We've been running 17 gauge for a long long time. I can't think of a reason to go back to 16 unless you're a string breaker, and most of us aren't string breakers.
For those that don't know, 16 gauge is considered normal so 17 is already on the thinner side.
I just love love love the benefits of a thinner gauge string in comparison to it's thicker one.
So if 17 is so good - then what about 18 gauge? Isn't it even better?
Before we get into an official play test (we are currently half way through our test at the time of this writing), let's talk about the benefits of thinner gauge string and why we like it - we're all about the positives over here.
1) It's even softer
The most important benefit of thinner gauge string in my book is that it's more forgiving.
It's the most important because our bodies are not invincible and we need all the help we can get from the more forgiving string to prolong our tennis playing careers and less than perfect strokes.
The thinner gauge makes it easier to flex, stretch, and conform than it's thicker sibling. Think of all of those off center hits.
And that extra flex means a bit of free spin as the strings snap back with the quickness.
2) More bite
We know ball-to-string friction is important too, and the thinner gauge string bites into the ball even more than thicker gauge string.
It sinks it's teeth into the felt even deeper and grips easier - making spin potential even greater. That's a good thing for us.
We notice this most on serves - where you can really see the extra spin effect as you spin and shape the ball into specific areas. And see a cloud of freshly shaved felt.
3) It's more powerful, too
Because that thinner string is easier to stretch and flex, this means the string bed will pocket even deeper - launching the ball with even more force than a thicker option.
This same phenomenon should also translate into heavier spin as the strings stretch even further and snap back with more force
Too good to be true?
Strings are a compromise.
These benefits don't come without a cost but we'll get into the downsides in the next post.
There are also other considerations and adjustments you'll need to make to accommodate to the thinner gauge.
Playtest is on the way!
We're currently 4 sessions into our first bed and things are going pretty good.
We like to get two full beds in before making too many judgements.
I'll do an impression of the first bed after a couple more matches this week so stay tuned if you are a string fiend!