So, you’re looking to buy some new tennis strings.
But what are the different types?
Well, now it’s time to learn!
From natural gut to polyester, each type of string offers unique characteristics that shape the spin, control, and power of every shot.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at tennis strings, exploring the materials, constructions, gauges, and tensions that influence a player’s performance.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an enthusiastic beginner, this guide equips you with the knowledge to select the best tennis strings, helping you unleash your true potential on the court.
Tennis strings can be split into two main categories:
- Natural Gut Strings
- Synthetic Strings
Let’s have a look at the two different types of strings.
- Excellent feel
- Very comfortable to use
- Great touch
- Great tension maintenance
- Very expensive
- Lacks control
- Not very durable
Natural gut strings have a rich history in tennis and are renowned for their exceptional performance. Derived from cow intestines, these strings offer unique advantages and disadvantages that make them a preferred choice for many players.
Natural gut strings originated in the late 19th century and were initially made from sheep intestines.
I know, how weird!
Over the years, the manufacturing process has been refined, resulting in higher-quality strings.
Natural gut strings provide unmatched feel and comfort, allowing players to enhance their touch and finesse. They offer excellent power and tension maintenance, giving you better depth and power on your shots while ensuring consistent performance.
Moreover, gut strings have decent grip for spin potential if you have the right technique to do so.
The main drawback of natural gut strings is their higher cost compared to other materials. Additionally, gut strings are sensitive to weather changes, absorbing moisture and losing tension, which may lead to fraying or breakage in humid conditions.
Despite the cost and sensitivity to weather, natural gut strings remain a timeless classic in tennis due to their rich history, unmatched feel, and exceptional performance characteristics. Many consider these strings to be worth the investment, making them a popular choice among professional players.
Nowadays, synthetic strings are the most common type of tennis string on the market. Synthetic strings can be split into different subcategories:
- Synthetic Gut
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of synthetic strings.
Many tennis strings are made out of nylon. However, what separates each string is the grade of the nylon that is used.
Synthetic gut and multifilament strings are both made out of nylon. However, you’ll find that multifilament strings are made out of a higher quality nylon. Plus, they are also constructed differently, which we’ll talk about later on in this article.
Some tennis racquets will come pre-strung with nylon strings. However, these are generally the cheapest type of string you can buy and are poor quality.
- Good playability
- Great tension maintenance
- Great feel
- A good alternative to natural gut
- Not very durable
- Can be quite expensive
Multifilament strings have emerged as a popular alternative to natural gut in tennis. Composed of numerous microfibers, these strings offer a versatile blend of performance characteristics. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages I found when testing out different multifilament tennis strings.
Multifilament strings provide exceptional comfort and feel, reducing arm fatigue. They offer excellent power and energy transfer, allowing players to generate more speed and depth on their shots.
Plus, these strings maintain tension well and offer consistent performance over time.
One drawback of multifilament strings is their durability compared to other materials. I found that the microfibers wore out quite quickly, leading to breakage. However, they are still more durable than natural gut strings.
Additionally, multifilament strings are generally more expensive than other synthetic strings due to the complex manufacturing process and high-quality materials used.
Multifilament tennis strings are a versatile choice, offering comfort, power, and tension maintenance. Although durability and cost can be considerations, the benefits they provide make them an appealing option for tennis players seeking high-performance strings.
- Excellent control
- Excellent durability
- Generate loads of spin
- Great for aggressive players with big swings
- Poor tension maintenance
- Not very powerful
- Not arm-friendly
Polyester strings have gained popularity for their durability, control, and spin potential. This is why they are the most popular strings on the pro tour. Let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks of polyester tennis strings.
Polyester strings are highly durable, withstanding heavy hitting and offering a longer string life. They provide excellent control due to their lower elasticity, allowing you to be more precise with your shots.
Furthermore, they have excellent spin potential, providing players with even more control and increased shot versatility.
Polyester strings are stiffer and less comfortable compared to other materials, resulting in less power and comfort. They also have relatively poor tension maintenance, requiring more frequent restringing to maintain optimal performance.
I have been using polyester strings for many years now, and I love them. As an aggressive baseliner who likes to hit heavy spin, I’ve found that they suit my game style very well and allow me to take big swings at the ball without sacrificing control.
- Decent all-around performance
- Good power
- Not the best tension maintenance
- Wouldn’t recommend for advanced players
Synthetic gut strings are a low-end tennis string that provides decent all-around performance. This makes them very popular among beginner and recreational players.
Synthetic gut strings provide good playability, offering enhanced comfort and control on the court. They are also cost-effective, making them a good option if you’re on a budget.
Additionally, synthetic gut strings are versatile, catering to various playing styles.
Synthetic gut strings are not as durable as other materials and may require more frequent restringing. They may also experience greater tension loss over time, requiring regular restringing.
I’ve found that synthetic gut strings don’t offer the same amount of feel and spin you get from higher quality tennis strings such as natural gut and multifilament.
