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Holabird Sports

Mutual Power Alpine 6500
Mutual Power Alpine 6500

Evaluations of the Mutual Power Alpine 6500:

Richard Lucas, November 14, 2005:

   Place of purchase: Mutual Power

   Date of purchase: 10/2005

   Warranty: 5 years, 1 year on electronics

   Price: $569


Electronic rotational tensioner, 6 point mounting, 2 glide bar clamps, upright unit


As background, I've been a CS since 2001, and used an Alpha Revo 3000 before I got this machine. I currently go to college and don't find a lot of time for tennis at the moment, but I still get out whenever I can.
I ordered the machine on October 17, received it a week later. It came with a number of hex keys, tools, 12 sets of string, 2 wrenches, and 2 instruction manuals, one for the tensioner, and one for putting the machine together and some basics on stringing. I disagree with the part of the manual that basically says it is okay to double pull. Again, this isn't a huge issue with me because I already know how to string but it worries me for someone who buys it as their first machine and uses only the manual to learn. Put it together that night (took about 45 minutes), but didn't have a chance to string on it for a few days. When I received it the brake was closed extremely tight and it was necessary for me to use a vise-grip and a wrench to loosen it. Once that was done the brake works fine. There was a small issue with the way the tensioner fit onto the bar that is normally used for a crank tensioner. Basically, the tensioner is held against the bar using 2 bolts. The bolts were a bit too short, so the tensioning unit would lean back a little. I cut up an old mouse pad to take up the space and now it stands up as it should. Once everything was set up and plugged it in and checked the tension. Pulled at 60 lbs. just like it was set. Now for the review.

Similar mounting to what I was used to from the Revo. Basically it holds inside the frame at 6 and 12, and has 4 mounting arms that hold on the outside. Nothing really different here than the standard. This machine uses K-shaped supports instead of the V-shaped that the Revo had. They appear to be a little sturdier than the V-shaped supports. The supports occasionally cover a grommet making it a bit more difficult to reach with the string, but this is pretty much unavoidable with this style of mounting. The knobs don't catch the string as much as the knobs on my Revo did. The mounting post on one side is stationary and the other side can move back and forth to allow for different sizes of frames. This is moved by loosening three hex screws, moving it, and then closing the screws again. This could potentially be a pain if stringing a number of different frames in a row, but for me is no problem. The posts can be adjusted up and down for height as well. Obviously you can change them too much or the clamps won't be able to hold the strings. These are also adjusted using hex screws.

These appear to be basic glide bar clamps. No diamond dusting, just small grooves in the teeth. I doubt that helps with gripping the string and I would have preferred if they weren't there, but they are. After a quick cleaning and a few frames, the clamps glide along the bar with ease and hold tension perfectly well. I'm still getting used to the glide bars but I am liking them more and more with each two-piece string job I do. It is a bit annoying to have to move them 3 or 4 times when doing an ATW pattern. Still pretty easy to use and I'm starting to get the hang of them. I will need a few more frames before I'm completely comfortable with them to the point that I was at with the Revo dual action clamps. Originally the clamps used a small nut that had to be adjusted by a wrench to tighten the clamps. These are set down into the clamp a bit, so a wrench could not be used normally, it had to be put in perpendicular to the clamp in order to adjust them. I switched out these nuts with simple 6mm wingnuts so I can adjust them by hand. It really helps out a lot and doesn't annoy me nearly as much as the wrench method. I'm still considering switching to Neos clamps, but I may not do that for awhile for a number of reasons. According to the guy I talked to from Tennis Machines the Neos clamps are about a half an inch shorter, which means I would have to move the mounting posts down, but it is still a viable option. Neos clamps are $65 each plus shipping, so I'm hesitant to buy them unless I'm absolutely sure they will fit.

While the machine is sold as an "electronic" it is more like a rotational lock-out machine. I have yet to notice it pull on the string after initially reaching the set tension. Earlier today I set the tension to 60 lbs. and had it pull tension on my calibrator. I left it there holding tension for 20 minutes. I checked on it periodically to see what tension it was at. I also checked to see if the rotational tensioner had rotated past the point where it originally stopped. After the 20 minutes it had not moved anymore. To me, this is not a big deal because I am used to a lock-out machine (this machine produced a slightly stiffer string bed, but not as stiff as a true constant pull machine). It took a slight 2 pound adjust to get to the same feel I got from the Revo. Over the 20 minute test earlier today, the tension read by the calibrator dropped to 56 lbs. after the 20 pounds. While the tensioner does not appear to pull on the string after the initial tensioning, the tension is still consistent and produces consistent jobs. If constant pull is of huge importance for you, then this is not the machine for you.

Extra Notes:
The tensioner can be set anywhere along the bar, I have the tensioner set as far back on the bar so that I have 360 degree racquet rotation. This means that I need more string to reach the tensioner, but the racquet rotation is nice to have. I'm considering eventually upgrading to the Wise tension head, but again, money is not something I have at this point. Overall, the machine does its job very well. The machine is not perfect, but it does what it is supposed to. Overall, I am happy with the machine. By placing the tensioner on the bar, it gives me the option to change it to a crank machine, or add on a Wise tension head later on. If the Neos clamps do fit, there is the potential that the machine would have Neos clamps, Wise tension head, and a quality mounting system for around $1300. Even without the upgrades the machine is still of high quality and I am pleased with my purchase. If I had more money to spend, I likely would not have even considered Mutual Power, but I do like the machine. With more money I would have probably gone with either a Neos or a high end Gamma or Alpha, but for the money that I spent, I'm extremely happy with the jobs that I can produce.

Note that the information on this page reflects the personal subjective opinion of the evaluators. If you disagree, please send in your own opinion.