Hybrids

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In the past few years, hybrids have become increasingly popular. More often than not, we see people with two different strings in their rackets. Many of pros have also gravitated towards hybrids: Federer with Alu and VS gut, Roddick with Hurricane and VS gut, etc. So, the questions that should come to mind are: what are the advantages of hybrids, and should I hybrid? I’ll try to answer both of those questions for you.

As a baseline, the hybrids that are generally used are gut mains with poly crosses, poly mains with gut crosses, gut mains with synthetic gut/multi crosses, and kevlar mains with synthetic gut crosses. There are several advantages to these various hybrids. First, hybrids combine the characteristics of two strings, and depending on how you string, can create some very nice combinations. The main strings are mainly responsible for the power (and with that, control) of the string bed, and also mainly for how the string bed feels. Thus, if you want your hybrid to feel mostly like polyester, then put your polyester string in the mains. If you want ultimate comfort, then put your gut in the mains. Crosses on the other hand add a bit of comfort and influence how stiff the string bed is. They will also influence power/control, but this influence is relatively small when compared to the influence of the mains. Thus, you can add a gut or a multi in the crosses to a polyester main to add some comfort and decrease the battering that your elbow gets. Or, you can add a polyester cross to a natural gut main to add a bit of control to the setup and increase stiffness. The second advantage of hybrids is cost. Let’s face it: strings can get pretty darn expensive. A full set of VS gut will set you back $42, a full set of Alu Rough will set you back around $16, and a full bed of Pro Line II will set you back around $12. I don’t know about you, but my wallet doesn’t appreciate being emptied every week. Thus, hybrids are nice. A hybrid of my favorite natural gut or polyester with a synthetic gut cross will cut my cost per string bed by around half, and give me something very close to that original feeling. Third, hybrids are generally easier to string that the full bed of string (despite giving a feel very close to a full bed). A bed of natural gut and synthetic is a lot easier to string than a full bed of natural gut. To go along with this, if your stringer is charging you extra for labor when he strings a hybrid, somebody’s trying to rip you off.

So to answer whether or not you should use a hybrid, you generally should if you fall into one of these categories: you want something that feels close to what you use now, but want something cheaper; you want something that’s a little more comfortable than the full bed of polyester you’re using now; you want to add a bit more control to what you’re using now (although this can be also done by adding a pound or two of tension to what you use now); or if you’re a stringer and want to have an easier time with stringing.

Hopefully, this will clear up any questions or confusion that you might have had about hybrids. If you’re still doubtful, take one for a try. I recommend taking whatever you use right now and using that for your mains and for your crosses, I’d recommend starting with a synthetic gut (favorites of mine include Forten Sweet and Pro Supex Syn Gut Spiral Flex). This should give you something close to what you normally use.

PS (if such a thing exists in a blog?) There are such things as prepackaged hybrids.  Take for example the Pro Supex Matrix Hybrid.  Such hybrids are nothing special- they’re just 2 half sets of strings that the manufacturer believes play well together.  You can get the exact same hybrid by purchasing one set each of Big Ace and Maxim Touch, cutting them in half and combining them.  Viola!  You’ve just created your very own “Pro Supex Matrix Hybrid.”

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