Let's talk Nylon Strings

One of the interesting topics that came up recently (and it is evergreen, try a search and there are tons of “what string do you use” topics) is asking what string you prefer, and why. Good discussion!

Perhaps the most interesting thing that came out of that topic, for me at least, was the depth of some people’s attachment to nylon strings. As in, Give Me a Nylon String, or Give Me Death! That’s how strongly they felt about it. Polyester string is literally dead to them. Won’t touch it. That’s how much better they feel Nylon is in a yo-yo string.

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Now, I don’t hate nylon string, but I’ve never been able to warm up to it, so this surprised me a bit!

The other difficulty is that very few established yoyo companies sell nylon strings, the one common exception is Kitty 1.5 and that’s only offered in their normal/thin variety, too. Most of the time when you’re dealing with a nylon string it is probably a boutique mixture from some small company or even an individual.

As a result, I’ve been trying to expand my… er… portfolio … of strings through trading and getting a lot more nylon to try out. Maybe I’m missing something on the whole nylon thing and my lack of string experience is to blame.

So I have some questions for you, the reader:

  1. What nylon yo-yo strings have you tried, specifically? What brands or makers?

  2. Of those nylon strings, which ones did you feel were the best? What makes them good?

  3. Of those nylon strings, which ones were not great to you, and why?

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I’ve only tried yoyorecreation string. It’s thin, yet is dense enough to do whippy and slacky stuff well. It’s a bit more rough on the hand than polyester but that’s about the only con it has. I like it for practice because it lasts long and doesn’t wear out fast.

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Ok so let me list some nylons I have tried

  • airetec (wooly)
  • spool (wooly)
  • onedrop long cuts (blend)
  • kitty 1.5 (blend)
  • custom @kieran
  • custom @Dust

A couple general observations that I think are regarded as universally true facts in the yo-yo community:

  1. Nylon is WAYYY more durable than polyester. It lasts on the order of “months” versus “weeks” (or even “a day”) of your average poly string. This can also make it rougher on your hands though, that durability does not come for free.

  2. Nylon is a bit bouncier than polyester.

  3. Nylon is slicker / soapier than polyester in feel.

  4. Nylon is generally considered better for whips and slacks.

Now for some personal opinion observations based on my experiments:

  • First, a warning. I feel there is far more overall variance in nylon strings than poly strings. For example the wooly ones are almost completely different from the others! I also think that poly/nylon blend may be the way to go versus pure nylon. So when someone says “nylon string” you really have no idea what you’re going to get. Try 'em out first if you can!

  • Of the Nylons I have tried, I definitely get the attraction to wooly nylon because it tends to be fatter (I prefer a fat string) and behaves more similarly to poly in some ways? The spool thread was wayy too creepily soft for my tastes but the Airetec wooly is nice and so is @Kieran’s custom wooly. I can give most woolies a thumbs up :+1:

  • For some reason I feel nylon strings get twisted under normal throw torsion (every throw is a rotation of the string) faster than my poly strings, and they twist up tighter when they get that torsion, too?

Ironically my overall personal preference in nylon may be for the honestly kinda weird OneDrop Long Cuts which are a nylon/poly blend. They are very rough, but to me that completely counteracts my primary complaint about nylon, which is that it has such a slippery / soapy feel in play. And being super rough they break in nice but it takes quite a while. But it is a weak preference, because…

On the whole, I dunno about nylon, still. To me, a good thick poly string is like a pair of comfortable broken-in jeans… whereas nylon feels like putting on stretchy synthetic pants. I appreciate nylon, and I absolutely don’t hate it or anything, but I personally find it really hard to give up the comfy jeans :jeans:

cc @smileypants707 who I know has opinions in this area and I’d love to hear from @MattB as well :wink:

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@codinghorror So this is what we’re going to do today? We’re going to fight? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I prefer the term “spirited debate” :wink:

Honestly I do wish more big companies would get on the nylon train, part of the problem is everything is artisanal small batch with the exception of Kitty 1.5 and since that doesn’t come in fat or XL it basically does not exist as far as I am concerned. :smiley:

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My blend FTW (MaxiLock STRETCH/Coats Trilobal poly [50/50]). I don’t buy yo-yo string, I make my own, so I don’t have any official opinions on other people’s strings.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Keep neutral torsion well during play
  • Retain energy for whips
  • Cheap
  • Just enough bounciness us to feel lively( closely related to the retention of energy during whips. Think about the difference between a typical sling and a more modern slingshot.)
  • My own Homebrew recipe, there’s some pride in that

Cons

  • A little rough at first, 30 minutes to an hour of solid play until they soften up.

That’s about it for cons though.

Since I don’t sell my own and don’t intend to sell my own, and I don’t buy other manufacturers strings, my opinions can more or less be disregarded as nothing more than personal preference.

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Sounds like the only thing you dislike about nylon is how it supposedly takes too long to break in and soften up, and the soapy feel of them.

Those are both feel things though. In the previous thread, I said looking objectively at performance, nylon is almost universally better. And you basically said it yourself, lasts longer and whips/slacks better. Feel just doesn’t factor into a string’s performance imo.

Just because you find bimetals boring doesn’t mean they perform worse than monometals. Just because you prefer the feel of one string vs the other doesn’t mean the other performs worse.

I’m not knocking someone if they say they enjoy using cotton or poly strings more than nylon or if they prefer using an undersized organic monometal over a full sized V bimetal. But for the objective argument of performance, I’m gonna have to disagree if they say the cotton/poly or undersized organic performs better.

Personally, I prefer the feel of poly a lot of the time too. But I acknowledge that nylon just makes for a better string.

