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The Definitive Guide to Stringing Polys and Co-polys

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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.

Join the forum discussion on this post

89 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to Stringing Polys and Co-polys

  1. Eric on said:

    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?

    Reply
  2. ggtennis on said:

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

    Reply
    • Lee on said:

      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?

      Reply
      • ggtennis on said:

        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.

        Reply
  3. Eric on said:

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

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
  4. Boris Becker on said:

    YOU MY FRIEND are a fracking genius

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

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
  5. Stephane on said:

    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.

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
      • Stephane on said:

        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.

        Reply
  6. RodgerS on said:

    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.

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
  7. RodgerS on said:

    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.

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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!

      Reply
      • RodgerS on said:

        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.

        Reply
      • Mike T on said:

        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.

        Reply
      • ggtennis on said:

        @ 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.

        Reply
  8. RodgerS on said:

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

    Reply
  9. Stephane on said:

    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.

    Reply
  10. Eric on said:

    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.

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
  11. forehand.TV on said:

    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!

    Reply
  12. John Raattama on said:

    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.

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
      • John Raattama on said:

        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.

        Reply
      • ggtennis on said:

        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.

        Reply
  13. Ricardo on said:

    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!

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
      • Ricardo on said:

        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!

        Reply
  14. ggtennis on said:

    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.

    Reply
    • Ricardo on said:

      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!

      Reply
      • Ricardo on said:

        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!

        Reply
  15. ggtennis on said:

    @ 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.

    Reply
  16. Julian on said:

    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.

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
  17. Simon on said:

    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.

    Reply
  18. ggtennis on said:

    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.

    Reply
    • Simon on said:

      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.

      Reply
      • ggtennis on said:

        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.

        Reply
      • Simon on said:

        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.

        Reply
      • Simon on said:

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

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

  20. Jason on said:

    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?

    Reply
    • Boris Becker on said:

      48-52 max . try 44 first

      Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
  21. Jason on said:

    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?

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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

      Reply
  22. Jason on said:

    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!

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
  23. greg on said:

    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

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
    • greg on said:

      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

      Reply
  24. michael on said:

    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.

    Reply
  25. ggtennis on said:

    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.

    Reply
  26. Tom on said:

    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!

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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!

      Reply
  27. Simon on said:

    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.

    Reply
    • ggtennis on said:

      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.

      Reply
  28. Simon on said:

    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.

    Reply
  29. Simon on said:

    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….

    Reply
  30. Andrew on said:

    I’m a 4.5 player and have been stringing my racquet (Wilson ntour two 95) with polys (topsin cyber flash or blue 1.25) at 56 or 57lbs consistently. After taking GG’s advice I strung my racquet (on a klippermate) at 44lbs. Played five sets and was pretty inconsistent (and unhappy) the whole time. I felt I had to swing really hard and fast for the ball to have anywhere near the spin and power I usually have. Shots regularly went long and wide and never felt like I could put the ball away with authority like I am used to. Serves were ok but again, the power was lacking. Should I be expected to overhaul my swing this much to work with the new tension? Any advice would be helpful.

    Cheers,

    Andrew

    Reply
    • GGTennis on said:

      Andrew,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. If you were a local customer finding a solution for you should be very easy.

      As you may or may not know, we are a former distributor for Topspin strings. We have chosen not to continue working with them for a variety of reasons. As such we have not tested any Topspin strings at lower tensions. I suspect they should be able to handle these tensions with no problem, but the string may be part of the issue. Honestly, I would rate it low on my trouble-shooting sheet, but the fact that you are getting less power is really surprising to me. That definitely should not be the case.

      Most likely some minor adjustments need to be made in regard to how you are hitting the ball. What I have found with skilled players, such as yourself, when playing at high tensions they developed a game whereby they were clearing the net high 4′ – 7′ and using heavy spin to bring the ball in. When dropping tension they were finding increased power (not your experience…I know) and concentrating on clearing the net at 2′ – 3′ seems to get them very good depth of shot and pace.

      In a few days I intend to post a new blog entry on using the JayCee Method of stringing. I think if you give the lower tension another try using that particular method and focus on where the ball is crossing the net you may get better results.

      Still, the power issue puzzles me. I do not have a good response for why you are experiencing less power as you should have a power surge with a drop in tension of 13 pounds.

      Reply
  31. Andrew on said:

    I appreciate your thoughtful response. Yes, the power issue puzzles me, too. Just read your post on the JayCee Method. Interesting. I plan to play again with my current set up (topsin cyber blue at 44lbs) and then switch to the new stringing method with some msv focus hex strings I recently received.

