What are truly classic racquets? I believe it applies to racquets that are still great 15-20 years after their release. Like the HEAD LM Instinct MP.
As most loyal readers of Tennisnerd know, I have a weak spot for Liquidmetal (LM) technology. When HEAD released the HEAD LM Instinct MP, it was a bestseller despite that those metal ridges on the racquet might look a bit weird to some. But the technology made the racquet play really stable and HEAD had already mastered the “feel” department so this was a test to see if they could make their racquets crisper and more powerful.
For most players, it worked well. Both the LM Radical and the LM Instinct are classics today and used under various paint jobs on the pro tours (the LM Prestige was a bit too flexible for my liking). I always preferred the Radical for its more controlled response, but now that I am looking for more power and spin, the LM Instinct is a great choice with its more tweener-friendly specs.
HEAD LM Instinct MP – Unstrung Specs
Head size: 100 sq inches / 645 sq cm
Length: 27 inches / 68,6 cm
Beamwidth: 23/25/21 mm
Weight: 300 grams unstrung / 10.6 oz
String pattern: 18×19
Balance: 6 pts HL unstrung / 32,5 cm
Swingweight: 330 (strung!)
Stiffness rating: 66 RA unstrung
There is also an extended-length version of the LM Instinct MP called the XL Tour. That one is 27,5 inches long, heavier and has a 16×19 string pattern. Richard Gasquet uses that version, but I generally prefer standard length racquets.
How does it play?
As you can see from the specs, this is a slightly beefier tweener racquet. The swing weight makes it more stable than most tweeners and the string pattern of 18×19 instead of 16×19 gives it a bit better directional control and a lower launch angle. Both of these characteristics make it work better for my game than a HEAD Extreme for example. I actually wonder why HEAD stopped producing the 18×19 string pattern for the retail market. I think it offers a nice balance of control and spin.
The HEAD LM Instinct MP plays powerful but less so than a Pure Aero or Extreme style racquet. It has a slightly “tinny” response, which is typical for the LM technology. I find it quite comfortable, but some players have complained about elbow pain when using this racquet. That is why I would recommend you string it with a softer poly or multifilament at a mid-to-low tension.
Summary and Video
I love the response from the HEAD LM Instinct MP. The string pattern gives me the possibility to flatten out strokes, but access to spin when I need it. The stiffness rating is just right as it offers some pop to finish rallies, but not too much so that you lose control. The racquets do pretty much everything well and I especially like it on my one-handed backhand, where the larger sweet spot helps to get access to spin and power on the often weaker wing.
Simply a top-notch racquet that deserves to be called a classic.
I customized my HEAD LM Instinct MPs to 335 grams, 33 cm balance and a 334 SW. I strung them with MSV Co Focus Hex Soft at 23 kg / 51 lbs.
What are other classic racquets you would like to see reviewed on Tennisnerd?