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mixedmedia
03-03-2012, 04:50 PM
I know I posted very prematurely in this area of the forum. I should have done some more reading. Hopefully, my questions will be more specific and appropriate.

I have never strung before, but I have high standards and believe I will be able to learn stringing at a decent pace, with good proficiency. The machines I'm considering right now are the Alpha Pioneer DC Plus; the Stringway M(L)90, ML100, ML120; and the Silent Partner Hip Hop. I am, however, certainly open to suggestions. I have a few questions that I'll try to put together sensibly.

1. What advantages does the SP have over the Alpha in terms of it's mounting system?
2. What advantages does the Alpha gripper have over the SP?
3. How do the fixed clamps of the Alpha and SP compare to the Stringways' flying clamps?
4. Of the machines, which pulls and holds tension better with the least damage to the string and the most consistency between jobs?

I've been reading a lot, so hopefully this post is better, and I'm sure I'll update it as I read more.

EDIT: I am beginning to think the Stringways are out of my price range, but I would certainly still welcome comparisons for reference.

mixedmedia
03-03-2012, 04:57 PM
5. The only difference between the Gamma Progression II 602 and the Gamma Progression II 602FC is that the 602FC has fixed clamps, hence the "FC," right?
6. How does the 602FC stack up to those above?

mixedmedia
03-03-2012, 05:05 PM
7. Are the "automatic drop-weights" of the Stringways more accurate or just easier to use?

mmk
03-03-2012, 06:30 PM
SP no longer sells stringing machines. While floating clamps have their proponents, fixed are much easier to use. Whatever you end up with, get a starting clamp, which isn't absolutely necessary, but makes stringing much easier.

bbulla
03-03-2012, 06:31 PM
I use the Stringway ML100 and I really like it. Used a Prince Neos previously, and this seems to produce a more consistent job. I have two single action fixed clamps, so cannot comment on the flying clamps, but if you have 'high standards' as you say why are you even considering flying clamps??

As for the SP, where did you find it? SP doesn't even make stringers anymore.

mixedmedia
03-03-2012, 08:23 PM
Yeah, I was wondering how I would find a Silent Partner since I checked the site and saw stringing machines were not available. I included the flying clamps question because some, such as GG Tennis (if I'm reading their info correctly), seem to be proponents of flying clamps.

Thanks for the responses, guys. I'm down to deciding between the Alpha and a used Gamma Progression II 602 FC. Any comparisons? Haven't found a used Alpha but the Gamma would be around $250 and come with a stand (not sure if tools are included). This is actually the same type of machine my string jobs are being done on now, expect the one I'm considering purchasing has standard clamps, not diamond clamps.

mad dog1
03-03-2012, 08:51 PM
alpha and gamma machines crank machines are not CP. the dropweights are, but can be a hassle to use. the only one that is from the choices you listed above that has a super ez to use CP is stringway. regarding flying clamps. the best combo is 1 stringway double and 1 stringway triple. the reason why the triple is so good is because it clamps 3 strings to resist twisting and thereby eliminates nearly all drawback. if you want machine you won't ever grow out of, get the stringway. if you get a crank machine, you could get CP by adding a wise tension head, but then you're talking about another $500 + you have to deal w/ herb if something goes wrong. the SW combo of double and triple clamps can do just as good a job as fixed clamps but are a bit more of a hassle to mess around with. since you're a newb to stringing and want something that will you won't outgrow, get the stringway. or you can get a klippermate dropweight and a SW floating triple clamp to supplement the KM floating double clamp and be done w/ it for cheap. you get CP and a KM which has a lifetime warranty.

mixedmedia
03-03-2012, 08:57 PM
Thanks for the input, mad dog1. If I had the cash, I'd definitely go for the Stringway (which model would you suggest, by the way, for future reference?), but I'm strongly considering getting a used Gamma Progression II 602 CF, since it has 6 pt mounting and is CP and would be $250 for me and come with the stand.

mixedmedia
03-03-2012, 08:58 PM
By the time I got the Stringway setup, it would be over $1000, right?

mad dog1
03-03-2012, 09:12 PM
Thanks for the input, mad dog1. If I had the cash, I'd definitely go for the Stringway (which model would you suggest, by the way, for future reference?), but I'm strongly considering getting a used Gamma Progression II 602 CF, since it has 6 pt mounting and is CP and would be $250 for me and come with the stand.

