What you see pictured above is a stringing method that has the potential to shake, rattle and roll modern-day stringing conventions while shattering the accepted two-piece paradigm. At Guts and Glory Tennis, we are “going rogue” in 2010!
We call this process the “Pillow-Top Tri -Brid.” ™ We are currently concluding playtests. The early feedback is overwhelmingly positive and we are confident we will have all the data and revisions needed to make this EXCLUSIVE method available to our customers in 2010.
What you see is the evolution of a concept that was birthed September 7, 2005. On that day I had a long discussion with the parents of a highly ranked junior player. He preferred the feel and performance of multifilament strings. However, with his western grip and aggressive style of play the durability was unacceptable. He did not like the feel of full poly-based strings, but could adapt to a poly-based/multi hybrid. Problem was the poly-based strings were chewing through the multis rapidly. The parents asked if there was ANYTHING possible we could do to add some durability while simultaneously offering the desired playability so they would not have to restring as often.
We went to the drawing board. With the hybrid, it was the center crosses that were breaking from friction. We wondered if there might be a method where the center strings (mains and crosses) could all consist of the durable poly-based strings and be surrounded by multis for added feel. The resulting conclusion was an experimental three piece “tri-brid” we created especially for this player. His name was Harrison and we called it the “Harrison Hybrid.”
Soon word of the “Harrison Hybrid” had spread through the junior ranks and we were performing this method for several junior players. The execution was admittedly awkward due to the fact we had not been able to find a pattern that worked on a majority of frames. In the coming months Harrison’s parents would purchase a stringing machine, begin stringing themselves and go back to a traditional poly-based/synthetic hybrid. The other juniors using the method slowly switched racquets to those which could not be strung with this method and thus the “Harrison Hybrid” became a seldom used method in our shop.
This October at the Grand Slam Stringers Symposium in Orlando, I met a great guy and brilliant stringer named Roger. We were bantering about stringing stuff and I mentioned using a tri-brid to him. To my shock and amazement, he not only knew exactly what I was talking about, but his racquet was currently strung as a tri-brid. In discussing his stringing method and pattern, I noted some key differences from what I had been using. Most notably, he was using the poly-based strings in a larger proportion than I originally used. By increasing the percentage of poly-based string surface it was possible to be successfully installed on almost all frames that used traditional grommet systems. (Sorry, Prince port-frame owners!) Roger had re-ignited my interest in exploring this method in greater detail. When I returned from the conference, I immediately began experimenting with it. If playability was proven to perform as projected I knew the next step would be to find a way to incorporate it into our arsenal of racquet tuning and stringing techniques.
The “Pillow Top Tri-Brid” ™ method is truly dynamic and exciting. It can incorporate and neatly blend the playing properties of 3 strings into the stringbed. In the image above we have used 3 different colored strings for illustration purposes. The outer later of strings (white) is the key to this method. These are the multis. They essentially act as a pillow-top or cloud. Their main purpose is to absorb the shock of off-center hits and also help absorb and dampen the shock of shots hit in the sweetspot. By using multis in approximately 1/3 of the stringbed, we hoped to achieve more feel and touch than full poly can offer. The desired outcome was to create the same or more playability with this setup than a traditional poly-based/multi hybrid.
The center mains (red) in the above image are hexagonal poly-based strings. We decided to playtest these with the desire of getting the maximum amount of spin. We crossed them with a new poly-based twist string (black). With the explosion of new poly-based choices, there are a plethora of possible combinations when mixing the properties of 3 different strings. Add to these the completely unique playing properties of the WeissCANNON TurboTwist (a twisted poly-based string with high elasticity offering feel of a synthetic) and we literally can provide cornucopia of playability options for our customers. (NOTE: It is also possible and probably more common to use the same poly-based string for the center mains and crosses.)
Our exclusive “Pillow Top Tri-Brid” ™ has evolved tremendously over the past few weeks. Because a three piece pattern uses 6 knots and knots are where tension is lost we had to find a way to address the issue so that tension loss would not impact playability. Making sure tension does not leak is especially important with the red mains and the final black cross because they are in the meaty part of the stringbed. Using a string meter we were able to identify the amount of tension loss in tying off at these points and adjust the tension by increasing it on the pulls that would be tied off.
Next we discovered that using a consistent reference tension led to uneven stiffness based upon type of string and length of pull. We were also concerned that a higher percentage of poly-based strings would reduce the desired shock dampening properties of the setup. Using the tenants of proportional stringing we have been able to make adjustments that allow the multis to achieve all of the desirable characteristics we were seeking.
We want to thank our playtesters for helping us as we have perfected the “Pillow Top Tri-Brid” ™. (We wish Harrison was NOT in Brazil as his feedback would be interesting!) Through their feedback we have been able to revise and hone the process to something that is nearly ready to hit the mainstream. The results to date, according to our playtest team, have exceeded our expectations. The playtesters have been delighted with the results and 100% are eager to continue stringing with this method going forward. We are extremely excited to bring “Pillow Top Tri-Brid” ™ (PTTB) to our local stringing customers in the coming weeks. (Watch out 2010, we are going ROGUE!)
Players seeking the performance of poly-based/multi hybrids are the desired audience for this stringing process. The multi will add comfort and added playability while durability will be vastly superior to traditional hybrids. The proportional component we have added coupled with the possible combination of string types will allow the process to be highly customized to meet the desired performance of the customer.
Because each frame is different we need to create a custom map for optimizing the performance of each racquet. Currently this is biggest bug in the ointment. For the initial stringing we need to string the frame and measure the results. We then take notes, cut out strings, restring with adjusted tension where needed and record the results. This will increase the initial cost to customers. We will have to explore ways to reduce costs for our customers.
We do not anticipate using the “Pillow Top Tri-Brid” ™ on port-style frames because it would require us to tie off on an open port. While we do not believe this would cause damage to the frame, we also do not know how the knot may move/react. This is something we still have to test to see if it is possible…I mean since we’re going rogue, we may as well go all the way!
NOTE to stringers and customers: The “Pillow Top Tri-Brid” ™ requires opening new tie-off holes and while it will do no damage to your racquet frame, we are pretty sure using this process will void the remaining manufacturer’s warranty.
NEW NOTE (11/25/09): We have been alerted that some stringers are posting their version of a tri-brid pattern on message boards. We have reviewed the patterns posted and they are NOT the pattern we use. PLEASE keep the following in mind. When stringing the mains, they are strung IN SEQUENCE no more than 2 ahead on either side…keeping in accordance with safe stringing practices. Specifically stringing outer mains and later filling in has potential to damage a frame and we in no way endorse or advocate this practice when using a tri-brid pattern.