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@codinghorror I’ll just leave this here

I’m really warming up to th OD prime cuts. A lot. Honestly the longevity isn’t even the main factor. I think, and this might sound weird, that the density of nylon might be what I like. Yeah, that density is what makes it whip well, but I’m not even talking about the whipping ability specifically. Just the feel of the dense string. I’m starting to dig it

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Nice review @smileypants707! You oughta sell strings on the side, or license your blend to someone like YYSL… who I should point out currently sells no nylon strings that I know of!

I dunno, I’d need to see pro competition usage stats to believe that, if nylon is objectively better than poly in every way such that it makes poly obsolete.

I went over this in the last thread too…

People use kitty because its cheaper and the string you use honestly doesn’t matter. The string has no where near the amount of importance that the yoyo does, and even then, the yoyo you use doesn’t matter “that” much either…

Because the performance of a string really doesn’t matter much at all, comfort and cost may very well be more important to pros than objective performance, because that minor additional boost in performance really doesn’t amount to anything when you consider that they cost 10 times more.

I also used this analogy in the previous thread. Sell kitty for a dollar a string. Sell airetic for $20 for 100. Who’s gonna be buying kitty? Go even further, if those bulk airetic-type strings became the standard in the 2000s instead of kitty, and kitty just started popping up in the 2010s, who would be buying $1 kitty strings? Basically nobody, I feel like we’d be laughing at the people making kitty.

At the least, kitty’s definitely not better than a lot of the boutique polys. Why is only 10% of pros using boutique polys then? Because the string you use really doesn’t matter considering the increase in price for boutique. Does that mean kitty is better than YYSL though? Ha.

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I think the real win here would be to get other major brands and string manufacturers to use nylon so more players can experience it. For example, OneDrop has an official string they make and it is a nylon/poly blend.

And Kitty only offering nylon in regular (aka “thin”) in regular and fat but not XL is just cruel, man :wink:

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My friend @blahmin gave me some of his custom xtra thicckkque nylon and it is WAYYY more durable than poly or cotton.
I like the whipp I ness of it and it makes for some pretty nice slack tricks

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They do! They sell Nylon Fat right on the YYE store :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Oh nice! Do they sell XL as well? Having tried the kitty sampler I realized I am an XL person.

I’ve only seen KS sell those three variants for Nylon, then every variation possible for poly. :+1:

At this point, all I can say is I briefly tried making some nylon string a few years back, and my experiments weren’t yielding something “Lab grade” at the time. I am considering the possibility of trying again, but getting the time to really do it right is pushing it back.

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I got curious about this so I popped some stuff on my digital scale. Note that the scale appears only be accurate to about ~0.1~0.2 grams so… take this with a grain of salt.

I tested length and the Airetec nylon is almost exactly the same length as the kitty tall, so here they are on the scale, this is a very good apples to apples:

Kitty Tall – 1.2g
Airetec – 1.3g

The YYSL AMMO is a bit shorter than both (and slightly shorter than kitty regular, oddly enough!) but appears to be heavier in comparison:

Kitty Regular – 1.1g
StringLabs Ammo – 1.3g

Factoring for length, AMMO is definitely heavier probably just because it is notably thicker, certainly XL thickness if not a bit more.

I’d say at most these are different in weight / density by 10%? I really need a more accurate scale for weights this tiny.

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I think you’ve got density confused with mass. Density is also a function of volume

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Great topic btw.

I have tried SpoolThread Co., Airetic, and Cloud strings thus far in terms of pure nylon. That said, I generally prefer a hybrid blend approach. My personal experience with pure nylon is that it is a bit too whippy and slippy.

I tried SpoolThread’s initial blend, which I felt was a bit too thin, though it played very well. I wish I had more time with it in hindsight – I got it only a few months into yoyoing, so I really cannot provide a lot of insight now.

Fast forward, I tried some of the more refined releases and they were just great. I feel that the initial tension on the string is good. There is a lot of bounce, though the strings were a bit thicker now, so I didn’t have any binding issues.

Airetic:

I first heard about Airetic last year when I started making my own strings. He approached me either in Reddit or IG and asked if I would be interested in a string swap. It was a cool experience and I ended up getting a few pointers for my own strings. At this time, Airetic had several versions of thickness and I felt it was a bit confusing, maybe a bit too much choice; however, the string colors were (and still are) some of the best. He has some fades and color combinations that are incredible. The string from that trade lasted a long time – I still have 2 of them that are in use and this was from last year.

Now, Airetic does things a little different – He has two thicknesses that I’m aware of – a standard and a slim. I prefer the standard blend, though it still has that quality of nylon of being very slippy on your finger. It makes me a little nervous to throw whip tricks without roison on my finger. I do feel that he has nailed the tension though. I still purchase Airetic from time to time – it is my go-to pure nylon string now.

Lastly, cloud strings. I don’t have a lot to say about these. I got one cloud string last year and it was very thin. I had trouble binding with it and it became frustrating, so I stopped using it.

All of that said — my absolute go-to string is a nylon-poly blend. I have been using Zipline Skylines; however, I feel that SpoolThread Co was the superior blend in this category. He really nailed it. I still have one of these strings that is heavily played at this point and I will be very sad when it finally gets put out to pasture.

I feel that nylon-poly blends bring the best of both worlds and cut the negatives of nylon – the overly whippy-ness and slippyness of the string.

Lastly – I have tried making poly, nylon, and hybrid blends on my own. I feel like I got very close to producing a string I really liked, but just don’t have the time to perfect it (also my rig got messed up and I need to re-build it). I think if I had more time, I would just create my own nylon-poly blend. Maybe make up 10 or so a month and that should get me through to the next month. It’s not expensive and it’s not terribly hard, but it does take some time and patience. If you are a little crafty and enjoy doing this sort of thing, I highly recommend giving it a shot.

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