Category Archives: Natural Gut String
A frequently asked question by our clients at the World Headquarters of Racquet Quest, LLC is “what is your favorite string?”
I am going to tell you what it is, and tell you why it is, and why, I believe, it should be your favorite string as well!
It should come as no surprise that natural gut is our favorite string! Well, of course, you say! It is probably everyones favorite but it is way too expensive for most recreational players! You are correct that natural gut is everyones “favorite” string, however, you may not be correct about it being too “expensive” for recreational players!
What follows is predicated on the belief that “performance” is the primary factor in selecting a string.
On the positive side:
- Natural gut plays better longer than any other material.
- Natural gut is more stable than most string materials.
- Natural gut is more forgiving (comfort) than most other materials.
- Natural gut is more eco-friendly than other materials.
- Natural gut is a good hybrid component.
On the not so positive side:
- Natural gut is expensive @ $70.00 to $75.00 (installed).
- Natural gut is more expensive than other materials.
- Making natural gut string is very labor intensive.
- Making high quality natural gut is limited to a “few” major manufacturers.
- Natural gut can be affected by moisture.
And, how do you quantify “plays better”, anyway? Some players are fine with string that has long since offered any performance! Some strings have a “play”life of a couple of hours! So, the player must decide on what is important.
But, if you ask us, natural gut is our favorite string!
Racquet Quest, LLC has for years been doing the extensive evaluation of racquets and string for the benefit of our client’s customization requirements.
Now we are making this evaluation “program” available to anyone that wants to dig deeper into the workings of the string in the racquet!
This is serious stuff and requires significant resources but it is worth it!
Please contact us of you would like to take advantage of our evaluation program!
The little video you see above is just a reminder that we do not promote polyester based string for underage players! So, what is underage? Oh, under 100 would be a good number, I think!
OK, smart alec what are the options?
- No Polyester
Well, there are many, however, if the option is only relative to “no polyester” the best option is PEEK material. This material is usually referred to by the brand name Zyex which is the fiber division of Victrex of England and known by the Ashaway name as well. This material is normally found as a monofilament construction as is most polyester materials.
PEEK/Zyex offers exceptional durability and energy!
- Premium Playability
Natural gut still is the number one playing string available. We use Babolat and Luxilon natural gut but there are other options like Pacific, Klip, and others.
- Excellent Playability
Multifilament construction can act as a spring and return both performance, power, and comfort. Typically the more individual fibers the better. These fibers are usually bonded with a soft adhesive and show signs of “fraying” during use.
Strings in this category include Tecnifibre, Ashaway, Babolat, Head, Yonex, and Gosen and others. Expect to pay $42.00 + for these strings installed.
These multifilament strings are typically constructed using fewer larger diameter fibers to enhance durability. The same “fraying” occurs with this grade of string as well however the larger diameter will last a bit longer usually.
Strings in the category include Tecnifibre, Babolat, Head, Yonex, IsoSpeed, Gamma, and others. Expect to pay between $35.00 and $40.00 for these strings installed.
There are probably 10000 strings that fall under this umbrella! 9999 of these strings will be a nylon core with one or two overwraps bonded to the outer surface. This material and construction has been around for many, many years and has offered great service to millions of tennis players…and is still in major use today!
Strings in this category include at least one, and probably many more, set from every major brand! If you are really cost-conscious do not overlook this material. Expect to pay $27.00 to $35.00 for these strings installed.
And lastly, what is our gripe with polyester? Click on the link below to find out!
As always, our position is “there are no bad strings just bad applications!”
In Part Un we discussed the difference between shanking (mis-hit) and friction failure. It was obvious that the string was broken. But what happens when it is not so obvious?
Part Deux, this part, will examine the frictional notching failure of monofilament string and how we can be prepared for it! To further refine this discussion we will be comparing PET polyester has PEEK monofilament string. The reason is that each material while both will notch one requires more time to reach the critical dimensional decrease that is a failure!
In almost every Racquet Quest Podcast we talk about tension v string diameter and agree that once 50% of the string diameter is notched away the string is vulnerable! So a .050 (1.27mm) diameter string that has a tensile strength of 120 pounds at 50% notching will have 60 pounds of tensile strength remaining.
This graph is a string that was broken during use. The string was removed from the racquet. The top line is the tensile strength in the area of no notching so you can see that it is pretty strong still and has stabilized due to use. That stabilization is indicated by the very tight stress/strain grouping.
However, things go sideways when the notched area of the string is put under stress. The string failed at a force of 63.8 pounds, or about 59% of the used tensile strength. Not bad!
So, notching is failure-inducing but how long it takes to create the fatal notch differs with string material. This particular set of strings had about six (6) hours of play.
In Part Trois, we will look at PEEK material under the same conditions!
Well, in the simplest terms, failure tells us it is time to have the request strung! However, there may be subtleties in string failure that can help us in our quest for tennis racquet performance.
Is the failure shear related or tensile strength related? Was friction the major contributor to the failure? Where did the failure occur (on the racquet, not the court)? Was the failure during play or in the bag?
Shear-related failure is when the string breaks very near the racquet frame. This failure is called a mis-hit or shank! It is like cutting the string with a pair of scissors!
Friction failure is caused by just that, friction! Friction is caused by the string moving on each other. That rubbing creates friction and notches the string where it will fail.
If the racquet failed during play and it is not shear-related, the tensile strength of the string was exceeded. If a string has a tensile strength of 120 pounds and the tension is 60 pounds leaving 60 pounds to be used to hit the ball. Some big hitters can generate at least that much force on a solid forehand!
This graph shows the tensile strength of the string to be about 115 pounds. Given the movement of this string-on-string, the frictional notching can contribute to relatively early failure based on the hitters force.
This graph shows the tensile strength of the string to be about 155 pounds but it has to travel (stretches) further to reach that force.
So, you can see, with this information we can make better decisions when asked to suggest a string, or strings, for a client!