Finding the perfect tennis string for you can be a real dilemma.
There are so many different brands, materials, gauges and technologies to choose from when it comes to tennis strings that it is easy to become confused and frustrated!
So, understanding exactly what you are looking at when comparing different tennis string types is important, as you can make a more informed decision of which strings are best for you.
Modern tennis string technology has progressed so much over the past couple of decades, to the point that old school natural gut strings have become something of a rarity.
These are relatively inexpensive to manufacture and therefore are very commonly used by recreational tennis players.
Almost all of the main string brands will have multiple multifilament and polyester strings in their arsenal, but which of these materials are best for you?
Well, that is what we are here to find out!
We’ll take a closer look at what multifilament and polyester strings actually are, their characteristics and which string type would be best suited to your game.
If you are looking for a hassle free way to choose your next tennis racket and string combination, check out our custom fitting service.
We do the work for you and pick the most optimal racket, string and tension choices for you, based on the detailed questionnaire you’ll fill out about your game.
It is always great to have someone else guiding you through the racket and string choosing process, which is exactly what our custom fitting service is designed to do!
Multifilament strings were developed to mimic the ever popular natural gut strings.
Being the softest and most powerful strings out there, natural gut strings are sought after and offer exceptional feel and comfort.
However, as modern string technology has developed, most players looking to get that soft, pliant feel from a set of strings will opt for multifilament instead.
The reason for this is that for one, multifilament strings are a lot less expensive than natural gut strings!
They are also a lot better at maintaining their tension for longer, so you will have a good performing string throughout its lifespan if you use multifilament.
Natural gut strings are usually made from Bovine intestines, meaning that they are very costly to produce.
Not only this, but natural gut strings also tend to fray and break a lot more quickly than any other modern string material.
Therefore, whilst natural gut strings may be a treat to use and offer unmatched feel, power and comfort, they are simply not a sustainable choice for the vast majority of recreational players.
This brings us on to multifilament strings. These are made from hundreds of tiny fibres that are woven together to create a soft and pliant tennis string.
They are not quite as feelsome and powerful as natural gut strings, but as an affordable alternative they play really nicely.
The main benefits of using multifilament strings is the comfort and shock absorption that they offer.
Because they are flexible, they are great at dampening the ball on contact and will absorb a lot of unwanted vibrations themselves, rather than transferring them on to your arm.
This makes them a great choice if you have suffered any arm injuries and are looking for a set of strings that will allow you to swing freely through the ball, without worrying about being in pain.
They will certainly be the most arm friendly strings you’ll be able to find without breaking the bank and going for a full natural gut set up.
Multifilament strings will also help you feel connected to the ball. To play with, they feel soft and powerful and mean you can really relax and plow through the ball with ease.
However, there are a couple of things to look out for if you are going to opt for multifilament strings. The first is their overall durability.
They are not the most durable string you can buy by any means, so it may be wise to pair them with a more robust alternative, say a polyester in the mains, to retain a good level of durability whilst benefiting from a good amount of comfort and feel.
Secondly, what you gain in power with multifilament strings you may well lose in control and spin. Whilst they tend to be very feelsome and forgiving strings, they do not bite the ball as well as a rough polyester.
Plus, whilst the additional power may be great for a player looking to get the most out of their swing, if you are an advanced player that is more than comfortable generating your own power, you may be better off going for a more control oriented string set up.
On the other side of the tennis string spectrum, you have polyester strings.
Again, these are a lower cost alternative and have become incredibly popular in recent years.
Many tennis professionals will use polyester strings thanks to the additional spin and control that they offer.
Polyester strings are often cut with angles and ridges and can be a lot more rough than their smooth multifilament alternatives.
This makes them excellent at gripping the ball and producing a lot of spin.
The additional spin and stiffer nature of the polyester string makes it less reactive and therefore less powerful compared to a natural gut or multifilament string.
This also makes them a lot more durable than multifilament strings.
Therefore, if you are looking to curb your raw power and add more control to your game, then stringing up with polyester could well be a good option for you.
However, the main drawback of using polyester strings is their lack of comfort.
Since they are so stiff, they can actually transfer a lot of vibrations onto your arm, putting you at risk of developing tennis elbow or tendonitis.
It is therefore not recommended to use these strings if you are experiencing any arm pain whilst playing tennis as this could make matters worse.
Which Should You Choose?
So the big question is, which of these two popular string variants are best for you?
Well, that totally depends on what you are looking for in your tennis strings!
If you are a beginner who is learning the game and needs a soft, forgiving string bed that will not put them at risk of developing arm issues as you work on your technique, then using a multifilament would be best for you.
Also, if you are coming back from an arm injury or simply want to add more power to your game through your string bed, then using multifilament through and through would be a good option.
These are also a good choice if you are not playing tennis too frequently and don’t have to worry so much about how long the string will last or the tension will hold.
However, if you are a more advanced player that is looking for more control and spin from your string bed, then stringing up with polyester would be the way to go.
You may want to lower the tension slightly to allow for a little more forgiveness, but going for a polyester string is a great way to increase your spin potential and try out a much wider variety of string variants than a multifilament alternative.
Ultimately you should go for the string that you feel most comfortable and natural playing with.
It is therefore very important to try a few different string types before you commit to one or another, but understanding the basic characteristics of multifilament and polyester strings is a great place to start.
Therefore, if you are looking to maximise your power, comfort and feel but are not too bothered about the durability of the string, then opting for a multifilament string would be your best bet.
However, if spin, control and durability are what you are looking for, then a polyester string would be a more suitable alternative.
Be sure to check out our custom fitting service if you need more advice on which strings and rackets to try out, it is a real lifesaver when you are stuck and confused!
You may even find that a hybrid string setup may be the happy medium you are looking for. Most players who opt for this would go for a polyester string in the mains, as the mains will take most of the wear and tear from the ball.
Then, putting a multifilament string in the crosses will soften off the string bed and add more comfort and playability to the racket.
We hope you find what you are looking for and good luck with your search!