This is my first experience with natural gut; i went out and bought the best there is (concensus says). i shelled out $65 here in my country, to boot; but that is another matter.
I've had only 2 medium-length hitting sessions plus some time at the wall today, not much , I know. Break-in time should be taken into consideration but people unanymously claim that nat. gut plays amazing from the very first minute, so i'll oblige.
My expectation before buying this string was to finally try the ultimate string: i'm a very aggressive net player with many shots, strokes; and i've never broken a string. Logically natural gut was the best option for me.
I had only two worries when buying this string: it could break very soon (during practice sessions i do hit very hard) and since i had never used it before the tension might be wrong (conventional wisdom dictates higher tension with gut). Since it has been only one day, can't say anything about the former, but the tension, luckily, has turned out perfect.
It was strung at ~25-26 kg or ~56-57 lbs. on a Volkl C-10 Pro Tour (93 sq in, 357 grams (when strung w/gut), 61 flex, >8 pts. headlight)
The string has turned out to be a great disappointment; dare I say, a fiasco. what a waste of good money. Here is why (some comments are absolute while others are relative to other good strings):
-not much power, or not nearly as much as it's claimed to have
-hardly any spin
-not very good control
-not much consistency
-strings move a lot. A LOT
-little feedback on shots
only good things i can say about it are:
+highly comfortable, easy on the arm
+ummm, "hey i play with natural gut, I'm awesome!" factor
I haven't really had a chance to test it at the net, ie. drop shots, drop volleys, stop volleys, smashes, reflex volleys, sliced volleys, drive volleys, punch volleys, half-volleys etc., so i'll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume:
+great touch/feel, mostly for drop volleys, stop volleys maybe, drop shots, half-volleys. i'll edit when i test it and if i change my mind.
To emphasize how disappointing this string was for me I'll compare it briefly to Gosen OG-Sheep Micro 16, which i used for quite a while (on my c-10 pro 98"). the Gosen was very underpowered...and that's about it on the plus side for VS Team. the gosen offered better control, even at the very low tension it had. it felt just as comfortable; the touch/feel at the net was simply outstanding, tension stability was great, strings moved very little, spin was similar or just a tad more. oh, and..it costs $3.50!!!! So, I don't see the point of paying $30 extra just to have more power. Babolat owes $10 to each cow (it takes 3 for a set of strings).
To compare it to the previous string on the same racquet, the $13.50 Technifibre X-One Biphase 17, so as to make a 'fairer' comparison:
The X-One has unbelievable power; if nat gut can't beat it, i doubt there is another string that can.
The control, even on my hardest hit shots, is magnificent. Shot after shot, great consistency, reliability. Just can't seem to hit the ball out any longer than a few inches, occasionally a foot. The feedback is great, you know immediately how well you hit and where it will go. It's durable enough, tension maintenance is pretty good considering the power level. On the downside, it's not very comfortable (for my standard, anyway); not obviously uncomfortable or anything, but a tough, stiff playing string. Unsurprisingly, net play qualities are not very good. can't seem to feel the ball; there seems to be no pocketing effect whatsoever. soft, touch shots are very inconsistent and difficult to pull off (again, for me; relatively speaking). However, the X-One was strung abnormally high (i put it aside for 4 months because it was unplayable, eventually it lost some tension over time, become just barely playable, then i got used to it played with it for about 1.5 months; the touch at the net was definitely better near the end but still not sufficient for me); so at a lower tension, the feel and comfort of the string would improve. It costs just over 1/3 as much as VS Team gut. If you're a 'modern'
player, one who is mostly at the baseline hitting big, only occasionally going to the net, there is absolutely no reason to install this over-hyped Babolat VS string (can't speak for every nat gut there is, but since this one is the benchmark...well); not even as a hybrid; put x-one on the mains and, say, the aforementioned Gosen on the crosses,and you'll have good durability, good comfort, very good touch, costing roughly a total 6.75 + 1.50 = $8.25. Much better overall performance at a quarter the cost of VS Team.
I'll end my review by saying, i do not exaggerate; i tell it like it is; i analyze as best as i can; i leave emotions or complexes out of it. i know what i'm talking about, i'm not a beginner or even an intermediate player. i can play every shot and execute it really well. my expectations are, then, extremely high. VS Team (and probably most other guts) was a big let down. I wanted to love the string, i expected to; otherwise i wouldn't have forked over $65 here. It is NOT a terrible string, not even BAD. it's all relative. to what i have used before, this string adds very little, and takes away a lot. it costs almost 3 times as much. and to think, these days most serious players are aggressive baseliners, prone to breaking strings and requiring little feel/touch (which is crucial for net play only); why on earth would they buy this gut and praise it so highly!?!
My verdict: Way over-hyped, way over-rated. Hmmmm....Babolat Pro Hurricane (and Tour version), Babolat racquets....I seem to see a pattern here!! As for other guts on the market, my gut tells me that the result for me will be the same. Go high-end synthetics; especially multi's!! Technifibre, you're my hero!!