Gamma Live Wive XP 16 String Review

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

Gamma's Live Wire XP 16 is a multifilament consisting of a bundled Live Wire core, twisted Live Wire wraps, Zyex monofilaments, and a soft pearl coating. It features Live Wire fibers and Iso-Elastic construction. According to Gamma, the string offers ultimate power and control, extra durability, crisp, solid feel, and enhanced topspin. Gamma explains that in Live Wire technology, high-grade polymeric materials are cross-linked using gamma irradiation. This cross-linking creates greater elasticity and dynamic resiliency which translates to more power, more control, and less shock. Available in 16 and 17 gauge in natural only.

BENCH TESTING

The two coils both measured 42'2". The diameter ranged from 1.32 mm to 1.33 mm prior to stringing and 1.26 mm to 1.28 mm after stringing. A stringbed stiffness of 69 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 63 RDC units, representing a 9% tension loss. 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. Live Wire XP 16 added 14.7 grams to the unstrung frame.

THE TESTERS

Tested for five weeks by 35 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. This means they know nothing about the string before they string it and play with it. As a result, no preconceived ideas regarding manufacturers, type of construction, or materials used are able to effect their impressions of the string. Average number of hours playtested was 17.2.

STRINGING

Installing Live Wire XP 16 couldn't be much easier. Except for two playtesters, there were no problems with coil memory and kinking. Although the string has no oily coating (i.e., no hand washing), we had no problems with friction or notching during installation. Knots cinched up nicely and the tips stayed crisp. We had no difficulty with blocked or shared holes and the tips did not fray or have to be trimmed. The published string length would seem a little short for bigger headsizes and denser patterns, but the 42 feet we found in each set combined with the string's elongation made it more than enough for even the biggest racquets on the market today.

PLAYTESTING

Gamma Live Wire XP 16 rated very well with our playtesters. It is a very comfortable string that offers better durability than their original Live Wire string.

What stands out most in the ratings from our playtesters is the combination of both high durability and playability scores. With most strings, these categories are mutually exclusive. Live Wire XP scored above average in both of these categories.

Comfort and crispness are also usually inversely related. But not so with Live Wire XP. Despite the crisp feel created by the Zyex monofilaments, playtesters still rated comfort very highly.

Finally, this string brings together one more pair of usually conflicting characteristics - power and control. Both are rated above average. Somehow, Live Wire XP seems to bring all these opposing worlds together.

Not all comments were glowing. Several playtesters experienced notching and fraying after a few hours of play. A few playtesters felt it lost tension too quickly and went dead. Others also suggested that the strings moved more than they liked. These comments explain the below average ratings for tension maintenance and resistance to movement. The only other below average rating Live Wire XP received was for spin potential.

Eight playtesters broke Live Wire XP - one each after 4, 9, 10, 14, 15, 18, 20, and 22 hours.

CONCLUSION

Gamma designed Live Wire XP 16 for players who like the feel of their original Live Wire string, but break it too quickly. XP is more durable and crisper than Live Wire, but the overall feel is still pretty soft. It is best suited for players who enjoy soft strings and are looking for more durability.

Finally, we recommend you give this string a try for yourself. Any string that brings together so many conflicting characteristics deserves a try.

TESTER STATS

Results from 30 playtesters

EASE OF STRINGING

(Compared to string used most often)
much easier 0
somewhat easier 7
about the same 19
not quite as easier 3
not nearly as easier 1


OVERALL PLAYABILITY

(Compared to string played most often)
much better 2
somewhat better 8
about the same 11
not quite as good 7
not nearly as good 1


OVERALL DURABILITY

(Compared to strings of similar gauge)
much better 2
somewhat better 13
about the same 11
not quite as good 3
not nearly as good 0


RATING AVERAGES

Playability 3.6
Durability 3.4
Power 3.4
Control 3.5
Touch/Feel 3.6
Comfort 3.6
Spin Potential 2.9
Holding Tension 2.9
Resistance to Movement 3.0

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

COMMENTS

(The string most commonly used is in parentheses.)

