Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Wilson (K) Gut 16

By Greg Raven

Wilson (K) Gut is a new multifilament nylon-based string. (K) Gut is made up of nylon microfibers augmented by Fluorofiber (individual fibers of 100% fluorocarbon), which Wilson claims give (K) Gut ultimate performance and extra control. The nylon and Fluorofiber combination is impregnated with polyurethane. Wilson calls (K) Gut the ultimate high performance multifilament tennis string, with the closest feel to natural gut.

Wilson K Gut 16

The addition of Fluorofibers (technically, polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE) is said to give the string a softer impact with more feel for the ball, and Wilson tells us that, due to the Fluorofibers, (K) Gut has more control with comfort.

According to Wilson, the target consumer for this string is any player who wants to improve his game by taking advantage of excellent control with gut-like comfort and feel in a synthetic string.

(K) Gut is available in 16 gauge (1.32 mm) and 17 gauge (1.27 mm) in gray. It is priced from $20 per coil of 40 feet, $60 for a 16-gauge mini-reel of 125 feet. For more information or to order, contact Wilson at 773-714-6400, or visit wilson.com.

IN THE LAB

We tested 16-gauge (K) Gut. The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.29-1.33 mm prior to stringing, and 1.26-1.28 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 74 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 × 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine.

After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 66 RDC units, representing an 11 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9 percent tension loss. (K) Gut added 15 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 38 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.0 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 21.7.

(K) Gut is very easy to install, a characteristic noted in the comments by some of our playtesters, although it does show some clamp marks. Blocked holes were not a problem, and the end did not mush out during stringing.

No playtester broke his sample during stringing, two reported problems with coil memory, none reported problems tying knots, and six reported friction burn. (K) Gut also scored well in Ease of Stringing.

ON THE COURT

Our playtest team really liked (K) Gut, giving it scores that rank it 9th overall of the 118 strings we’ve tested to date for Comfort, 16th overall for Touch/Feel, and 17th overall for Playability. In addition, our team’s scores show (K) Gut is well above average for Power, Control, Tension Retention, and Resistance to Movement. You’ll also note that in the comments, most everyone had something nice to say about (K) Gut.

Three of the team broke (K) Gut during playtesting, one at 10 hours and two at 12.

CONCLUSION

(K) Gut is a premium string from the word go. Coming in with scores that place it in 13th place out of the 118 strings we’ve tested to date, (K) Gut impressed the members of our playtest team in all the right categories. If this is due to the Fluorofiber, as Wilson claims, look for Fluorofibers to appear in other strings in the near future.

It’s interesting to note that half of the strings with higher scores than (K) Gut are either natural gut or natural gut hybrids. Judging by the comments we received, your customers will love you for installing (K) Gut for them, but you won’t have to deal with the idiosyncrasies of natural gut, and in fact there’s a good chance you’ll find it easier to install (K) Gut than most of the other strings you currently sell.

Playtester comments

“This is the easiest string I’ve ever installed. On the court, it compares favorably with best nylon-multifilaments on the market. It has truly exceptional playability and control. The feel and touch make it very easy to hit angles and control the depth. Congrats to the manufacturer. This is a keeper.” 4.5 male all-court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 5g strung at 55 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire XP 16)

“This string does not seem to have a learning curve. The control and playability are there from the very first stroke. Given the confidence I have with this string, I’m using it in my next tournament.” 5.0 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick + strung at 59 pounds CP (Polyester/Gamma Asterisk 18/17)

“This is one of the most comfortable strings I have ever used. Given the low power level, I am able to take massive cuts. The result is a very heavy ball. Net players and doubles specialist take note: Volley placement is exceptional. There is enough feel to stop touch shots on a dime. I tortured this string and it simply would not break.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson nSix-One Tour strung at 62 pounds LO (Kirschbaum Touch Turbo 17)

“I’m seriously considering a switch to this string. It plays well from all areas of the court. Control and playability are top-notch.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head i. Radical OS strung at 63 pounds LO (Gamma Synthetic Gut 16)

“Installation is a cinch. This string has a wonderful feel from the first moment of contact. It has the perfect blend of control and comfort. Spin is both heavy and easy to produce.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Tour (16x18) strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Multifilament 16)

