With hundreds of strings to choose from picking a string can be confusing and overwhelming. To further complicate things, you must also consider the gauge and a tension that suits you….?
The purpose of this page is to help players make their decision:
1. Learn more about the different types of string and understand the advantages and disadvantages. With this information, choosing a string will be less guess work and will help you narrow your choices down to a few strings. This will help you save time and money.
2. Understand the importance of the gauge (thickness) of a string and to help you choose one that best fits your game.
3. Understand what difference the tension makes and help choose a tension that will help you improve your game.
To begin understanding the many types of strings, we must first classify them into groups. All strings basically fit into two groups, Gut or Synthetic Gut.
Gut strings made from cows gut in a complex process. Because of this, gut is the most expensive string on the market. Gut strings are very popular among professional players because of its elasticity, tension stability and liveliness. Due to the high price, gut is not recommended for the average recreational player. It is not very durable and is very sensitive to moisture, a major factor for tennis players in Ireland.
Synthetic Gut strings are the other strings produced to give the user different characteristics such as durability, spin, feel, power etc… Synthetic gut strings can be classified in the following areas:
A good all-around string category. This is the basic, and most popular string choice in tennis. It also happens to be one of the cheapest. It has a crisper feel compared with Multifilaments, good, but not as gentle on the arm as Multi or Gut. It’s reasonably durable and holds tension well. A good category of string when you’re looking for power and control.
Examples: Prince Synthetic Gut & Head master
Polyester & Kevlar
This is the durability category; the choice for hard hitters, string breakers, and people without arm problems. Expect harsher hits (very harsh with Kevlar) with above average control. Kevlar (aramid fiber) is extremely durable and holds tension very well, but would never be recommend as the only string in your racquet – hybrid use only (see below). Poly has much more playability, it’s use is not limited to hybrid applications like Kevlar, and Poly holds tension fair. A good category of string when you’re looking for maximum durability and control.
Example: Ashaway Kevlar
The top category after natural gut. Best overall playability, gentle on the arm, but punishing to your opponent. The fraying (as they wear) may annoy some. Holds tension fairly well and is the second most expensive string after gut. A good category of string when you’re looking for arm friendly, power and control.
Example: Tecnifibre X-ONE BIPHASE & 305
These are the strings that have an added raised band to give the string texture. The idea of the texture is to produce more grip and in turn more spin on the ball.
Examples: Gamma Duraspin and Prince Topspin
What is a Hybrid?
Hybrid stringing consists of using different strings in the main and cross strings of a racquet. Hybrid stringing can be as simple as varying string thickness between the main and cross string, to using completely different string materials.
Why Should I use a Hybrid String?
Hybrid stringing is gaining popularity as more players are looking for a blend of string qualities. By selecting different hybrid combinations of string, players can fine-tune the playability, comfort, durability, liveliness and control offered by the stringbed. For instance, heavy hitting players can find a good combination of durability and playability with a polyester main string and natural gut or premium synthetic cross string hybrid.
Selecting the Main String
When choosing a hybrid, note that the main string will dominate the overall feel and playability of the two strings. For example, if you are seeking durability, then the most durable of the two strings selected should be chosen as the main string. If your overall goal is playability, then the string with the most desirable playing characteristics should be chosen as the main string. For playability, select a thinner gauge as the main string. For durability, select a thicker main string. You can mix gauges between mains and crosses.
Selecting the Cross String
Think of the cross string as having an influence on the main string. While you will not get the full benefit of the string’s playing characteristics, the overall feel of the stringbed will be altered. For example, a soft and forgiving cross string, such as natural gut or multifilament synthetic, can soften-up a stiff and durable main string, such as polyester.
Selecting a Tenison
To further customize your hybrid selection, you can vary the tension between strings. As a general rule, main strings should be strung tighter than cross strings. This is a popular set-up with professional players and is a good way of increasing the size of the sweetspot. Many coaches recommend a tension variance of 2-3lbs and have a maximum tension variance of 5lbs on hybrid stringing.
Tension has the most effect on “feel” and control and some effect on power.
To get the best out of your racquet you will have to do a little more than just use the best string. The choice of the right tension is about as important as the choice of the racquet frame. As a general rule: the harder you string the less power you get and the more control you have. With lower tension you gain more power but also lose control. In any case you should try different tensions; if you play better – great, and if you don’t, you can get back to the old tension the next time. To show you the effects different string tensions and diameters can have on your racquet’s performance please see the following tables:
To increase the durability of your strings you should not expose your racquet to extreme heat, cold or humidity. Therefore you should always keep your racquet in its bag. To protect your racquet head you can use a head tape.
Strings lose elasticity with time, some faster than others, this obviously has a negative effect on the playability – players with a sensitive arm will also feel increased pain.
Often the diameter of a string is not given in millimeters but in the old “gauge”. Following table helps you convert between these two measures: