• Jon Sharpe

Squash String Review - The Top Strings

Updated: Jul 26

There are a lot of strings on the market at the moment, including a few new entrants, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss the strings I string with and use the most. These are my opinions and I’m sure others may have a different view, but hopefully they'll give you a bit of guidance. The strings I’m reviewing are all multifilament strings (or Line & Twine in Ashaway’s world). Multifilament strings are used by pretty much all pros and most players who play competitive squash, with the exception of a small minority who may use natural gut.


Tecnifibre

305

This is the flag bearer string for TF. The string that set the wheels in motion for TF to become the top multifilament squash string manufacturer. It’s regularly tweaked by the technical guys at TF as they try to get more out of it and it’s known as the go-to string for great overall power, bite and comfort. You can tell the 305 by the distinctive feel off the racket. It’s hard to describe, but it just kind of bites the ball when you chop through it. If looking for assurance, this string is the most popular string on the PSA word tour. Not necessarily as durable as some strings, though Tecnifibre has made big strides in the last 12 months, so issues with strings breaking around the frame aren’t as common now. If you’re the type of player who leaves plenty of black rubber marks around your frame from mishitting (be honest), this may not be the one for you, thought the addition of the new 1.25mm version gives a little more durability and feels very similar in terms of feel to the most common 1.20mm. 1.10mm is amazing (a bit more power and control), but it’s very thin and will break quicker because of this. The 1.30mm is durable but lacks a bit of the usual feel. Best options are the 1.20 and 1.25mm.


DYNAMIX VP (the latest)

Not to be confused with DNAMX or the much older 305+ which were also black. The DYNAMIX VP has gone through an additional ‘steaming’ process (the VP stands for Vapor Process) to soften the string even more and add more elasticity, which aids power. Whilst this may seem a little gimmicky, the string feels totally different to the old DNAMX and 305+ when stringing. It feels very light and elastic. To play with, it’s got some serious punch. Given that this string is used by current world number 1 (at time of writing), Mohamed El Shorbagy, it’s no surprise that the string has serious power as Mohamed likes to play at a very fast pace. Mohamed regained the number 1 spot not longer after this string was released. Although I’m sure it’s coincidence, perhaps the extra elasticity of the string allowed Mohamed to hit the ball more easily and still get as much power whilst being more accurate. If any stringer tries to tell you that the old versions (DNAMX or 305+) are the same as the new DYNAMIX VP, they’re simply not. As with the 305, my suggestion would be the 1.20mm or the 1.25mm. If you’ve paid for DYNAMIX VP, check the markings on your strings – if they don’t say DYNAMIX VP then you’ve got a totally different string in your racket!


X-One Biphase

So this is my all time favourite string, not just from Tecnifibre, but of any string. It’s not as popular on the PSA as the other TF strings, perhaps because it’s not stocked as much by all stringers - Pros need to know that they can always have a direct replacement? What sets the X-One Biphase apart from the rest? It’s soft, a little more elastic than the 305 and I think has really good feel to it. Not the bite of the 305 but it really adds something to the racket. Until this year, it had always been 1.18mm in the squash version (there’s also a tennis variant), so it was a little thinner than the most popular 305, so gives a little more control and power. One issue with the older red 1.18mm version was that it was a bit prone to fraying and breaking easily, although the newer orange 1.18mm replacement is a little more durable and ever so slightly stiffer. This year a 1.23mm version has been released to provide a little more durability again. My verdict though is to stick to the 1.18mm string, as I think it’s durable enough and if you’re going to spend a bit of extra money on the x-one, you might as well get the best variant of it!


