What String Do I Choose?

What gauge of string should I get?

Gauge refers to the thickness of the tennis string. Most strings on the market are between 15 gauge (the thickest) and 18 gauge (the thinnest). The thinner the string, the better it will play-you'll get more "feel" and control because the string bites into the ball. The downside: Thin strings break more quickly. Your best bet is to start with a 17-gauge string; if it snaps in 10 hours or less, go to a 16-gauge. But if it lasts for over 25 hours, consider switching to an 18-gauge.

What string should I buy?

With literally hundreds of different strings on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to find the one that best complements your game. But if you take the time to understand the main categories of string and what your priorities are, you'll have an easier time narrowing down the possibilities. There are five categories of string:
  • Nylon Solid Core: This is the most basic (and least expensive) type of string, with a solid core and one or two outer wraps. These strings are fairly durable and hold tension well, but they aren't the most comfortable because they're relatively stiff and don't cushion much of the ball's impact. Companies typically call their nylon solid core strings "synthetic gut." Some of the best choices in this category include Wilson Extreme Synthetic Gut, Gamma Synthetic Gut, and Prince Synthetic Gut Original.
  • Nylon/Polyurethane multifilaments: These are the top shelf of synthetic strings. Multifilaments are composed of hundreds, often thousands, of individual fibers that are woven together to create a uniform piece of string. With multifilaments, you'll get excellent feel, and, because they do a good job of absorbing shock, a comfortable sensation. Multifilaments usually run from $15 to $30; when you factor in the labor, it's a pricey but worthwhile proposition, especially for better players who like to feel the ball. Our favorites are Wilson NXT Tour, Technifibre NRG2, and Gamma Live Wire Professional.
  • Natural Gut: Still the gold standard, natural gut-which is made of cow intestine-pockets the ball more deeply across a smaller area, for control, but also allows more of the ball's energy to be returned to the ball, for pop. And you won't find a more comfortable string, so if you have arm problems, natural gut is, well, the natural choice. Gut is the most expensive, it isn't durable (players who hit a heavy ball have been known to break a string in a couple hours), and though companies now use protective coatings, the string is still the most susceptible to losing tension when it's exposed to moisture. Babolat, which produces 90 percent of the natural gut on the market, has many types of gut; we like the Babolat VS Touch.
  • Polyester: These strings are popular among advanced players who find that poly takes a little power off their shots, enabling them to swing harder and still keep the ball in play. Polyester is also ideal for those who tend to break strings but who don't want to use a stiff, uncomfortable Kevlar hybrid. Polyester's biggest weakness is that it loses tension quickly, though the latest generation, of which the Babolat Hurricane, Head Ultra Tour, and Wilson Enduro are among the best, does a better job of maintaining its tension thanks to recent advances in the manufacturing process.
  • Hybrids: The combination of one type of string for the mains and another for the crosses is called a hybrid. This is done for durability. Frequent string-breakers should go with a stiff aramid fiber like Kevlar for the mains (the strings that usually break first) and a softer synthetic for the crosses. Hybrids last long but can produce a boardy feel. Two of the most popular prepackaged aramid hybrid sets are Gamma Infinity and Prince ProBlend. Some newer hybrids offer a polyester/synthetic gut (or natural gut) combination for a more forgiving feel than Kevlar-based hybrids. Wilson Ultimate Duo, Wilson Champions Choice, and Pacific PolyGut ATP Blend are 3 great options.

What Tension Should I Select?

At what tension should I have my racquet strung?

We have provided the Manufacturer's recommended tension range, measured in pounds; 55 to 65 pounds is a common range. The higher end will provide more control. The lower end will provide more power. Remember, increasing power reduces control and increasing control reduces power. We suggest to find your ideal tension, string your racquet in the middle of your frame's suggested range. After you play a few times, you'll be faced with one of three scenarios:
  • You have the ideal amount of control and power. If this is the case, you've found the right tension..
  • You didn't get enough control. Increase your racquet's string tension by 2 pounds. You'll lose some depth on your shots, but you'll gain control.
  • You didn't get enough power. String your racquet at a slightly lower tension. Remember, though, that if you lower the tension too much, the strings will become trampoline-like and you'll have significantly less control.