As a racket stringer, I am sharing my experience with you tennis-heads on what strings are frequently purchased by my clients. Through this article I provide a guide on popular strings to help you make an informed decision next time you restring your tennis racket.
You already know there are hundreds of tennis brands out there, each with a flagship string widely adopted by club players and professionals alike. Consequently, its easy to get confused when deciding on a string brand, type, or set. Therefore, as a small shop owner, I decided to stock a reasonable and diverse selection of strings to accommodate all types of tennis players. On many occasions, customers brought in their own favorite string sets for me to install on their rackets. I have listed some of those as well based on how frequently I saw them.
What Tennis Strings should you Use
Wilson Synthetic Gut Power
The Wilson Synthetic Gut Power, casually known as Wilson SynGut, is easily the most popular tennis string among club players who get rackets strung by me. It offers an excellent all round balance in terms of durability, power, control, and price.
As a pure single core polyester string, its immediate advantages are power and durability. These are the most demanded string qualities for beginner and Intermediate tennis players. The smooth surface of the string may reduce the racket’s ability to impart spin on the ball, but increases overall durability of the string bed due to less friction. Furthermore, as players of this level tend to stay on the affordable side of the tennis product line due to breakages and experimentation, this string is reasonably priced and available at most pro shops.
The usual drawback to poly strings is comfort. While this is a pure polyester string that is build to last, it also does surprisingly well in the comfort department due to its elasticity and ability to absorb the vibrations of impact. I would however recommend pairing these strings with a flexible comfort frame such as the Head Ti Comfort series and Wilson Clash series.
My favorite part about this string however is the variety of colors it comes in. Black, White, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow, Pink, and Purple. This gave my customers the opportunity to get creative and think about the aesthetic of their rackets. I also offered Color Hybrids, where I mixed different sets of Wilson Synthetic Gut to create personalized tennis rackets.
Final Verdict: Best Value for Money.
Wilson Sensation and Wilson NXT
Almost the alter egos of Wilson Power, the Wilson Sensation and Wilson NXT have for years remained among the most popular tennis strings on the market. Their selling feature is comfort.
For those who dislike the hardness of polyester strings the vibrations they can send to your elbow, these multifilament strings are ideal for delivering feel and comfort. Due to their construction, these are more elastic compared to the harder monofilament strings. This also means a larger trampoline effect allowing the ball to ricochet off the racket face with more speed. In other words, more power.
The smooth surface of these string does however reduce its spinning potential. However, the feel and control of the Sensation and the NXT makes up for that. If control becomes a concern, consider using these strings at the higher end of the tension range of your racket.
The other general drawback of multifilament strings is durability and playability. Playability here means the amount of time tennis strings can maintain tension before they soften up and affect ball control. Tennis strings should be replaced every 4 months, whether you are a frequent player who uses them beyond their lifespan, or whether the racket stays in your storage causing the strings to become brittle with time. Due to the softness of such strings, you may find yourself replacing them more often than poly strings in order to maintain the consistency of your shots.
In terms of durability, multifilament strings tend to fray after extended usage. Once the individual fibers become visible, you never know when the weakest link in your string bed might snap. It may be psychological, but fraying strings do indicate whether you should get your racket restrung before the next big match.
Final Verdict: Addictively Comfortable.
Babolat RPM Blast
This best seller by the French tennis giant Babolat does exactly it what it says: SPIN THE BALL. Endorsed by Raphael Nadal, a name synonymous with top-spin, this co-polyester string has an eight-point-star shaped cross-section designed to bite the ball and impart a serious amount of revolutions.
Multiple customers came to me with top quality brand new unstrung rackets with packs of Babolat RPM Tennis strings. They knew exactly what they wanted. A quality string for those who enjoy watching the ball speed towards their opponent while sharply dipping over the net. As its a single core co-polyester string, it also offers durability and longevity. Due to its hardness, you may consider stringing this at a medium to low tension for extra power and comfort.
Final Verdict: High performance and worth it.
For those Wilson loyalists, an alternative to Babolat RPM is the Wilson Revolve String. This stiff co-polyester tennis string is engineered to suit players who like putting top spin on the ball while keeping the great qualities of the Wilson SynGut due to its shape.
Like the SynGut, it also comes in several funky colors if you like high performance aesthetic rackets.
Final Verdict: A good alternative to RPM Blast
Tecnifibre X-One Biphase
The other french tennis giant, Tecnifibre, has done really well with its synthetic multifilament string that looks, feels, and plays like natural gut. As natural gut is expensive and the choice of Pros who don’t actually pay for that stuff, the rest of us need an alternative that gives us similar performance.
The Tecnifibre X-One Biphase, despite its sci-fi sounding name, has been particularly popular among tennis players who want the best possible multifilament string at a decent price. It plays similarly to the Wilson Sensation or NXT due to its multifilament construction and usage of high quality material. Due to its popularity in tennis, Tecnifibre crept the Biphase into the squash market with variants in higher string gauges.
For tennis players, this string offers the performance you expect from good quality multifilament strings. For stringers, handle it like you would handle natural gut, with love and care.
Final Verdict: Almost Natural Gut
Gamma Advantage and Gamma Challenge
If you are frequent string breaker who has to replace strings often, I highly recommend trying out Gamma Strings. These are economical single core polys that are practically unbreakable.
