Playtest: Gamma Solace 16
By Greg Raven
Gamma Solace is an advanced multifilament string comprised of a high-energy TNT2-processed dual-filament core surrounded by high-tenacity multifilaments. The core and filaments of Solace are bonded together by a polyurethane matrix, and coated with a soft, abrasion-resistant thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) for maximum comfort and exceptional playability.
According to Gamma, the combination of the TNT2 dual-core technology and multifilament construction is highly elastic, with up to 9.5 percent greater string-bed deflection than other strings. This equates to less shock for more comfort, greater pocketing for more feel and touch, and more energy returned to the strings for more power. You can see a video of Gamma Solace in action here:
Gamma tells us that Solace is for players looking for a high-performance string with power, feel, and additional comfort.
Solace is available in 16 and 17 gauges in Natural. It is priced from $16.95 per 40-foot set. For more information or to order, contact Gamma at 800-333-0337, or visit gammasports.com.
In the Lab
We tested the 16-gauge Solace. The coil measured 40 feet, 2 inches. The diameter measured 1.30 mm prior to stringing, and 1.22 mm after stringing. We recorded a string-bed stiffness of 76 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), string-bed stiffness measured 68 RDC units, representing an 11 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 84 RDC units immediately after stringing and 77 RDC units after 24 hours, representing an 8.3 percent tension loss. In lab testing, Prince Synthetic Gut Original has a stiffness of 217 and a tension loss of 11.67 pounds, while Gamma Solace 16 has a stiffness of 137 and a tension loss of 14.84 pounds. Solace 16 added 13.8 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
The string was tested for five weeks by 35 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with testers receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours tested was 24.8.
On taking it out of the package, the first impression was that Solace is a polyurethane-bonded string, which was confirmed when pulling tension and clamping. Even so, we didn’t have a problem with burning, and despite Solace’s softness, there were no problems with blocked holes. We found Solace easy to install.
No playtester broke his sample during stringing, none reported problems with coil memory, one reported problems tying knots, three reported friction burn, and none reported other problems.
On the Court
Of the 188 strings we’ve playtested for publication, our playtesters ranked Gamma Solace sixth in the Comfort category and ninth for Touch/Feel. They also found Solace had excellent Playability and Power, and was well above average in the Control category. Overall, Solace scored well above average.
None of the playtesters reported premature fraying or peeling, none reported buzzing, and eight reported notching.
Seven playtesters broke the sample during the playtest period, one each at 3, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 16 hours.
Given the scores assigned by members of our playtest team, you’d be justified in concluding Gamma Solace is at the playability end of the scale. Even so, when comparing Gamma Solace to their preferred string, our playtesters actually believed Solace to have a slight edge in Overall Durability, a result not often seen.
|Ease of Stringing (compared to other strings)|
|about as easy||13|
|not quite as easy||3|
|not nearly as easy||0|
|Overall Playability (compared to the string played most often)|
|about as playable||8|
|not quite as playable||12|
|not nearly as playable||2|
|Overall Durability (compared to other strings of similar gauge)|
|about as durable||14|
|not quite as durable||7|
|not nearly as durable||3|
|From 1 to 5 (best)|
|Comfort (6th overall)||4.1|
|Touch/Feel (9th overall)||3.8|
|Resistance to Movement||3.0|
“Finally, something to write home about. This string was easy to install and a pleasure to play with. It was comfortable and had good ball bite. The spin generated was great. One of the most comfortable and forgiving strings that I’ve played with.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200G strung at 65/61 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex 17)
“String was unusually easy to install. Very soft/supple. No notching, coil memory, or any problems with stringing. String played well. Was a little more powerful than the monofilament synthetic gut I am used to. String is very arm/shoulder friendly. Very soft.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson BLX Blade strung at 58.5 pounds CP (Gosen Micro Super 16/17)
“I really liked this string. Since I normally use a hybrid string set-up (poly mains and nylon crosses) I was surprised to find this string performed in a similar manner to my normal string.” 4.0 male all court player using Pro Kennex Ki 15 PSE strung at 63 pounds CP (Pacific X Force/ Pacific PowerLine 18/16L)
“Soft, soft, soft. From the ease of installation to the superior handling on soft drop volleys, this string has as much touch and feel as any string including gut. Time to enter a new string into my inventory.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Head Speed MP 16x19 strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“An excellent string and exactly the type of string I would recommend to most clients. It was a joy to install and its quality was near the top of the charts for playability, (control, power, comfort, feel, and durability). A top-ten string for the full range of players, intermediate to advanced. And a stringer’s delight on ‘string-ability.’ Also a unique off-white color, not the norm for “natural” color string. Most all players will love this string!” 4.0 male all court player using Head Youtek Radical MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel Premium 17)
“Great feeling and soft string. Very pleasantly surprised it held its tension as well as it did. Playing with an open string pattern racquet, I felt it would break quickly. It lasted longer than I anticipated, and played very well. I liked it a lot! Very easy on the arm!” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson Juice S strung at 57 pounds CP (Luxilon 4G 16)