“This string has it all: comfort, power, control, touch and durability. It is an absolute pleasure to hit with.” 5.5 male all-court player using Head Flexpoint Radical MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“Exceptional string! It strikes the perfect compromise of durability, comfort, and power. This is one of those strings that I’d love to try in different gauges and in various hybrids. It has a lot of nuance and would be a great tool for shaping one’s stringbed response. It seems to fulfill what many manufacturers are probably after: A really good all-around string that compliments a wide range of playing styles.” 3.5 male all-court player using Völkl V1 Classic strung at 60 pounds LO (Head FXP Power 16)

“This string has a sticky feel and it really seems to grip the ball. The spin potential is incredible. I’ve always sacrificed feel and playability for durability. This string plays so well that I might have to reconsider.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson nPro Surge strung at 52/58 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 17)

“This string is extremely user-friendly. The playability and comfort are amazing.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson nSix Two strung at 61 pounds LO (Polyester/Nylon 17)

“This is an extremely comfortable string. Excellent touch and playability, with average power and spin.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Flexpoint Prestige Mid strung at 54 pounds LO (Head Synthetic Gut PPS 17)

“Point and shoot. No adjustments necessary. It is one of those rare strings where the very first shot goes right to its target. The stringbed is predictable and comfortable. I find it extremely easy to control depth.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical Tour MP strung at 57 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)

“Amazingly easy to string. Very quick weaving. This is a soft string with a crisp response. Heavy spin comes almost effortlessly. Tension loss is surprisingly minimal.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson nSix-One 95 (68 Holes) strung at 60 pounds (Wilson Sensation Duo 16)

“Power is perfect for my compact stroke style. More importantly, these strings do not bother my tender elbow. With some strings, I find myself worrying about the harsh feedback that comes with poorly struck balls. With this string, it does not matter where on the stringbed you make contact. The response is soft and comfortable without any sacrifice in control.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Metallix 2 strung at 56 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“This is a very comfortable string with a great combination of feel and power. While hitting spin is quite easy, there is some string movement after about 6 hours. Heavy topspin hitters might want to hybrid this with a durable main. As a cross, this string would add some playability and comfort to any stringbed. Because of its versatility and all-around playability, I would stock this string.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson nTour strung at 65 pounds CP (Polyester 16)

“This is one of the most arm-friendly strings I have ever used. If comfort is your top priority, this string is for you.” 3.5 male all-court player using Yonex RDX 500 Mid strung at 56 pounds CP (Gamma Prodigy 17)

“This a great touch string. Volleys, short angled chips, and lobs seem much easier to place. This string plays soft and comfortable, but, unlike most nylon multifilaments, it doesn’t have an annoying trampoline effect.” 3.5 male all-court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.5 OS strung at 62 pounds CP (Wilson Stamina 16)

“The playability is excellent. While it plays with a soft feel, the tension holds very well. It plays very consistently through many hours of play. The combination of control and power will make this a very popular string.” 4.5 male all-court player using Völkl DNX 1 w/Power Arm strung at 56 pounds LO (Forten Dynamix 16)

“This is one of the more comfortable strings I’ve playtested. Every stroke has a satisfying pfft. Power level is low, so there is no penalty for swinging out. This is a soft string with a nice, lower powered, controlled delivery.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head i. Radical OS strung at 63 pounds LO (Gamma Synthetic Gut 16)

“Tons of power and spin. The stringbed is very comfortable, but not at the expense of a controlled, crisp response.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson H Tour strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Asterisk 16)

“Very easy to install. It plays firm but comfortable. As a polyester user, I was pleasantly surprised. Generally, multifilaments are too mushy for my taste, and I find it hard to control depth. This string is an exception to the rule. I would definitely stock it as an option for people who want comfort and control.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head i.Prestige MP strung at 56 pounds LO (Polyester 16)

“I find myself having to make slight compromises in my swing in order to control the power. Given the comfort, I think this string would play much better at high tensions. Players with stiff frames or large stringbeds should string this at 60 lbs or higher. Do not worry about your tendons, this string has excellent shock-absorption.” 3.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Speedport Silver strung at 52 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)

“This string, though initially very stiff, softens up nicely. It is extremely resistant to movement and there is no notching. Topspin hitters will appreciate this. This is recommended to players looking for a more durable multifilament. ” 4.5 male all-court player using Babolat Aeropro Drive strung at 56 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 17)

“This string has surprisingly high playability, considering its durability. Control is excellent. No matter what swing length or head speed I use, the ball follows a very predictable path. I’m able to hit deep without having to worry about the ball sailing.” 5.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 Tour MS strung at 62 pounds CP (Polyester/Nylon Multifilament 16)

