The Definitive Guide to Stringing Polys and Co-polys

Okay students, time to take notes.

Qualitative analysis of tennis message boards, tennis twitter accounts, facebook pages, blogs and various discussions has convinced me that the vast majority of stringers are not well versed in the nature of poly and co-poly strings.  As a result, many stringers, even those widely respected and much revered, do not install poly-based strings in a manner that optimizes their performance.  In fact, it is not going out on much of a limb to estimate that 90% or more of stringers in the USA are UNINTENTIONALLY installing these strings in a manner which robs them of performance characteristics.  I know because until late 2010 I was among this group of well-intentioned professional stringers who was unknowingly butchering these strings because I was not aware of how they needed to be handled.

First of all, and perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome, is to realize that poly-based strings are designed to perform best at lower tensions.  We are talking a tension range in the 30’s – 40’s.  The absolute top end of that range would be 52 pounds.  Once you go beyond 52, you are entering the point of quickly diminishing returns.  I realize this may represent a HUGE shift in thinking for many readers.  In fact a majority of you are probably thinking of mailing me a care package of colorful Sharpies so that I can decorate the walls of my padded room, but it is not really that crazy.  The fear of low tensions is loss of control.  I can assure you from personal experience as well as experience with many local customers, that quality poly-based offerings, PROPERLY INSTALLED, give ample control at these low tensions.  I PROMISE this is a true statement.  In fact, when all elements are working together (strings/racquet/player) it becomes almost impossible to hit a ball long.

Installing poly-based strings requires one critical element that many stringers may find challenging.  P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E!  It is not possible to provide to a quality stringjob with poly-based strings using a rushed sequence.  The 15 minute stringjob that may be just fine for synthetics and natural gut, just is not going to cut it with poly-based strings.  IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO RUSH THE STRINGING PROCESS WITH POLY BASED STRINGS.  Some professional stringers may take issue with this statement.  They will claim their stringing method is fine-tuned, precise and consistent.  We take no issues with these claims.  However, those elements without additional care are NOT good enough to produce the best outcomes for poly-based strings.  What they produce is consistently mediocre (at best) results.  We must remember that the majority of recreational and league players need their strings to last much longer than the pros who get a fresh string job every 9 games.  They need to last for weeks and sometimes months.

Poly-based strings are oft criticized for being stiff, rapidly losing tension, contributing to elbow pain and failing to hold playing properties.  Each of these claims can be true, except there is a huge BUT here that dwarfs even that of Ms. Kardashian.  These statements are only true when the strings have been overtensioned and OVERSTRETCHED.  When not overtensioned or overstretched poly-based strings are EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE, LOSE LESS TENSION THAN MOST SYNTHETICS, and HOLD PLAYING PROPERTIES for an extended period of time. (The last varies according to makeup of string).

How can this be? The literature, testimonials and even the USRSA data show that poly-based strings loose tension rapidly.  Clearly the statement made in the above paragraph is nothing more than an outpouring of a deranged mind, right?  Well, not necessarily.  We are suggesting that all this data is gathered from and observed by individuals and groups who have overtensioned the poly-based strings…including the USRSA who test at 62 pounds!  (This might give representative results with other strings, but it just ain’t gonna fly with poly-based offerings.)

Poly-based strings have a much lower level of resiliency than synthetics and natural gut.  As such, when being installed, it must be handled with care.  Even though it is a strong and durable string in the raquet, it takes a tender touch to install properly.  The best analogy we have found comes from John Elliot.  John compares poly-based strings to the spring that can be found in your average ball point pen.  Just like the spring it offers resiliency and when properly used it will hold this resiliency for an extended period of time.  However, just like the spring in the pen, it can be easily stretched out of shape if not handled properly.  Once this stretching occurs, the spring is dead.  It will continue to elongate, but will not retract back into it’s original form and shape.  The exact same principle applies to a poly-based string.  It CAN NOT be OVERSTRETCHED or OVERTENSIONED without suffering consequences.

Unfortunately in order to keep it in perfect form, there are 2 CRITICAL STEPS that must be taken during installation which are not necessary with strings of different constructions.  These steps will without question slow the stringing process.  However, it is necessary in order for the poly-based strings to give optimal performance.

1.  If using a constant pull electronic machine, the machine’s pull speed needs to be set to the lowest possible speed. We use a Wilson Baiardo and the lowest pull speed is 30%.  It is easily set to this level and this is where the Baiardo is most effective for stringing poly-based strings. The reason this step is necessary is because electronic machines overshoot tension and then back down to the desired level.  The faster the pull speed the more dramatic and harsh the overshoot.  Most machines will overshoot at least 10% – 18% over the set tension.  (Remember we are trying not to exceed 52 pounds in order not to overstretch the string!)

2.  Once tension is reached, the stringer needs to wait at least 5 seconds before clamping off.  This allows the poly-based string to stretch PROPERLY.  By failing to give poly-based strings this much time slack is not properly removed and the string will loose tension and the wonderous low-tension performance will never be realized.

By following this pulling procedure the end result will be a tighter stringbed that holds tension for a longer period of time than one with higher reference tensions not pulled with an eye toward end performance rather than speed.  In the south we refer to this process as “Moseying.”  You gotta take your time, mosey along and enjoy yourself while stringing poly-based strings.  It’s really the only way to do it well.

At this point a summary is in order.  To get the best possible performance from poly-based strings you need to make sure you or your stringer do the following:

1.  Select a tension in the upper 30’s – 40’s.  The tension will vary according to density of stringbed and head size.  (Note:  It can be easily adjusted through observational learning.  We’ll cover this in a future blog entry.)

2.  Set pull speed to lowest possible setting when using an electronic constant pull machine.  If using drop weight, lower bar slowly.  If using a crank machine once machine starts to resist crank very, very slowly until it locks.

3.  Allow string to sit under tension at least 5 seconds before clamping so that it has sufficient time to properly stretch.

Keep an open mind, give it a try and you will be AMAZED at the results.

