Natural Gut Wholesale V2, V3, and V4 Comparison, Review, and Playtest
About Natural Gut Wholesale
Natural Gut Wholesale is a California based online retailer that exclusively sells different versions/iterations of natural gut tennis strings for about half the cost of the big boys. Obviously these strings are not manufactured in the USA or Europe. I believe NGW’s supplier is an Indian company; “The Emerson Corporation” and/or Global Gut. I do not know how much input the owner of NGW actually has when it comes to the manufacturing of these strings or if he’s simply a retailer. This company produces a variety of natural gut strings for tennis, squash, stringed instruments, antique clocks, etc. More on some of the potential issues with this arrangement later on.
Generally speaking the higher the version number the more durable the string. From what I’ve been told in the future they will only be manufacturing Version 4 and up (future versions are in the works). You’ll see in my conclusion that this is for the best. Versions 2 and 3 just aren’t durable enough to justify the lower costs for players that take big swings at the ball. For some of the players I’ve strung for the V3 has lasted several months but for others the gut broke within 30 minutes. The consistency and durability did improve with the sets of V4 I received but it was a small sample size. It seems to be a bit of a lottery with Natural Gut Wholesale. You either receive durable sets of string or you don’t. If you receive defective sets it seems the owner is pretty good about refunding your money or sending you additional sets. I am very interested to see what happens with later versions.
When you see 40ft of natural gut strings being advertised for around $20 you think this must be too good to be true. A set of pacific prime goes for $55, a set of Luxilon Natural Gut goes for $45, and a set of Babolat V.S. or Wilson Natural Gut goes for around $42. The cheapest full set of natural gut you’ll come across from a “bigger name” company is KLIP Legend Uncoated for around $29. With that in mind I’ll be walking you through my experiences with Natural Gut Wholesale.
Since this is such a small and relatively unknown company I’ll detail all my experiences thus far. We’ll get into the performance of the strings later on. Feel free to skip around to find the information you are looking for. In the future I plan to do more of a dedicated (traditional) review of NGW V4.
Order 1 – 2 Sets of V3 16g (Natural) Ordered June 12th Arrived June 26th
I was completely satisfied. String quality was great and I was able to string without any issues. I strung all 4 half sets within a couple of weeks of receiving the strings. Every set I used was in a hybrid configuration. 2 sets broke in a couple of months with consistent play and 2 sets are still in rackets performing fine after 4 months (the string is fraying but performance is still good).
Order 2 – 6 Sets of V3 16g (Natural), 4 sets of V2 17g (Natural) Ordered July 10th Arrived July 15th
I’ll start with the 17g. String quality was fine. Some variation from set to set but pretty consistent and all useable. I had no problems stringing. I had one instance where the strings broke in my bag overnight but I had exceeded the tension recommendation on the package so that’s on me. The durability is super low (as to be expected) but the string feels GREAT. Most sets would break within a play or two. I really didn’t have any complaints with the 17g. I got what I expected.
This time around I was not at all satisfied with the V3 16g. None of the sets were even close to as good as what I received the first time. They all felt pretty dry and some were extremely brittle. When you would pull tension across a main string for example there were a couple of sets that were so dry that a saw dust like substance would come off the string (imagine sanding something). In general the strings didn’t feel as tightly bound and attempting to tie off mains and go through shared grommet holes was virtually impossible. In some cases it actually was impossible and I would need to cut out the string. I went so far as to use a straight razor to try and make a sharp point at the end of the string but to no avail (it would just unravel). There’s no packed on date so you really have no idea how long the strings have been sitting on the shelf before being shipped. To be honest I think most of the sets I got of V3 in this order were somewhat defective.
Order 3 – 2 Sets of V4 16g (Natural) Ordered October 14th arrived October 23rd
Completely satisfied with this experience. Hopefully my second order was just a fluke. V4 is a nice upgrade from V3 and is a lot easier to string. You still need to be careful unraveling the string but it doesn’t have the tendency to want to kink on itself like versions 2 and 3. When the string starts to fray it does so in a much less noticeable way (more like how Babolat V.S. starts to break down, smaller strands).