if you can find a used gamma prog II 602 FC for $250, then great.

stringways are not cheap. i'd recommend the ML100 or ML120 which range from $800-1300 depending on the choice of options.

start w/ the gamma and learn the ropes of stringing first. with no experience, the stringjob you'd do on any high end machine would suck anyways. an experienced stringer can do the same quality job on a klippermate as a baiardo. it's the stringer than counts more than the machine as long as you have CP.

mixedmedia
03-03-2012, 09:21 PM
Thanks for the advice. I figure it's good to have a solid machine but also to still have something to work towards as I improve--being worthy of a better machine, or whatever.

Thanks again.

GlenK
03-04-2012, 02:27 AM
I had a similar dilemma about a year ago and decided to go ahead and bite the bullet and drop the 1k on a Gamma X-Els. I was planning on starting a stringing business though which was a big factor in the decision.

Have already made back the cost of the machine and then some. But one thing I did learn is you get what you pay for and once you reach a certain price level there's not a lot of difference in the machines. Then it just comes down to your goals and personal preferences.

Irvin
03-04-2012, 05:25 AM
...But one thing I did learn is you get what you pay for and once you reach a certain price level there's not a lot of difference in the machines...

Truer words were never spoken

mixedmedia
03-04-2012, 06:29 AM
I had a similar dilemma about a year ago and decided to go ahead and bite the bullet and drop the 1k on a Gamma X-Els. I was planning on starting a stringing business though which was a big factor in the decision.

Have already made back the cost of the machine and then some. But one thing I did learn is you get what you pay for and once you reach a certain price level there's not a lot of difference in the machines. Then it just comes down to your goals and personal preferences.

If I was planning on starting a business and everything I'd definitely "bite the bullet" and all, but, even though I'm fairly confident I'll pick up how to string well, I don't know how much time I'll have available to really take clients. And I figure I could do a few jobs and cover the cost of $250 and then move up to a Stringway, Alpha, or another Gamma and sell the 602 CF for $200 or something.

Thanks again, everyone, for your replies!

mixedmedia
03-04-2012, 11:04 AM
I have heard a starting clamp is a good buy. What's the best brand for that? (I'm going to try to get the seller to throw one in, but we'll see.)

Xpherex
03-04-2012, 01:45 PM
I have heard a starting clamp is a good buy. What's the best brand for that? (I'm going to try to get the seller to throw one in, but we'll see.)watch Irvin's video for the clamps he is testing 2, Gamma and Babolat.
I also was in your situation about 2-3 weeks ago. I'm not a stringing expert but I would be glad if I can help you.
I also was looking for a CP type machine and as far as I know there is 2 kind of CP, drop weight and electric, I bought a drop weight Pro's pro challenger (6 pts. mounting, 2 fixed clamps, ratchet system (not a must have) for about 290 include shipping.
I also was suggested to buy stringway however those machines listed for much more and I'm not even sure it's worth, as if you won't rush with a regular drop weight with fixed clamps you can rich not bad results even from the first string job, just make sure you read and watch everything out there. I suggest you to watch Irvin's videos (without him I wouldn't be able to string at all).

I guess right now anything with 6 mounting points and fixed clamps will be good enough to understand the stringing and whenever you will feel the need to get faster you can get more advanced machine.

If you decide to get an electronic one, stay away from Eagnas. One of the local stringers using it and the results are very random.

mixedmedia
03-04-2012, 02:02 PM
Thanks for the advice! I've now made up my mind to buy a used 602FC in good condition for $250 (including the stand). I've been looking through what tools I need and I actually think I have most of them (just not branded under a tennis name).

Irvin, any verdict on the clamps?

Also, I think the Gamma I'll be buying is about 10 years old or something like that (but was only used moderately and only for five years), so I was wondering if there were any significant changes compared to the newer ones. It sounds like this one has standard clamps, not diamond ones. How much would it be to upgrade?

Irvin
03-04-2012, 02:19 PM
I have a old VS clamp which is the one most people claim to be the best. It is a good clamp about 30 years old and will still hold very well. I also have a new Gamma clamp which does a fine job. The Gamma is easy to open and will not clamp as hard as the VS clamp but it still hold over 80+ lbs of tension as high as my Wise goes.

