This page contains information about the different types of tennis strings and which string is the appropriate for which type of player.
The string market is large, and there's a large
variety of brands offering a diversity of strings under their name. I can't
describe each single string in this place. If you want to know more about
certain strings, check out the string search or
my own experiences with tennis strings.
Natural gut strings are made of cows' gut in
a complex process. Their main features are superb elasticity, tension stability and
"liveliness". But they are very expensive and sensitive to weather, while
one has to say that a lot of improvement has been made in this respect during the past
few years. Most of the pros play natural gut, but I don't recommend natural gut for the
normal club level player.
Synthetic gut strings are mostly high tech products which are constantly being improved to bring their playability into line with natural gut strings but keep the advantage of synthetic gut's higher durability. There's a great diversity of different structures and materials. Let me briefly explain the main categories:
The most frequently used string type. Nylon
strings are among the most reasonable tennis strings and are normally made
of a single nylon core and various resistant wraps. In most cases nylon
strings leave playability to be desired, but because of their low price
they are perfectly suitable for players who have a high string consumption.
To bring synthetic gut's playability more into line with natural gut's, many microfibers are twisted together to a string, which is wrapped with a resisant cover. Advantage: higher elasticity and better playability. Disadvantage: multifilament strings tend to tear soon once the outer wrap is damaged. Also these strings cost more than nylon strings because of the complex manufacturing process. Tecnifibre has sort of specialized on that type of string (for example the 625 TGV), then there are to name the Isospeed line of strings, Pacific Premium Power and the Babolat XCel Premium.
Shortly after the titanium boom in the racquet market,
a flood of "revolutionary" titanium strings entered the string market. Based on Nylon
or multifilament strings, the titanium is either applied to the coat of the string, protecting the
material from UV radiation and abrasion, or the titanium is integrated into the core to modify the
playability of the string.
Polyester strings show a fairly simple structure:
they consist of a single polyester fiber with a thin coating. They come
in different gauges (1.10-1.35mm) which enables you to choose among different
elasticity/durability levels. Polyester strings are little elastic but
do provide high power, high durability and weather resistance. Their price
is comparable to the one of a nylon string. The classic polyester string
might be the Trevira Polystar, which is played by several pros.
The Kirschbaum Super Smash is probably the most popular polyester string. Also Dunlop
(Plus series), Babolat (Polymono), and Pacific (Poly
Power) carry polyester strings in their string program. My tip: try
Besides the main categories mentioned above
there are several other special structures and materials which are of course
reflected in the string price.
Some general stuff about strings
To get the best out of your racquet you'll 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 I created 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. This is useful if playing on clay court or
if the strings are not protected enough by the racquet headguard.
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 (without obligation):