(Everything that you always wanted to know about strings, but were afraid to ask)
Q. What is the story on string tension and is it important?
A. All racquets come with a recommended tension range. If you want more power have your racquet strung at the low end of the tension range. If you want more control have your racquet strung at the upper end of the tension range.
Q. What are those little vibration dampers I see on racquets and will they reduce the vibration on my arm and elbow?
A. The vibration dampers will significantly alter how the ball feels on your strings but unfortunately it has no effect on the amount of vibration that is transmitted to your arm and elbow.
Q. What are tennis strings made of?
A. Tennis strings are made from five source materials. Natural Gut, Zyex, Nylon, Polyester and Kevlar. These strings are listed in their order of softness. Natural gut is the softest and Kevlar is the most harsh. They make bullet proof vests out of Kevlar – need I say more. Polyester and Kevlar are the most durable and will last a long time. If you are not interested in comfort or feel that may be the string for you.
Q. What causes strings to break?
A. When you hit a ball with either topspin or underspin (slice) the mains (long strings) move back and forth against the cross strings. This back and forth movement causes notching in the mains. Eventually the main string gets so thin that a hard impact will break the string.
Q. I never break my strings. My racquet was last strung when Jimmy Carter was President, why should I get it restrung now?
A. Synthetic strings will loose their elasticity over time and the string becomes “dead” and brittle. New strings will certainly feel and play better.
Q. How do l know when to restring my racquet if the strings never break?
A. A good rule of thumb is to restring your racquet annually equal to the number of times you play in a week. If you play three times a week – restring every four months. If you play two times a week – restring every six months.
Q. How can I inspect my own strings to determine if there is notching and if the wear is serious enough to consider restringing prior to breakage?
A. It is relatively easy to check your racquet strings yourself. Pull the cross strings away from the point where they intersect the main strings. Now use your fingernail to feel for any evidence of notching in the main string. In some cases the main string notching is so severe that it can be seen as well as felt.
Q. What is the difference between 16 and 17 gauge string?
A. The thickness of a particular string is designated as 15,16,17, or 18 gauge. The most popular string thickness is 16 gauge. The 16 gauge suing is approximately .052 inches in diameter. The higher the gauge number, the thinner the string. 17 Gauge string is approximately .048 inches in diameter.
Q. What is the advantage of a thinner string?
A. A thin string will have more bite on the ball than a thicker string and as a result it will develop more spin. The disadvantage is that it will develop notches and break sooner.
Q. If I purchase a racquet and I have a choice should I purchase it strung or unstrung?
A. If you are interested in having a choice as to the quality and type of string you will be playing with it would be better to order the racquet unstrung. You can then take the racquet to a knowledgeable stringer who will recommend a string that is suitable for your style and frequency of play. Almost all high quality racquets come in the unstrung condition.
Q. What are “string savers” and how do they extend string life?
A. “String savers” are small plastic tabs that are placed at the intersection of the mains and the crosses in the area of highest wear. Once in place, the “string savers” act as a buffer between the mains and crosses and eliminate the direct abrasion of the mains on the crosses. A package of 100 string savers will provide a relatively large area of coverage. These packages usually are priced at $3.00 to $5.00 and come with a tool that will simplify the installation of the string savers.”
Q. What are hybrid strings?
A. The term “hybrid” is used to describe the use of two different types of strings used in the crosses and the mains. This system has been around for years and was usually used to extend life by placing an abrasion resistant string in the mains and a softer synthetic gut in the crosses. Some people are using it today with natural gut in the mains or crosses and a synthetic gut in the other direction. This gives good playability and feel at a reduced cost.
Q. If I have any questions concerning string recommendations who should I call?
A. Jerry O’Hara