This is the second in a four-part series highlighting the major string categories available to consumers. Today’s subject is nylons.
The great thing about a store like Target is its versatility—you can walk out with a can of salmon or a quart of motor oil. The merits of being able to buy seafood and car parts under the same roof can be debated, but there’s no denying Target has something for everyone. Nylons represent the Target of the string universe. Depending on the type of player you are, you can probably find something that suits your needs. That’s why at the club and recreational levels, nylons are generally the most widely used strings.
Because nylons represent such a vast collection of strings, it can sometimes be a case of comparing apples to oranges when judging their performance. On one end of the spectrum there are simple solid core offerings with only a few wrappings to soften the response. These tend to be inexpensive and somewhat durable, but lacking in overall playability. They’re not as sturdy as polyester strings, but usually not as unforgiving, either. Beginners and less discerning players who don’t care to spend much on strings tend to gravitate toward these types of nylons.
On the other end of the category sit the more sophisticated multifilaments with enhanced comfort, playing characteristics, and price, but lesser durability. For the more advanced and discriminating players who like natural gut but balk at the steep price, a quality multifilament is the best solution. Still, high-end multis can be expensive, and the more fibrous the string the easier it usually is to snap. So like gut, it’s popular to combine a soft, nylon multifilament with another string—a cheaper, tougher nylon, or a polyester—to create a firmer, more durable hybrid string bed (more on hybrids in a future installment).
In between the standard and the complex, consumers can find a seemingly endless array of nylon choices with an emphasis on certain traits (feel, power, control, etc.) over others. In fact, other types of fibers are often twisted in with the nylons to achieve the desired effect. Right in the middle of the category is where “synthetic gut” is generally found; the collection of strings that have become synonymous with solid core/single wrap nylon strings that are still the most popular choice of rec players thanks to their attractive combination of solid playability and inexpensive cost. Basically, it’s the best bang for the buck. As players develop they tend to look for more specific playing characteristics or leave the nylon category entirely. However, many find their comfort zone smack in the middle. Jim Courier played his entire career with a Gosen synthetic gut.
Although it’s difficult to imagine Courier ever stepping foot in Target.