One or two piece stringing? Does it matter?
For players and stringers, alike, it is a personal preference. Although for stringers having a preference doesn't always mean they get to string the way they want. Players should always dictate how their rackets are strung, although this isn't always the case but that's for a different post! Players are the ones on the court, in the heat of the battle, and they have to be happy with their equipment, any doubts can mean defeat.
All that being said, however, a good stringer will always be willing to discuss the options available to a client and the pro's and con's attached to each option. Discussing the options is very important if you are dealing with juniors or players new to the game.
So does it really matter if you string a racket as a one piece or a two piece?
(This may not be an issue in years to come as hybrid stringing is becoming more and more popular.)
There are definitely times where it is easier to string as a two piece:
- Using Natural Gut
- Using Polyester
- When the mains finish at the throat of the racket.
For both Natural gut and Polyester it means working with shorter lengths, which means less handling. This is always a good thing when using these strings as they are both prone to kinking. Polyester being stiffer gets creases and bumps and makes for a poor stringing job.
For natural gut the string can shred, which is unacceptable or unravel which makes it unusuable and expensive for you to replace.
For rackets where the mains finish at the throat, there are other options, such as the various Around The World (ATW) patterns, but two piece stringing is less complicated and quicker. Most racket brands and any serious stringer (unless recommended by the racket brand themselves) would not recommend stringing from the bottom up. The reason for this is the frame is more open to distortion coming from the bottom up.
Imagine if you had an inflated balloon, now squeeze it at one end, you would see how the rest of the balloon gets bigger as you squeeze, this is what happens to a racket head when the crosses are being pulled into place. The strongest part of the frame is the Yoke (the joining piece at the throat) so it makes sense to string towards that rather than away from it.
There are no real negatives to two piece stringing, however some people don't like the look of four knots on their rackets.
Others say that it leads to different tensions between the mains and the crosses or a different tension to a one piece job done at the same tension.
If a stringer is consistent in how they string, then there is no reason at all that the mains and crosses should be at different tensions.
With regards a difference in tension between a one and a two piece job, I have found this not to be the case and here's why. I have strung my own racket with exactly the same string (Wilson Sensation 15L), at exactly the same tension (62lbs) on the same machine (Babolat Star 3) using both one piece first and then two piece options. I checked the Dynamic Tension, using my ERT300 computer, on both rackets, and they both read 46. So I am happy that there is no difference in tension between the two options.
The advantages of two piece stringing definitely outweigh the negatives.
- As mentioned already you will be working with shorter lengths of string, which makes handling easier.
- It will mean all four outer /tie off strings will feel the same as they are all tie off strings now.
- It makes stringing from the head down much easier, as you don't have to worry about making mistakes using complicated patterns.
- Prince O3 and EXO3 rackets now become easier to string.
Some traditionalists will argue that a racket should only be strung using one piece of string but if two piece stringing is good enough for Federer, Nishkori, Monfils, Djokovic and others then who am I to argue.
Some two piece stringing info from the Australian Open 2016.
Mains - Wilson Natural Gut at 59lbs
Crosses - Luxilon Alu Power Rough at 57lbs.
Mains - Wilson Natural Gut at 55lbs
Crosses - Luxilon 4G at 53lbs
Mains - Luxilon M2 at 22kilos
Crosses - Luxilon M2 at 21kilos
Mains - Luxilon Alu Power at 57lbs
Crosses - Luxilon Alu Power at 55lbs.
A follow onto this post, based on a question I was asked about why manufacturers prefer one option over the other. As I didn't know the answer to this very good and relevant question I contacted some of them. To date I have received only one reply but I am hopeful I will receive a few more.
Wilson replied to me and their answer was: They prefer, and string all their rackets, using a one piece Around The World (ATW) pattern because they feel this pattern loses less tension and still allows them string all their cross strings from top to bottom.