How to choose the right string for your game?

Racquet sports players frequently spend a lot of time and money investing in a new racquet, but pay little attention to the strings, tension and accessories they use.  The feel and playing characteristics of a racquet can be dramatically altered using different strings and tensions.  For this reason, we stock a huge range of strings from almost all leading manufacturers, enabling us to provide you with the strings which best suit your needs.  If you want individual advice for your racquet or playing style, just send us an email (sales@tennisstringer.co.uk). 
This page provides details of different string constructions, answers to some frequently asked questions regarding strings and results of recent independent strings tests.
To assist you in finding the best strings for you from our huge range, we have provided filters at the top of our Strings page where you can narrow down the products based on the particular characteristics you require.  A guide to the most popular strings based on different playing characteristics is provided below. 
To see which racquets, strings and tensions the top players on the men's and women's professional tours, check out our "Pro Setups" page.
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Details of Different String Constructions
The huge number of strings available nowadays can be very daunting, below we provide details of the most commonly used string constructions for tennis, squash and badminton.  There are variations within these groups, but they provide an overview of the different constructions available.
Monofilament - Originally associated with low cost nylons, nowadays it represents a solid construction blending polyester or polyether prodiving a string with very good durability and a more lovely feel than a kevlar string.
Solid Core with Single Wrap - The most common string construction.  The solid core provides durability and reduces tension loss, whilst the outer wrap protects the core and improves the playability.
Solid Core with Multi Wrap - The extra wrap provides a 'softer' feel and better playability, however the thinner core does mean than durability is reduced.
Multifilament - Very similar in construction to Natural Gut, this coreless type of string is made up of multifibres and coated for protection.  It has excellent playability but tends to lose tension more quickly than string with a centre core.  A 10% increase in stringing tension or pre-stretching is recommended.
Composite - This combination of nylon and aramid fibres (Kevlar, Technora, etc.) increases durability whilst not detracting from playability. 
Hybrid - The combination of a very durable main string (up and down) (aramid fibre or monofilament) and a more elastic cross string (synthetic gut) is ideal for frequent string breakers.  Many players now choose to create their own hybrids to match their specific needs.
Textured - The same construction as a solid core with single wrap but with added outer wrap (or wraps) giving the string a textured surface enabling more grip on the ball (good for spin).
Natural Gut - The ultimate in playability and still favoured by some of the world's leading tennis players.  Either cow or sheep gut is used to make a string with excellent power and feel.  The price means it has a restricted market and extra care needs to be taken to avoid premature breakage.
Kevlar / Aramid Fibre - The ultimate in durability. Kevlar belongs to the family of aramids and is the strongest and toughest string on the market.
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Commonly Asked Questions
 
1.  What do the terms "Playability" and "Durability" mean?
 
Playability is a very subjective term, some players associate it with a firm playing string and others think of it as softness and comfort.  On this site we typically classify multifilament strings which have a soft feel and are easy on the arm as playable.  The material, construction and thickness of a string will all affect the playability of a string.  Natural gut is still regarded the most playable string on the market, although some of the synthetic strings available now offer similar characteristics.
There is a trade of between playability and durability  as one increases the other decreases.  Thicker strings and materials which are mroe resistant to abrasion are more durable, but they are less elastic than synthetic gut type strings.  If a player is regularly breaking a thick version of a basic synthetic gut string, they should consider the following options (in order of increasing durability, or decreasing playability):
 
• Synthetic gut with added durability (commonly a kevlar strand)
• Polyester - either as a hybrid or on its own
• Kevlar Hybrid

2.  What are the different string materials and which should I use?
 
Strings are typically made of one of the following four materials, the properties of each are described below:
 