“Excellent playing string. Good for people who want comfort, power, and control.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Aero strung at 57 pounds CP (Babolat Origin 17)
“I loved this string. It had great playability, good feel, touch, and control. I was very surprised about the durability being so solid as well. I would buy this string immediately for our tennis shop. It would work great in a hybrid pattern as well. This is a real winner.” 5.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson Juice S strung at 62 pounds CP (Luxilon 4G/Wilson NXT 17/17)
“Very stretchy during stringing. Little, if any, coil memory. Great string for beginning players. Hard to spray the ball with this string. Great control. Need to generate your own power.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Textreme Warrior strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Tour XP 17)
“This string seemed to have multiple personalities. Given the ease of stringing and how soft it was to the touch, I thought it would break rather quickly. But it didn’t, lasting far longer than suspected. The developers did a good job of making a string both soft and durable. However, the string for most of the test felt dull, boardy, low-powered, and with low spin potential. I wish I had strung the sample at a lower tension because I bet the string plays better at lower tensions. I know for sure that as the play test went on, I grew to enjoy it more and more and the more power, spin, and overall playability the string had. I’m attributing some of that increased playability to the string losing tension. The string, by the way, held tension very well. One group of people I think should try out this string are mid-level players with spin-effect frames, people who may not want to play with poly, but are having trouble with the durability of nylon strings in their frames. This string, strung on the lower end of the range, might be a great option for people who don’t hit that big and have spin-effect frames. I’m looking forward to finding out what this string is and recommending it to one customer in particular.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff strung at 60 pounds CP (Volkl Classic Synthetic Gut/Topspin Cyber Blue 16/17)
“While the string stretched a lot in stringing, it held tension very well. During the hours of play, the tension remained true. There was no fraying or failed recoil of the string after a hit. I like the sound of the ball off the strings a lot. Looking forward to discovering the brand and name of the string.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson Burn S strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)
“This string seemed to have the suppleness of a multifilament, but the playability of a polyester. However, I found the string harder to weave than other strings. Pretty good control, touch, and power. It held tension pretty well and I didn’t notice much movement in the strings during play. I don’t hit with a lot of spin, so I didn’t notice increased spin potential compared to other strings that I play with. It seems like a durable string, but then again, I am not a usual string breaker. Not too bad in the comfort department, either, as I was using a racquet with a dense string pattern (18x20) at relatively high tension (60 pounds). All in all, I would probably recommend this string to my customers.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Dunlop 300 strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“This is a nice string. It felt comfortable and easy to string and easy to play with. Its strength might be that it is uniformly good if not unremarkable. Decent touch, fair power, good comfort, and a nice degree of playability are its hallmarks. Depending on price, this could be a good go-to string for anyone looking for these attributes.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Pure Drive + strung at 55 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)
“String has a good solid feel with lots of pop. Has held its tension well with limited signs of wear. String bed set in well and quickly, providing a positive base with limited string movement. String should provide a good cross string base when mixed with a poly main.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Red LS strung at 55 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 17)
“I liked this string. I did notice right after stringing it began to lose tension and strings started to move around quite a bit. Other than that, it felt good. Nice soft string.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Five strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“The pop that the string provided was noticeable, even outside the sweet spot. The directional control for slice shots and drop shots was excellent. The comfort was outstanding. For a player who likes multifilament strings, this would be an excellent option, especially if it is available in a 17 gauge. My only complaint was the slight notching that occurred after about 20 hours of play.” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl Organix 4 strung at 59 pounds CP (Volkl V-Twist 17)
“I liked the playability of the string, however, I would have strung it a bit tighter for some control. It was great for feel and touch but also supplied some pop when needed. My only concern was that there was quite a bit of movement on these strings than I was accustomed to.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Two strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“The string was one of the more playable ones in a while.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Pure Drive + strung at 45/50 pounds CP (Babolat RPM Blast/Babolat Xcel 17/17)
“Very enjoyable string. The softness was pleasant and had good feel.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince Tour 100T ESP strung at 55 pounds CP (Prince Premiere Power 17)
