Prince Control Freak 16 String Review

Reprinted with permission of the
United States Racquet Stringer's Association

Prince Control Freak 16 features a nylon and Technora composition with GripMore design (wavy surface). According to Prince, these features provide extreme control, outrageous durability and awesome feel. Available in 16 and 17 gauge in natural color only.

Bench Testing

Both coils measured 44' 3". The diameter ranged from 1.27 mm to 1.31 mm prior to stringing and 1.24 mm to 1.29 mm after stringing. A stringbed stiffness of 68 RDC units was recorded immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant pull machine. After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 65 RDC units, representing a tension loss of 4%. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9% tension loss.

The Testers

Tested for five weeks by 30 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.0. This is a blind test. The playtesters are sent unmarked strings in unmarked packages, so they know nothing about the string before they string and play with it. Thus, no preconceptions about manufacturers, construction, or materials will affect their impressions of the string. Average number of hours playtested was 24.6.

Playtesting

You can tell there is something different about this string right away. First, your strings refuse to sit straight (even after you try to straighten them). Second, the strings feel tight, even though stringbed stiffness readings are low after stringing. Third, there’s a little more spin on the ball than usual. Fourth, after a few minutes of playing, your strings are even more crooked than before (even the crosses end up out of position). Straightening them doesn’t help, as they move right back into the crooked position. Finally, hours later, you realize one of the outstanding features of this string — durability.

Playtesters had differing opinions about Control Freak’s playability, but all agreed it is very durable. In fact, its durability rated higher than any string we have tested in years. Only 5 testers broke Control Freak — one each after 5, 8.5, 12, 20 and 28 hours.

Power ratings were low despite the low stringbed stiffness readings, though not surprising for a durability oriented string. This actually enhances the string’s control.

Spin potential ratings confirm Prince’s claim of enhanced spin.

Comfort rated low, but not as low as most durability strings.

Stringing

Control Freak feels like working with Kevlar. It has low elongation, a strong tendency to kink and is nearly the same color.

Because it strings up with a low stringbed stiffness, some players may prefer that it be strung a little tighter than other strings.

Its wavy texture makes weaving a little tougher and string straightening much more difficult. However, weaving is still much easier than with some other textured strings.

At 44 feet, string length is adequate for any frame on the market. In fact, kinking can be minimized by cutting off the extra length before starting.

Conclusion

Control Freak generated many long comments and differing opinions. Even the name is interesting. “Control freaks” will “freak out” because strings won’t sit straight. But, they will appreciate the extra control gained from the increased spin and the low power. Recommend this string to customers looking for extra durability without resorting to a Kevlar or polyester string (though it takes a little while to soften up and become more comfortable).

Comments

(Usual String in parentheses)

“Great for durability and spin.” 5.5 all court player using a Gamma Tradition 18 95 strung at 62 pounds (Gamma Live Wire 16)

“I loved this string. It was phenomenal how it lasted so long, yet had great playability. In addition, it was easy to string and easy on my hands. The cross strings were a little strange, they paired up by going really close together.” 5.0 all court player using a Prince Precision 730 97 strung at 61 pounds (Forten Kevlar Gear 15L/Sweet 16)

“This string is a keeper. A textured string that lasts past 9 matches is unbelievable. I only wish I had strung it tighter. I string at 65-66 with my normal string, but this string felt loose at 65. I would like to try it again at a higher tension. String breakers looking for extra spin should give this string a serious tryout.” 5.0 all court player with heavy spin and touch using a Prince ThunderStrike Titanium 110 strung at 65 pounds (Gosen Super Tec Gut)

“I was impressed that a string could be both playable and durable. This is a good match for the Head Ti. S5. Good string.” All court player using a Head Ti. S5 107 strung at 59 pounds (Gamma Synthetic Gut 17)

“I give it an overall rating of 4. It was very durable and had pretty good touch and feel. Its texture wasn’t as exaggerated as the Gamma Ruff; it was more like Prince Topspin. Though I don’t care much for textured strings, this had pretty good potential. I did notice some tension loss and a lot of string movement by the 8th hour of play. I would definitely recommend it to string breakers who don’t want to switch to Kevlar.” 4.5 all court player using a Prince Precision 730 95 strung at 66 pounds (Tecnifibre TR Pro 16 SPL)

