” section offers information on how the strings are tested.
Once again, to help save the rain forest, we’re only presenting specs for the new strings introduced since our String Selector last year. If you’d like to see the specs for other current strings on the market, visit our website, tennisindustrymag.com. Just click on the latest issue’s cover, then, choose the past January issues to find which issue included the string you’re interested in.
Remember, though, that USRSA members have access to even more powerful tools — String Spec Search and String Selector — on the Members-Only section of the website, racquettech.com.
String Spec Search allows the user to choose the brand and model of string they are considering and see the specs of that string without having to search through the whole list of 900 strings. The String Selector tool allows the user to enter the brand and model of string a player is currently playing with as well as the changes they would like to make in their string. The tool then goes through all the strings currently available and returns a list of string that meets the requested changes.
Newest strings on the market
|String||Material||Gauge||Stiffness (lbs.)||Tension loss (lbs.)|
|Babolat Tonic + Longevity (BT7)||Natural Gut||1.38||108||10.29|
|Ashaway Power Kill 17||Nylon & Zyex||1.26||127||11.62|
|Prince Premier Touch 17||Polypropylene||1.27||129||16.65|
|Ashaway Power Kill Pro 16||Nylon & Zyex||1.28||131||11.2|
|Tecnifibre XR3 17||Nylon & Polyamide||1.25||137||11.2|
|Tecnifibre HDX Tour 17||Elastyl & Polyester & SPL||1.22||142||11.73|
|Tier One Sports Triumph 125||Nylon||1.25||146||12.35|
|Gamma Glide 16||Flourinated Polymer||1.3||146||16.18|
|Tecnifibre HDX Tour 16||Elastyl & Polyester & SPL||1.29||148||10.56|
|Tecnifibre XR3 16||Nylon & Polyamide||1.29||152||11.09|
|Isospeed V 18||Polyester||1.12||156||21.54|
|Babolat M7 17||Nylon||1.27||157||15.01|
|Gosen OG-Sheep Micro Super 16L||Nylon||1.24||159||11.86|
|Wilson Synthetic Gut Duramax 17||Nylon & Tensilast||1.24||159||12.03|
|Tourna Quasi Gut Armor 17||Nylon & Polyester||1.25||163||11.38|
|Babolat M7 16||Nylon||1.3||164||14.71|
|Gosen Multi CX 17||Nylon & Polyamide||1.22||166||12.55|
|Gosen AK Pro CX 17||Nylon & Polyamide||1.22||168||13.12|
|Gosen Multi CX 16||Nylon & Polyamide||1.28||168||13.56|
|Babolat SG Spiraltek 17||Polyamide||1.24||170||14.29|
|Gosen AK Pro CX 16||Nylon & Polyamide||1.3||171||11.97|
|Wilson Synthetic Gut Duramax 16||Nylon & Tensilast||1.29||173||11.73|
|Wilson Revolve 17||Crosslink Ester Polymer & UHMW||1.23||174||19.16|
|Wilson Revolve 16||Crosslink Ester Polymer & UHMW||1.29||179||19.18|
|Gosen Luminaspin 17-16L||Polyester||1.23||179||22.65|
|Topspin Sensus Rotation 1.27||Polyester||1.24||180||17.55|
|Topspin Culex S Squarestring 1.27||Polyester||1.24||180||18.65|
|Topspin Culex S Octastring 1.27||Polyester||1.31||180||19.98|
|Volkl V-Star 17||Polyester||1.24||180||22.47|
|Head Gravity 17/18 (CROSS)||Hybrid||1.2||182||17.99|
|Head Lynx 18||Polyester||1.17||184||20.93|
|Luxilon ALU Power Soft 125||Polyester||1.22||185||18.79|
|Topspin Ferox Roundstring 1.25||Polyester||1.26||187||17.59|
|Babolat Origin 17||Polyamide||1.25||188||14.00|
|Volkl V-Star 16||Polyester||1.26||188||21.36|
|Head Hawk Touch 17||Polyester||1.25||189||15.59|
|Head Lynx 17||Polyester||1.21||191||20.68|
|Topspin Cyber Delta 1.25||Polyester||1.26||192||16.45|
|Wilson Revolve 15||Crosslink Ester Polymer & UHMW||1.34||192||20.97|
|Head Gravity 17/18 (MAIN)||Hybrid||1.36||193||15.31|
|Genesis True Grit 17||Polyester||1.24||194||19.56|
|Topspin Sensus Rotation 1.31||Polyester||1.32||196||15.50|
|Tecnifibre Black Code 15L||Polyester||1.3||197||17.57|
|Head Lynx 16||Polyester||1.25||198||21.06|
|Tourna Big Hitter Black Zone 17||Polyester||1.23||202||16.50|
