As many of our blog followers realize we have been undergoing a period of discovery as we question everything we know/believe about strings and stringing. Much of our thinking has been influenced by the work of French-based tennis stringer and string designer John Elliot. The art of creating full-poly hybrids that offer terrific playability is no exception as John was creating hybrids back when no one ever heard of them back in the early 1980’s.
One of the new concepts introduced to us was the blending of full poly-based strings. While many stringers and players have experienced hybrids consisting of poly-based strings with natural gut or synthetic gut, we suspect the number who have created full hybrids of poly-based strings is much more limited. We’re going to keep this blog entry focused on the basics as blending differently profiled poly-based strings adds an element of complexity that go beyond the scope of today’s entry.
Today’s basic message is that blending poly-based strings of different gauges will produce a stringbed with a consistency and feel that is best described as “balanced.” The performance may surprise even the most skeptical of testers. Here’s how it works.
The player will select poly-based strings of two differing gauges with one being thicker than the other. The thicker string will be used as the main, while the thinner string will be used as the cross string. Both are best installed at the same tension (optimally in the mid 30’s to upper 40’s) using the method described in our March 17, 2011 blog entry.
Why in the world would poly-based strings of differing gauges create any different effect than a full poly-based setup of strings of the same gauge? We are glad you asked! If you use a Stringmeter to measure your mains and your crosses you will no doubt realize that the cross strings end up being installed at approximately 20% – 30% lower than the mains. This is largely due to the effect of friction. Do not be alarmed, this is nothing new and has been the reality since the advent of tennis stringing.
The hybrid of thicker poly-based mains and thinner poly-based crosses is an ideal marriage. The thinner strings, when tensioned, create a crisper sensation than their thicker counterparts. This serves to balance/compliment the 20% – 30% difference in tension between the mains and crosses quite nicely. On top of that the thinner strings typically bring a little more life to the party, giving the stringbed a bit more liveliness while tweaking the responsiveness and feel just enough for the hitting sensation to be heightened.
We have found that our stable of poly-based strings performs remarkably well when blending two differing gauges. The MSV Focus Hex, which continues to be our best-selling product, is an excellent example. We have found that our local customers who have been using the MSV strings have really enjoyed the hybrid of different gauges as we introduced it to them. Not only does it create a desirable feel, but the blending of colors with these strings has also been a popular bi-product.
Perhaps the most interesting results we have had have been with the new and extremely popular Black5Edge from WeissCANNON. When using this as a main string we have blended it with the new WC Mosquito Bite to a chorus of hallelujah’s. Seems like the gauge differential of 1.24mm to 1.16mm combined with the makeup of these string resonates strongly with those who have tested it.
Yes, co-mingling brands works as well as we have observed the formula of thicker poly-based mains with thinner poly-based crosses working with a variety of setups with mains from one brand of string and crosses from another. It also creates very interesting effects when you start introducing differently shaped profiles into the mix.
For those considering experimenting with your own version of a full poly-based hybrid we invite you to do so and share your findings with us. We have found success with 16 ga mains and 17 ga crosses on racquets with open patterns and larger head sizes. For mid sized racquets as well as racquets with denser patterns, a blend of 17ga mains with 18ga crosses works nicely. Also note that for those who are digging ultra-thin setups that the MSV Hex offers a gauge of 1.10mm that is especially interesting in full poly-based hybrids.
And for those who can’t get enough of full poly-based hybrid action there is a new line of premium strings designed by John Elliot that will be launched later this summer. One of the unique features of these strings will be the blending of full poly offerings of differing profiles for some incredibly interesting and remarkably playable setups. We plan to create future blog entries to introduce these string offerings as well as to go more in-depth on the blending of differently profiled poly-based strings.