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91 Responses to The Definitive Guide to Stringing Polys and Co-polys

  1. Eric says:

    What would you suggest, tension wise, if you had a customer come to you and want MSV Focus Hex in the mains and gut in the crosses?

  2. ggtennis says:

    Depends on the gauge of the strings being used as well as the racquet head size and pattern.

    • Lee says:

      I’d like to interject – what if the racquet was a Pure Drive Roddick (16×19, 100 sq inch) and string gauge was 1.10 Focus Hex?

      • ggtennis says:

        Assuming it is an adult who hits with good pace I would suggest starting in the upper 40’s. (47ish). I would also suggest using a thicker gauge main string, perhaps a 1.23mm. I have found my PD customers prefer thicker gauge mains with that racquet. Helps to keep some of the power in check.

  3. Eric says:

    16×19 98in 1.23 MSV mains and 16 gauge VS crosses. For argument’s sake, of course.

    • ggtennis says:

      Eric –

      Given your setup I would suggest starting with MSV mains at 44 and VS Crosses at 48. Wherever you choose to start the mains make sure to increase the tension of the crosses in this hybrid by 4 pounds.

  4. Boris Becker says:

    YOU MY FRIEND are a fracking genius

    hopefully other stringers will set aside bias and ego and try this with an open mind

    • ggtennis says:

      Boris – Thank you, but I can not take much credit. I have become a mentee of John Elliot and he is really the genius here. I am merely open minded enough to explore his teachings and wise enough to adopt what works. My goal is to help educate others about how to best use poly-based string offerings. Properly used and understood, they are an awesome product.

  5. Stephane says:

    Hi all,

    Still an excellent post from ggtennis.
    I apply this method since several weeks. My usual tension with polys was 24 kg. With this method, I’m able now to lower my tension from 3 kg. which is enormous.
    The advantages are :
    – Exceptionnal comfort (Yes : a poly can become comfortable !)
    – Easier playability : no need to be at 150% all the time
    – No tension loss : I measured the tension once a day during 1 week, no tension loss.
    – Better durability
    Note : The results are not immediate, it needs some time and several rackets to string to reach a good result. My objective is to lower still 1-2 kg in the next months with the same results.

    Best regards from France.

    • ggtennis says:

      Stephane –

      Thank you for the insightful comments and contributions! Your point of it taking time to get the technique down is excellent. It takes a bit of practice and admittedly because the process is slower, there is a bit of a mental adjustment. After several racquets, it becomes much less awkward and fairly standard.

      I would assume with zero tension loss you must be using the Thunderstrings, correct? They are the only poly-based strings I have measured to date that have produced those unbelievable tension maintenance results.

      Thanks again for your contribution.

      • Stephane says:

        Hello,

        Indeed, tests have been realized with Thunderstrings Storm in its grey colour (round copoly). Other tests with Topspin Cyberflash and MSV Focus have also given excellent results and positive feedbacks.
        But I must say that I had to string at most 10 rackets before seing consistant results.

  6. RodgerS says:

    Very interesting and clear explanation.

    1) Is the mfg’s tension stringing range relevant? I do know that Bab Revenge lower mfg range is 48 and I’m wondering what the lower range is on the thunderstrings titanium is as compared to how you string it.

    1a) I use an alpha revo 4000 stringing machine at home that uses a crank tension mechanism. I’m assuming the 5 seconds is still appropriate.

    2) do you recommend increasing tension for the last string sections on the mains and the crosses? I use a wilson blx 95 racquet, I’m 60, at the 4.0 level, and not a string breaker, but a spin meister.

    3) Should I consider the gut hybrid or just go with the full bed at a lower tension say 45 lbs? No elbow problems at this time.

    Kindest regards on a timely topic.

    • ggtennis says:

      1. I went to a seminar conducted by one of Babolat’s product developers. He spoke about the development of the frames as well as the strings. Very interesting person. He spoke with a passion about the production of the Babolat VS and many of their synthetics. He almost had contempt for polys. He did not demonstrate any understanding whatsoever of poly-based strings and had no appreciation for them. If his understanding reflects that of the company, I would say to take the tension recommendation with a grain of salt. That said, I have never tested the Bab Revenge.

      As far as I know Thunderstrings does not have a lower range they recommend. They just want you to string no higher than the low 50’s.

      1a. Unfortunately crank machines are the most difficult to properly string polys on. You have to really take your time when cranking the tension. In terms of waiting to clamp for 5 seconds on a lock-out, it does not have the same kind of impact because the string is no longer being tensioned once it clicks. It is EXTREMELY difficult for most stringers to get good/solid/consistent results using poly-based strings on a lock-out style machine. I would consider selling and picking up a Stringway if I were going to be stringing poly-based strings for myself or others with a desire to get the best results out of the string. (Sorry to say!)

      2. Yes, I do recommend increasing the tension on the tie-offs.

      3. I would suggest going with a hybrid. There is not as much to potentially go wrong as a lock-out produces decent results with synthetics. IMO a hybrid will work and perform better when using a lock-out machine.

  7. RodgerS says:

    Thanks for your comments. Since I only string for myself, I don’t have to hurry.

    I went ahead and took some tecnifibre black code 1.24/17 and strung a full bed 41/45, so we’ll see what happens when the rain stops. I spent about 2 hours stringing them using one starter knot and three Wilson Pro knots.

    It was quite an easy and relaxing string job. (Maybe stringing ones own co-poly is a great way to relieve stress)

    It is possible, but who knows, that the variance you suggest is within tolerable limits…can’t tell for sure unless you were my next door neighbor. I will adjust tension based on the hitting recommendations in your earlier article. Kind of reminds me of sighting in a gun.

    Once I have my own benchmark and performance experience, I will let you know what happens. I’m assuming that following your directions, despite my machine’s limitations and variance potential, might result in great results at my level of tennis expertise, even if somewhat imperfect!

    I promise not to get all huffed and puffed if I’m not knocked down and dragged out impressed.

    • ggtennis says:

      Just curious why you increased the tension on the cross strings? Not necessary with full poly, but a 4 pound increase is recommended when the cross is a synthetic.

      I hope you enjoy the setup. I am fairly confident you will!