Ashaway

UltraNick

I’ll confess, I’m more of a Tecnifibre guy but the UltraNick I think is a good compromise. Not quite as textured as most Ashaway strings, it has a slightly crisper feel to it and durability is good for a thin string, 1.15mm. It’s used by some pretty skilful players on the tour; Daryl Selby, Amanda Sobhy, Diego Elias to name a few. I came a little late to the party with this string and didn’t give it too much of a chance until after a conversation with my friend and the top Squash Stringer on the planet, Nick Down, he told me to give them another go. I did and I’m pleased I did. It turns out that all the string testing I do these days means that I was able to adapt to them a bit quicker and learn to really like the Ultras. To me, they feel at their best at a mid-tension. I don’t think there’s enough give in them at too high a tension. Aside from being an all-round excellent string, they’re also one of the best looking strings on the market.

SuperNick XL and XL Micro

The original Ashaway line & twine and one of the best known strings on the market. Where Ashaway differ from Tecnifibre is that they generally produce a textured/rough string (aside from the MultiNick which is more like the TF 305). At 1.25mm, the SuperNick XL is on the slightly thicker side and is durable and comfortable, though sometimes lacking in touch after it’s been used a bit and softened up. The rough feel is great if you like to stop the ball in its tracks at the front of the court by putting lots of cut on it. Though I feel it lacks a bit of the sharpness of the Tecnifibre strings.


The XL Micro, which is 1.15mm is a much more playable string with better control and power. At the stage when the regular SuperNick drops off in performance and goes dead, the Micro just frays and snaps, usually in the middle – and often without warning! The thing with rough strings is that they create more friction, so when the strings move they wear against each other more. What I like about the SuperNick strings are there comfort levels and quality. The quality is very good and they rarely snap around the inside of the frame – This is partly due to the many woven fibres, as opposed to Tecnifibre’s small fibres that are blended together.

SuperNick ZX

This string came out a few years ago and is fairly similar to the SuperNick XL/Micro in how it plays. It’s 1.25mm, so fairly thick, though there’s a little more touch on it than the regular SuperNick XL. There’s a micro version of the ZX as well, at 1.15mm. The ZX has a Zyex coating which gives it a different feel to the regular SuperNick – it slides a little more and I think can create slightly more power. Where the ZX fails though is that it moves around a lot and can be prone to the ‘spaghetti string’ effect where the strings are left all over the place and you have to constantly straighten (a nightmare if you’re a little OCD). If you find the tension you like and are not too bothered about strings moving (it’s not too bad in a fan pattern) then this is a decent string and will give a better feel than the SuperNick XL. But it’s not for everybody. Similar to the SuperNick XL and Micro, it’s good for players who are serial string breakers around the frame. Used by a few pros on the PSA, so it has some pedigree but can be prone to premature breaking around the middle of the string bed.

PowerNick

I’ll talk about the more popular PowerNick 18 (the red version) which at 1.15mm is another thin string from Ashaway. Despite being thin, it’s deceptively durable, in part due to a wiry core in the middle. It has a Zyex coating, like the SuperNick ZX, which means that although it’s textured, it’s not as grippy as the regular SuperNick. Where the PowerNick gets interesting is when you hit the ball. There is literally no other string that feels like it. It’s very hard to describe, but it feels almost numb 90% of the time, which can be quite off putting, but when you really want to crack the ball, it feels great! I call the PowerNick the ‘Marmite’ String, because you either love its numb feel or you hate it. As a stringer and tester, I admire it for it’s difference and love the feel when you really let loose, but I just couldn’t cope with the numb feel on the ball most of the time, especially at the front. It’s a great string though, you just need to warm to it. I know plenty of players who will only use it, so always stock reels. But to me It’s just the polar opposite to the X-one Biphase and the 305, which are the strings that suit me most. This string will last though, make no mistake about it. It’s tough!


RAB

Sensor Fibre and Razor Fibre

RAB has been making stringing products for a while now. Based in the South West of the UK, their strings make a few covert appearances on the PSA, with a select number of players using them (though the casual observer may think they’re Tecnifibre). Laura Massaro and SJ Perry are both players who’ve used RAB Sensor Fibre in the past. At 1.27mm, this is a thick string, though it plays like a thinner string with plenty of touch and power. It’s a pretty decent alternative to Tecnifibre 305, it’s a similar type of string and very easy on the arm. It’s a durable string and like the Tecnifibre strings of the late 90’s early 00’s, it frays a lot in the middle – the white fluffy stuff! It’s not got the same bite as the 305, it’s not as crisp or precise in my opinion. It has a kind of oil like substance that runs throughout it, meaning that it stays waxy and soft. It’s a good string. Similar price to TF 305, but this string is really good quality, so is justified.