    Cheers,

    Andrew

    Reply
  32. Andrew on said:

    GG,

    So my interest is peaked enough to send another question your way. I am curious to know why the overwhelming majority of pros do not using this low tension method for their poly strings? (see here: http://www.tenniszoo.com/tenniszoo-bits-mainmenu-62/2294-what-the-pros-use-racketsstrings-and-tensions)

    Cheers,

    Andrew

    Reply
  33. GGTennis on said:

    It is amazing to me that many professionals do not truly understand equipment. More baffling is that high paid coaches also have a knowledge deficit in this area.

    While the low tension approach is fairly universal in how it can be applied, L-TEC strings are the first specifically designed to be strung at lower tensions and the first to be heavily marketed around that aspect.

    While the majority of pros are still stringing at tensions that do not allow the strings to provide optimal performance, there is a definite trend toward professionals moving toward the lower tensions. Just last week I was reading a blog entry on the topic of lower tension by John Gugel. (A prominent stringer in the USA). In the comments section of his post was an interesting comment from a stringer who does tournament stringing for the pros. Here is the exact comment:

    “Yes this is certainly the case. I have just finished stringing at an ATP/WTA event and it is the case that lower tensions is the go. I think players are wanting to go as low as they can for power and within reason to keep ball control.”

    So, you see, the message of low tension stringing is slowly reaching all levels of tennis. It just takes time.

    Reply
  34. David on said:

    GG,

    Thanks for sharing all this information. I tried dropping tension in my BLX Pro Open (weighted to 11.9g/6pts HL) to 52lbs with a full poly hybrid of Lux Timo 117 in the mains and Wilson Spin Cyclone in the crosses. I’m trying to find a good full poly hybrid and tried the textured crosses in the mains instead of crosses after reading your post. The set up felt pretty nice after about an hour: comfortable but still maintained crisp feel, decent ball pocketing, good access to spin, and manageable power. Though this set up was fairly positive it still left me spraying a few balls and missing a lot shots long by less than a foot. I lacked the confidence to pull the trigger and flatten out balls as well.

    Any suggestions on a better set up for a full poly hybrid for this racquet? I’m a 4-4.5 baseline player with a sw fh and big serve. I essentially would like to keep the ball pocketing, spin and crisp feel but need a more control and a more consistent feel that will let me go for my shots and swing out with more confidence. You suggested to someone that perhaps they needed to go to even lower tensions to get better control, should I try dropping to mid 40′s? 52lbs was the measured tension with the Racquet Tech app on my iPhone, I had set the crosses 4lbs higher than the mains. I have some Lux Big Banger 125 and Adrenaline, and then a set of Golden Set Snake Bite 16g to play around with so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I’ve been trying for months to find a good string set up.

    Thanks,
    David

    Reply
  35. Anthony on said:

    Perhaps I’ve missed a few posts (very long read) but why would using a crank (lock-out machine) produce inferior results to an electronic machine. If properly maintained, I’ve found crank machines to be incredibly consistent. Note: I am accounting for a “reference” tension as opposed to a specific precise # tension. Also, with a crank machine, one can pull as slowly as they chose and there is no additional “overstretch” once the machine locks out. Again, perhaps I’m missing something but logic would dictate that this would be beneficial towards the process. Although tough to truly master, I would assume that a drop-weight would offer the same benefits of an evenly stretched bed.

    Returning to the original blog, I certainly agree with much of the technique regarding stringing– too many people speed pull and destroy the inherent characteristics of their string/ prematurely damage strings.

    Reply
  36. GGTennis on said:

    We have since gone through an created a new post related to crank machines. This post shows how they can be used effectively with the JET Method.

    The advantage that constant pull has over cranks when dealing with polyester strings is that they can slowly and effectively stretch the string without overstretching or causing damage. The crank machines lock out once tension is reached and the same effect is more difficult to achieve. It can be achieved through the use of slowing the tensioning speed and double pulling.

    Reply
  37. Justin beh on said:

    I own a spinfire flame stringing machine (drop weights).. I am looking to string a babolat pure drive GT with rpm blast…I set my tension to 55lbs n the string snapped on on mains.. After reading your blog I realise the tension needs to b a lot lower. But my question is do i need to set my drop weights to a low tension as the rpm doesn’t stretch?? What would u recommend?? Will the racquet be strung higher than what my tension is set at cause its a drop weight machine??

    Reply
  38. GGTennis on said:

    It is unlikely that the tension set at 55 caused the RPM to break. It should be fine at that tension. Lower tension, we believe, can result in more desirable performance. The tension set on the machine is a reference tension. The actual tension/stringbed stiffness will vary based on a multitude of factors, including your technique, quality of clamps and speed of stringing.