      • RodgerS says:

        Regarding the extra 4 pounds, I was simply unaware that it was a synthetic-focused recommendation. I did add a Bab gel dampener after the first two hours of play, which enhanced the setup.

        Control, feeling and comfort were all excellent, including ball feel/cupping. I suspect applying the crank tension very slowly and lovingly was sufficient, if not perfect.

        No need to adjust the tension – was spot on with great control spin.

      • Mike T says:

        I’ve been reading up on the JayCee method, and after reading this article I’m very excited to put all these newfound ideas to use. I have one question for clarification, since you brought it up here:

        The 4 lb increase on the crosses, e.g. 44/48 is meant for (co)poly/syngut jobs only? If I were to do a full poly job, I should keep the tensions at 44/44 (plus the extra few lbs on the last mains and crosses for the JayCee method)?

        Thanks for the article. Very informative, and it definitely seems to be the case as more and more players have been giving positive feedback on other forums about (co)polys at lower tensions.

      • ggtennis says:

        @ Mike T. The increase of 4 pounds on the crosses is recommended when using a hybrid with either a synthetic gut or a natural gut. It assumes a cross string of the same gauge or thicker. If the cross string is one gauge thinner, then the increase should only be 2 pounds.

        In the case of full co-poly, go ahead a string the mains and crosses at the same tension. Note that we have found that Thicker mains with thinner crosses as a poly/poly hybrid offers some of the best play. (Same tension for each here) If using the JayCee method you will adjust the tension as he describes.

  8. RodgerS says:

    Like tennis, the racquet talks loudest and in this case the strings will do their own talking.

  9. Stephane says:

    Just one more comment on the benefits of low tensions :
    – Many tests have been made with players suffering from Tennis Elbow pain. Each of them didn’t feel any pain with playing with a low tensioned racket. Shock absorption is by far better and the string doesn’t generate as much vibrations as a high tension one, because most of the time, a poly strung with a classical way on an electronic machine has lost all of its elasticity when going out of the machine.

  10. Eric says:

    So I strung up one of my Dunlop 4D 300s with the following recommended setup: MSV Focus Evo 1.23mm mains at 44 lbs and Babolat VS Gut 16 gauge in the crosses at 48lbs. I have played one three set singles match with a very big hitter and also a pretty mild mixed doubles match. It took a little getting used to and I don’t want to be hasty, but so far I am really enjoying this setup. One note, you really have to swing through hard and come over the ball to make sure to maximize spin and not have your balls sail.

    • ggtennis says:

      Eric,

      Thanks for the feedback. Glad you are enjoying the setup. The secret with the low tensions to to keep the ball within 2 -3 feet above the net. If you are clearing the net at that distance you should have no trouble with the ball sailing on you. It takes a little time to adjust, but with two matches under your belt you should be feeling it now.

  11. forehand.TV says:

    Hey guys, was very happy to read your post. Check out what I wrote back in ’08: http://forehandtv.blogspot.com/2008/09/loosen-up.html.

    Before I discovered the Silverstring, the PolyStar Classic 1.25 had been my favorite for almost 20 years, for the most part at pretty low tensions around 50 lbs.

    I just switched to the Six.One Tour BLX since modern strings at low tensions finally make the stock version playable for me. I’ve been experimenting with both the Silverstring and the Scorpion and tensions around 40 lbs. Pretty happy so far, we’ll see what I end up with.

    Thanks again for trying new things and spreading the word. Keep up the good work!

  12. John Raattama says:

    I had my racquet strung with RPM Blast at a lower tension like you suggested at 52lbs. I told the professional stringer to do the two things you suggested during stringing and so I sat there and watched him do it. I have to say that the tension felt too lose for my liking. If I played with a western forehand it might have worked better but I play with an eastern forehand and I have to say I wish I had strung it a few pounds tighter. I ended up having to have the strings cut out after just playing with them one time. I’m a little disappointed and irritated with your advice on this issue.

    • ggtennis says:

      John,

      First allow me to apologize that your experience was not as you hoped. I am truly sorry that you did not find what you expected.

      Also please note that everything I post, I believe to be true (with the exception of any April 1 post). As for this recommendation it is extremely well founded and has been 100% accurate for those with whom I have worked. If you were local and able to work with me I am 100% confident we could make the necessary adjustments for it to be more effective for you. I am also fairly confident that we may find 52 to be too high. (Please note that I have no experience with the Babolat RPM Blast which I choose not to carry because IMO the price point is much too high and the performance not as good as other options in the marketplace. That said, I doubt the issue in this case was with the string.)

      As with anything new there is a short adjustment period. When using this method of stringing and adjusting to lower tensions I always encourage the players to focus on the net. Initially it is not important to focus on anything other than the height at which the ball clears the net. When your ball is clearing the net at 2′ – 3′ it is then time to pay attention to where the ball is landing during a baseline rally. To help my local customers with this I have actually created a primitive, but effective tool. I have two pieces of pvc that I attach to the net posts. Each piece of pvc is cut so that it measures 3′ above the net. I have painted them red. I then attach a red piece of yarn between the two posts. I refer to this as “the red zone.” Many players are shocked at how high their ball clears the net and this tool brings that home. Once the ball comes down and falls into the red zone, when our poly-based strings are used with the method described, it is nearly impossible to hit the ball long when keeping it in the red zone.

      For some, adjusting to hitting in this zone consistently takes more time than others. Good juniors take to it quickly. Others who have years of hitting at a different height take longer to re-groove their strokes. Once the red zone is hit consistently we then take a look and see where the ball is landing in a rally. We adjust tension 2 pounds for every 3 feet we need to adjust in terms of length. In many cases, but not all, the ball is not landing as deep in the court as we want and we end up decreasing tension to increase length. I have yet to run into anyone who has gone above 50 lbs and I have used this method with some very powerful and highly rated players. Most tend to settle in the mid to low 40’s.

      I think it is important to emphasize that to a person everyone who is open to this approach and works with us ends up thrilled with the results. By focusing on where the ball is clearing the net and being able to hit free and easy knowing the ball is not going to go long the players experience great joy and find tennis to be more fun than ever. I realize I did not detail the manner in which to best make use of the lower tension in the original post. I intended to save it for a future blog entry.