The thinner sibling of the Sensor Fibre, at 1.18mm, the Razor Fibre has better cut on the ball but I think loses a bit of power – which is strange considering that most thinner versions add more power. Personal preference would be Sensor Fibre. It’s a far better string than its lack of visibility in the market suggests. Definitely worth trying if you’re in the Tecnifibre 305 camp.


Unsquashable

Tour-Tec Pro

Unsquashable are one of the games iconic brands, home to arguably the greatest male player of all time, Jahangir Khan (555 consecutive wins)! When Unsquashable relaunched a few years ago they developed their first edition Tour-Tec Pro string, which had a very similar feel to RAB Sensor Fibre, but at 1.18 was a bit thinner and more precise. Howevwe, it was natural in colour, which is generally not a great colour for selling strings. Players and stringers generally go for the strings which stand out. Unsquashable conducted a fair bit of market research, which I was happy to be part of, and released the new Neon Yellow version at the start of 2020 with great success. I received one of the first reels to land in the country and strung an Unsquashable player’s racket at a PSA tournament that weekend. He won! It feels crisp and has a distinctive sound when hitting the ball. Power is good and it has plenty of control too. Whilst I think it plays differently to the original Tour-Tec Pro (not as waxy), it’s a great string and looks the business too.


Karakal

Hot Zone

Hot Zone is Karakal’s top of the line string. At 1.20mm, it’s a solid choice for players who are seeking a really soft string to help with arm issues and it also comes in loads of really bright colours – so perfect for making your racket stand out. I have a lot of experience stringing with this string as I string for PSA players who use it. There’s a general rule in stringing that the tighter the string, the more control you have and the looser the string, the more power you have. However, this string is so elastic that if you string it too loose you will actually lose power as the ball sinks into the string a bit. My advice is to add a couple of lbs of tension to what you would normally string at. As it’s so elastic, you can afford to go a bit tighter as this way on the softer touch shots you have plenty of control but when you want to unleash a bit of power the string is elastic enough to stretch back and propel the ball at pace of the string bed. It’s a really good string but you will probably notice a drop in performance before the strings break, as the strings start to lose their elasticity. So change the strings before they break!


... and last but not least

Nick Down, the Godfather of Pro Squash stringing (he’s strung for around 20 world No1’s!) gives his views on some of the strings not listed, but used by some of the top pros


I’ve had a good read of Jon’s review of the current strings and have found very similar outcomes from the Tecnifibre, Ashaway, Unsquashable, Karakal and RAB brands. I find that by far and away the most popular string on the PSA World Tour is the 1.2 version of the TF305. A lot of the players use the Unsquashable String too, such as James Willstrop, Joel makin and all the other Unsquashable racket wielding combatants. As far as the Ashaway goes, all of the strings that contain zyex either in the core filaments or the wrapper layers, do not stretch as much as the non zyex strings and they often play better by reducing tension by 10 to 15%, however there are exceptions to that and tension choice is a very personal thing. The eye rackets string range is very popular with the eye rackets players, of which, there are quite a few. Also, Dunlop,’s premium string, Silk, a good multifilament is popular with a lot of the Dunlop stable, not least , Mr and Mrs, Farag/El Tayeb, hey, if it works for them, must be ok. Finally, I should mention the luxilon natural gut, made especially for squash in a 1.18 gauge. In use by Nicol David, certainly until her retirement at last year’s British open. A great string that I was able to test comprehensively, thanks to Luxilon. My view; there’s nothing like it, but a bit cost prohibitive.