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Holabird Sports

Stringing Machines

This page contains information about the different types of stringing machines and helps you find the right kind if you consider buying one.

    Fortunately the variety in stringing machines is not as large as in tennis racquets or strings. Nevertheless there's a stringing machine for every demand and every wallet:

  • Portable mini-machines like the Klippermate (about $135). These machines are affordable but I can't imagine when you would need such a portable machine, except when travelling to a place where there are tennis courts but no stringing facilities.
  • Standard machines with drop weight or spring tension head like the Gamma Progression 600/ST. There's a large variety of such machines which cost between $400 and $1000. Read on for more on these machines.
  • Drop weight machine Spring tensioner machine (upright model)
    Drop weight tabletop machine Spring tensioner upright machine
  • Electronic machines like the Gamma 6002 ES. The main difference from the above machines is their precision. One has to do almost the same work, but stringing can't get much easier. Only recommended for professionals with a high racquet volume, because you have to invest between $900 and $3000.
    Electronic machine

    As my pages are mainly aimed at the average tennis player I will from now on concentrate on the standard machines mentioned above.

    At first you have to choose between a tabletop or an upright machine (floor model). As the terms imply tabletops are placed onto a table whereas upright models have their own stand and can easily be placed anywhere on the floor. Upright machines have some advantages: you can string standing up (which is in fact more comfortable than sitting down), you have more freedom of movement and stringing is a bit faster. But upright models cost about $200 more than corresponding tabletop machines.

    Then you have to distinguish between the different tensioners. There are drop weight tensioners and spring tensioners.
    Drop weight machines have a rod with a movable weight on the end. The farther the weight is moved towards the end, the stronger the rod tightens the string. The desired weight can be adjusted using a scale imprinted on the rod. The rod pulls exactly with the adjusted weight when exactly parallel to the ground. Therein lies a small disadvantage: small deviations from the horizontal position may cause tension inaccuracy. You have to act precisely with such a machine.
    Spring tensioner machines are in principle as accurate as drop weight machines - provided that you handle the latter correctly. You adjust the desired weight with a screw and turn the crank until a pointer indicates that the weight is reached.
There are neither differences in price nor in stringing speed between these two different machine types.

    There are also differences concerning the frame mounting system - 2-point, 4-point or 6-point mounting systems. In principle you can say: the more supports the better; but also the handling plays an important role. The mounting system should be easy to use, strong and resistant. Considering the enormous stress the frame is exposed during the stringing process the steady mounting of the racquet is very important. Also make sure you can mount high-width frames like Widebodies.
    There are many variants of frame mounting systems; if you have the chance to try different systems you should in any case compare them and pick the one that suits your needs most.

    Another important feature is the string clamp system. There are three types of string clamps: starting clamps, floating clamps and fixed clamps. The latter are the absolutely best choice. With floating systems you have to fix the string to the frame using a starting clamp, applying additional pressure on your racquet. The following fixing of the strings is done using floating clamps which are needed to fix two strings at a time. On the other hand fixed single action clamps are much more comfortable. They can be moved on a glide bar alongside the racquet and can be rotated by 360°. With such a system you're saving both starting clamp and floating clamp because one fixed clamp is used as a "starting clamp" and the other one fixes the current string.
    Once again, try the different systems! The clamps should really hold the strings but shouldn't damage them. You can adjust the pressure on most clamps. This is especially important when stringing one of those very fine (1.10mm) high tech strings.

    There are many stringing machines that match all criteria mentioned above but show large price differences. The main reason for that is the quality of material. Doesn't mean that the most expensive machine is always the best. Beginners should decide on a special offer in the first place. When you want to continue you should already have enough experience and know what matters. Here and there something gets loose, the mounting threads get weak, the clamps misadjust themselves... Watch out for vendor's warranties.

    If you're doing the right service on your machine you can easily increase its lifetime. This includes for example lubricating movable parts, but keeping other parts oil-free. Also tighten screws as soon as they get loose.
    A stringing machine is only worth its cost when you're actually using it for a certain period of time.

Many people who are about to buy a stringing machine ask me which manufacturer is the best and which is the worst. Unfortunately I can't answer these questions, since I don't have experiences with different models myself.
Thus I'd like to ask all the stringers to send me their experiences with their machine via the Stringing Machine Forum, so I can pass on the collected information to the future stringers.

© Jens Barthelmes