      At any rate, I am sorry that you have already removed the strings because I would have liked to encourage you to experiment a bit more with them. That said, when our supply of Thunderstrings arrives in the next 6 – 8 weeks, (we hope) I will ship some free samples to you. Again, I am sorry you are irritated with us and assure you that our advice is based on direct practical experience. In the case of lower tensions, properly strung, we are batting 1.000 with the customers with whom we have the opportunity to work with directly.

      • John Raattama says:

        Thanks for your feedback. I’m looking forward to trying those strings along with using the right technique you suggested. At what tension with the Thunderstrings would you recommend I start out with? I play with the Dunlop Aerogel 500 tour. It’s about 11.3 ounces strung and has a 100sq.” head.

      • ggtennis says:

        John,

        Actually there has been a delay and some revisions in the launch of the strings I mentioned. The new brand will NOT be called Thunderstrings. Those will become something entirely different and most likely will only be available in Europe. The new brand will most likely be called L-TEC. I’d start no higher than 52.

  13. Ricardo says:

    Hello G&G!

    I finally got my own stringing machine( Gamma X6-FC ), and decided to string following your intructions. I first strung one frame @ 43lbs, and then other 2 @ 39lbs. You say that stringing the racquet using this method makes the stringbed a little stiffer, but the stringbed on the racquets strung by me feels much stiffer than the ones I strung at the local pro shop, @ 43lbs, on a Wilson Baiardo, not using this method. Is that normal? Because I really liked the way my racquets played when I took them to the local pro shop, but stringing at home makes them feel totally different. They feel much more solid now, but also stiffer.

    Thanks!

    • ggtennis says:

      Ricardo,

      Congratualtions on your new machine and for your desire to string polys properly. I would suggest that you purchase a Tourna Stringmeter or if you are an iphone/ipad/itouch user download the RacquetTech app. Both of these instruments will allow you to measure the results rather than having to make estimates. (The app is a little bit more finicky, so the Stringmeter would be my primary suggestion.)

      The method we describe should create a more uniform/better playing/more stable stringbed. It is the later of these you are probably noticing. When a poly is overstretched/abused by a Baiardo or any electronic constant pull machine using high speed pulling it may lose tension rapidly. Using the method we describe (assuming the poly-based string is of good construction) you should not experience this. The end result could very likely be a stringbed that feels a bit stiffer. Also since you are a new stringer using a dropweight machine, it is possible that the strings are getting some extra stretching time as you pull multiple times to get the bar to stay horizontal.

      The method I use, which is very similar to the one described in the post, but not identical, will result in a stringbed stiffness of +1/2 pounds over reference tension because of the length of time I keep my strings under tension. If I want a string job to measure 43 pounds then I string at 41.

      I understand your racquets feel stiffer. I encourage you to continue to explore tensions until you dial into the tension that feels and performs best for you. Again, the Stringmeter is an excellent instrument and will help you to measure the consistency of your stringing.

      Thanks for participating in our blog and feel free to report back at any time.

      • Ricardo says:

        G&G, thanks for the lightning fast reply!

        Actually, I have just ordered a StringMeter! I wanted a ERT300, but after the investment I made to buy the mahine, this will have to wait a little( or a bunch! ).

        I’m stringing with Hyperion 1.18 x Scorpion 1.22, which is my usual string combo. So they are not low-quality stirngs. While I was stringing my racquets, I remembered you said that this method creates a more stable/solid stringbed, but the difference was so big that it impressed me. I guess the stringers at the local shop were really abusing the strings with the Baiardo. Just like you said in the post, they were stringing racquets at a 15min basis. No one could ever string a racquet properly according to the method above within this time. When I strung my racquets there for the last time( @ 43 and 37lbs ), they felt very loose, and the vibration was almost intolerable. Although they felt good while playing, they died very very quickly.

        Actually, I’m getting a nice consistency already, and after just 3 racquets strung I’m able to lower the bar horizontally after the first try. So I’m pretty sure that the strings aren’t getting too much extra strecthing.

        I still didn’t play with these racquets, so it might be feeling stiff when tapped with my hand but actually feel good on court. Let’s see, I’ll play tomorrow and this weekend with these racquets and I’ll make sure to come back and let you know about how it went.

        Also, which tying knot do you guys use? I’m currently using the Parnell knot, but I started using the double half hitch.

        This is the first time I write here, but I just wanted to say that this blog is really good! Keep up the good work, you have just met a new fan!

        Thanks!

  14. ggtennis says:

    Generally we use the Parnell knot, but there is nothing wrong with the double half hitch. We also use a fishing knot to start. There are some YouTube videos that are excellent in terms of visually demonstrating these knots. We wrote a blog post a few months ago on this topic with links. The post is called “Much Ado About Knotting.”

    ERT’s are excellent devices, though pricey. In many ways I prefer the stringmeter, even though I could not do without either in my stringing business. I consider both to be essential tools of the trade.

    I like your choice of strings. Both are quality products. In general, when creating hybrids, I have found that thicker mains paired with thinner crosses produce the most enjoyable stringbeds. (John Elliot, jaycee, introduced me to this phenomena) Thinner strings are stiffer when put under tension. When this factor is combined with the friction that reduces the tension on the crosses by 20 – 30% you end up with an almost perfect match between a thicker main and thinner cross.

    I am interested to read about your observations and experiences so please report back.

    • Ricardo says:

      G&G, thanks agian for the feedback. I’m actually planning to test some other co-polys to find a new combo. WeissCANNON Black5EDGE ans Silverstring, Polyfibre Black Venom 1.15 and 1.20, and Signum Pro Hyperion 1.24. Hyperion and B5E will be crossed with Scorpion 1.22, so I’ll follow your advice for a thicker main string. That actually makes a lot of sense.

      Thanks!

      • Ricardo says:

        Hello GG!