You need to test your clamps just play around with them to see what they will and will not do by placing the string either farther to the pivot point or to the tip. I think most will do the job fine. I just don't want to damage the string by clamping too tight or too loose while pulling tension.

mixedmedia
03-04-2012, 02:34 PM
After I practice some I'll be stringing mostly gut and multis probably, so not damaging the string is a big deal. Thanks for the feedback.

diredesire
03-06-2012, 01:47 PM
Well, it looks like you've already sprung for a machine. I highly suspect you'll be upgrading with a few years... :twisted:

I know I posted very prematurely in this area of the forum. I should have done some more reading. Hopefully, my questions will be more specific and appropriate.

I have never strung before, but I have high standards and believe I will be able to learn stringing at a decent pace, with good proficiency. The machines I'm considering right now are the Alpha Pioneer DC Plus; the Stringway M(L)90, ML100, ML120; and the Silent Partner Hip Hop. I am, however, certainly open to suggestions. I have a few questions that I'll try to put together sensibly.

1. What advantages does the SP have over the Alpha in terms of it's mounting system?
2. What advantages does the Alpha gripper have over the SP?
3. How do the fixed clamps of the Alpha and SP compare to the Stringways' flying clamps?
4. Of the machines, which pulls and holds tension better with the least damage to the string and the most consistency between jobs?

I've been reading a lot, so hopefully this post is better, and I'm sure I'll update it as I read more.

EDIT: I am beginning to think the Stringways are out of my price range, but I would certainly still welcome comparisons for reference.

You never stated your price range (from what i can tell). You never really stated ANYTHING in reference to what you REALLY want out of a machine. ANY new thread should have these considerations in mind. All I see so far is that you have "high standards." Understand from an outside perspective.. this means little to nothing. What we really need to know is:

Price point/budget:
Volume of stringing:
What you hope to accomplish by stringing:
What you're willing to spend to "finish" your kit:
Space constraints:
Other constraints:
Do you plan to string for others?:
What tools do you need to get?:
What strings are you going to be stringing?
Anything you're not willing to budge on?

To answer your question, and brief comments: As mentioned in the thread, SP is out. If I chose today, I'd get one of the Stringway machines, but they're not exactly cheap. They are a whole 'nother level when it comes to overall quality, though, IMHO.


5. The only difference between the Gamma Progression II 602 and the Gamma Progression II 602FC is that the 602FC has fixed clamps, hence the "FC," right?
6. How does the 602FC stack up to those above?
It is on par with the Alpha. I'd give the nod to the SW machines with similar configs with no questions, though.

7. Are the "automatic drop-weights" of the Stringways more accurate or just easier to use?
Theoretically they're more accurate, but the TRUE differences (measured) in dropweights is pretty miniscule. While it's true that you're only 100% truly pulling reference tension at 90 degrees, even with a relatively major ~10%+ difference in angle, you're still pulling very, very close to reference. The SW actually apparently has similar issues with angle, but it's severely reduced compared to a standard dropweight.

I use the Stringway ML100 and I really like it. Used a Prince Neos previously, and this seems to produce a more consistent job. I have two single action fixed clamps, so cannot comment on the flying clamps, but if you have 'high standards' as you say why are you even considering flying clamps??

As for the SP, where did you find it? SP doesn't even make stringers anymore.
Agree. I'm not sure why the NEOS feels more consistent, though. Have you calibrated both? IMO, this is likely an artifact of CP vs Crank tension than the consistency of the machine.

Yeah, I was wondering how I would find a Silent Partner since I checked the site and saw stringing machines were not available. I included the flying clamps question because some, such as GG Tennis (if I'm reading their info correctly), seem to be proponents of flying clamps.