|Babolat Origin 16||Polyamide||1.3||206||12.57|
|Ytex Square-X 1.25||Co-Polymer &Carbon & Polyolefin||1.25||214||12.46|
|Luxilon 4G Soft 125||Polyester||1.25||214||13.85|
|Tourna Big Hitter Black Zone 16||Polyester||1.27||215||16.92|
|Genesis True Grit 16||Polyester||1.32||221||15.15|
|Tecnifibre Polycode 17||Polyester||1.25||243||16.03|
|Tecnifibre Polycode 16||Polyester||1.31||247||19.38|
- Start by finding the string your client currently uses in the appropriate list
- Note the string’s stiffness and tension loss numbers, go to the appropriate map and find the dot located at these coordinates.
- If your client is completely satisfied with their current string and doesn’t want anything different from their next string, dots in the neighborhood (very close to their current string’s dot) will likely play similar.
- If your client is happy with how long their string plays well, but doesn’t love the feel of their string, try something on the same vertical level, but farther to the right or left. Strings to the right should feel stiffer (or more crisp), while strings to the left should feel softer (or more comfortable).
- If your client is happy with how their string feels, but not with how long it feels that way, try something in the same column, but higher or lower. Strings higher on the chart should soften (or loosen) up more quickly, while lower strings should hold their initial feel longer.
- Once you’ve found a dot that seems interesting, note the coordinates and look them up in the table.
The Geography of ‘Feel’
Finding Your “Feel Good” Location
- Softer strings are to the left, stiffer strings to the right.
- Strings that lose more tension are at the top; those that lose less are at the bottom.
- All strings on the same vertical line should feel about the same, no matter the tension.
- All strings at different locations on the same horizontal line will feel different from each other.
- Stringbed power increases to the left.
- Player supplied power increases to the right.
- Stringbed control increases to the right.
- “Arm friendly” strings are to the left.
- “Feedback” intensity (shock) increases to the right.
- Feel consistency over time tends to increase toward the bottom.
Test Procedure. All strings were tensioned to 62 pounds and allowed to sit for 200 seconds. Then the string was hit five times with a force equivalent to hitting a 120 mph serve. The tension loss represents the total amount of the relaxation over both time and impact. The stiffness value is a calculation derived from the amount of force created at impact to stretch the string. Lower values represent softer strings and lower impact forces. Higher values represent stiffer strings and higher impact forces.
Hybrids: To look up a hybrid combination, you must look up each string separately. If it is a pre-packaged hybrid, most packaging indicates the name of each string. There are a few hybrids using strings that aren’t sold on their own. Those strings are included in our lists. They will be listed as the name of the hybrid with (main) or (cross) after the name. For example, Head Protector 16 (main) is the string used for the mains in Head’s Protector 16 string.
See all articles by Dave Bone
About the Author
Dave Bone is the CEO of the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association, and co-publisher of Racquet Sports Industry magazine.
TI magazine search
TI magazine articles
- Our Serve: Take Full Advantage
- Industry News
- Junior Tournaments: Playing for Time
- GrassrootsTennis: Play It Forward!
- Retailing Tip: Futures Market
- RacquetTech: Proper Grip Installation
- Frame Outlook 2017: Frames in Mind
- Shoe Outlook 2017: Stepping Forward
- String Outlook 2017: Educational Initiative
- Apparel Outlook 2017: Mixed Company