With their balanced performance, they are very suitable for beginners. If you’re someone who only plays casually and wants a more comfortable string, then synthetic gut may be worth trying out.
- Extremely durable
- Great control
- Good spin potential
- Not arm-friendly
- Very little power
Kevlar strings have gained attention for their exceptional durability and resilience. Made from bulletproof vest material, these strings are very unique.
Kevlar strings are unmatched in durability, withstanding heavy hitting without wear. They provide excellent control and stability, maintaining tension well. The rough surface texture also enhances spin potential.
Kevlar strings can be stiff and less comfortable compared to other materials. Plus, they sacrifice a lot of power. I would not recommend these to players who struggle with arm issues, such as tennis elbow.
Despite potential comfort and power drawbacks, they are a great choice for players who break strings regularly.
My Favorite Kevlar Strings
- Great control
- Great power
- Decent durability
- Perfect balanced performance
- Can be hard to find a compatible pair
Hybrid tennis strings are a popular choice for players looking to create a personalized string setup. By combining two different types of strings, players get an excellent balance in performance.
The most common hybrid setup is having a polyester string in the mains, and a natural gut in the crosses. This gives an excellent combination of durability, control, and power.
However, selecting compatible strings for a hybrid setup can be challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with tennis strings. Plus, it can be expensive as you have to buy two different sets of strings.
Many pros on the ATP Tour like to use a hybrid setup so they get a balanced performance from their racket. The most famous is Roger Federer who paired the Wilson Natural Gut with the Luxilon ALU Power Rough.
Tennis strings can also be constructed in different ways. Let’s take a look at each one.
Monofilament strings are made of a single solid filament, typically polyester or co-polyester. Their unique construction offers advantages in control, durability, and spin potential.
The manufacturing process involves pressing out a single filament, cooling it, and solidifying it. The diameter can vary, with thinner gauges providing more feel and thicker gauges offering better durability.
Monofilament strings are highly durable and less prone to breakage. However, they may lose tension over time, requiring more frequent restringing.
These strings excel in generating spin due to their solid surface, allowing the ball to grip the stringbed. They also provide excellent control and responsiveness, ideal for players looking to be more precise with their shots.
The downside is that they are low-powered and not very arm-friendly. I wouldn’t recommend them to beginners who aren’t able to generate their own power yet.
Unlike monofilament strings, which consist of a single solid filament, multifilament strings consist of multiple strands of synthetic fibers, providing a softer and more comfortable playing experience.
The manufacturing process involves intertwining hundreds or thousands of ultra-thin fibers, typically nylon or polyester, to form a single string.
Multifilament strings offer superior comfort, reducing the risk of arm and wrist injuries. They also provide excellent power and touch, thanks to the elasticity of the fibers.
But many players do struggle to control the power they get from these strings.
Plus, they aren’t the most durable, as the thinner fibers are more prone to breakage compared to monofilament strings.
It’s not uncommon to see multifilament and monofilament strings combined in a hybrid setup. This gives you a good all-around performance.
Solid core and outer wrap strings combine durability, control, and feel.
The manufacturing process involves creating a solid core, typically made from nylon, followed by tightly winding multiple strands of synthetic fibers as the outer wrap.
This construction provides great durability due to the protective outer wrap, reducing the risk of string breakage. Plus, solid core and outer wrap strings offer good control and feel, with the stable core providing a consistent response and the textured outer wrap aiding in grip and spin.
This type of string construction is most commonly found in synthetic gut strings.
Textured strings are designed to enhance spin potential and grip on the ball through their unique surface irregularities. The manufacturing process involves adding ridges, bumps, or indentations on the string’s outer surface.
Textured strings offer increased ball bite and spin potential, allowing players to generate more aggressive spin. They also provide improved grip and control due to the additional traction offered by the texturing.
Textured strings may have a slightly firmer feel and reduced string movement, appealing to players seeking a crisper response.
However, they may have a slightly shorter lifespan due to increased string wear and notching, requiring more frequent restringing.
If you’re someone who likes to take big swings from the baseline and you want to add more spin to your game, I’d recommend checking out textured polyester strings such as the Babolat RPM Blast.
Composite tennis strings blend different materials to offer a unique combination of characteristics.
The construction varies across different composite strings however you’ll find most provide a balance of power, control, and durability. This is done by utilizing the specific properties of each material.
They also offer enhanced comfort and vibration dampening, making them suitable for players with arm or wrist sensitivities.
As I mentioned earlier, the specific design and configuration of composite strings can vary. This means that players need to experiment to find their ideal match.
Gauge refers to how thick the string is. It is measured on a scale from 13-22 with lower numbers indicating thicker strings and higher numbers indicating thinner strings.