Version 2 Overview
Version 2 feels incredible. There’s a rawness to the string that’s hard to put into words. It’s extremely powerful (probably too powerful for the modern player) but can obviously be used in a hybrid configuration. I tried it in both the mains and the crosses with Genesis Basic Poly (17g). The performance is great but the durability is terrible. You’ll be lucky to get more than a few plays out of it if you take a modern swing. Durability improves slightly when you put the gut in the cross but the feel isn’t as crisp. It’s recommended that you don’t string much over 50 lbs and again for players with a fast swing this just isn’t going to work. V2 17g would be great for players with arm problems who take very slow abbreviated swings. This string will get the ball deep for you.
Version 3 Overview
Unfortunately the variations from set to set makes it kind of hard for me to objectively rate/review this string. I found there was a little less power with V3 (a good thing for me). Another big plus is that you can string it over 60 lbs. Players with a modern full swing should be able to use this string (in a hybrid) but remember it’s not coated so it’s still VERY powerful. With the best sets I found it took 1 play for the strings to settle in. After that the feel was great. If you take a medium paced low to high swing at the ball I could see V3 lasting you approximately 3 to 4 months.
Version 4 Overview
V4 is the first version where I felt I could actually take a full swing at the ball. With versions 2 and 3 I was always a little worried about the ball flying long. But with V4 I could take a healthy cut at the ball and for the most part it stayed in. This was true when I had the natural gut in the mains and in the crosses (hybrid with Black Magic).
For players with fast swings you’ll want to go with a high tension and hybrid with a lower powered smooth polyester (Luxilon ALU Power, RPM, Black Magic). I prefer the feel of having the natural gut in the mains but that will reduce the durability. For players with arm problems that need power you could go full bed of V4. Club and recreational players would probably benefit from this string the most by going V4 in the mains and a fairly durable multifilament in the crosses (higher tension) and/or a lower gauge smooth polyester (lower tension).
For More Information
The natural gut wholesale site has come a long way since I first ordered with them. There’s some useful information on the manufacturing process and the precautions you should take if you’re a stringer using this string. At some point in the future I may make a video detailing the stringing process when using natural gut.
There is also a refund policy you should read and understand fully before ordering. Proving a set is defective may prove difficult so be aware. Once you open the vacuum sealed package you really need to use the string ASAP so I understand the refund policy but just be aware that I definitely received some sets of V3 that were not of the highest quality.
For more information (additional customer experiences) please check out this forum thread over on talk tennis. Reviews are mixed and like me a lot of people have received inconsistent sets of string.
Colored Natural Gut
The owner told me that the black strings are actually the most durable because they use the least amount of chemicals in the manufacturing process. In the future I’ll be going with black and if you don’t mind having black strings I would recommend you do the same (anything to prolong the life of your natural gut is worth doing in my opinion).
As an individual I would say my overall experience has been more or less positive. As someone who strings for clients I’m still on the fence/hesitant to commit to another large order. The strings need to get more consistent from set to set. Hopefully with version 4 and beyond this will be the case. I found that when you get a great set of NGW strings you’ll love them and be satisfied. But when you get a bad set you’ve just wasted $20 and a few hours of your time. I believe the reasons these strings are so cheap is because there isn’t a thorough quality control/inspection of each set of gut like you get with Babolat or from a major manufacturer. NGW is not inspecting these strings before they are shipped out (they have to be vacuumed sealed at the time of manufacturing) and this explains a lot of the inconsistencies (gauge seems to be a major issue) . So as it stands now it’s a little like playing the lottery. For some people (especially if you string yourself) it may be worth the risk but for others I certainly see the logic to investing more money on a bigger name company whose gut is going to last longer. If I was to play a tournament tomorrow and only had 1 racket I would use Babolat VS in my mains because I trust that string way more and it suites a more modern swing in my opinion.
If V2 and V3 were continuing to be manufactured I would tell you to proceed with caution. My second shipment of V3 just wasn’t consistent and honestly I think most of the sets were defective and/or too dried out on arrival. V2 is probably the least durable string I’ve ever used. I string with great caution every time I use natural gut so it wasn’t on me doing something wrong. When you have clients this is unacceptable and makes you look bad. I had a set of V3 break on someone in 30 minutes. Also some sets already had kinks in them (I unravel the strings very slowly) and if it just so happens that kink ends up in the sweetspot (or someone mishits a ball) it’s all over.