        Just wanted to give a feedback about some stringjobs done @ 39lbs! It actually took some time to get consistent results, but I’m now getting excellent results with this tension! Great power, excellent control – could never imagine that the contorl would be almost the same! – much better spin and bite, and feel – the worst thing about polys – is much better as well!

        Can’t see myself gooing back to 50+ tensions with poly. I’m currently using Scorpion 1.22, but I’m about to test some new strings: B5E, Polyfibre Black venom 1.15 and 1.20, and others. But I’m very hopeful for these 3. Actually, I’m also planning to test poly hibrids as follows: B5E/Scorpion 1.22 and Scorpion 1.22/Black Venom 1.20.

        The stringbed now is as firm as when I took my racquets to br strung at the local shop @ 50+ lbs. And it also lasts longer.

        Thanks for the great post!

  15. ggtennis says:

    @ Ricardo – EXCELLENT!!! Thank you for sharing your results/findings. The hybrids you are exploring sound very promising. We have been having success locally with a hybrid of B5E mains with Mosquito Bite crosses. We have not yet used it with a Scorpion cross, but that sounds like a very good match. Please let us know what you find and congratulations for being brave and reaping the rewards of added comfort and extended playability.

  16. Julian says:

    John, would it be better to do a poly/poly hybrid of B5E mains and Silverstring 1.20 crosses since they are of similar composition and thus tension maintenance would be similar? Is the objective for better playability just in going to a lower gauge cross or a different characteristic string and a lower gauge cross? My understanding from reading one of your MSV documents the crosses only contribute to 20% of the playability. If so, wouldn’t the lower gauge cross contribute more than the string composition itself?

    Also, I have found that going under 52lbs on a 16×19 Pro Kennex 1988 Graphite Destiny (or Pure Drive GT for that matter) to be “mushy” for my taste, whereas on a 18×20 Volkl PB10 under 52lbs still felt crisp (on the Volkl if have gone as low as 48lbs).

    Please advise, thank you.

    • ggtennis says:

      Julian,

      The hybrid of B5E mains and Silverstring 1.20 crosses is an excellent one. We have recently started using this exact combination with excellent feedback. The main objective of the lower gauge cross is to increase performance. The diameter is the key element here as you correctly surmise.

      Not sure what to attribute the mushy sensation to that you have experienced. That is an unusual term to be used with a full poly setup. I am wondering if you have any stringbed stiffness measurements right off the machine and at various intervals that might provide some clues? I suspect you strung using the methodology described in this blog. What type of machine was used? My hunch would be a lockout.

  17. Simon says:

    Thanks for the information.
    Went for a restring the other day on a constant pull electronic machine but didn’t see the option of “pull speed” anywhere in the settings list. It was a Babolat Electronic machine. Anyone have a clue what else this setting may be called?
    Thanks.

  18. ggtennis says:

    Simon, Unfortunately some machines do not offer this option. My Babolat Star 5 does not have a pull speed option, it just pulls at a single speed which unfortunately is not conducive for optimal stringing with polys. In these instances nothing can be done. I just use a different machine for polys…either my Baiardo or Stringway.

    • Simon says:

      Thanks for the tip, I did however make sure the Pre-stretch was 0% so that the poly was not unnecessarily stretched. The stringbed felt stiffer and more consistent and even unplayable, but after 20 minutes of hitting it settled down to a comfortable plush feeling and lost quite a bit of tension I assume.

      Another point with all this low tension is that the string will lose even more tension of the next few days/weeks, so what you’re playing with could be 30lbs instead of 40lbs, depending on the string characteristics. I checked TW string database and noticed a lot of difference in tension maintenance between all the copoly’s out there.
      Will report back.

      • ggtennis says:

        Simon,

        Thanks for trying and reporting back. We will be interested to hear more about your experiences.

        Quality poly offerings, strung with this method, will hold tension and playability infinitely longer than you may think. Remember that data that shows tension loss was created in a test environment where there was no stringbed to support the strings and where the strings were OVERTENSIONED like the ballpoint pen spring we described.

      • Simon says:

        I see. Funny thing is the stringbed starts off feeling stiff with a lot of vibration and feels more like 60lbs, but then slowly settles and feels normal. It was vibrating on all strings so I had to put a rubber band dampener across all the mains before I could hit with it. Took it out today for a solo hit and noticed a nice “thump” each time I hit the ball, was marvellous. The sweet spot has now disappeared and the whole stringbed feels like one huge sweetspot to me. I use a thicker string, so I think I need to go down tension even lower to get more cupping out of it. I like it!

        Your final tension will likely depend on (a) Head Size (b) Racket Power/Weight and (c) String Gauge. It would be great if someone (hint:GG) draws up a table summarising the final tension and the three attributes above, just so we have a reference point to start at.

        Will report back with my final results in a few weeks.

      • Simon says:

        oh, and of course we would need to know the “string name” that each person used on their final setup.

  19. Pingback: The Definitive Guide to Playing with Low Tension Polys |

  20. Jason says:

    John,

    I use a 98 Head Speed Pro with 1.30 Unique Big Hitter Blue Rough strings. What is the highest tension you would recommend for that setup?

    • Boris Becker says:

      48-52 max . try 44 first

    • ggtennis says:

      The highest I recommend for most copolys is 52. I would also suggest that you try a hybrid with 1.30 BHBR in mains and 1.25 BHBR in crosses. Start at 52 and then work downward as you grow more comfortable in playing with low tension polys. I would not be surprised if you eventually land in the mid to upper 40’s.

  21. Jason says:

    Thanks guys,

    One problem I had is that I can hit 9 out of 10 serves in at 62 pounds and 4 out of 10 at 55 pounds. Did you guys have this serving disaster when you dropped your tension initially?

    • ggtennis says:

      Wow…that’s a very significant issue. I have not yet experienced anything of that magnitude. Do you hit up on the ball in order to manufacture kick? That might help explain it as I have not yet worked with anyone who hits hard and up.

      In terms of flat serves and slice serves, raising the contact point and snapping the wrist may help to some degree. I have found increased power and depth of serve, especially on the second serve, by increasing the height of my toss as well as the point of contact.