nylon (synthetic gut) - natural gut - polyester - kevlar
 
Nylon (synthetic gut) - In the past (the days of wooden racquets), most serious players used natural gut and only beginners used nylon.  However, due to improvements in the manufacturing processes, nylon is now used by around 98% of non-professional players as it provides a good combination of playability and durability.  These sophisticated nylon strings are commonly termed "synthetic gut".  On our website, very basic nylon strings are classified as "Nylon" and more sophisticated constructions are classified as "synthetic gut".
Natural gut - Provides the ultimate levels of playability and feel.  Natural gut strings are commonly overlooked due to their price, but are ideal for players suffering from arm pain or wanting the best strings.  Nowadays, natural gut is commonly used in hybrids, combining polyester main strings with natural gut crosses.  Natural gut provides maximum feel and control and its slight texture provides good grip on the ball.
Polyester - Provides outstanding durability, but little power or feel.  Designed for regular string breakers.  Stringing a racquet entirely with polyester is not recommended for anyone except very high standard players - able to compensate for the "dead" feel produced by polyester.  Other players who regularly break strings, would be advised to use polyester main strings in combination with a softer string in the crosses (synthetic gut or natural gut). This provides the durability benefits of polyester, while improving the feel of the racquet.  Polyester strings also tend to lose their tension more quickly than other types of string.
Kevlar - The most durable string available, it has good tension holding ability but is very stiff and provides even less power than polyester.  Kevlar is normally used in a hybrid with a softer cross string (synthetic gut or natural gut).  If you normally use synthetic gut string and are intending to try a kevlar hybrid, you should string the racquet around 10% lower in tension to provide the same feel.
 
3.  What is the gauge of a string and how does it affect its characteristics?
 
The gauge of a string describes its thickness.  Strings with a lower gauge are thicker and offer more durabilty, whereas thinner strings are more playable and offer more spin as they embed into the ball more.  Note that European and US gauges are classified slightly differently, on our site we typically use the following definitions (email us for details of a specific string):
 
                 15 = 1.36 to 1.42mm thickness
 15L = 1.31 to 1.35mm
16 = 1.26 to 1.30mm
17 = 1.21 to 1.25mm
18 = 1.16 to 1.20mm
19 = 1.10 to 1.15mm
                                      20 = thinner than 1.10mm (i.e. badminton)
 
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Independent Tennis String Survey Results
Below we have listed the results from independent string tests by StringForum.net, showing the top rated strings in a variety of different categories.  Take a look and see which ones best match your needs...

Results - 2013
 
Overall
#5 Pacific Classic Gut 16

Price/ Performance
#1 Ashaway MonoGut 17
#2 Wilson Enduro Gold 1.30
#3 Tecnifibre Polyspin 1.27
#4 Gosen OG-Sheep Micro 17
#5 Volkl Cyclone 17
Durability
#3 Signum Poly Plasma Hextreme/ Poly Plasma 1.25/1.23
#5 Wilson Enduro Pro 16
Power
#2 Polyfibre Poly-Hightec 1.20
#5 Polyfibre Poly-Hightec 1.25
Control
#1 WeissCannon Scorpion 1.22
#4 Signum Pro Plasma Hextreme Pure 1.25
#5 Tier One Durafluxx 1.18
Feel
Comfort
#4 Isospeed Control 16
#5 WeissCannon Explosiv! 1.30
Spin
#2 Solinco Tour Bite 17
#4 Tier One T1 Firewire 1.20
Tension Stability
#1 Signum Pro Poly Plasma 1.25
#3 Signum Pro Plasma Hextreme/ Poly Plasma 1.25/1.23
#5 Pacific Poly Force 17
Results - June 2012
Overall
 
Price / Performance

#1 Ashaway Monogut 17
#2 Tecnifibre Polyspin 1.275
#3 Wilson Enduro Gold 1.30
#4 Gosen OG-Sheep Micro 17
#5 MSV Co-Focus 1.18

Power

#1 Babolat VS Tonic+ Ball Feel 16
#2 Polyfibre Poly-Hightec 1.20
#3 Polyfibre Poly-Hightec 1.25
#4 Polystar Energy 17
#5 Babolat VS Touch 16

Feel

#1 Babolat VS Touch 16
#2 Babolat VS Tonic+ Ball Feel 16
#3 Wilson NXT 17
#4 Babolat VS Team 17
#5 Babolat Hybrid Pro Hurricane + VS Team 1.25/1.30

Spin

#1 Pro Supex Blue Gear 1.25
#2 Babolat RPM Blast 1.30
#3 Solinco Tour Bite 17
#4 Signum Pro Plasma HEXtreme / Poly Plasma 1.25/1.18
#5 Luxilon Big Banger Ti-Mo 18