Someone could guide you to use Kevlar tennis strings as they are literally bullet proof and are cheap. They would solve your string breaker problem, but at the cost of performance and comfort. In terms of performance, the issue with Kevlar is its minimal elasticity that provides very little push on the ball. This means you will rely on extra arm strength to generate power, no matter how low your string tension is. This leads to another bigger problem: injuries.
Because Kevlar strings are so hard, they barely absorb any impact vibrations and transfer most of it into your forearm. With long term usage, this may lead to tennis elbow and other muscle issues due to the excessive force you are using.
Gamma strings are softer than Kevlar and hence provide a reasonable amount of power and comfort. Even Gamma strings eventually break under extreme circumstances, but will give you good value before they do. They are good for training and game development, and can even be used in competitive settings where you need a reliable string with adequate power and control to get you through a match or tournament.
Gamma Tennis Strings come in several varieties, but I have mainly dealt with Gamma Advantage and Gamma Challenge, which are cheaper than others. When you get to higher price ranges of Gamma, you might as well start considering higher end brands altogether.
Final Verdict: A better option for the string breaker
Purchase cut lengths of Gamma advantage tennis string from the beyond nothing online store or through the link below:
Head Synthetic Gut PPS
If you are a beginner, or are just looking to fill your racket, the Head Synthetic Gut PPS tennis string is a good option. Its a fairly comfortable string for the casual player looking for a budget option.
Performance-wise, I would not recommend this for spin, control, or durability. However, its a very soft multifilament string that gives a decent amount of power and comfort. On the other hand, its smooth and lubricated surface offers low control and grip on the ball. If you want to play precise tennis with this, you’ll need an impressive amount of skill to control the ball.
Final Verdict: Good budget option for amateur play
Luxilon ALU Power and ALU
These are some fancy shmancy tennis strings that come in metallic packaging and sound elite. The price tag of these strings is also as expected but not ridiculous either.
I have worked with Luxilon ALU Power and Luxilon ALU Smart strings. In both cases, these co-poly strings were most demanded by those who have already been using them for years. This shows once you go Luxilon, you can’t go back. I also saw these paired with Wilson rackets such as the Wilson Pro Staff 97l and the Wilson Clash Series. It seems these particular players wanted the Roger Federer setup.
The LXN ALU Power also comes in a ROUGH variant engineered to provide extra control and spin on the ball while maintaining the power and durability of the original ALU Power co-polyester strings. This dented or dotted variant does however tend to be more prone to breakage due to abrasive action between the strings on impact.
Luxilon claims that the ALU Smart co-poly strings are designed to behave according to the type of shot you play. This sounds like artificial intelligence to me. However,what I like about the ALU SMART is its gummy texture which I do believe improves ball control. I also appreciate its unique transparent and black aesthetic.
If you are willing to for high quality strings endorsed by pros like Federer, then you definitely should consider Luxilon. Word of caution is that you will never settle for anything less afterwards.
Final Verdict: High End Strings for the High End player
Head Velocity MLT
This might be the best multifilament tennis string on the market.
While Head tennis strings tend to be less favorable against Wilson, Babolat, and Luxilon, this one stands out in terms of all the great qualities we look for in multifilaments.
Its direct competitors are the Wilson NXT, and the Tecnifibre Biphase. However, its main advantage comes from its construction, which consists of an inner core of poly-fibres sheathed within a coating of filaments. This gives the control and spin of a poly, but at heart remains a multifilament tennis string offering comfort and lots of power. It is available at a price similar to its competitors and therefore wins in the performance department. Can’t go wrong with these if you are multifilament user.
Final Verdict: The best multifilament tennis string
Tennis Strings Guide Continued: Gauges and Tensions to Use
Now that you know which strings to look out for when restringing your tennis racket, here are some other factors you need to consider. I’ll try giving a quick overview on string gauges and tensions to help guide you on the best set up for your tennis racket strings.
Tennis String Gauge
Simply put: Higher String gauges means thinner strings. Thinner strings stretch more and produce more power. They also have a sharper bite on the ball which can result in more control and spin. The difference in comfort level between thick and thin string gauges may be negligible as this depends mostly on whether its a poly, co-poly, or multifilament string. However, because they are so thin, they are easy to break.
In contrast, lower string gauges, or thicker strings are more durable. They may not have a sharp bite on the ball but can give excellent power and control based on the quality and material of the string.
An average tennis string has a gauge of 16. Anything above that, 17, 18, is considered high, while gauges below that, 15, 14, are considered low. You might also see some string gauges with an L on them, such as 16L and 15L. L in this case means “light”, and that the string is a lighter or thinner version of that gauge. For example, a 16L gauge string would be thinner than a 16 gauge string but thicker than a 17 gauge string.
Tennis String Tension
Most Tennis rackets come with a general guide on the range of string tensions its designed for. High string tensions would be nearer to the maximum value of this range, while lower tensions would be closer to the lower end. Medium tension would be smack in the middle of this range.
Players opt for higher tensions if they want more control on the ball and lesser power. In contrast, players using lower tensions are looking for extra power from the greater trampoline effect. If you are not sure what tension works best for you, keep your strings at medium tension to start with and guide yourself from there as your tennis develops.
Thank you for reading this tennis strings guide
I hope this guide on tennis strings has been useful to you. If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to contact me and share them.
If you liked this article about tennis, check out this guide on the best strings for Squash.