To string or not to string?

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I still remember the feeling of satisfaction on that warm summer day when I heard that loud twang telling me that I had broken my first string…One month, and fifteen broken strings later I was beginning to dread that same sound that had excited me hearing it for the first time.

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The first broken string carries a sense of accomplishment that one has arrived as a player, a coming of age if you will. What you come to find later, with that accomplishment comes a cost. Once a broken string is no longer an accomplishment it becomes a nuisance, both financially and logistically. 

                                             

Every broken string means that you have to take the time to find someone to string your racquet, pay the cost of labor and string, and be without your racquet for some time, sometimes up to two weeks! For me, after I started breaking strings almost daily I started thinking about purchasing my own stringer.

                                                 Alpha Revo 4000 Stringing Machine

The main things to consider when looking at buying a stringer are how many racquets are you breaking? How much are you paying for the restring job? And do you have time available to string your own? One other concern with giving your racquet to someone else is that you do not know how they are treating your racquet.

The formula is, cost to restring + number of broken racquets vs. cost of stringer + available time to string.

  • Figure between $12-$25 per racquet in labor.
  • You break one racquet per week or more
    • At least 50 per year, 50 x 20 = $1000
  • You can get a serviceable stringer anywhere from $150 to $1000.

Once you decide that it makes sense to purchase your own stringer it is time to decide which one. There are three main types of stringing machines, drop-weight, Manual crank, and electric. The two I am going to focus on are drop-weight and manual because they are more affordable for the first time owner.

                                      Alpha Pioneer DC Plus Stringing Machine

Drop-weight is a very accurate and simple system, but tend to be the slowest method of stringing and can be difficult for the first time user. The drop-weight machine uses a gravity system, a weight is attached to an arm, the string is clamped into the arm, and the arm is then dropped to level with the ground where the desired tension is met. An issue is that if the desired tension is not met the process must be restarted each time. An example is the Alpha Pioneer DC Plus.  

                                               Alpha Axis Pro Stringing Machine

Crank stringers use a spring tensioning system where a spring is wound to set the desired tension, the string is placed in the gripper, and the crank is pulled. The spring locks out at the desired tension. This is a fast and simple stringer but is not as accurate as a drop-weight if both are used correctly. An example is the Alpha Axis Pro.

The difference in accuracy is that drop-weight stringers continue to hold tension until the string is clamped whereas the lockout machine stops pulling tension the second the spring locks. The accuracy of a drop-weight is closest to the actual tension set. Both systems if used correctly will provide an even string bed in the hands of a capable stringer.

The second thing to look at is the difference in bells and whistles, clamps, mounting points, stands, extras, etc…there are two different types of clamps, fixed and swivel.

                                        

  • Fixed clamps are mounted on two bars and move laterally up and down and side-to-side. These clamps hold tension well, but have to be moved when going from mains to crosses when stringing racquets adding time to the string job.
  • Swivel clamps are attached to a moving base that moves laterally and also in 360-degree rotation to accommodate all strings without adjustments. These are the faster type of clamp but some people believe that they do not hold tension as well as fixed clamps because they have the capability to move more.

Mounting points are the different ways to mount the racquet on the stringer. Two point and six point are the most common.

                            

  • Two point systems will attach at 6 and 12 o’clock on the frame and is the quickest method because it limits potential blockage of stringing holes.
  • Six point systems attach at 6 and 12 as well as 4, 8, 10, and 2. This method protects from potential warping but can be cumbersome when trying to reach blocked grommet holes.

The third thing to look at is table top or upright stringer. The difference is that a table top has a base that can be placed onto something to achieve a desired hight. This is more portable and flexible, but is not as stable as an upright. An upright stringer has the stand built onto the machince and is not portable once set up.   

The last thing is extras; many companies will give you tools, string, and dvds to assist in your new stringing skill. The other benifit of having your own stringer is the abilty to playtest and sample new and different strings.

Once you decide to take the plunge you will need to figure on what tools to get, what strings to buy, and how to grow past a personal stringer. Check www.thetennisdepot.com for all of these items. I will be discussing these topics in further posts in the next couple weeks.

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2 Responses to “To string or not to string?”

  1. robyn Josephs Says:

    informative and great visuals

  2. steve Says:

    great review. thanks

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