"This could well be the best ‘all-around' string I've ever used. Both playability and durability were well above average." 5.0 all court player using a Gamma Tradition 18 95 strung at 64 pounds (Gamma TNT 16)

"A good string with average rating for power, control, comfort, and touch, but an above average rating for durability. Overall, it's better than my usual string. I'd recommend it to someone who breaks strings often." 4.0 baseliner with heavy spin using a Head Ti Fire Midplus strung at 58 pounds (Prince Synthetic Gut Soft 16)

"A really strong string. Good snap on the ball, good power without trampolining. Good durability, I would recommend this string to any high level player who breaks strings often." 6.0 all court player using a Gosen Secret Carbon 95 strung at 63 pounds (Gamma Marathon 15L)

"I liked this string right from the start. I can tell the first five minutes of hitting if I am going to like a string and this one was a winner. It would probably not make me change strings, but it is a good string." 4.5 serve & volley player using a Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 5.0 Stretch 95 strung at 65 pounds (Babolat Synthetic Gut 16)

"This string felt and played closest to my choice (TNT 16) of any string I have tested! It had a good combination of feel and power which made it fun to play in my stiff racquet." 5.0 all court player using a Wilson Pro Staff Classic Stretch 95 strung at 60 pounds (Gamma TNT 16)

"This is a very comfortable and playable string. It lost tension fairly quickly and didn't generate much spin however. It would work best for players who don't use much spin and string at lower tensions." 4.0 baseliner with heavy spin using a Head Ti. Fire Tour Edition 98 strung at 56 pounds (Gosen Jim Courier 17)

"I like the playability and it held up well. I would recommend it as a good durable string." 5.0 baseliner with moderate or no spin using a Wilson Hammer 6.4 110 strung at 63 pounds (Wilson Sensation NXT 16)

"Seemed soft at first, but didn't have the feel I'd expected. Pretty good ‘bite' for spin and control. Seemed durable and held tension well. I prefer a softer string though." 6.5 all court player using a Wilson Hyper Hammer 5.3 95 strung at 57 pounds (Wilson Sensation NXT 16)

"String has pretty good feel on drop shots. I liked the way the ball comes off the strings. It has a soft feel to it. I really like it on touch shots." Serve and volley player using a Wilson Hyper Hammer 4.3 110 strung at 63 pounds (Kevlar Blend 18/16 gauge synthetic gut)

"I found this string very comfortable. The first 2 or 3 times I played, the string held its tension well, but then there was a dramatic drop-off. This caused strings to start moving. Though after the initial loss of tension, the strings then held. I think if strung 2 pounds higher, it may compensate for the loss of tension. Yet the string would be good for those with elbow problems." 4.5 serve and volley player using a Head Ti. S2 110 strung at 62 pounds (Head Titanium 16)

"Felt great right after stringing, but noticeably lost tension after 2 hours and playability too. The last 2 hours, I was straightening strings far more than usual." Baseliner with heavy spin using a Prince Precision Control 770 108 strung at 64 pounds (Gamma TNT 17)

"Although my strings broke prematurely, this string was a string that many of my customers would love to play." 5.0 baseliner with heavy spin using a Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 5g Tour 95 strung at 62 pounds (Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex 17)

"Above average playability with decent tension maintenance." 4.5 all court player using a Volkl V1 102 strung at 60 pounds (Babolat Fiberace 16)

"This string is very easy to string. It plays very comfortably. The only drawback is it plays somewhat muted." 5.0 all court player using a Wavex 3004 110 strung at 60 pounds (Alpha Gut 2000 17)

"String moved a lot at first even with my flat shots. Once strings notched, they wouldn't move so stringmeter showed no additional tension loss." 5.0 baseliner with moderate or no spin using a Wavex 3004 110 strung at 60 pounds (Prince Topspin 15L)

"This is the string I normally use. It is a little thicker than I prefer, but I still love it." 4.5 baseliner with moderate or no spin using a Gamma Diamond Fiber M-6.5 98 strung at 60 pounds (Live Wire 17)

"Nice comfort string but didn't offer any other top qualities to compete with NXT or TNT. Another good string that will get lost in the crowd." 5.0 serve & volley player using a Wilson Hyper Carbon Pro Staff 6.5 95 strung at 62 pounds (Wilson Extreme Control 17)

"Played great first couple of days, then things deteriorated. Final few days caused tennis elbow pain to return and string played poorly at the low end tension." 5.0 all court player using a Wilson Hyper Hammer 5.3 95 strung at 60 pounds (Bow Select Gut 16/TOA 1.2 17)

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