Guide to Strings: String Selector 2016
Use our exclusive guide to find the perfect strings for your customers.
As we reported in last year’s String Selector issue (January 2015), most of the U.S. manufacturers seem to be slowing down on their introduction of new strings, but they certainly haven’t stopped. We currently have just over 1,800 strings that have been tested in our lab over the years. Of that number, a little over 1,000 are current models. So, while the market may be slowing, there are plenty of strings to choose from.
The polyester category seems to continue to lead with the most new additions, although manufacturers continue to introduce nylon and other softer strings as well. Manufacturers recognize that a stiff monofilament is just not a good string for every player type, hence the continued exploration of softer strings.
While polyester does still lead the way in new introductions, a closer look sees that today’s polyesters are much softer than past generations. As technology continues to advance, many of the new strings have the advantages offered by a polyester-based string, but they are a bit more playable and easier on the arm.
These softer polyester strings are the perfect match in a hybrid with an even softer nylon string, or even softer yet paired with a natural gut. A survey this past summer with many of the manufacturers seems to point to hybrids becoming the norm for most players, as it is currently on the professional tours. Although packaged hybrids are still being introduced, most feel it is better to leave the pairing to the racquet technician. By utilizing all the strings in their inventory, a racquet technician can choose the best two strings and the tension to best suit a particular player.
“The popularity of hybrids on the pro tours makes club players want to try it too, which makes it much easier for the local shop/stringer to really talk with their customers about the possible benefits that they might receive from trying a hybrid string combination,” says Tom Parry of Pacific.
This makes our String Selector tool all the more important to racquet technicians. By using the information in our String Selector, a technician has all the information needed to find the perfect match for their customer.
For advice on how to best use this information, be sure to read the section “Using the String Selector.” For a better understanding of the string graph, read “The Geography of Feel.” USRSA members have access to even more powerful versions of this information in the tools on the Members Only portion of our website, www.racquettech.com.
String Spec Search allows members to choose the brand and model of a particular string and find the specs without having to go through the hundreds of other strings. Probably the most utilized tool is the String Selector, which allows the member to select a certain string and ask for changes in stiffness, tension loss and gauge. The tool then searches through the database and presents a list of other string options. Many members use this tool to find a string similar to one their customer requests but they don’t stock. By selecting the string and then choosing “about the same” on all the options, you will get a list of very similar strings that will often include one you do stock.
In order to save trees, we have only listed the strings that have been introduced and tested since our last list.
|Pacific||Bull Gut 16L||Natural Gut||1.27||75||8.44|
|Pacific||Bull Gut 16||Natural Gut||1.32||82||9.24|
|Head||Reflex MLT 1.25||Nylon||1.25||131||15.73|
|Head||Velocity MLT 1.25||Nylon||1.25||137||15.50|
|Yonex||Mono Preme 125||Nylon||1.24||138||13.90|
|Gamma||Ocho XP 16||Nylon||1.31||138||15.55|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Soft Control 1.25||Polyamide||1.26||139||11.55|
|Yonex||Multi-Sensa 125||Nylon & Polyester||1.24||139||17.42|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Soft Control 1.30||Polyamide||1.30||140||13.19|
