Tennis String Gauge 101

While it may be basic information for some of you, you’d be surprised at how many questions I receive about string gauge – what it is, what it means, etc. Therefore, I compiled the video below to provide an overview about tennis string gauge. Please check it out and, of course, let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks for checking in.

DH

Filed Under: StringsMiscellaneous

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  1. Winslow says:

    David, what’s the relationship between string gauge and tension that it is strung on a racquet? I had a stringer tell me that if you took an identical string in a 16 and a 17 gauge and strung them at the same tension that the thinner string will feel like it is strung tighter, therefore if you should decrease the tension on a thinner gauge string if you want the same type of playability.

  2. David Henry says:

    Winslow – Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I do not have a definitive answer. I no a great deal about strings and stringing, but when stringing gets down to the complex physics type of discussion, I am probably not the best qualified to answer. The USRSA states that the thinner the string, the more power and spin potential. This seems counter to what your stringer once told you – in that a thinner string would have more power and probably not feel tighter. Sorry – I wish I had a better response.

    Thanks.

    DH

  3. Chris Johnson says:

    Winslow/David…..I have anecdotal reference on this question. I agree with the stringer, all things equal, thinner gauge will feel tighter. I’ve experimented with my frames with same string, different gauge, same frames. That is the feel I’ve found, thinner gauge feels tighter overall. I’ve also noticed that when pulling the tension, thicker gauge will fight back a bit more at same poundage on my crank machine.

    Last note, RPM Blast packaging shows “ideal” poundage for tension, not sure how they come up with this,
    52 lbs at 17, 62 at 16. Seems to suggest the correlation between gauge and tension per Winslow’s stringer.

  4. David Henry says:

    Thanks for chiming in on this, Chris. Interesting information. Here’s what I’ll do… Within the next couple of weeks, I’ll string up two of my sticks – same racquet, same one-piece traditional pattern, same string type, and same tension. The only difference will be gauge. I’ll try to string a 15 gauge and a 17 gauge (or 16 and 18), and then I’ll immediately measure the Dynamic Tension (DT) with my Beers ERT 300. It will be interesting to see if one gauge has a different DT than the other. I’ll post a video about this afterward.

    Interesting about RPM Blast as well… I just strung some of this a couple of days ago for a client, but he gave me the coil without the packaging – so I didn’t see the recommendations you mentioned. That is quite a difference in tension between the two gauges.

    Take care.

    DH

  5. Tom Bradley says:

    What multifiber has the best feel for power, spin and touch?
    I used to play with babolat pro hurrican tour 17 at 56lbs and
    found that it lost tension rapidly and with that the trampoline effect kicked in as well as loss of touch. I switched to Kirschbaum touch multifiber 17 at 54 lbs and again the tension collapsed with the strings moving way too much. I strung with Kirsch 17 at 58 lbs, stretch 10%, and so far it is playing well except for the string movement beginning again. It seems that no multifiber (gut style synthetic) has the ability to hold 58 lbs. Should I raise the tension to 60 lbs or more to maintain the playability?
    I don´t care about durability. What would you suggest having experience with the likes of luxilon big banger alu, gamma live wire xp, etc. I would go with gut but the clay eats it up, plus it can´t take the humidity and moisture, so multifiber for a lively feel as opposed to the dead 15/16 lbs. Thanks in advance for your professional opinion. Tom

  6. David Henry says:

    Tom – welcome to Inspired Tennis and thanks for the comments/questions.

    It looks like you’re trying some very different types of strings. Babolat Pro Hurrican Tour (PHT) is a co-polyester string. Kirschbaum Touch Multifibre is a multifilament. Two VERY different strings.

    PHT will allow you to generate great spin (assuming you have spin-producing groundstrokes with fast racquet head speed). PHT will not give you much touch/feel at all – and is not a powerful string. The strings, while fresh, should remain fairly straight and not move out of place much at all. PHT is very durable from the perspective of the strings not breaking, however, like most co-poly strings, it will lose playability and not maintain tension very well.

