The 10 Best Tennis Strings 2018 + Buyer’s Guide

Best Tennis Strings Buyer's Guide Reviews

Lawn tennis was the original name of tennis. In Britain, they still call it lawn tennis. It was played by Victorian gentlemen and ladies on lawn / grass courts.   It is believed to be an evolved form of French handball. The original game has not changed much over the years. You could play the game as singles or doubles and had two opposing sides. There were rackets with taut strings hitting a ball over a net on a court.

Tennis is now played by millions around the world. Tennis has grown from a garden-party game for the elite to a mental challenge as intense as chess but with physical demands. Professional players can earn tens of millions of dollars annually. The professional players rely on their stamina and skill as well as their equipment to withstand long matches.

One of the most important pieces of equipment is the tennis racquet used to hit the ball with precision back across the net trying to outwit the opponent. Original rackets were made of wooden frames and used the outer skin of sheep intestines as strings. Pierre Babolat from Lyon, France was able to use his knowledge of musical string production as a platform for crossover to tennis strings. There is still a company carrying his name, Babolat, which still makes tennis strings using intestine but now use cow’s intestines instead of sheep’s. The shift to a cow over sheep occurred during World War II when sheep guts were limited. Cow intestines while are longer they are also stronger in tension. For those who are concerned, the guts are procured as a by-product of meat production. The animals are not harvested solely for their intestines. You would think this would make these rather inexpensive but just the opposite is true. Animal intestines are actually rather expensive. Another challenge with using animal intestines as tennis racket stringing material is that under humid conditions the moisture in the air gets into the strings affecting their performance. This led to the development of “synthetic- gut” tennis strings.

Synthetic gut is nylon based tennis string and was developed when oil was less expensive. Nylon is twisted just as the intestines are. There are several advantages to a synthetic tennis string. You can increase durability. Now the synthetic strings are multi-strands of nylon and manufacturers can increase the stability of tension in these strings far better than the original monofilament nylon string from the 1970s.

Tennis started to explode as it got more and more exposure on TV. The popularity of tennis was evolving from that of a game for the elite, as it was originally played, to that of a game, anyone could play. As with anything when demand grows so does competition and that leads to better products for the consumer. Since the boom in the 1980s, the variety of tennis strings has exploded as well. While traditional and synthetic animal intestine strings are still used on tour, there are now strings made of Kevlar, Zyex, Ventran, polyester and polyurethane (alone and in multiple combinations). The different materials and the combination of materials make strings performance specifics such as strings that boast power, durability, comfort or spin. Players all have different preferences and there is a hybrid out there to meet each need. 

Top Tennis Strings Comparison Chart

 

Tennis String Buyer’s Guide

Materials

With so many different materials used in making strings, it is important to first look at what they are and what they mean to tennis strings.

Natural Gut (Animal Intestine)

the original tennis string, it was borrowed from stringed instruments. It is produced by drying out the serous membrane of an intestine and then stretching to form a string.

Benefits
  • Softest even under high tension
  • Provides most energy return
  • Don’t lose rebound power under high tension
  • Absorbs some shock of ball / racquet impact
  • Outstanding tension retention
Weaknesses
  • Expensive to produce
  • Weakens with off-center hits
  • Quality varies based on brand, batch, age, storage, and grade
  • Sensitive to moisture

Synthetic Gut

constructed of nylon and an inexpensive string in comparison to the natural intestine. Textured coatings, colors, and Kevlar have developed over the years. It started out as a mono-filament string but to increase performance and get closer to mimicking actual intestines they have now evolved to multi-filament. This is the string closest to natural gut strings in tension and stiffness.

 Polyester

Stiff and durable initially intended for players who frequently break their strings. They are not very popular because they do not hold their tension. Players who like a little extra topspin find the polyester strings serve that up keeping these strings from leaving the market altogether. The reason for additional topspin can’t be found but through continued testing, it has been proven that polyester offers additional topspin. Researchers assume it is possibly due to the low friction between strings.

 Kevlar

The stiffest and most durable. This synthetic string is extremely hard to break. Next to natural gut strings, Kevlar has the highest tension holding capability. It is also the least forgiving in shock absorption. The highest rate of tennis elbow is reported from players using Kevlar strings, so beginners shoe be cautious if they are using a racquet with kevlar strings. To try and increase shock absorption, Kevlar is often combined with other materials, decreased in diameter, or strung using less tension.

Vectran

In terms of stiffness and durability, it is next to last. It is hard to find a player that uses this type of string. It is sometimes added to nylon to increase the durability of nylon and stiffness.

 Zyex

Good rebound efficiency especially when strung at low tensions. It has a low stiffness overall. There is a huge drawback to this string. The inner materials do not bond with the wrapping materials and what happens is often the wrapping will wear away leaving the inner filaments exposed.

