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Natural Gut, The King Of All Strings
Natural gut has been regarded as the premiere tennis string since the early 1800s. It has been, and remains, the most frequently used string on the pro tour. The history of natural gut tennis string dates back almost to the beginning of tennis itself - the first set of natural gut tennis string was manufactured by Pierre Babolat in 1875. Fifty years later, Babolat would launch VS Brand Gut. Seventy-eight years later, VS Brand Gut continues to be one of the most recognized brands of natural gut. There has been a constant development of synthetic strings since shortly after natural gut found its way into a tennis racquet. With each advancement in technology comes a new string that the manufacturer claims will "play more like gut" than its predecessor. However, for the tennis purist natural gut remains king. Yes, some may argue that natural gut costs more than a multifilament synthetic, but to many players the performance more than justifies the expense.
What is Natural Gut?
Contrary to some beliefs, the source of natural gut tennis string is the cow. Well, not the whole cow, just a part of its intestine called the serosa.
Tennis Elbow and Natural Guts
The best string if you have tennis elbow is natural gut . Natural gut is the most comfortable, the least stiff, the absolutely best string for anybody suffering from arm pain. If you can’t afford a full bed of natural gut, consider a hybrid of natural gut and synthetic string. The natural gut in the crosses will contribute most of the feel and softness and arm friendliness of the gut, while the synthetic in the mains sharply decreases the overall cost of the string bed. If this hybrid stuff confuses you, just remember this: natural is good. The more natural, the better.
What makes Natural Gut so Special?
The structural design of natural gut makes it unique and gives it superior performance qualities for a tennis string. The collagen found in serosa has a molecular make-up that is designed to withstand the stretching and contraction of the intestine. Collagen is a major fibrous component of many types of connective tissue and it is the elasticity of the material that makes it a good source for tennis string. The collagen in the serosa is made up of a triple helix molecular structure. A triple helix features three bands of ribbons that are braided in a rope like fashion. The braided formation of the helix not only provides good elasticity; it also manages to provide a cushioning aspect to the material. The result is that a natural gut tennis string not only offers good power and elasticity when at tension in a racquet, but it is also very easy on the arm.
A racquet strung with nylon will play with a stiffer and less forgiving stringbed than one strung with natural gut. With less tension increase natural gut will be more forgiving in play, placing less stress on a player's arm and shoulder. The cushioning aspects that are built into the molecular structure of natural gut makes it the most arm friendly string available, and it is often recommended for players suffering from tennis elbow.
The fact that natural gut plays softer than synthetic strings creates another advantage in the playability characteristics of natural gut. What players call 'ball pocketing' - a sense of prolonged dwell time of the ball on the strings - leads to a greater sense of control when playing with natural gut. Many players like the feel of natural gut because they feel more connected to what is happening with the ball as it impacts the stringbed.
Natural gut is also better than synthetic strings at holding tension. Do you like that fresh strung feeling? You'll get to enjoy it longer with natural gut in your racquet. Here the appeal to professional players becomes more obvious. When professional players break a gut string they can reach for a new racquet and be confident that it will play and feel similar to the one they were just using.
Because it maintains tension so well, natural gut will continue to offer its superior playability characteristics for the duration of its life. Players who do not frequently break strings may find natural gut to be a better value than synthetic strings. Rather than having to cut out and replace 'bagged-out' synthetic strings, a player using natural gut can continue to benefit from the playability of the string until it breaks.
What is a Hybrid?
Hybrid stringing consists of using different strings in the main and cross strings of a racquet. Hybrid stringing can be as simple as varying string thickness between the main and cross string, to using completely different string materials.
Why Should I use a Hybrid String?
Hybrid stringing is gaining popularity as more players are looking for a blend of string qualities. By selecting different hybrid combinations of string, players can fine-tune the playability, comfort, durability, liveliness and control offered by the stringbed. For instance, heavy hitting players can find a good combination of durability and playability with a polyester main string and natural gut or premium synthetic cross string hybrid.
Selecting the Main String
When choosing a hybrid, note that the main string will dominate the overall feel and playability of the two strings. For example, if you are seeking durability, then the most durable of the two strings selected should be chosen as the main string. If your overall goal is playability, then the string with the most desirable playing characteristics should be chosen as the main string. For playability, select a thinner gauge as the main string such as 17 or 18 gauge. For durability, select a thicker main string such 15L or 16 gauge. You can mix gauges between mains and crosses.
Selecting the Cross String
Think of the cross string as having an influence on the main string. While you will not get the full benefit of the string's playing characteristics, the overall feel of the stringbed will be altered. For example, a soft and forgiving cross string, such as natural gut or multifilament synthetic, can soften-up a stiff and durable main string, such as polyester.
To further customize your hybrid selection, you can vary the tension between strings. As a general rule, main strings should be strung tighter than cross strings. This is a popular set-up with professional players and is a good way of increasing the size of the sweetspot. We recommend a tension variance of 2-3lbs and have a maximum tension variance of 5lbs on hybrid stringing.
Important Do's and Dont's for Natural Guts:
1) Please keep the string clean at all times. Use a clean cotton swap and clean the string of all dirt and debris.
2) Do not expose the string to water or moisture.
3) Store it in a good quality bag when the racquet is not being used.
4) Please play with relatively new balls since bad balls will damage the natural gut
5) Treat the string carefully and it will provide with many hours of amazing play