Stringing Natural Gut

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Many of you that are reading this blog are experienced stringers and players. However, there are also many of you that have never played with natural gut, and have never strung natural gut. Now, I may be slightly biased, but this is a WONDERFUL time for you to try your first sets of the stuff.

Natural gut is, by far, the best string out there for 95+% of the tennis community. It’s powerful, it has exceptional tension maintenance, it plays well until the moment it breaks (some argue it plays BETTER the longer you’ve played with it), and is great for your arm. Some argue that natural gut is useless in the modern game, citing the example of the players on tour all using polyester. While it is true that most pros do use polyester, there are still a LOT of pros that still use natural gut. Federer, for example, uses a hybrid of Wilson Natural Gut (aka Babolat VS Natural gut, as they’re the same thing). Sampras, throughout his entire career, used natural gut. There are plenty of other pros, well known and not so well known, that use natural gut in one form or another. In any case, natural gut should be the string of choice of non string breakers, people with arm problems, and anybody that’s looking to add some power to their game.

Conventional wisdom says that every single tennis player should try Babolat VS at some point in their lives. In my opinion… that should be changed to every single tennis player should try natural gut at some point in their lives. Natural gut is simply… expensive. However, right now is an EXCELLENT time to try out your first set of natural gut, as the Tennis Depot is offering Genesis Natural Gut for an extremely nice price. Genesis Gut is an amazing gut, very nice pocketing, very nice control, a little on the crisp side (for a gut, meaning that it’ll be easier to transition to from other strings), and is an all around GREAT gut. It’s not VS, but it comes pretty darn close. The Genesis Natural gut outperforms Pacific Tough Gut and Pacific Prime Gut by a nice margin.

So now that you’ve decided to try natural gut for the first time, I have some words of advice for you. First, you should string it a little bit above what you normally string. If you’re playing with synthetic gut, bump the tension up around 2-3 pounds. Natural gut is powerful, and you really don’t want to string gut too loose (and ruin your experience with it). If you’re playing with a soft multi (ala Pro Supex Maxim Touch), string natural gut at the same tension. If you’re playing with a polyester, add 15% to your tension. If better to string natural gut a little too tight than to string it too low. Stringing it too low makes it a rocket launcher. Stringing it too high can be remedied (a little). Take your racket, and gently step on the string bed for a few seconds. Flip the racket over and repeat. That’ll help you a little bit.

When you’re stringing the stuff, BE CAREFUL!!! Natural gut kinks very easily. Kinking occurs when you subject the string to a sharp angle. Most strings will be damaged if you bend the string and create an actual angle. Natural gut will be damaged more so than other strings. Remember, the stuff is natural and you need to take care of it. A kink will almost certainly decrease the life of the string, and you really want to get as many hours out of gut as you can (considering how expensive the stuff is). Before stringing gut, make sure you clean your clamps. Use an alcohol pad or such and run it through your clamps. Use sandpaper to rough them up a bit if you’ve been noticing that the clamps have been slipping. Use compressed air to clean out any of the gritty stuff that’s been building up. When setting your clamps, make sure you don’t make your clamps too tight. A lot of people make their clamps too tight when stringing gut out of fear that the string will slip. Again, natural gut is damaged easily, and if the clamps are too tight, there’s a good chance that you’ll damage it. Make your clamps just tight enough that the string won’t slip.

Before stringing, make sure you’ve cut sharp tips on your gut. Gut is SOFT, and is really a pain to get through blocked holes.  Sharpen your tips!  It may also be a good idea to place a piece of scrap string in any of the blocked holes so that you have an easier time later on.  When stringing, slow down. Gut is not something that you should rush through. Take your time with it, and make sure that you don’t let it get tangled. Avoid kinks as best as you can. When doing knots, the Parnell is one of the better knots to use as it puts the least stress on the string underneath. When doing crosses, make sure to avoid friction burn. Some people do their gut crosses as they would any other cross. If it’s your first time, you may want to weave halfway across, and then pull all the string through. Then weave the other half, pull the string through again, and then tension. This minimizes friction on any part of the mains, and decreases wear and tear on the string.

Natural gut is a delicate string. It’s not something that can take a lot of punishment like a polyester can. Be careful with it, and string it well. If you do a good job, a full set of natural gut can last you a nice long time, especially if you don’t break strings. It’ll play well right until it breaks. I have in my possession a Wilson Jack Kramer Autograph woodie that was last strung with natural gut sometime in the 70’s. It STILL plays great! Go out and enjoy your gut!

Written by TTD Blogger Dan

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