|Head||Reflex MLT 1.30||Nylon||1.31||142||16.27|
|Tecnifibre||HDX Tour 15L||Elastyl & Polyester & SPL||1.35||149||13.05|
|Yonex||Multi-Sensa 130||Nylon & Polyester||1.27||152||19.12|
|Head||Velocity MLT 1.30||Nylon||1.30||153||14.89|
|Wilson||Spin Effect Hybrid (Multi)||Hybrid||1.31||154||17.55|
|Yonex||Mono Preme 130||Nylon||1.28||155||10.59|
|Genesis||Black Magic 18||Polyester||1.18||167||21.75|
|Tier One Sports||Strike Force Rip 118||Polyester||1.19||171||19.31|
|Gamma||iO Soft 17||Polyester||1.24||172||23.10|
|Gamma||Moto Soft 17||Polyester||1.23||174||21.52|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Focus-Hex 1.10||Polyester||1.11||175||15.52|
|Gamma||Ocho TNT 16||1.29||175||15.92|
|Diadem||Solstice Pro 16L||Polyester||1.26||175||19.34|
|Yonex||Polytour Fire 120||Polyester||1.20||176||19.78|
|Tourna||Big Red 17||Polyester||1.19||177||19.20|
|Pacific||Spin 6 16L||Polyester||1.27||177||20.90|
|Gamma||Moto Soft 16||Polyester||1.29||177||24.23|
|Pacific||Poly Force 18||Polyester||1.23||178||21.65|
|Yonex||Polytour Fire 125||Polyester||1.25||181||18.92|
|Diadem||Solstice Power 17||Polyester||1.19||182||16.14|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Hepta-Twist 1.20||Polyester||1.17||182||17.15|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Hepta-Twist 1.20||Polyester||1.19||182||17.68|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Go Max 1.25||Polyester||1.21||182||18.81|
|Gamma||iO Soft 16||Polyester||1.26||182||23.09|
|Tier One Sports||Strike Force Rip 123||Polyester||1.23||183||21.94|
|Diadem||Solstice Pro 15L||Polyester||1.27||187||15.37|
|Gosen||Polylon Premium 1.27||Polyester||1.26||189||19.21|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Go Max 1.20||Polyester||1.19||190||21.34|
|Diadem||Solstice Power 16||Polyester||1.29||194||15.09|
|Tecnifibre||Black Code 4S 18||Polyester||1.18||194||15.86|
|Tourna||Big Red 16||Polyester||1.27||194||16.32|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Focus-Hex 1.23||Polyester||1.23||198||15.37|
|Tecnifibre||Black Code 4S 17||Polyester||1.22||199||16.69|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Hepta-Twist 1.25||Polyester||1.22||199||17.42|
|Wilson||Spin Effect Hybrid (Mono)||Hybrid||1.24||199||19.94|
|Tier One Sports||Strike Force Rip 128||Polyester||1.29||199||20.49|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Focus-Hex 1.18||Polyester||1.15||200||15.17|
|Gamma||iO Soft 15L||Polyester||1.39||200||23.28|
|Babolat||Pro Xtreme 1.25 (MAIN)||Polyester||1.24||204||21.94|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Focus-Hex 1.23||Polyester||1.22||208||15.87|
|Yonex||PolyTour Spin G 125||Polyester||1.26||212||15.41|
|Genesis||Pro Advantage 17||Polyester||1.22||213||13.83|
|Gosen||Polylon Premium 1.32||Polyester||1.31||213||16.71|
|Babolat||RPM Blast 15L||Polyester||1.35||218||19.19|
|Tecnifibre||Black Code 4S 16||Polyester||1.31||219||17.37|
|Mauve Sports||MSV Focus-Hex 1.27||Polyester||1.33||220||16.45|
|Genesis||Pro Advantage 16||Polyester||1.29||223||14.33|
Using the String Selector
- 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, Babolat Pro Xtreme 1.25 (main) is the string used for the mains in Babolat’s Pro Xtreme Hybrid.
See all articles by Bob Patterson
About the Author
Bob Patterson , the founder of the RacquetMAXX customization service, is a Master Racquet Technician with more than 20 years of experience. He was RSI's Stringer of the Year in 2005. He is Executive Director for the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association.
TI magazine search
TI magazine articles
- Our Serve: Repair and Replace
- Industry News
- Racquet Tech: Taking Stock
- Grassroots Tennis: Play It Forward!
- Retailing Tip: Give Them a Show
- Facility Management: Wage Differential
- Guide to Strings: Educational Initiative
- Home of American Tennis — Open For Business!
- Court Lighting: Light Reaction