      Can you identify what is happening from a mechanical standpoint on the 40% of your serves that are going in and how it differs from the other 60%? That may be a critical observational lesson.

      I can tell you that all of my high rated playtesters who have adjusted tension downward have indicated a performance boost on serve. I will ask around and see what adjustments may have been made.

      Best wishes!

      John

  22. Jason says:

    John,

    Your advice to focus on distance over the net when you have substantially lowered tension is good, like Bollitiere good. The last time I tried much lower tension I focused on reducing racquet head speed in order to keep the ball in and that didn’t work out but your tip helped a great deal to build confidence in my shots at lower tension.

    On serves I noticed kick serves kicked higher and slices had more action. Flat serves were the hardest to place and it will take some time to get use to the extra power. Instead of hitting my head with the racquet I switched to hitting fast slices and kicks until I get the flat serve dialed in.

    Thankyou!

    • ggtennis says:

      Jason, I am glad you were open to giving it a whirl and happy you found some comfort. The flat serves are easily adjusted with a bit more pronounced wrist snap. In terms of credit, again the advice is something I learned from my conversations with John Elliot. I am merely sharing his ideas and concepts.

  23. greg says:

    For a Wilson BLX 6.1 team raquet with a 95 head and 18 X 20 string pattern can you recommend a tension for the mains and crosses, a reference point. This is a little lighter stick, control friendly.

    Thanks

    • ggtennis says:

      With a tighter pattern I would suggest something close to 1.25mm for mains and 1.20mm for crosses. I would probably start this pattern in the low to mid 40’s.

    • greg says:

      thanks, can you tell me at what tension for the mains and crosses for this BLX 61. team 95 18×20 to start with?

      Thanks

  24. michael says:

    Becker mid 11 strung w/ MSV Focus Hex 1.23 @42 using the JayCee method with left over Top Spin Cyber Flash 1.25, 8 grams added to handle and 3 grams at 2/10 pm area. Returning 90 MPH+ serves with full swings and getting total control.

    Other Becker at full Hex 1.18 @42, more power on serve and greater top spin but control just a tad off. 10 grams in handle.

  25. ggtennis says:

    The thinner gauge strings in the second would account for the additional power. You will likely need to increase tension a few pounds to get a similar effect as you are getting with the thicker gauge setup.

  26. Tom says:

    Thanks for the great info! It was hard to find a rational, educated discussion on this in one place before!

    I have a question on gaining consistency with a dropweight stringer using your suggested technique. When I slowly drop the arm on my Gamma dropweight machine, should I readjust to level after waiting the 5-10 seconds to allow stretching of the string? I’ve always used the slow drop and the short pause before clamping before, but I also readjust to level when it finally settles. Would this be helpful or harmful on low-tension polys?

    Just put Signum PPP in my Becker Delta Core London at 42 lbs(!!!) and can’t wait to try it!

    • ggtennis says:

      Tom,

      Congratulations on venturing into the world of low tensions polys – – the way they were meant to be played. Your question about the drop weight is interesting. Consistency is extremely important so whatever you do, it is important to be able to replicate it. I think the method you describe sounds perfectly reasonable and should not do any harm. Because it is slow and even if anything it should help your final results. I believe a drop weight machine can be much more effective with polys than a lock-out. In fact, I could easily argue that some drop weights, such as the Stringways, outperform many of the top of the line electronics in terms of providing the best possible outcome when stringing polys.

      Good luck with the SPPP in your Becker. Let us know how it goes. (Remember, if you are coming from a much higher tension it may take a session or two to adjust. Keep and open mind and try to hit within 2 – 3′ over the net. If you do this it will be hard to make an error.

      Enjoy!

  27. Simon says:

    Ok guys, i love this blog, so much to think about and try. I’ve tried many different setups at low and mid/high tensions with various rackets and various strings. I’ve come to the conclusion that what we are talking about with low tension poly’s is nothing different to how we used to play years back. Let me explain why.

    Most pro’s today and most rackets in the past were quite heavy and flexible. It was imperitive that we strung those rackets at high tension with a good synthetic gut. The reason for this was to avoid the “wet noodle” feeling of having a flexible racket AND springy strings, which didn’t lend itself to consistent shot making or predictability. Back then, using either a stiff racket with low tension synthetic strings, or a flexible racket with high tension strings, would allow more consistent shot making and a better feel for what your racket was going to do. Conversely, using a flexible racket with low tension strings was horrible.

    Fast forward to today, most new rackets are very stiff, with no flexibility whatsoever in them. Couple these rackets with modern stiff poly strings and we have ourselves a nice baseball bat….hence why so many elbow/shoulder injuries amongst juniors these days. The natural solution therefore has to be to go back to using a mid-tension synthetic gut OR a LOW TENSION POLY, both of which would have equivalent stiffness. This gives us some feeling in our shots. Remember that a LOW tension poly probably has more stiffness and vibration than a high tension synthetic gut, so it’s not surprising that the lower we go the more comfortable the poly string is. Performance suffers, accuracy suffers and feel suffers, however it’s more comfortable for the player. If they’ve never used a synthetic other than poly, they probably don’t realise how bad the performance is getting as they lower the poly tension, but they feel more comfortable with it, so they’re happy little campers.

    I’ve tried low tension poly’s with my old flexible players sticks and they play horrible, let me repeat, extremely horrible, no power, little control and no performance. The reason is because the impact of the ball is being absorbed in two difference areas, the flexible frame and the springy strings, leaving almost no power to hit the ball. However, the low tension poly’s work marvellously with modern stiff rackets, as they provide some comfort and absorption.

    As far as I know, todays pros still use fairly heavy, flexible rackets (some even using 10 year old paintjobs), so they would have difficulty playing with low tension poly’s, they are more likely to use high tension poly’s – confirmed by some published data from French/US open stringers on the web.

    So there it is! I firstly thought using low poly’s may depend on racket head size, weight, style etc, but in conclusion I now think the racket flex has much more significance to your string tension.