Thanks for the responses, guys. I'm down to deciding between the Alpha and a used Gamma Progression II 602 FC. Any comparisons? Haven't found a used Alpha but the Gamma would be around $250 and come with a stand (not sure if tools are included). This is actually the same type of machine my string jobs are being done on now, expect the one I'm considering purchasing has standard clamps, not diamond clamps.
Nothing really to worry about with either of these machines. They're both great for the price, and have good aftermarket support. The Alpha tensioner might require slightly less string to operate, but it's a minor inconvenience, IMO.

alpha and gamma machines crank machines are not CP. the dropweights are, but can be a hassle to use. the only one that is from the choices you listed above that has a super ez to use CP is stringway. regarding flying clamps. the best combo is 1 stringway double and 1 stringway triple. the reason why the triple is so good is because it clamps 3 strings to resist twisting and thereby eliminates nearly all drawback. if you want machine you won't ever grow out of, get the stringway. if you get a crank machine, you could get CP by adding a wise tension head, but then you're talking about another $500 + you have to deal w/ herb if something goes wrong. the SW combo of double and triple clamps can do just as good a job as fixed clamps but are a bit more of a hassle to mess around with. since you're a newb to stringing and want something that will you won't outgrow, get the stringway. or you can get a klippermate dropweight and a SW floating triple clamp to supplement the KM floating double clamp and be done w/ it for cheap. you get CP and a KM which has a lifetime warranty.
Above is accurate, the triple clamp would be (at least to me) more of a pain in the butt to use than just getting a fixed clamp from the beginning, though. With no budget stated, I'm going to recommend skipping the flying clamp regardless of how "good" it is.

Thanks for the input, mad dog1. If I had the cash, I'd definitely go for the Stringway (which model would you suggest, by the way, for future reference?), but I'm strongly considering getting a used Gamma Progression II 602 CF, since it has 6 pt mounting and is CP and would be $250 for me and come with the stand.
$250 is a steal for that set up. I'd go for it, but IMO you'll probably upgrade dependign on how seriously you end up taking stringing ;)

By the time I got the Stringway setup, it would be over $1000, right?

Depends, but yeah, that sounds about right. I personally start looking elsewhere at that price point, though.

diredesire
03-06-2012, 01:47 PM
it's the stringer than counts more than the machine as long as you have CP.
While this is true, I'd say a one shot job would have variance, a competent stringer should be able to produce consistent results and/or make necessary adjustments from system to system. I kind of hate the romanticized "it's the artist, not the brush" statements, because not everyone gets to the level where this applies. (I'm admittedly a little bit jaded here, though).

Thanks for the advice. I figure it's good to have a solid machine but also to still have something to work towards as I improve--being worthy of a better machine, or whatever.

Thanks again.
IMO, this isn't the way to think about it. You can learn (arguably) more quickly if you're deliberate in what you're doing on a "nice" machine. This gives you a good frame of reference for weaknesses when you attempt to work on a 2 point w/ flying clamps, as well.


I had a similar dilemma about a year ago and decided to go ahead and bite the bullet and drop the 1k on a Gamma X-Els. I was planning on starting a stringing business though which was a big factor in the decision.

Have already made back the cost of the machine and then some. But one thing I did learn is you get what you pay for and once you reach a certain price level there's not a lot of difference in the machines. Then it just comes down to your goals and personal preferences.
Bingo, IMHO this is what more people should be doing. I'm not saying it's the only way to do things, but i've seen several similar situations over the years. Most people end up upgrading. It'd be cheaper in the long run if you just "bite the bullet." I totally understand the "incremental upgrades," though.

If I was planning on starting a business and everything I'd definitely "bite the bullet" and all, but, even though I'm fairly confident I'll pick up how to string well, I don't know how much time I'll have available to really take clients. And I figure I could do a few jobs and cover the cost of $250 and then move up to a Stringway, Alpha, or another Gamma and sell the 602 CF for $200 or something.

Thanks again, everyone, for your replies!

The nice thing about stringing is that machines (in general) hold their value well. Like I said, that machine for the price is a steal, you could actually make a profit selling it down the road.

I have heard a starting clamp is a good buy. What's the best brand for that? (I'm going to try to get the seller to throw one in, but we'll see.)
There are a few "best" brands, but the well rounded Choice I like is the RAB clamp from GSS. Alpha makes a beast of a clamp, but IMO it's harsh on string, and the texture is too aggressive. Gamma clamps I avoid, I've worked with 3 over the course of ~10 years, and the clamps are great at first, but they gunk up, and are hard to clean. The diamond dusted texture will actually wear out/smooth out even with good cleaning. Clamping force is insufficient when stringing high (>70 lb) tensions. It'd probably be totally fine for a home stringer, but I used mine in an environment where I'd share tools with others, and my typical work load would be >10 frames in one "sitting," so motivation was low to clean the clamp(s) [someone else would likely just gunk it up again anyways, very aggravating].


