All The Strings, Rackets and Tensions! Restringing In 2018
With the year nearly over, I thought it would be a good opportunity to provide a fairly detailed insight into this year’s squash stringing for the String Doctor... So here you go!
By New Year’s Eve, I think I will have restrung north of 700 rackets in total this year. I’ve already strung around 450 squash rackets and nearly 200 tennis, badminton and racketball rackets. With 3 weeks and a tournament at Edgbaston Priory to come in December, there’s no let up!
The data I’ve used is based on exactly what’s been strung, so it’s a completely accurate reflection of my activity. I stock most top strings, from many manufacturers, and have no allegiances. There are strings that I prefer over others, but I ensure that I give a balanced view on the various qualities of the strings. For example, Tecnifibre, are generally considered to be not as durable as some other manufacturers’ strings and don’t take kindly to mishits around the edges of the racket (especially Prince). Ashaway, on the other hand tend to make more durable and forgiving strings. The two manufacturers make very different feeling strings though (aside from the fairly new Ashaway MultiNick), so if you REALLY like Tecnifibre, chances are that you’ll not want to switch to anything else… and vice versa. Just try to the ball in the middle of your string bed when using Tecnifibre!
The stats show that around 75% of my clients choose either Tecnifibre or Ashaway, with nearly half using Tecnifibre 305. There are a few brands coming through though, including Eye’s X-Tech, which has similar qualities to Tecnifibre and a really good ‘bite’ too it. Paul Coll is currently using this string and doing pretty well with it! Karakal’s Hot Zone string has come on very strong over the last 12 months, with several Karakal Pro’s opting to replace the better known string brands with their racket sponsor’s flagship string. Tesni Evans, choosing to do just this. To get the most out of Hot Zone, string it reasonable tight though. It’s very stretchy, so works great at a high tension where control is at its best but power remains due to its elasticity. Eye’s X-Tech and Karakal’s Hot Zone account for around 15% of the strings I put in rackets.
As an Eye affiliate, I do sell and string a fair few Eye rackets, 70 this year, though as stated, this is just indicative of what people want. Eye is a very cool brand with very useable rackets. The Eye rackets I’ve strung include all models. If I was to look at one racket model that’s been on my machine more than the rest, it would probably be the Tecnifibre Carboflex S or Karakal’s S Pro Elite FF. Although I’ve strung a lot of Prince rackets, they tend to be over 5 years old, with the newer models not lasting as long as the strings! There are new Prince models due for 2019, with a promise on quality, so here’s hoping the famous brand can rise from the ashes!
Brand loyalty plays a big part in the strings my clients choose to put in their rackets. I string for a lot of very good players, including Pros, and where I might be able to tempt some into trying RAB Sensor Fibre, from Tecnifibre 305, for example as it’s a comparable string with better durability, there aren’t really any alternatives to Ashaway strings, save the cheap knockoff’s which are similar only in appearance.
The average gauge/width of string is 1.19mm, with a range of 1.10mm (Tecnifibre 305 1.10mm) through to the more durable 1.30mm (synthetic gut) strings, which I use infrequently. 26lbs seems to be the most popular choice of tension, though this is slightly skewed buy a large number of Prince Power Rings being strung at 28lbs+. Personally, I think anything lower than 27/28 on a Prince Power Ring has a negative effect on the control. The dominant colour choice is green, thanks to Tecnifibre and RAB Sensor Fibre.
From experience, I think pound for pound the most durable string I’ve strung with has been the Ashaway PowerNick. It has a wiry core which seems to keep the string together for longer, despite being very thin (1.15mm). The PowerNick is a real marmite string though, with some people loving it, and some really not getting to grips with it. It has a very ‘numb’ quality to it on touch shots which takes some getting used to, until you really middle it on the power shots, when you get a very satisfying burst from the strings.
Probably the most satisfying combination has been the Eye Zac Alexander 125 Control racket strung with Tecnifibre X—One Biphase, which delivers a really good blend of control and power. Beware the durability on the X-one though. The string is not cheap either! I really like the Eye X-Tech strings, especially for chopping the ball in.
So, what do I expect for 2019? More rackets to string for sure! I think the Karakal Hot Zone strings will continue to grow in popularity, as long as they’re strung correctly! I’m going to make an effort with Ashaway MultiNick, though I’m not sure it’ll knock Tecnifibre 305 of its perch as the most popular Multifilament string on the planet. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Prince. If their rackets are durable and not sold at extortionate prices, perhaps I’ll get to string a few!
I hope you’ve found this useful, but please feel free to get in touch and ask me any questions. Please ensure that you give your rackets good strings to hit the ball with, strung a tension that suits your game and strung correctly. Use a stringer who knows what they’re doing and don’t be pushed into taking a string just because it’s the only option the stringer has. As a qualify Master Professional Stringer, I’m obviously going to tell you to use a qualified stringer, though there are a few very good stringers without the qualifications – just do your homework. I can assure you that qualifying was not as easy as turning up a stringing a few rackets. Any stringer that says a qualification doesn’t matter probably hasn’t learnt some of the finer points that can make a big difference!