Ask the Stringer: Where Should I Tie Off My Strings?

Q: Does it matter where you tie off your strings? I'm stringing my Head Prestige Pro and the racket has an indicator to tie the mains off at Top 7. However, this hole is on a down-running main making it difficult for me to squeeze the string through. So, instead, I've been skipping to T6 which is an up-running main that leaves a large gap for me to fit the string in.

A: In the case you described, no, you're not hurting the racquet or compromising the integrity of the string job. If you can get the string through the hole fairly easily, it is fine to tie off there. If it's really bothering you, though, you can try cutting the end of your string on a very sharp angle right before putting it through the designated tie-off hole. This will make the string itself act like an awl and can sometimes help get the string into a tight tie off hole. This technique works pretty well, but it's a bit more difficult when you're dealing with a soft, multifilament string since multifilament strings have a (somewhat annoying) tendency to just sort of puff up when you try to put them in a tie off or covered hole. This technique is a safe alternative to using your awl to widen a hole, since your awl could damage the anchor string or even the grommet.

Even though it's outside of the scope of your question, while I'm on the subject, I would like to offer a few words of caution about using an awl to anyone else who's in a similar situation. Sometimes it is necessary to carefully enlarge holes using the awl; however, I would not encourage anyone to aggressively enlarge a grommet hole with their awl in order to "force" it to become a tie off hole. Gently enlarging a tie off hole is usually fine, but forcibly "creating" a larger tie off hole can compromise the grommet, possibly leaving the string exposed to the sharp edges of the frame. This in turn can cause the string to break prematurely and eventually would mean that the grommet would need repair or the grommet strip would need to be replaced. Neither scenario spells the end of the world, but it's avoidable with a bit of care.

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