“This string appears to possess an inherent spin potential due to the uneven or non-parallel spacing between cross strings. The strings’ wavy shape prevented parallel spacing between the mid-cross strings. This created uneven and wider spacing between the non-parallel crosses and the intersecting mains, thus making it easier for the string to grip the ball for top spin — without string movement.” 4.0 all court player using a Cayman Pro Heat 95 strung at 60 pounds (Cayman Spintex 16)

“This was obviously a string designed for string breakers. I am not a string breaker, so I used a local teaching pro to test it. He loved the string, estimating 4 times the life of his usual 15L string. The string never did break but did start to move around quite a bit in the last week.” 5.0 all court player using a Dunlop Revelation Tour Pro Exact 95 strung at 52/50 pounds

“At first, seemed to play a bit dead compared to my normal string. However, the more I played it, the better I liked it. I had great control with it, and because it seemed to bite the ball better, I was able to put more spin on the ball. In the final analysis, I would recommend this string to players who do not want extra power from their string, but would benefit from added control. Reminded me of Gamma TNT Extreme Spin 19.” 4.5 all court player using a Pro Kennex Kinetic 15g 110 strung at 63 pounds (Tecnifibre TR Pro 16)

“This string fooled me. It seemed so much like Kevlar that I installed it 3 pounds looser than usual. But, the stringbed stiffness was much lower than I expected and caused me to have trouble keeping the ball in the court. Very durable, but I didn’t like how much it moved around and how hard it was to straighten out. This is another string I feel will be very good in a blend. Much more feel than Kevlar, but still very durable.” 4.5 all court player using a Wilson Hammer 6.2 Stretch 95 strung at 60 pounds (Ashaway Kevlar 17/Synthetic Gut 16)

“This string played great for the first two weeks, but seemed to go very dead after that. Customers will be impressed by its texture and unusual pattern.” 4.0 all court player using a Head Ti. Radical MP 98 strung at 58 pounds (Head Ti. Fiber 17)

“I was truly surprised at the extreme movement of the cross strings. I hit a flat ball, and with the degree of string movement I experienced, I wonder how this string would work for a player who hits with a lot of topspin. Even with the excessive movement I experienced, I was impressed with the overall durability. I would stock this string based on its demonstrated durability and spin potential.” 4.0 baseliner with moderate or no spin using a Yonex Super RQ-500 105 strung at 56 pounds (Forten Dynamix 18)

“Difficult to handle, but played better than expected — a little stiff at first, then broke in and was more comfortable. I would like to try it with my chronic string breakers.” 5.0 all court player using a Dunlop Tour Pro +1.00 95 strung at 48/53 pounds (Babolat VS Synthetic Gut 17)

“Played a little stiff but loosened up as I played with it. Like Kevlar.” 6.0 all court player using a Prince Graphite Midplus 95 strung at 65 pounds (Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex 16)

“I was not pleased with the string’s lack of holding tension. The playability was nice when I first played. But, once it began losing tension (after 8 hours), playability decreased dramatically.” All court player with heavy spin using a Prince Precision Equipe LongBody 95 strung at 70 pounds (Prince Original Synthetic Gut 16)

“Mains and crosses moved considerably. Strung tight but played and tested loose. Customers don’t like string movement.” 4.5 baseliner with heavy spin using a Prince ThunderBolt Midplus 100 strung at 62 pounds (Ashaway Kevlar 17/Synthetic Gut 16)

“Lost too much tension. I had more spin.” Baseliner with moderate or no spin using a Prince ThunderLight midplus 95 strung at 62 pounds (Prince Perfection 17)

TESTER STATS

Results from 30 playtesters

EASE OF STRINGING

(Compared to string used most often)
much better 0
somewhat better 2
about the same 11
not quite as good 17
not nearly as good 0


OVERALL PLAYABILITY

(Compared to string played most often)
much better 1
somewhat better 8
about the same 5
not quite as good 9
not nearly as good 7


OVERALL DURABILITY

(Compared to strings of similar gauge)
much better 11
somewhat better 10
about the same 7
not quite as good 1
not nearly as good 1


RATING AVERAGES

Playability 3.1
Durability 4.1
Power 2.0
Control 3.2
Touch/feel 3.0
Comfort 2.9
Spin Potential 3.6
Holding Tension 2.9
Resistance to Movement 2.5

KEY: Respondents ranked string from a possible low of 1 to a high of 5. Median value is 3. Values represent average overall ratings.

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