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Yoyo Articles, by The Yoyologist Crew members
South African Yo-yo Players

Types of Yoyo String

There are many different types of yo-yo string, and in this article, we are going to be talking about which yo-yo string material is best for you.


Cotton yoyo string

In the old days, all yo-yo strings were made from cotton. Cotton is still the best string to use if you are playing with a fixed axle yo-yo. The reason for this is that polyester really is a type of plastic, and when plastic gets hot, it melts. A fast spinning, fixed axle yoyo can generate quite a lot of heat, and this can melt right through polyester yo-yo string quite quickly.

Cotton yo-yo string also has quite a bit of stretch, or “bounce”. Because a lot of people don’t like the bouncy feeling of cotton, polyester is commonly blended into some cotton string, usually at a 50% / 50% ratio. Cotton yoyo string often has quite a rough texture which can grate and hurt your fingers as you play, polyester is a lot smoother or slicker, and the blending cotton and polyester together helps create a string that glides smoothly over your fingers.

Cotton tends also to be more responsive than polyester yo-yo string.

Polyester yoyo string

Polyester yo-yo string is a lot smoother, or “slicker” than cotton. This is one of the reasons it is favoured by players who are more interested in the newer tricks which often involve complex formations around the hands and fingers, or a lot of sliding the string through your fingers.

Polyester feels heavier than cotton, and it is often preferred over cotton for its ability to whip and slack better than cotton.

On a yoyo with a transaxle or ballbearing axle, polyester string will last a lot longer than cotton. From personal experience, I can break a cotton string in an hour of intense, modern play, whereas over the last 6 – 7 years, I have only broken about 5 polyester yoyo strings. I usually use polyester string for about 10hrs of play before they start getting too dirty and frayed to play well.

Another advantage of polyester over cotton for ballbearing yoyos is its hydrophobic properties. Cotton is a hydroscopic material. This means that it absorbs moisture easily. If you live in a humid environment and leave a cotton string on your yo-yo, you may find that over time rust spots will develop on the bearing as the string slowly absorbs water from the atmosphere.

Polyester, on the other hand, is hydrophobic. Essentially this means that it does not generally absorb water, making them “safer” on ballbearing yoyos. Thankfully, most bearings these days are made of a higher grade of stainless steel which resists rust. If you will be storing a yo-yo for some time, it is still a good idea to remove the string anyway. I usually only have one string on a yoyo at any time, if I want to play with another yo-yo, I simply take the string I am using and put it on the yo-yo I want to play with next.

A lot of players like the natural, organic feel of cotton, and if you are a player dong modern tricks but like the organic feel of cottom, then a blended 50% / 50% string is probably your best bet.

Rayon and Nylon Yoyo Strings

Many boutique string manufacturers and home twisters are experimenting with various fibres, such as rayon, nylon and even hemp fibre yoyo string.

Rayon and nylon yoyo strings tend to be very expensive, but they do last a very long time. The downside is that they are usually very stiff initially, and can take quite a long time to soften up and break in. Personally, I find that by the time I have played with a string long enough for it to soften up, it has picked up so much dirt and grime that I wouldn't want to play with it anyway. You could, of course, put your string through the washing machine to clean, but just make sure to properly rinse off any soap or fabric softener residue, and make sure it is thoroughly dry before using it again. I have used a rayon string for well over 4 months before it started to fray.

Because rayon and nylon yoyo strings are stiffer, they tend to whip much quicker than other types of string, which can make whips, lacerations and slack tricks much easier and much quicker to hit.

Rayon and nylon strings are the most unresponsive out of all the materials, and because the actual fibres are a lot harder than polyester, they can wear out your response systems much quicker than a cotton, polyester or blended string would.

Thicknesses, or Types of yoyo string

The two most common thicknesses are Type 6 (2x3) and Type 8 (2x4). You can also often find Type 9 (3x3) and Type 10. Type 10 is usually 1x10, but could also technically be made up of 2x5 (simple maths!).


Take a yo-yo string and cut off a small piece. Then seperate the two strands. Now take one of these strands and untwist it. The number of strands you see will be the second number, if you are using Type 6, this number should be 3. Then take a closer look at each of these strands, and untwist them. The number of smaller strands you see now will be your first number, this should be 2 if you are using Type 6.

Basically, the first number refers to the smallest building blocks of your string, and the second number, the bigger building blocks.

Generally speaking, the smaller the number, the thinner the string. Type 6 traditionally was preferred for modern play, as it is thinner and thus less responsive. Type 8 was generally preferred for more responsive play or for looping tricks as it is thicker. However, as the gaps in modern yoyos continue to get wider, many unresponsive players are now switching to thicker Type 8 string for better control and a smoother action.

You can purchase yo-yo string from the  accessories page of our store.

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