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Question about String Tension

9642 Views 9 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  okaythen
How long does it take for String Tension to change?

Recently I had my racket restrung. I know that it usually takes a couple of hits to get the strings to settle in and make them the way you like them.

Because I had a match coming up, I was more aware than usual by the amount of time it took before they felt right. I played 5 times and just hated the strings. I thought that the stringer f-up and wanted to do a new job. But on the 6th time they were perfect. I play on average 3x a week. So the racket wasn't sitting for 6 weeks, this was about a 2 week period.

I'm just wondering if it just takes that long for them to settle in or should I just drop down my tension 1 or 2lbs to begin with and maybe be good to go after playing one time with them.
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That really depends on a a number of factors. Do you have your racquet strung at a high tension or low tension? Are the strings poly, gut or synthetic (nylon)? If gut or poly, is it pre-stretched?

How long do you play with your racquet each time you play?

Strings can be an expensive side hobby, one you can spend a ton of money on in re-stringing costs trying to find just the right setup and then maintaining it to your playing habits. If you play less frequently, or are less picky about your strings, you can get away with re-stringing less frequently.

I played around with different hybrid combinations of Pro Hurricane Tour, Big Banger Alu Power and Solinco Tour Bite in my mains and VS Gut, OG Sheep Micro and N.Vy in my crosses but ultimately decided I liked PHT/VS Gut strung at 53/57. Right off the bat, it feels great, and for the first 6-10 hours of playing it's perfect, then I can feel my strings start getting loose and moving and I know I can think about a re-string at any point thereafter. Because gut is so expensive, I will usually only do it every month and go to an alternate frame or frames in the meantime. Stringing at a higher tension and letting it drop down is one alternative, but this results, IMHO, in a totally different playability--not the same at all.
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Well there are a zillion different strings out there. I don't mean to open up a can of worms, especially if you really like the NXT, but one solution to the tradeoff of tension loss versus restringing cost is to find a good, durable polyester string you like. Some of them can be pretty resistant to tension loss, but only time and experimentation will let you know for sure. The same string at the same tension will feel completely different to different players.

Three months is a pretty long time to go between re-strings, but as long as you're not getting a noticeable tension drop or seeing a lot of fraying, that's OK. It just means you need to play more tennis. :) For me, the key indicator is when I have to start sliding my dampener back down or adjusting my strings every several points.

I think a lot of players tend to string a little higher than what they like as an optimum just as you said--thinking that after a couple of hours it will drop down in tension and be perfect for awhile, before they need to go for a re-string, and save a little $. I have heard different theories on this--my stringer actually pre-stretches the gut and advised me that if it were strung higher, it would feel a lot different coming down to 57 than pre-stretched and initially strung at 57. Same for the poly when it's initially strung at 53, as opposed to "dropping down" to 53. It just plays different.
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Experimenting with strings is like opening a can of worms. Once you graduate from Prince syngut you will never go back, and it gets a lot more expensive and can become like an obsession trying to find the right string for you and your racquet.

First, the easy part. The "16, 17, 18" is the gauge, or thickness, of the string. The bigger the number, the thinner the string, the more power it creates, and the easier it breaks. If you are a big hitter who tends to break a lot of strings, you may want to consider a thicker gauge string.

If you go on a tennis wholesale equipment store website like Tennis Warehouse and look at their selection of strings, you will be overwhelmed at the sheer number of 1) manufacturers and 2) types of string, but the only way to start researching is to dive in and start reading. If you can set aside some money to try a few different strings over a couple of months, I recommend doing that. Play with each for a few weeks and give it enough time to settle in so you can truly get the feel of each as it passes through the stage of relaxing in tension a bit. Try hybridding some strings (a different type of string in the mains than the string used from the crosses). Try a good polyester string, a good synthetic, a multifiliament, and even a natural gut if you can afford it, maybe a couple of the better known of each.

"Players" or "pro" strings are popular but may not necessarily be best for you. Not everybody has the game to play like Nadal, but Tennis Warehouse sells alot of Babolat RPM Blast string--some like it, some SAY they like it because Rafa uses it, and some cut it out and toss it in the can because it hurts their shoulder after a weekend of playing with it because they aren't it shape to handle it. You need to take this into account when researching and testing strings and find something that is a good balance for your own needs--whether that is control, power, extra spin, or durability.

As for tension, that is something you simply need to experiment with over time and find a balance with. The same string plays completely different at 62 pounds than at 50, so if you hear great things about the latest poly string and try it strung at 60 pounds and it feels like garbage, keep in mind that it may be designed to play at a lower tension.

I can't tell you all of the most popular string brands--I have no experience with Wilson brands, e.g., but most any Luxilon Big Banger, Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour, any Babolat natural gut, Solinco Heaven Tour Bite....these are all excellent strings that pros play with. I've strung racquets with all of them in hybrids and liked the feel of playing with each.

If you want a cheaper alternative to natural gut, Gosen OG Sheep Micro is quite inexpensive and works nicely.

One final piece of advice--do NOT let a big box store like Dick's Sporting Goods or Sporting Authority string your racquet if you can help it. Their racquet stringers do not have to be USRSA certified and in nearly all cases, are not, and likely don't even play tennis themselves. It's worth trying to find a local Racquet Stringers Association certified technician to string your racquet, even if it costs a bit more. They can offer you invaluable guidance and advice on strings and tension, etc.
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