    I would recommend kids coming up the ranks stick to a flexible, control racket with medium to high tension synthetic strings, and later on medium tension poly’s (50-60’s). This will lead to maximum feel, control and accuracy and prime them for the big league.

    I’d be interested to here what others think.

    • ggtennis says:

      Simon,
      Thank you for participating in our blog and sharing your interesting thoughts. I understand your point and will definitely explore it further. I can tell you that my frame, an old Kneissl Black Star OS, has a flex in the mid 50’s. Poly-based strings at lower tensions in this frame play wonderfully for me. The pattern is dense and this may be yet another variable to consider when looking at the big picture. I do not mention this to refute your claims, but rather to illustrate that there may possibly be multiple variables to look at and consider.

      • Omar Berges says:

        What are the ideal racquet specs for low tension polys?
        Stiffness, head size, string pattern, balance, swingweight, weight?

  28. Simon says:

    Forgot to mention, the other major factor in determining poly tension is the gauge of the string itself. My comments above are referring to 16L or 17 poly, which is what most people should be using. As soon as you get to full thickness 16 gauge or lower, the stringbed becomes so stiff that lowering tension even to 40lbs doesn’t make much of a difference to the horribly stiff feeling.

  29. Simon says:

    GGtennis,
    You are probably correct, mine are mostly open pattern 16×19 very flexible rackets, although I do have a few closed patterns I haven’t tried yet. I would guess the 3 major factors are flex, string gauge and string pattern, with the pattern being important once 16L or thinner strings have been chosen. I still think a low tension poly on a closed pattern flexible racket would not be optimal. Yes, it may feel like it plays better than a low tension poly on an open pattern flexible rackets, but does it produce high level performance, accurate placement and controlled power? This stuff is all relative, so I would be judging whether it produces the same performance as the other cases. I would be interested to know if you have tried cxhanging the variable on the same racket.

    eg. (1) closed pattern flexible racket – try it with low poly, high poly and high synthetic gut.
    eg. (2) open pattern flexible racket – try it with low poly, high poly and high synthetic gut.

    All I can report is that in my experiments with (2) above, low poly sucks, and I can pinpoint it to the loss of power/control due to 2 absorption points (racket flex and string flex). I wouldn’t predict this changes just from the string pattern. But I would be interested if you did try some other setups in your closed pattern flexible rackets.

    Again, I’m not arguing about the efficacy of low poly’s in COTS stiff rackets sold at retailers, they don’t interest me, I’m talking about players stick here.

    Can’t wait to hear more on this thread in future….

  30. Pingback: Full Poly Hybrids…The Next Frontier | GGT Extra

  31. Pingback: The Definitive Guide to Playing with Low Tension Polys | GGT Extra

  32. Pingback: Stringing – Full Poly Hybrids…The Next Frontier « Adirondack Tennis

  33. steve says:

    I had my Radical TT Tour OS strung with Prince Beast XL 17G @63lbs, the middle of the recommended range. It feels amazing- great pop and control, decent amount of spin. what would be different about the same string but at 30-40lbs, and wouldn’t there be a trampoline effect or does poly cancel that out?

  34. ggtennis says:

    Please note: This blog is no longer being used or monitored it will be closed down soon. Please post questions and comments via our new blog, http://www.ggtennis.com/blog

    Thanks!

  35. Kerry says:

    I saw the above note on shutting down this blog soon. I went to the new forum, but it looks like no one’s looking there either. So, I’ll just post my querry here, too, just to see if I can ‘get’ someone:

    Does the 30-52 pound tension in the article refer to reference weight, or string tension in the finished racket as measured by a Unique-style stringmeter (or computer software), or deflection tension as measure by a Stringlab style tool?

  36. elliot says:

    ggTennis, Thanks for sharing this.
    1- I strong today my Babolat Pure Storm Tour (16×20) with MSV Hex 1.18 at 48 lbs.
    Stringing machine Tyger StringEco 410 (Electronic)
    My shots were sailing loooong.
    But what worries me the most is that I found myself hesitating to hit through the ball out of fear to hit long.
    I needed to to really top spin the bal to get it in or dramatically reduce my swing speed.
    I wonder whether this rackets’ flexibility likes these low tensions. what do you think?

    2- And another question. I am not sure whether my machine allows to regulate the pull speed. It does have a pre-strech function that can be switched on and off. Will this do?

    Thanks agan.

  37. Travis HR says:

    What tension do you recommend for each for a hybrid between Luxilon ALU Power 16L (mains) and RPM Blast 17 (crosses)?

  38. Guts and Glory Tennis says:

    @Travis, Not sure I understand the purpose of the hybrid, but I would recommend a tension no higher than 52 lbs.

  39. jon says:

    I love this blog! I strung my old volkl c7 (kind of in between their current 9 and 10 series racquets, 98 sq, 21 mm beam, somewhere a bit over 11.6 oz) with a full bed of Tourna big hitter blue at abt 45 lbs with none of the techniques you mentioned. I am a teaching pro, and i have used this racquet for many, many months like this. Not only do i find it the most comfortable one to feed with, but I find it so easy to play with, kind of has the best characteristics of poly and gut. I can spin the hell out of the ball with great results, and when i get a fast, flat shot hit at me, i can block it back with the slingshot feel of gut. I dont need to “play 150%” all the time as you mentioned somewhere. It seems to have lost no feel or comfort and feels very resilient. At first I found that it launched the ball a bit high, but I was able to correct with either more spin or less head speed on flatter shots.
    Here is a question: I have a 10 year old son who is a very good player and seems to exhibit good understanding of string feel and such. I would like to try this out for him, but the concern is this: at this age, the kids often start pushing flat high balls in matches (whereas he is capable of good spin usually, I am sure you are aware of how juniors at that age can start to push, especially when they are playing “lesser” opponents). Do you think that this string set up might cause any problems in a developing junior such as I have described? I am sure he could use both the extra power on flat shots and the extra spin on spin shots but is this too much of a variable to introduce? He uses a head speed elite youtek (not the ig) and currently just uses 16g gosen micro at mid tensions.
    Thanks for any help!
    Jon

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  41. Michael Porter says:

    I definitely agree with your line of thinking. I have been stringing my Pro Red Code 17 at 55 lbs and have noticed it actually feels best when it is close to breaking, which means it has probably dropped in tension. Most people prefer the feel of a newly strung racket in contrast. I am going to go down to 47 and give this a try. I also will take your advice on the 5 second rule and I will ease down the weight on my drop weight tensioner to minimize the overstretching.