    Reply
  39. IVO on said:

    Hi, I would like to ask if it is recommended to wait ONLY 5 sec before clamping or is it better to wait until drop weight bar stabilize or doesnt move even one mm, which could be at least 30 sec or more ( depends on string elasticity)? Or it is not recommended to wait more than 5 sec? Is this method suitable also for very soft polyesters? I strung for example GENESIS Black Magic on 21/20kg with waiting 30 sec on Mains and about 60 sec on Crosses and result was very, very stiff stringbed with very small power. Thank you. Ivo.

    Reply
  40. Daniel Lopez on said:

    Hello Friends

    Actually I find an interesting article, and it shows that more and more it’s true, I roped in some professional tournaments and more and more players use low Tension.

    Greetings from Mexico and happy holidays!

    Reply
  41. Chris on said:

    Just purchased the new Wilson Blade 93. I’d like to string it with an L-TEC hybrid set of Premium Pro 16L (mains) and Premium 4S (crosses). Any suggestions on the reference tension settings for the mains and the crosses for this set-up? The relatively small head size (93) and 18×20 string pattern lead me to believe I should be in the upper 30′s to low 40′s.

    Reply
  42. GGTennis on said:

    I would go with something in the 39 – 41 range.

    Reply
  43. Manatee on said:

    I have one of the new Steam 99 (no S)with a multi filament like with other I have had but am not happy and would like to try a co-poly at low tension. I have had problems in the past with poly, my question is the Steam too stiff to match with co-poly or should I try a different frame. I am a 4.5 that hits a relatively flat ball and looking for more spin and control with heavy hitters.

    Reply
  44. GGTennis on said:

    While the Steam specs are not quite where we like them in terms of arm-friendliness, thus far we have not had reports of users with arm issues. We have a number of customers using this frame as well as the 105 and without exception they all use some form of poly in their setup.

    Reply
  45. Stiga on said:

    Hi GGTennis,

    Thanks for this great info. I just purchased Volkl’s new 18g Cyclone Tour for my Youtek Prestige Pro 16 x19. I’ve read that people were bumping the tension on this co-poly up a few pounds for more “control”…what tension would you recommend to start?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  46. GGTennis on said:

    The highest tension we recommend for polys is 52.

    Reply
  47. Daniel on said:

    I do my own stringing and I prefer a full poly/co-poly string bed, and I am considering putting Solinco’s Tour Bite 19 (1.10mm) in the Wilson Steam 99s. I already tried Luxilon’s Big Banger TiMO 18 in this frame at 40 pounds (after reading this article), and it was very comfortable, but I’m wondering if I should go with a higher tension. What would you recommend? 45? 47? 50? And, I typically like to do my crosses about 2 pounds lower than my mains, but I’m open to suggestions. Help?

    Reply
    • Daniel on said:

      I’ve been reading about the JET Method, and was thinking of trying that method out with a reference tension of 44-45, keeping in mind the very open 16×15 string pattern. Thoughts?

      Reply
    • GGTennis on said:

      Tour Bite is old school poly. 100% polyester. Loses playing properties rapidly. Is very stiff. TIMO is comprised in part of titanium and Molybdnum…metal alloys. It is stiff! I do not use and would not use either of those offerings. Also a thin gauge in an open pattern may have longevity issues in terms of breaking.

      When going with full poly in your frame, I would suggest stringing the crosses +4lbs tighter than the mains. In terms of tension where is the ball landing in relation to the baseline at your current tension? If you need added length, drop tension 2 lbs for every yard. If you need less length, increase tension 2 lbs for every yard.

      Hope this helps. If you must use thin strings, consider some of the MSV options that come in 1.10mm and 1.15mm. Also WC Mosquito Bite is a much underrated thin string.

      Reply
  48. Hannes on said:

    I’m want to string a Babolat Pure Drive with Babolat RPM Team 17 Mains and Prince Synchetic Gut Multifilament 16 Crosses.
    What would the recommended tension be?
    Would I loose the spin advantage of poly in mains and crosses?
    Currently stringing with Babolat RPM Team 17 @45 mains and crosses.
    The racket is for a junior and my concern is possible injury due to stiffness.

    Reply
  49. Geoff Morschel on said:

    I think people wanting to try this method should consider dropping their tension gradually. Example 52lbs to 50lbs to 47lbs to 45lbs. This would be better as it would be a gradual process

    Reply
  50. GGTennis on said:

    Geoff -

    Yes. Certainly that is one approach and the gradual drop in tension works better for some players.

    Reply

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