Thanks for the advice! I've now made up my mind to buy a used 602FC in good condition for $250 (including the stand). I've been looking through what tools I need and I actually think I have most of them (just not branded under a tennis name).

Irvin, any verdict on the clamps?

Also, I think the Gamma I'll be buying is about 10 years old or something like that (but was only used moderately and only for five years), so I was wondering if there were any significant changes compared to the newer ones. It sounds like this one has standard clamps, not diamond ones. How much would it be to upgrade?
If it's an old Gamma FC, you might have the "wing nut" style clamps. these are much more cumbersome to use, and IMO it's not as easy to get the same amount of torque as the current style clamps, but the clamp heads (they might be the older composite ones) are pretty darn good, adjust well, clamp well for the force. MAKE SURE you clean them, and clean them relatively often. A wire brush and rubbing alcohol will take care of most everything but the most stubborn coatings.

I have a old VS clamp which is the one most people claim to be the best. It is a good clamp about 30 years old and will still hold very well. I also have a new Gamma clamp which does a fine job. The Gamma is easy to open and will not clamp as hard as the VS clamp but it still hold over 80+ lbs of tension as high as my Wise goes.

You need to test your clamps just play around with them to see what they will and will not do by placing the string either farther to the pivot point or to the tip. I think most will do the job fine. I just don't want to damage the string by clamping too tight or too loose while pulling tension.
Yep, Irvin mentioned a good point, many clamps have variable clamping force depending on where in the jaw the string is placed. IMO this is a bad thing, but it's just physical tool design, and it's hard to avoid. If you look at my posting history, I (sort of) trash on the Gamma, but IMO it's worth buying the better tool because you'll likely be using it for 5+ years. A $10 difference in cost is an easy justification to me. One slip and it's worth it.

mixedmedia
03-06-2012, 05:11 PM
diredesire, thank you so much for the posts, here and in the thread in which I was originally flailing around! I realize now I was still vague even in starting this one. I guess I had further defined parameters from when I started in this section, but I never laid them out for you guys. Your reaction to the price for the 602FC seems to be the same as mine. That sort of ended my quest when I heard I could get it with a stand for that price. I still haven't actually bought it yet, but it's got my name on it, so to speak. How will I know what type of fixed clamps it has?

And again, thank you so much.

mixedmedia
03-06-2012, 05:15 PM
Just out of curiosity, you said you'd go with a Stringway ideally, but then you said at their price point you'd start looking elsewhere? What would be your choice among the next level up (if one imagines dividing the machine world into 3 levels, the 602FC being in the lowest)?

diredesire
03-06-2012, 05:59 PM
diredesire, thank you so much for the posts, here and in the thread in which I was originally flailing around! I realize now I was still vague even in starting this one. I guess I had further defined parameters from when I started in this section, but I never laid them out for you guys. Your reaction to the price for the 602FC seems to be the same as mine. That sort of ended my quest when I heard I could get it with a stand for that price. I still haven't actually bought it yet, but it's got my name on it, so to speak. How will I know what type of fixed clamps it has?

And again, thank you so much.

If the 602 FC has huge wingnut looking clamps like so: http://www.photostringer.com/gamma_progression_ii_602fc_01.htm
it is the older style clamps. They work very well, don't get me wrong. They're just kind of awkward in design. The composite heads (according to this picture) are red..? I believe I've seen black as well. If you have all metal clamp heads, you'll know.

You're honestly not going to find a much better starting machine than the one you've got your name on. It's a very easy purchase in your case. When you're ready (and someday you probably will be ;)), upgrade!


Just out of curiosity, you said you'd go with a Stringway ideally, but then you said at their price point you'd start looking elsewhere? What would be your choice among the next level up (if one imagines dividing the machine world into 3 levels, the 602FC being in the lowest)?

The way I see it, there's more than 3 levels.
There's 2 point floater machines like the X-2, Klippermate, etc.
There's the higher end dropweight/lower end cranks
There's the mid-range semi-professional machines such as a Gamma 5003, 6004, NEOS, etc.
High end: Bab Stars/Baiardo/TF/Yonex/other machines we mere mortals simply dream of.

