Tennis string buying guide

Tennis string buying guide

Tennis string buying guide

String Tension:

The string tension affects a racquet's playing characteristics, such as the "feel" of the ball, control over the ball, as well as power. All racquets come with recommended string tensions, most of which lie between 50 to 70 pounds.

It is advised by many professional stringers to string your racquet with the lowest tension possible while still being able to maintain control of the ball.

  • For beginners the racquet should have mid-range tension and adjust accordingly to meet their needs. The recommended tension is usually printed on the racquet.
  • For experienced players the racquet is strung with high tension for better control.

Tighter strings mean more shot control and spin, so they are probably better if you’re trying to hit the ball harder and improve accuracy. Looser strings mean more power but less control.

String Gauge:

Thinner strings offer improved playability while thicker strings offer enhanced durability. Tennis string gauges range from 15 (thickest) to 19 (thinnest), with half-gauges identified with an L (15L, 16L etc). A 15L string is thinner than a 15 gauge but thicker than a 16 gauge string. Thinner strings also provide more spin potential by allowing the strings to embed into the ball more.

A list of all the types of tennis string gauges along with their measurements is given below:

Gauge Min (mm) Max (mm)
15 1.41 1.49
15L 1.34 1.40
16 1.26 1.33
16L 1.22 1.26
17 1.20 1.24
17L 1.16 1.20
18 1.10 1.16
18L 1.00 1.10


String Materials:

  • Natural Gut - As the name suggests, this is a natural product made from the gut of animals (mainly sheep). This type of string is still favored by the purists for its optimum mix of power, control and spin. It is, however, the most expensive and least durable of all the strings. It is also susceptible to extremes in temperature and is especially liable to break under damp or wet conditions.
  • Synthetic Gut - These are an extension (and improvement) on nylon strings to compensate for the lack of durability from natural gut. The majority of factory strung rackets are strung with synthetic guts and are a good choice for most people. They give a good mixture of power and control with a “crisp feel and sound”. They do not offer much potential for spin, however, unless you choose a “textured or spin” type synthetic gut string.
  • Multifilament - These are the best examples of using technology to replicate a product that has been successful over a period of time (natural gut). Thin strands are wound around (just like natural gut) to create different variations of spin, power, control and durability. Multifilamentstrings are a good choice for the majority of players as they offer the optimum mixture of playability and durability. They are not as durable as the polyesters but are definitely better on the arm.
  • Polyesters - Polyester is a durable fiber with a thin coating, and is best for players who tend to break strings more frequently. This material is relatively firm and difficult to snap. Polyester generates more topspin than other strings because they don’t slide around during contact with the ball. Many professional players have a high preference for polyester strings because of its ability to generate huge amounts of topspin.
  • Hybrid Combinations - The majority of people now use the polyesters as a hybrid by combining them with a synthetic gut or multifilament string. The general rule is to use the polyesters (harder string) on the mains and anything else on the crosses.