“A very comfortable control string that does not move. I am surprised at the low level of tension loss. Big servers will find it easy to pick their spots and touch artists will be able to hit ambitious angles. I would definitely recommend this string to people looking for a very user-friendly string.” 4.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson KSix.One Team strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“This plays like a high-end string. It seems to do everything well. Not only does it have great comfort and touch, but the power is very controllable. There is minimal tension loss and almost no string movement. In the right hands, it could be a very dangerous weapon.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson Triad 3.0 strung at 61 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)

“Given its comfort, this string would not only work well in a hybrid, but it would be a great string for those with arm problems.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson KSix.One 95 (18x20) strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma Asterisk 17)

“Very solid, consistent feel with just the right amount of power. Control is there from the very first hit and the response is quite arm-friendly. This is the kind of string I could easily recommend to a wide range of players.” 5.5 male all-court player using Völkl Tour 10 MP strung at 57 pounds LO (Natural Gut 16)

“This is a good string for customers who complain about tension loss. It has very little string movement and excellent control. Volleys have just the right feel. Big swings do not sail long.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson nBlade strung at 63 pounds CP (Pacific Tough Gut 16)

“This string would make a great hybrid cross. It would not only add comfort to a stiff polyester main, but its sticky exterior would prevent string movement, and thus increase the life and playability of the stringbed.” 4.5 male all-court player using Tecnifibre T Fight 335 (16x20) strung at 58 pounds LO (Gosen OG-Sheep Micro 16)

“This string plays well in the beginning. After the initial tension loss, it loses some comfort and feel. This lead to some control problems.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Prestige Mid strung at 58 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Original 16)

“For a soft string, it has a surprising amount of bite. The spin is excellent. After losing some tension, it plays a little dead and feels mushy. The high degree of string movement lead to premature breakage. Overall, this has great playability, especially for those without durability concerns.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson nSix One Tour strung at 55 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“This string does everything fairly well, but it lacks the “wow factor.” Other than durability, none of its characteristics stand out. I have a hard time controlling depth and generating the required spin for certain shots. I’m not getting enough feel or bite.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson KSix One Tour strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Champions Choice 17)

“This string has noticeably less spin than polyester. It went dead just prior to breaking. Pre-stretching might minimize the tension loss and provide a more consistent response over time.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince Tour Diablo Mid strung at 62 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power 125 16L)

“This is an interesting string. It plays better as it loosens up. The playability improves greatly over time. I would suggest pre-stretching and starting at a lower tension. This string has a lot of potential.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head i.X3 OS strung at 50 pounds CP (Signum Poly Plasma 17)

“This string starts out great. However, after 4 hours, it loses some of its luster. Power drops off, but control remains steady. I might try lowering the tension next time. This might preserve the pop.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head i.X6 OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 17)

“This sample is easy to string, with little coil memory. It holds up well during installation. It plays a little too firm at first, but mellows pleasantly over time. After it breaks-in, the result is a comfortably crisp string. Playability and tension maintenance are above average, while power is on the low end. This is not likely to satisfy the natural gut palette, but it is a strong multifilament option.” 4.0 male all-court player using Völkl V1 Classic strung at pounds CP (Babolat Tonic + 16)

“This string has good control and feel. The comfort is outstanding. It starts peeling after 10 hours and the durability is about what one would expect from a multifilament. String breakers might want to save this one for a hybrid. Folks with tendon issues will love it.” 6.0 male all-court player using Wilson KSix One Tour strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat Ballistic Polymono 16)

“This string’s superior feel makes it easy to hit volleys, angles, lobs, and drop shots. During baseline exchanges, however, I don’t get enough power. This is a durable, control string with above average comfort. Big hitters and power players will appreciate the added control, but players with compact strokes might need more zip.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Prestige Mid strung at 56 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 17)

(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)

Playtester ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
Number of testers who said it was:
much easier 1
somewhat easier 5
about as easy 32
not quite as easy 0
not nearly as easy 0
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 1
somewhat better 13
about as playable 15
not quite as playable 8
not nearly as playable 1
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other
strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 1
somewhat better 12
about as durable 19
not quite as durable 5
not nearly as durable 1
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability (17th overall) 3.7
Durability 3.5
Power 3.4
Control 3.7
Comfort (9th overall) 3.8
Touch/Feel (16th overall) 3.6
Spin Potential 3.2
Holding Tension 3.5
Resistance to Movement 3.7

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About the Author

Greg Raven  is an associate editor for RSI magazine and technical writer. He is certified as a Master Racquet Technician by the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association. He can be reached via e-mail at greg@usrsa.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.

 

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