Going Rogue in the stringing workshop = “Pillow Top Tri-Brid” ™

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.

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9 Responses to Going Rogue in the stringing workshop = “Pillow Top Tri-Brid” ™

  1. jonathan says:

    Cool…What sort of surcharge are you thinking of imposing for this sort of work? Related to this, how much time do you think this will add to a typical stringing?

  2. ggtennis says:

    Charges are unknown at this point in time. It will most likely start with 2x the cost of the string plus regular labor charges for the initial setup. Probably a $2.00 surcharge thereafter. If demand grows I may have to charge 2x cost of strings and 2x the labor for initial setup just due to the amount of time it takes to get the first one properly tuned. We are going to play this by ear.

    Time added to a string job shouldn’t be much after initial setup. Because of proportional component it will likely take approx. 5 – 10 extra minutes at most.

    If customer is using a string in the center crosses that we do not have available via a reel, there will be an added cost because the length needed varies just enough so that you can only get 2 pieces out of it as opposed to being able to get 3 out of the others.

  3. Lindsay says:

    GG,

    I know of a stringer who’s been doing this for 10 years now. Please contact me at your convenience.

    • ggtennis says:

      I think it is important to clarify this blog entry. We make no claims of being the first to use a three string method. In fact, Roger, who we mention, uses one and I imagine there are others as well.

      The purpose of our blog post is to detail our journey in exploring and evolving with the concept. We have developed it to a point where we made the decision to name our particular version, trademark the name and in the future market it as a service to our stringing customers. We believe that the proportional elements we have incorporated make our method unique to us.

  4. ggtennis says:

    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.

  5. ggtennis says:

    One more thought…I find it puzzling why people are asking each other about the method and speculating on message boards rather than having a conversation here? Call me crazy, but it just seems that I may be able to offer a bit more insight than the average random message board poster.

  6. pks says:

    Very interesting.

    Over the years I have been a 5.0-5.5 highly ranked tournament player and have experimented with many different strings, tension, racquets and gadgets.

    Nothing and I mean nothing feels better then gut / poly mixed.

    Gut in the mains lasts longer then in the cross. A few string savers and it will last 3times longer then any full poly.

    Did Harrison ever try gut poly mix? I have found it to also be the best cost effective combo since it lasts so long in playability and durability.

    It just boggles my mind more people dont try this

  7. RBG says:

    Putting gut with anything is generally good.

    I did try a tri-blend using natural gut in the center mains and crosses with polyester in the outer mains and crosses.
    Stringing the racket using this combination of tri-blend gives one the comfort of a livelier string (natural gut or multifillament) with more control. It is a different/better feel than a traditional two piece hybrid. For me I got more of what I wanted using the combination of gut and poly in a 3 piece hybrid compared to a two piece hybrid. The gut is in the center where I want it, while the pattern and poly create a unique feel/sweetspot that results in better playability.

    It is difficult to explain. I think it is worth a try though.

    Keep in mind that I used one tension throughout the string job which I feel allows the string and the pattern to dictate the feel. One could increase or decrease the tension depending on your personal preference.

  8. ggtennis says:

    Been struggling to find a durable setup for a huge hitting junior who is blowing through strings. Tried multiple poly-based options and he always breaks the mains either on main #4 ,5 or 6 or a bad luck shear. Tonight I did something I never imagined…I used the “Pillow-Top Tri-Brid” with kevlar mains in a pillow of WC SuperCable Pro and Silverstring crosses. It will be interesting to see if the pillow-top can negate some of the starch of the kevlar and which of the 3 breaks first.

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