“This is a good, easy-on-the-arm string. Players who may be susceptible to arm injuries or who play with lots of touch and feel will enjoy the comfort and playability of this string.” 4.0 female all court player using Prince Warrior L ESP strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)
“This string was so easy to install — no coil memory or kinking with minimal friction when pulling strings through. This was the first string that performed great from the first hit. It was extremely comfortable and consistently provided excellent touch and feel. All of the evaluated attributes were overall excellent except for a perceived reduction in power compared to the string I normally use and the strings tended to move more. This string is one I would seriously consider using instead of my current string(s), particularly if it were made in a thinner gauge.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Blue strung at 57/53 pounds LO (Tecnifibre NRG2/Babolat Xcel 18/17)
“Great, soft string. Held tension decently. Slipped well. I would be interested in trying a half set of this.” 4.5 male touch player using Angell TC strung at 54/51 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch/Babolat RPM Blast 16/17)
“If this were less expensive than other premium strings, I would consider it as an alternative. Easy to string with a nice, comfortable feel. Also maintained tension well. For most non-poly players, this would be an excellent choice. I also string some racquetball and am interested in how this would perform there.” 4.0 male all court player using Boris Becker Delta Core London Midplus strung at 56 pounds CP (YTex Octo Twist 16L)
“String was easy on the arm. It lost tension easily and the strings moved easily. Hard to control shots after a few hours of play.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Prestige Graphene strung at 60 pounds LO (Head Sonic Pro 16)
“After stringing so much polyester, it was a pleasure to install this very soft string. I felt from the beginning that the string would have a short shelf life. It turned out to be true when the string broke during the third match that I used it in. Until then the string played very differently than the polyester. Much more comfortable and responsive than the poly. It was kinder to the arm as well. Too bad it couldn’t last like the poly.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince Tour 100T ESP strung at 58/56 pounds LO (Prince Tour XP 17)
“I liked this string. Good control, crisp shots, and it felt good. Having said that, I should have strung it a little looser as it never felt broken in. Also, even though I liked the string I see nothing special about it and its price will determine its place in the marketplace.” 4.0 male touch player using Prince O3 Red strung at 57 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Pro Plus 17L)
“A good comfort string. Pretty good feel with not much crispness. I think it would make a good cross string with a poly main. I had no visible wear, but it lost a fair amount of tension. It was a very easy string to install. Probably would be a better string for a non-ESP frame, since there was a lot of string shifting. I did enjoy easiness on the arm. A good-lasting middle-of-the-road string.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince Tour ESP strung at 50 pounds CP (Prince Tour XC 16)
“Nice and easy to install. Strings were prone to movement during play. Good power production, but less spin than I’m used to. Good comfort and better touch than I am used to.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Volkl Organix 8 Super G 300 strung at 57 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite/Babolat RPM Blast 17/17)
“String was super easy to install. Probably the easiest to string all time. Nice break from stringing poly. Has some kind of coating, very smooth. Instructions said to string normal. When playing, was not as happy. String felt cheap. Did not have good feel, control was off, felt looser than normal. Conclusion, definitely easy to install. Feel and control were lacking. I think a higher suggested string tension might take care of these problems. Would like to try it again at 5–7 pounds higher tension.” 4.0 male all court player using Dunlop Muscle Weave 200G strung at 48/45 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 17)
“Comfortable string with satisfactory control. Durability is less than average, and this string broke after 12 hours of play. Average control on all shots, average power production, and spin potential is not exceptional compared to shaped strings.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Triple Threat Viper strung at 60 pounds LO (Gamma Ruff 16)
“I wasn’t impressed with the string at all. I felt it lacked spin potential, power, and comfort on groundstrokes, serves, and overheads. Didn’t feel too bad on volleys and touch shots. Overall, I was disappointed with the playability of the string.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff RF strung at 50 pounds LO (Luxilon Timo 110/Wilson NXT 18/17)
“The power and spin potential were pretty low for these strings. The strings did not have any wow factor, but rather the other factor, dull. Not a big fan of these strings.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff strung at 57 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Black 7/Tourna Big Hitter Black Zone 17/17)
“I thought the string did not play well and was harsh on the elbow.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Storm Limited strung at 54/52 pounds LO (Forten Kevlar/Forten Poly 17/17)
“I really did not like this string.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Prestige strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut 16)
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses. For the rest of the tester comments, visit tennisindustrymag.com.)
See all articles by Greg Raven
About the Author
Greg Raven is an associate editor for Tennis Industry 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 email@example.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis three to five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.
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