Durability

#1 Luxilon Big Banger Original 16
#2 Luxilon Big Banger Original Rough 16
#3 Signum Pro Plasma HEXtreme / Poly Plasma 1.25/1.23
#4 Yonex Poly Tour Pro 125 1.25
#5 Luxilon Big Banger Ti-Mo 17

Control

#1 Babolat VS Touch 16
#2 WeissCANNON Scorpion 1.22
#3 Wilson NXT 17
#4 Babolat Hybrid Pro Hurricane + VS Team 1.25/1.30
#5 Tecnifibre Competition 1.28

Comfort

#1 Babolat VS Tonic+ Ball Feel 16
#2 Babolat VS Touch 16
#3 Babolat VS Team 17
#4 Isospeed Control 16
#5 WeissCANNON Explosiv! 1.30

Tension Stability

#1 Signum Poly Pro Plasma 1.23
#2 Signum Pro Plasma HEXtreme / Poly Plasma 1.25/1.23
#3 Signum Pro Poly Plasma 1.18
#4 Pacific Poly Force 17
#5 Signum Pro Poly Plasma 1.28

 
 
 
Results - 2009
Over the past few years, polyester strings have become more and more popular – they offer very good durability, good power and excellent spin capability.  However, they are  typically hard on the arm (can cause / aggravate elbow problems) and lose tension relatively quickly.  The recommended strings below are based on a survey in which polyester and non-polyester strings were considered separately. For further details and full results, please take a look at StringForum.net  
 
Polyester of the Year 2009
Non-Poly of the Year 2009
#1 Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power
 #1 Babolat VS Team
#2 Tecnifibre Pro Black Code
 #2 Tecnifibre X-One Biphase
#7 Kirschbaum Pro Line No. II
 #3 Babolat VS Touch
#10 Luxilon Big Banger Original
 #4 Wilson NXT Tour
#12 Luxilon Big Banger Ace
 #5 Gamma LiveWire Professional
 
 #6 Head RIP Control
 
 #7 Babolat VS Tonic + Ball Feel
 
 #9 Tecnifibre MultiFeel
 
 #12 Head IntelliTour

Newcomer of the Year 2009
#1 Tecnifibre Pro Black Code
#3 Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Spin
#4 Luxilon M2 Pro
#5 Babolat Revenge
 
If you break strings very quickly (less than 15hours of singles play) you may want to consider strings with very good durability.  However, bear in mind that durable strings are often stiff and therefore not ideal for players with elbow problems or young players.  These groups of players should consider using a forgiving polyester string or a durable synthetic gut. 
Durability (Polyester)
Durability (Non-Polyester)
#1 Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power
#1 Tecnifibre X-One Biphase
#2 Luxilon Big Banger Original
#2 Ashaway Crossfire II
#4 Tecnifibre Pro Red Code
#3 Head RIP Control
 
#4 Prince Pro Blend DuraFlex
 
#5 Wilson Reaction
 
#6 Head IntelliTour
 
#8 Head FXP
 
Those players who do not break strings very quickly, should consider more playable strings – typically offering good power, control, feel and comfort.  The non-polyester strings listed below are far more forgiving on the arm and will maintain tension well. 
Comfort (Polyester)
Comfort (Non-Polyester)
#1 Tecnifibre Pro Black Code
#1 Babolat VS Team
#4 Kirschbaum Pro Line No.II
#2 Tecnifibre X-One Biphase
#5 Pro Supex Big Ace
#3 Babolat VS Touch
#8 Ashaway MonoGut
#4 Wilson NXT
 
#5 Wilson NXT Tour
 
#6 Babolat VS Tonic + Ball Feel
 
#8 Babolat Xcel
Spin (Polyester)
Spin (Non-Polyester)
#1 Tecnifibre Pro Black Code
#1 Babolat VS Team
#5 Kirschbaum Spiky Shark
#2 Tecnifibre X-One Biphase
#6 Pro Supex Blue Gear
#4 Head RIP Control
 
#6 Wilson Super Spin
 
#7 Head FXP
 
#8 Tecnifibre Multifeel
 
#10 Head IntelliTour
 
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