Polyolefin

You will find that polyolefin used in tennis strings will make one of the softest strings. It has a middle of the road tension retention and durability. It is used often as a cross string in a hybrid string set up for people who do not break strings very often. This less expensive string compared to natural gut and good for people who have suffered from tennis elbow.

String Construction:

Solid Core with Single Wrap – this is the most popular of the nylon string / synthetic gut construction.

  • Quality of nylon & wrap design affect comfort & feel
  • Maintains tension
  • Crisp feel

Solid Core with Multi Wraps – similar to single wrap but has more than one layer of wraps

  • Extra cushion and durability

Multifilament – bundles of unwrapped micro-synthetic fibers.

  • Similar to natural gut
  • More comfortable than solid core strings
  • Soft comfortable string
  • Great for players with tennis elbow
  • Tend to fray

Multicore with Wraps – multifilament string wrapped with one or more outer layers.

  • Soft
  • More durable than multifilament
  • Great for players with tennis elbow

Textured – textured outer surface on the outside of an extra filament, raised ridge, giving it a dented or rough surface.

  • Gives extra grip on ball
  • Enhances spin

Composites – for lack of a better term the “everything string”. They are made of combinations of materials.

  • Brings out the best features of each string used
  • Vary depending on construction materials

Monofilament Polyester / Co-Polyester – is a monofilament string made into a single strand.

  • Stiff
  • Best for advanced players
  • Great off center feedback
  • Best of all strings for spin
  • Co-Polyester’s low-friction coating enhances snapback
  • Shaped Polyester adds edges to grip the ball adding spin
  • Textured or Rough offer better grip equaling in more spin

 

Tension:

            The unit of measurement for string tension on a tennis racquet is pounds. It reflects the amount of pressure. There is a standard setting of around 50 – 70 pounds. Rackets come with a recommended tension range. It is recommended that beginners start in the middle of the road and play with it to find the tension best for their strength and sensitivity to ball feel. There are benefits though to rackets strung with more or less tension.

 Lower Tension

have a larger “sweet spot” and will generally hit farther. The drawbacks are that it can send balls off in unpredictable directions so are not so good for fine-tuned shots. So in short softer = more power and less control.

  • More Power
  • More Feel
  • More Comfort
  • Less Control
  • Less Durability

Higher Tension

with a strong swing you can get control but you get less feel on the ball. While it will give you consistent power shots from the baseline long term play with tight strings can lead to tennis elbow. Summing it up higher tension = lower power but great control.

  • More Control
  • More Durability
  • Less Power
  • Less Feel
  • Less Comfort

Over time, the elasticity of the strings will diminish. When it gets really soft they are known as “Dead Strings”. You will know you have dead strings when your racket’s performance starts to slide. You may lose power. Your arm can become sore with the normal play because you have to provide the power the strings have lost. These are signs you need to get your racket restrung. How often you will need to have your racket restrung depends on you. Some recommendations are to restring as many times in a year as you play in a week. So if you play 5 days a week you should restring your racquet 5 times in the year. Others recommend restringing after 40 hours of play. Many clubs’ pro shops have string tension meters, and if you lose more than 25% is another recommended time to restring. There are also players who just wait until a string breaks.

 

String Diameter (Gauge)

The gauge refers to the diameter of the string. Gauge is measured in millimeters and / or gauge numbers. The higher the gauge number the thinner the string. Thinner strings provide more power, feel and spin potential whereas a thicker string will give more durability and control.

 

Best Tennis Strings Reviews

 

Babolat RPM Blast Tennis String Black – Best Tennis Strings for Spin $

Used by Rafael Nada and Jo Wilfreid Tsonga! These co-polyester strings have an octagonal profile to enhance spin generation. The silicone coating allows the strings to move easier across each other for more play and it enhances durability by lessening string friction. RPM Blast gives great baseline play with added spin.

Pros

  • Octagonal profile gives great spin
  • Long lasting
  • Great control

Cons

  • Not good for weaker players
  • Does not volley well

 

Luxilon ALU Power Spin 127 Tennis Racquet String – Best Tennis Strings for Explosive Top Spin $$

A 5 sided co-polyester string. The pentagonal shape gives great “snapback” and has amazing spin. The Luxilon ALU Power Spin stands up under huge shots and manages to maintain precision helping you stay in the lines. These are ideal for a hybrid string set up.