    Touch Multifibre will give you more power and touch/feel, and it should maintain tension well. The strings, however, will move around – that is just the nature of the beast. Multifibre, because it doesn’t have a large, solid core (it has many, many small filaments bundled together) will not be as durable from a string breaking perspective.

    My favorite co-poly is Luxilon Alu Power Rough. This is what I use all the time in a full bed.

    My favorite multi is Babolat Xcel Power with Tecnifibre X-One BiPhase a close second.

    Tell me a little bit more about your game/style of play, and then perhaps I can help recommend a string setup that suits your game. Also let me know if you have any arm problems and what your budget for a set of string is.

    Take care.

    DH

  7. Mike T says:

    Hey DH,

    Did you ever try the experiment of stringing two of your racquets exactly the same, except for the string gauge? (April 22, 2011 comment)

  8. David Henry says:

    Nope – not yet. Still on the list of “Videos to Do”. 🙂

    DH

  9. Mike T says:

    BTW, I had this crazy experience recently regarding gauges. I string my cousin’s racquet and mine with the same setup (except for tension). We use a syn/poly setup of gauges 1.22/1.20, mine at 58/54 lbs, his at 60/58 lbs.

    For our latest string jobs, strung at the same time consecutively, I used a multi/poly of gauges 1.30/1.28, mine at 58/54 lbs, his at 60/58 lbs. Okay, so it’s not a perfect experiment because of using entirely different strings… but anyways, when I started hitting with the racquet, it felt a bit more head heavy. When I gave the racquet to my cousin, the first thing he asked was why it felt heavier.

    Now, I had absolutely no expectations of a difference in static weight or swingweight, no “pre-bias” at all. But for both me and my cousin to feel a difference, I think it may be real.

    And still, it’s hard for me to believe. Seriously, would such a small change in diameter of the strings (both mains and crosses) be enough to change the weight of the string bed, such that the player can notice it?

  10. Mike V T says:

    (your site is not letting me post a second comment because it thinks it’s a duplicate, so I tried changing my name a bit)

    BTW, I had this crazy experience recently regarding gauges. I string my cousin’s racquet and mine with the same setup (except for tension). We use a syn/poly setup of gauges 1.22/1.20, mine at 58/54 lbs, his at 60/58 lbs.

    For our latest string jobs, strung at the same time consecutively, I used a multi/poly of gauges 1.30/1.28, mine at 58/54 lbs, his at 60/58 lbs. Okay, so it’s not a perfect experiment because of using entirely different strings… but anyways, when I started hitting with the racquet, it felt a bit more head heavy. When I gave the racquet to my cousin, the first thing he asked was why it felt heavier.

    Now, I had absolutely no expectations of a difference in static weight or swingweight, no “pre-bias” at all. But for both me and my cousin to feel a difference, I think it may be real.

    And still, it’s hard for me to believe. Seriously, would such a small change in diameter of the strings (both mains and crosses) be enough to change the weight of the string bed, such that the player can notice it?

  11. Mike V T says:

    Oooh, possibly confusing statement from my post above:

    “When I gave the racquet to my cousin, the first thing he asked was why it felt heavier.” –> I gave HIS newly strung racquet back to him.

  12. David Henry says:

    Hey Mike. Sorry about my site not letting you post a second comment. Looks like you found a creative way around the issue though. 🙂

    Interesting situation you describe. I wouldn’t think that such small changes would cause you and your cousin to notice a different, “heavier” feel to your racquets. However, since both of you noticed the same thing, there definitely must be something to it. Perhaps that is just a sign that you and your cousin are very much “in tune” with your racquets – which in my opinion, is a very good thing. I’m not sure I would notice the difference, and I am sure there are many others who wouldn’t either. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    If you have a scale that can give you small enough increments of measure, you should weigh your racquet with the new setup. Then… Switch back to your previous setup and weight it again – not changing anything else like grip or adding a vibration dampener or head tape or anything. See if the scale shows a considerable difference.

    Take care.

    DH

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