Your machine falls into the second category, but it is built very well, should last you a (literal) lifetime, and will perform very admirably. It is a good buy. I would upgrade for the reasons of: Speed [I know it doesn't seem like that big of a deal now, but if you string 10+ frames in one sitting, you don't want your machine to fight you. Once you really get going and you're stringing very fluidly, you'll probably start understanding what I'm talking about], absolute accuracy [Yes, gravity "never lies", but there is drawback that gets released when you loosen your clamp, and it's inevitable that your dropweight will "fall" a little], ergonomics (built in stands are nice, but an add in stand (if you did get a Gamma stand) are totally fine], Ease of use [I don't want to pump a bar, and/or ratchet to get it to where I want it], Clamps [I crave switch action], brake (if yours is an old model, it will probably fight you on O3 frames), mounting system [yours is very good, but I want faster and more out of the way, if at all possible].

Obviously this makes the machine sound like crap, but it is very capable, actually. I worked on a 602 FC a handful of times a long time ago, and I was very impressed by the build quality.

If I were to recommend the "next step," it'd be something like a NEOS/6004 with a WISE add-on, or something like the 5800 ELS series. The problem is... once you get into that price range... it doesn't sound THAT crazy to jump to a Star 5... ;)

Don't worry, though, many of us in this community have the same problem. You'll worry about those things when the time comes. Be VERY happy with your (inevitable) purchase as it is, and take the money you saved and spend it on strings. The reason I commented "how much will you spend to round out your kit" is because you haven't even really gotten to the "meat" in terms of spending. It's like digital SLR photography. The Camera body is a huge investment, and most people will buy an entry body like a Canon Rebel, but they don't realize that there's much more to a full kit than they realize (lenses are ~1/2 the cost of a dSLR body on the "nice, but inexpensive" side.

Same thing goes with string. Prepare to be happy you're saving $15-25 on each string job on labor, but end up spending hundreds of dollars at TW on strings :twisted:

(Yes, that's the GSS clamp I was referring to)

mixedmedia
03-06-2012, 06:58 PM
I figured I was kind of smushing two levels together at the bottom. Thanks for another great reply.

I'm glad my inevitable purchase of the 602FC is well received. :-) And I'm sure my string spending will increase. Is there any sort of general rule on what's a good number to string before going for gut, or just till I feel comfortable? And I'll be sure to pick up the starting clamp you recommended, unless I can get one thrown in with the machine. :-)

And I feel you about the cameras, plus with the Nikon 700 and going back to full aspect ratio, new lenses are required, but it's worth it for those stellar pictures and no clipping of the frame. But I am a big fan of Cannon's "pro-sumer" X10 (I think that's what it's called); great pictures without the sometimes unwanted hassle and bulk of the D700.

bbulla
03-07-2012, 09:03 AM
@Diredesire

In my post I meant to say the Stringway was more consistent. It just isn't obvious the way I worded it.

No worries though. :-)


Quote:
Originally Posted by bbulla View Post
I use the Stringway ML100 and I really like it. Used a Prince Neos previously, and this seems to produce a more consistent job. I have two single action fixed clamps, so cannot comment on the flying clamps, but if you have 'high standards' as you say why are you even considering flying clamps??

As for the SP, where did you find it? SP doesn't even make stringers anymore.
Agree. I'm not sure why the NEOS feels more consistent, though. Have you calibrated both? IMO, this is likely an artifact of CP vs Crank tension than the consistency of the machine.

beernutz
03-07-2012, 01:52 PM
Truer words were never spoken

I had a similar dilemma about a year ago and decided to go ahead and bite the bullet and drop the 1k on a Gamma X-Els. I was planning on starting a stringing business though which was a big factor in the decision.

Have already made back the cost of the machine and then some. But one thing I did learn is you get what you pay for and once you reach a certain price level there's not a lot of difference in the machines. Then it just comes down to your goals and personal preferences.

The $64,000 question then is, what is that price level?

mixedmedia
03-07-2012, 07:11 PM
Well, I don't know about that level, but mine turned out to be $250 because that's the deal I got. :-)