  42. jan giesen says:

    Some poly strings like the SIGNUM PRO POLY FIBRE TITAN, need at least 20 sec to reach their fixation point, so be patient. I never have strung poly’s higher than 45-50 pounds, keeps your elbow in good condition and gives great playability. Great job!!!!!

  43. kittisiri says:

    Thank you for this very informative post.
    I will definitely try this.

    Just a question here..
    How about the multifilament strings?
    Have you ever try dropping the tension to 30-40 lbs?
    How was it? Please suggest the good tension for multifilament strings also.

    Thank you so much.
    I’ll try and give my feedback.

  44. Moskyt says:

    I find this great blog.
    My normal setup is Nylon 55lb/53lb on HEAD MG Radical MP (18×20).
    Trying low tensin co-poly Hyperion 1.24
    First test 33lb/33lb, very interesant. Power is not high but same as nylon and control is very funny, more control than nylon.
    I can play more relaxed with the same power and my one handed beckhand is more consistent. I was very surprised that with such a low voltage to better control the length stop balls.
    Terrible is but feel from stringbed, normal not using dampeners.
    Trying 39lb or 40lb and find better setup for me.

  45. Tom kirk says:

    Pure drive strung with nrg2 17gauge at40#. Plays very well– control spin power–easy on arm. Very happy with setup. Have not tried poly set up

  46. Tom kirk says:

    Has any tried nrg2 at 40#? I like at 40 but it’s only been about 5 hrs of play time.

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  48. Chris says:

    Hi all tennis addicts,
    I need advice from people who play flat and fast balls like me. I learned to play with an old Dunlop Black Max II that’s very heavy and I`m currently playing with a wilson blx 6.1 95 (red&black) (16×18) with the original grip replaced with leather grip+overgrip, I’ve never weighted it but I think it should be around 355grs. I really like the feel of a heavy racquet and never had any arm injuries. I’m on my second reel of SPPP 1.18 and started to drop the tension a little from 55lbs to 50lbs just to find the right tension for my racquet: Sorry that I don´t rememeber your name, but you said to hit the ball above the net 2-3 feet but that would be changing my style of play: I like to hit fast and flat from the baseline the closest to the net I can, i love when the ball almost doesn`t bounce when it touches my opponent court; even more with my one handed backhand slice. I arrived to this blog and read very carefully what you posted and it makes sence to me, but my question is this. Since I’m not a string breaker even with my sppp gauge of 1.18, do I need to keep trying with lower tension to increase the power I’m seeking or just try a more powerful string? which tension do you recommend for my racquet and style? My other question is about my old dunlop black max II, wich modern string and tension should work best on that frame?
    Thanks for any advice!
    Chris

  49. Pingback: Stringing | Greg's Website About Tennis

  50. Kenny says:

    I use a drop weight stringing machine. I play with Wilson Steam 105s rackets and have just been playing with the recommended string for the racket (Luxilon 4g). I have been experimenting with 4gs because the 4G would break strings too quickly. I started out at 62lbs per the rackets recommendation and my elbow was killing me. I have worked my way down to 53lbs and things have gotten better. I am now going to try and go lower.

    Should I continue working my way down to a lower tension? Try 50 lbs next and then work my way down to 45lbs? I plan to string the remainder of the Luxilon 4g I have to compare it back to back with the 4gs. I think I liked the 4g better than the thicker string but can’t keep breaking strings every 6 sets, I don’t have enough time to be stringing rackets all the time, and the string is expensive.

  51. sdv99 says:

    Hi, I have a Babolat Pure Storm Tour that I am thinking of stringing with Dual Reality. Can you recommend tension? Currently it has Babolat hybrid of VS gut in the mains at 57 and rpm blast in crosses at 55. I understand from reading your wonderful post that the crosses should be strung tighter than the mains by some 4#? Appreciate your help.

  52. ggtennis says:

    In a gut poly hybrid with gut in mains, we install the poly crosses 4 pounds LOWER than natural gut. We do use an extended pulling time technique. In terms of Dual Reality, if you were thinking of using the multi in the mains, I would suggest rethinking. It will have difficulty standing up to the poly crosses and durability will not be desirable.

  53. togetheralone says:

    Wish I had read this years ago. Def gonna give this a shot. I do have a couple of questions. 1. You indicate that dropping the tension into the 40s will result in better tension retention. Can you give us a ballpark? If I had been stringing in the mid 50s and dropped it to the mid 40s. In the mid 50s I was restringing every 3 weeks with something like Scorpion. 2. Given how paradigm shifting this is, I sort of want to fact check some of the other variables. Let’s say I have two rackets which differ ONLY on string pattern (one more open, one more closed), if I want a bit more pop on the closed pattern racket do I still drop the poly tension even further as one used to do with nylon?

  54. ggtennis says:

    Depending on poly you can expect a tension loss of 5 – 12% after approx 4 – 6 hrs. I’d probably go to upper 40’s instead of mid 40’s. Polys really don’t give much “pop” as they are inherently a dead material. Dropping tension will give you more depth of shot. For more pop, you would need to hybrid with something like natural gut. That said, there is a new poly in the marketplace from WeissCANNON called “Red Ghost” which is a bit livelier than traditional poly-based offerings.

  55. ggtennis says:

    This blog is closed. Please visit our new blog at http://www.gutsandglorytennis.com/blog/

  56. CM3 says:

    I found this quite interesting. I am a senior tournament player using a Wilson N1 Force (regarded as a beginners racket). VERY stiff…off the charts. This provides big power for my aging arm, and I have learned to control it. Do you think I can use a racket this stiff with low tension poly? I have been using natural gut 17g at 52 lbs. If so, suggest a stating tension for something like topspin cyber flash.

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