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How to Choose Tennis String

Types of String

There are two main types of string: synthetic and natural gut.

Synthetic Strings

What separates the man-made strings from one another are the materials used to make them and how those materials are joined together. There are two basic types: solid-core (composed of, yes, a solid core encased in one or more wraps of thinner fibers) and multifilament (manufactured from hundreds, even thousands, of individual fibers that are bonded together).

Solid-core string holds tension well and offers a good mix of durability and playability. Multifilaments are softer and more resilient, creating a trampoline effect when you hit the ball, which gives you more power. The downsides to multifilaments are that they're generally not as durable as solid-core and tend to lose their tension more quickly. For this reason, synthetic strings are best fitted for recreational players.

Natural Gut Strings

No synthetic string plays better than natural gut. Made from cow intestine, gut is very elastic and resilient, providing a lively, cushioned feel. On impact, gut supplies a lot of power, but it also cups the ball well, for outstanding control. So if gut's so great, why doesn't everyone use it? For starters, it breaks faster than most synthetic strings. It's not unusual, for example, for players who hit a hard, heavy ball with lots of topspin to bust a gut in a matter of days.

The cost of a string job (string plus installation) runs from around $20 for a basic solid-core string to $40 for a top-of-the-line multifilament. Natural gut? String and installation typically ranges from $30 to more than $60. (Installation is free with racquet purchase at golfsmith.com.)

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