The most common gauge sizes are 15L (1.35 mm), 16 (1.30 mm), 16L (1.25 mm), and 17 (1.20mm). Below I’ve included a chart of all the different gauge sizes:
If you’re looking for more control and durability, then you may want to consider thicker strings. However, you are sacrificing feel on the ball. If you’re looking for more power and spin, thinner strings may be the better option for you. But, they aren’t as durable.
If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend trying a string that falls in the middle, such as a 16 gauge. This is because most beginners won’t be able to tell the difference between changes in string thickness, so you’re better off staying in the middle. Plus, this size is available with most tennis strings.
String tension refers to the pressure the strings are strung at on your tennis racket. It is measured in pounds or kilograms, ranging from 35 to 70 pounds (15.88 to 31.75 kilograms).
Higher tensions provide more control, but you are sacrificing comfort and power. Lower string tensions provide more power and comfort but offer less control.
When you go to restring your tennis string, first you must check the recommended tension range, which is listed on the inside edge of your racket frame. Most of the time this is between 50 to 60 pounds (23 to 27 kilograms).
If you’re unsure where to start, try the halfway point of the recommended string tension. From there you can experiment with higher and lower tensions.
String pattern can also affect the performance of your tennis strings.
String pattern refers to the total number of mains and crosses strings on the racket. There are two main types of string patterns:
- Open: There are fewer strings on the racket head, creating large gaps between the strings. This allows for more movement of the strings which results in more power and spin. The most common open string pattern is 16×19.
- Closed: There are more strings on the racket head, creating smaller gaps. This leads to greater control and precision. The most common closed string pattern is 18×20.
For most people, I’d recommend an open string pattern as they provide a more balanced performance. However, if you’re an advanced player who needs a racket that provides more control, it may be worth considering a closed string pattern.
Choosing the right tennis strings is important to ensure that you can perform at your best. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when picking new strings.
The first factor you must consider is skill level. I like to split skill level into three different categories:
- Beginner: You’re just starting out in the sport and have little experience. As a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend spending too much money on a set of tennis strings as you won’t be able to tell the difference between an expensive set and a cheap set. Instead, I’d recommend looking for a durable polyester string at a good price or a synthetic gut if you’re wanting a softer feel.
- Intermediate: You’ve been playing tennis for a while but you’re still honing in on your skills. Once you have reached this level, it may be worth experimenting with different types of strings to find one that suits your game. However, I wouldn’t recommend natural gut as they are very expensive.
- Advanced: You play tennis frequently and can control the placement, spin, and power of your shots. As an advanced player, you should have a clear understanding of your game, which means you should look for a string that matches. It may be worth experimenting with a hybrid set so you can get a good balance in string performance which will help you play your best on the court.
How frequently you play is another factor worth considering.
The more you play, the faster your strings will lose tension or break. If you feel like your strings are breaking too quickly, then you may want to change to a more durable, monofilament string. These strings will maintain their playability for longer and will save you money from restringing.
However, if you’re an advanced player who is competing regularly, then you may be able to justify the cost of an expensive set that is less durable. Although you might want to consider a hybrid set to save you some extra money without sacrificing playability.
It is important that you are choosing a set of strings that suits your style of play.
- Net-rusher: Players that like to play at the net would want a string that provides great feel and touch. This is why many choose softer strings such as multifilament and natural gut. Plus, as they don’t hit as many groundstrokes, the strings don’t wear down as quickly.
- Aggressive Baseliner: If you’re someone who likes to play heavy, powerful shots from the baseline, you would benefit from a durable polyester string. These strings will help you control your big swings and be more cost-effective as they last longer.
- All-court Player: All-court players would benefit from a wide range of strings, it all comes down to personal preference. If you’re looking for a balance in performance, try out a hybrid set that combines a natural gut with a polyester.
If you find that you’re prone to arm injuries, such as tennis elbow, I’d recommend a natural gut, multifilament, or synthetic gut. These strings are a lot softer and will put less stress on your arm.
Your tennis racket is another vital piece of equipment that can help reduce stress on your arm.
Check out my article on the best tennis rackets to find the best one for you.
Most people think that you should only restring your racquet once the strings have broken.
However, this isn’t always the case.
As you use your strings, they will lose tension. Rain, debris, and heat will also have an effect on your tension. In fact, your strings will start to lose tension as soon as they leave the stringing machine!
This means that you may need to get your strings replaced frequently to ensure the best performance possible.
The general rule of thumb for restringing your racket is based on how much you play each week. If you play 3 to 4 times per week, you should replace your strings 3 to 4 times per year, assuming they haven’t already broken.
However, some strings maintain tension better than others. Below is a ranking of which types of strings keep their tension the best.
Rank (Based on Tension Maintenance)
Type of String
If your strings lose tension faster, you will want to get them replaced more often.
So, we’ve explored the wide variety of strings available, such as natural gut, multifilament, synthetic gut, and many more.
Understanding how different types of tennis strings affect you is vital in ensuring you can perform at your best.
Now, what should you do next?
It’s time to pick a string and start playing!