Article by Shane Mikic.
Shane is Tennis Gear's Retail Manager and has been stringing racquets for the past 20 years. He is also a member of the Wilson Tour Stringing Team. Shane began stringing with the Wilson Team in 2010 and has strung at the past 5 Australian Open's and past 3 US Open's. He will be stringing at the 2014 US Open later this year. In his time with the Wilson team he has strung for most of the world's top players.
Shane Mikic on camera at the 2012 US Open
With over 500 strings available today, choosing the right string can be more confusing than ever. With the Tennis Gear Restringing Guide we can help you narrow down the choices. There is a string on the market to suit every player. *Note, players with tennis elbow should check our 'Beating Tennis Elbow Guide'.
There are 3 materials commonly used in the manufacture of modern tennis strings - natural gut, polyester and nylon (polyamide). Other materials such as kevlar (aramids), zyex (polytheretherketone) and liquid crystal polymers are also used but they are not very common.
Each material has different properties and these give the strings different playing characteristics. For example natural gut is softer and more elastic than nylon which is in turn softer and more elastic than polyester.
The construction of the string also influences its playing characteristics ie. the number and size of the individual filaments comprising the string. As a general rule, the more filaments a string is comprised of, the softer it will play.
Strings comprised of many filaments are called multifilament.
Strings comprised of a single filament are called monofilament.
However, string construction can only accomplish so much. A polyester string comprised of many filaments may be softer than other polyester strings with fewer filaments but it will not be as soft as a nylon string- even a nylon string comprised of a single filament.
Many string manufacturers also employ proprietary manufacturing techniques to further influence string characteristics. For example varying degrees of prestretching and heating during manufacture can influence how well a string holds tension.
Strings can be grouped into four main categories. These categories are a combination of the materials used and the construction of the string - Natural Gut, Multifilament, Synthetic Gut, and Polyester. Natural Gut will provide players with the most feel and touch, while Polyester will provide players with the most durability. Multifilament and Monofilament are made from synthetic gut material and provide players with a fair balance of both feel and durability.
NATURAL GUT The Rolls Royce of tennis strings, the best of the best. Despite the advances in synthetic materials, natural gut strings are still regarded as the benchmark for playability in tennis strings. They are the only strings on the market that are not made from synthetic (man-made) materials. Natural Gut is made from ribbons of cow intestines which are dried, stretched, treated and twisted together to form the string. Natural gut has playing characteristics that cannot be matched by any synthetic material. They retain elasticity even at very high tensions and they provide a feel for the ball that no other string can. All keen players should try natural gut at least once in their lifetime.Tension maintenance is excellent for a multifilament string. On the downside they are quite expensive and are not suitable for chronic string breakers. Gut is susceptible to moisture but the advances in weatherproof coatings have made this less of a concern. Even so you should avoid wet conditions if you want to get the most out of them.
MULTIFILAMENT Made of nylon or other polyamide, these strings typically have a core consisting of more than one filament with any number of additional layers of outer wraps.There are many variations. These strings are regarded as having excellent playability for a synthetic string. The top of the range polyamide string offered by each string company is usually a multifilament rather than a solid core polyamide string. Many of the premium multifilament strings on the market are impregnated with polyurethane to enhance feel for the ball. The construction of these strings results in a softer feeling stringbed.
SYNTHETIC GUT The most popular synthetic string on the market. Made from polyamide, they consist of a large solid centre core surrounded by a single layer of polyamide filament wraps. They provide a crisper response than multifilament strings and are better at holding tension.
POLYESTER These strings offer excellent durability and better spin potential than other strings. They have become very popular with tournament players because of this. The majority of professional players now use these strings.Most polyester strings are monofilaments. Multifilament polyester strings do exist but they are not easy to manufacture as polyester does not bond well to itself. Polyester is much stiffer then polyamide and natural gut. Therefore polyester strings should be strung at lower tensions. Because of the spin generated by polyester they perform well at lower tensions and provide good control even when the string bed is loose.
HYBRIDS This allows a player to use different strings for the mains and crosses. A common hybrid consists of a durable string in the mains and a very playable, more elastic string in the crosses. One of the first hybrids to become popular saw kevlar string used in the mains and a softer synthetic in the crosses. Kevlar was too stiff and harsh to be used by itself so it was coupled with a softer string to make it more usable. Kevlar is extremely durable and this hybrid was used by chronic stringbreakers to save them restringing as often. With the increasing popularity of polyester kevlar is seldom used now. Polyester is not quite as durable as kevlar but it's spin potential and better feel have seen it replace kevlar as the best choice for string breakers. Another common hybrid is polyester mains and gut crosses. This setup is favoured by a number of ATP and WTA players.
|Reels of string
The cheapest way to buy strings - whether you've got your own machine or have your racquets strung up for you.
Perfect for string breakers. These strings will give each restring some extra life and also save you a few bucks!
|Best Values(Price vs. Performance)
Find the best blend of performance and value including synthetic gut, polyester, multifilament and hybrid strings.
Polyester strings have rapidly gained popularity on the pro tour. Offering excellent durability and a distinct feel, polyester strings are a good fit for hard hitting, chronic string breakers and those wanting to hit with more topspin.
A selection of strings featuring a textured surface for increased ball bite at impact. Textured strings tend to be very spin friendly.
Sets of string featuring different main/cross compositions for increased playability or durability.
|Synthetic Gut Strings
A selection of nylon synthetic gut strings varying in construction.
|Maximum Playability Strings
A selection of gut and high-end synthetic strings with an emphasis on playability over durability and longevity.
Typically more comfortable than solid core strings due to the cushioning effect of hundreds or even thousands of micro fibers. High level of playability and recommended for players suffering from arm problems.
Offering the ultimate in playability and performance, Natural Gut is the obvious choice for players looking for the best performance from their racquet. The most arm friendly string available.
|Soft (Arm Friendly Strings)
A selection of strings with a soft and arm friendly feel at contact. These strings are a great way to soften up a stiff racquet frame.
|Spin Friendly Strings
A selection of thin and or textured strings with an emphasis on the development of spin off the stringbed.
For more information on what strings the pros use - CLICK HERE
Problems with tennis elbow? Here's a list of the best string options to look after your arm.