Pros

  • Pentagonal profile gives great “snapback”
  • Long lasting
  • Great control

Cons

  • Not good for weaker players
  • Not good for tension above 55 pounds
  • Not for beginner or early intermediate players

 

Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex 16g White Tennis String – Best Tennis Strings for Your Money $

Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex has been the world’s most popular string for many years. It has a classic solid core with a single wrap makes this a great all-around string. The aramid fibers used in the outer wrap add a bit of stiffness to the synthetic gut core. The solid center core gives a consistent tension and the wrap adds durability making this a favored string amongst all levels and style of players.   It is offered in many colors: white, yellow, gold, black, blue, purple and platinum and 4 different gauges: 15, 16, 17, and 18.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Great for all types of players
  • Easy on your arms

Cons

  • Not good for powerful players
  • Soft feel
  • Tend to slide

 

 Solinco Tour Bite Tennis String Set – 16L – 1.25mm – Best Tennis Strings for Comfort $$

Solinco has designed the Tour Bite Tennis string for comfort. It maintains a high spin with a co-poly monofilament shape for which Tour Bite is known. The Tour Bite is more forgiving with a softer chemical composition.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Great for powerful intermediate and advanced players
  • Strong control

Cons

  • Not for the weak
  • Soft feel

 

 Head Rip Control Tennis String – Best Tennis Strings for Natural Gut Similarity $$

The Rip Control by Head, made with a multifilament synthetic gut, is as close to natural gut as you can get. A textured surface is added for increased spin. This is a middle of the road string when it comes to stiffness. It combines durability and playability without a huge hit to your wallet.

Pros

  • Soft yet powerful
  • Great for powerful intermediate and advanced players
  • Strong control

Cons

  • Not for the weak
  • Soft feel
  • Tend to break easily at lower gauges

 

 Luxilion ALU Power 125 Tennis Racquet String Set (16L Gauge, 1.25 mm) – Best Tennis Strings for Using What the Pros Use $$

ALU Power 125 is an outstanding string for players looking to improve their feel and ball control. Luxilion ALU Power 125 is made of copolymer fluorocarbon resin fibers for superior durability and resilience. These are great strings to use in hybrid setups. ALU Power 125 strings are used Roger Federer and many other Top 10 players.

Pros

  • Maintains tension
  • Excellent hybrid string
  • Very good ball control

Cons

  • All around great – No Cons

 

Soilnco Hyper-G Heaven High Spin poly string – 40 foot Pack – Best Tennis Strings for Great Bite $

The Hyper-G was originally intended for pro use only. The feedback and popularity were so high that Solinco has offered it to the masses. The Hyper-G is made of square shaped co-poly and offers up a powerful high spin.

Pros

  • Great “bite”
  • Very durable
  • Very good ball control

Cons

  • Rates lower on power and feel
  • Strings tend to shift
  • Not good for players with arm / wrist ailments

 

Luxilon 4G Tennis String Best Tennis Strings for Tension Control $$

Luxilon is a pro tour favorite brand. The 4G tennis string is co-polyester and ultra-playable. The focus when developing this tennis string was on the issue of tension control. The goal was to allow the string to maintain the string’s tension longer. The spin offered up with this string is something you might find in movies. Testers reported the massive bite. Control and comfort are not compromised in the development of this string. Reportedly the comfort of the 4G is much better than most co-polyester strings.

Pros

  • Massive “bite”
  • High durability
  • Maintains tension well

Cons

  • Offers less power
  • Strings tend to shift
  • Not good for players with arm/wrist ailments

 

Kirschbaum Set Pro Line II Tennis String – Best Tennis Strings for Tournament Player Level Performance $$$

Kirschbaum has 20 years of manufacturing tennis strings. The Set Pro Line II is a string that offers tournament player level power, spin and control on the ball. Made with co-polymer materials you will get steady playing characteristics.

Pros

  • Superb power
  • Easy on the arms
  • Strings stay in place

Cons

  • Soft for a copolymer
  • Strings become “Dead” rather quickly

 

 Wilson NXT Control 16 Tennis Racquet String – Best Tennis Strings for Players Who Suffer From Tennis Elbow $

Wilson is an American tennis icon. The NXT Control is a hybrid string. It is made of a polyester mono core and wrapped with polyester and nylon fibers. NXT Control offers comfort and control to the average player. This string is great for players seeking comfort and to keep balls in play. This string is best for anyone suffering from tennis elbow or sore wrists.

Pros

  • Superior comfort
  • Easy on the arms
  • Strings stay in place

Cons

  • Breaks easily
  • Strings become “Dead” rather quickly
  • Should be strung at low tension

 

 

Conclusion 

            Shopping for new tennis strings can be a bit overwhelming if you have not done your homework. There are so many different factors that make up strings. Firstly you need to really know what type of player you are. Where do you rank? Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced player? Do you attack the ball or do you prefer your racket to provide more of the power? Using the wrong string can lead to injury, poor performance and loss of enthusiasm for the game.   The good news is that there is a string out there for every style player and every ability player.

 

For the players who really enjoy a good bite so they can deliver a ball with a massive spin to their opponent, we really recommend either Babolat RPM Blast Tennis String Black or Luxilon ALU Power Spin 127 Tennis Racquet String. They both offer great shapes to their strings for grabbing the ball and returning a massive spin.

Players are very loyal to strings. Once you find the right string for you, the fell will be like finding a good shoe. Often you will want to buy a reserve so you will have them ready for restrings and comfort of mind knowing your old friend will be back to top performance.

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