Tennis String Buying Guide

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Choosing Tennis Strings

In the world of tennis accessories, racquet stringing can be a bit intimidating for newer (and even experienced) players. There are no shortage of string types, materials, and brands — all promising superior feel, spin, and performance. This guide will help you sort through all the noise and give you a head start on finding the best tennis strings for your game.

Where to Begin?

Despite the multitude of tennis strings available to consumers, it all really comes down to the balance between two concepts: playability and durability. No matter what material, thickness, or tennis racquet string tension you are looking for, you are likely sacrificing one for the other. Thinner strings provide greater spin potential but are prone to wear and breakage. Thicker strings will last longer but have a reduced feel. For many players, it makes sense to value either playability or durability over the other, but many look for the right combination of the two. So where to begin? Let’s take a look at tennis string gauges to start.

Tennis String Gauges

String thickness -- or gauge -- is registered on a scale of 15 (about 1.41 - 1.49 mm) to 19 (1.00 - 1.10 mm), thickest to thinnest. Half gauges are noted with the letter “L.” In general, thinner strings will provide greater playability and spin while thicker strings offer durability. Newer players may not have the skills necessary to notice much of a difference between tennis string gauges.

Tennis Racquet Stringing Materials

From cow guts to nylon, there’s no shortage of tennis string materials available. Some have fallen out of popularity with modern advancements, while others have stood the test of time. Here’s what we’re working with:

  • Natural Gut Strings: Like the name implies, natural gut strings are usually made from cow intestines. Before you skip ahead in disgust, know that there’s a reason this seemingly unorthodox material is still in use -- it’s simply the best string for playability and feel. While more fragile and prone to breakage and moisture damage, natural gut has long been the first choice for advanced players and professionals due to its excellent feel and unsurpassed resiliency. Before hybrid strings became popular, natural gut was widely used by ATP and WTA players. Downside? Natural gut strings are expensive and far from durable. We would only recommend them for advanced players who don’t mind dropping extra dough for the competitive edge of bringing the best tennis strings to the court.
  • Nylon Strings: Nylon tennis strings are a great all-around alternative to natural gut and are the best tennis strings for the majority of non-professional players. Nylon provides an ideal combination of playability and is also one of the most affordable string materials available.
  • Polyester Strings: For advanced players who are free of arm injuries and more prone to breaking strings, polyester is a material you may want to consider. While lacking the power and feel of nylon or natural gut, polyester will hold up better, offer a firm feeling string bed and can meet the needs of strong players who swing hard and fast.
  • Kevlar Strings: The heavy-duty string. Kevlar is an aramid material used in bulletproof vests and is the strongest tennis string you can buy, but is usually combined with more flexible materials in hybrid models. While Kevlar won’t win any awards for feel and comfort, this is about as durable as you can go.
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Tennis String Construction

A tennis string’s material is just half the story -- the way it is constructed is another important factor to consider. Let’s go over the various types of tennis string construction:

Multifilament: These tennis racquet strings are engineered with multiple filaments (hence the name) wrapped into a single string. Typically crafted with nylon or polyurethane, these strings are a poor man’s natural gut and are designed to imitate gut’s superior playability, power, and control at a slightly lower price point.

Monofilament: Formed of a just a single filament, Monofilament strings trade superior power, feel, and comfort for greater durability. Commonly made from polyester, these tennis strings are ideal for experienced players with fast swings. You’ll most often see find monofilament strings as part of a hybrid set.

Solid Core with Outer Wrap: This is the most popular construction for nylon tennis racquet strings. It provides a light, crisp feel and durability that is largely dependent on the quality of materials used and the number of layers of outer wrap.

Textured: For players looking for tennis strings with improved spin, textured strings are a good choice. These are engineered with additional outer layers that help provide more texture and greater spin potential.

Composites: These are made from a variety of materials combined together to bring out the best features. Most are crafted with a single core and outer wrap layers.

Tennis String Tension

Most tennis racquets on the market come with a recommended tennis string tension range, and this is a good place to start. In general higher tension provides greater control and durability while lower tension provides more power, feel, and comfort. As a less advanced player, it’s best to work at mid-tension and adjust as needed once you have a better feel for your game and individual needs. More advanced players are more likely to appreciate the control provided by tighter tensions. Whatever your choice, you generally should be restringing your tennis racquet strings as many times in a year that you play per week, on average. At minimum once per year, as tennis string tension is reduced over time.

Other Things to Consider

There are a few more important factors to consider for tennis racquet stringing:

Your skills: Are you just starting to play? Don’t worry about playability and spin -- you’ll pick up these skills later on, so dropping your hard-earned money for natural gut or some other superior string material is not wise. It would be best to pick up some durable and affordable synthetic strings to start.

Your injuries: If your play is affected by an arm injury, you’ll want to invest in a multifilament or hybrid multifilament that will reduce stress on your arm and help keep you on the court.

Conclusion

Tennis racquet strings are essential to the game but often overlooked. The best tennis strings for you are out there, but you’ve got to do some research to make the right decision. Understanding the various string materials, construction, and technology is essential. From tennis racquet string tension to tennis string gauge, here you’ll find the information you need to outfit your racquet and hit the court with the best tennis strings for your game.