Drop Weight vs Crank

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by Ramon, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I'm thinking about getting a stringing machine soon after taxes. It will primarily be for myself and maybe a few friends and family. If I happen to get outside business, that's fine, but I know you can't make a lot a money from stringing when you look at the hourly rate anyway, unless you own a pro shop and use it to get people into the door.

    The machines within my budget are either drop weights (with clutch) or cranks. I eliminated the basic drop weights because there's no way I want to regrip and retension every time it doesn't drop to parallel. I know crank machines are faster but they are also $200-400 more, and I like the idea of getting constant pull accuracy with drop weights.

    For those who have had experience with both, how do they compare as far as ease of use and efficiency? I know the cranks are better, but I want to get an idea of the extent of the difference.
     
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  2. sstchur

    sstchur Hall of Fame

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    I have owned all 3 (drop weight, crank, and electronic). I current own a Gamma 6004 crank, and a Gamma 5800 electronic.

    I can honestly say that I enjoy stringing on the electronic the most. It's the most efficient for me, and just an all-around more enjoyable experience than crank or drop weight.

    That said, between the crank and drop weight, I enjoyed stringing on the 6004 MUCH more than I did on the drop weight. But to be fair, my drop weight was Silent Partner Swing with flying clamps and a rotational gripper.

    A huge part of why the 6004 was so much more enjoyable to string on than the drop weight was because of the overall quality (self-centering mounts, fixed clamps, switch action base clamps, linear gripper, etc..)

    If you had all those features in a drop weight, then I suppose a drop weight would be just fine, assuming your volume isn't super high.

    For me personally, I'd never want to go back to a drop weight -- just too tedious a process for my liking. It's true that it doesn't take THAT much longer, but it's a bit more "involved" and I just enjoy both crank and electronic better.

    What specific models are you considering?
     
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  3. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    #3
  4. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I'm considering machines that have fixed clamps at minimum, so the type of tensioner would be the biggest difference. I'm going back and forth on whether I should get an Alpha or Gamma and buy with confidence, or take my chances on an Eagnas. Alpha's drop weight machines are very tough to find, but that's probably my first choice if there were actually any for sale. I don't particularly like the gripper on the drop weight Gamma machines. Eagnas has the most features for the money, so I'm tempted to get one if I can't find an Alpha that isn't ridiculously marked up.
     
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  5. sstchur

    sstchur Hall of Fame

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    Gamma makes great machines. I have two of them an have been very happy. Their customer service is also very good.
     
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  6. kimbahpnam

    kimbahpnam Hall of Fame

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    trust me, after a few stringings on the drop weight, you'll want something more efficient.
     
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  7. QuadCam

    QuadCam Rookie

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    strung my racquets probably 100 times back in high school and college with a klippermate. The drop weight never bothered me. If I was stringing other people's racquets for business, then I'd likely have a different opinion. But, if you are solely stringing for yourself, a drop weight won't bother most people.
     
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  8. Winners or Errors

    Winners or Errors Professional

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    I'm with QuadCam. I have a 20+ year old Klippermate, and if you take care of a drop-weight, there are just so few moving parts it'll last forever.

    I only string my own racquets. If not, I'd be looking for something more efficient, as I think efficiency is really the only plus of going to something else.
     
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  9. Ennismt

    Ennismt Rookie

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    I own a Gamma X-2 and a Gamma X-ST (need to sell the X-2). I'd say the difference to me is that it is easier to be more consistent with the crank than with the dropweight. However, you can be inconsistent with both as well. Variability of tension applied with a dropweight is introduced when you vary from horizontal, though it has been documented that the variance is relatively small up to something like 5 degrees +/- (there's thread that explains this better than I do here). With a crank, variability in tension can vary with cranking speed. Fixed clamps are easier to be more consistent with than flying clamps, IMHO.

    more racquets, stringing for others and the desire for faster (say 5-15 min) all suggest a crank. But...either works and can work very well. I invested in a crank because I string for a few others and its a hobby. For pure utility and stringing my own sticks, I would have stayed with the X-2.

    Bottom line: I don't think there is a wrong decision just one that you need to figure out your use, personal priorities in a stringer and certainly budget.
     
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  10. yem

    yem New User

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    Another vote for the X-2 here. It does a great job and is built well. I have strung with crank and electronic model stringers and while they are easier/faster, I can get the same results with my X-2 in 30-45 minutes.

    The real question is how many rackets you plan to string. The X-2 is great for your own rackets and a couple of friends rackets here or there. Anything more and I would recommend investing in a crank or electronic machine.
     
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  11. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Unless you get one of those trick drop weights which doesn't need to drop to parallel to tension correctly, I'd stick with a crank.

    I started with a drop weight but now string with a crank because it saves me a lot of time, even though I'm only stringing a few rackets.
     
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  12. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I just ordered the Alpha Pioneer DC Plus for $429 with free shipping. At that price an equivalent Eagnas would have saved me only $20 after shipping. A cheaper Eagnas with similar features would have saved me $80, but I heard too many bad things about the company to want to take a chance and add to their sales. The comparable Gamma machines had less desirable features and cost more money. I decided on the drop weight because I will mainly string for myself. Thanks for your input!
     
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  13. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Congrats. Have you strung before or will this be your first time?
     
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  14. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I used to string with a $200 TR machine (crank with flying clamps that needs to be braced on a table). My past experience is probably the biggest reason I chose to get fixed clamps.
     
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  15. fortun8son

    fortun8son Hall of Fame

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    I'm sure you will be happy with the Alpha.
    I've been using the Eagnas Combo 810 for 2 years now and it works just fine.
    I still prefer the Neos 1000 but that's in a different price class altogether!
    Good Luck! Enjoy!
     
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  16. bigmalik76

    bigmalik76 Rookie

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    I am stringing on a klippermate now but I am saving up, to upgrade to a gamma STII. For me I think fixed clamps and crank is a must now after using drop weight for a while. It is just more efficient especially because the klippermate does not have a ratchet mechanism.
     
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  17. nutcase

    nutcase New User

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    I got the same machine and love it. You can always upgrade it with a Wise tensioner, thus making it an electronic for $400, if you really need to speed it up some. But I find that the drop weight works just fine for me. ;)
     
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  18. SwankPeRFection

    SwankPeRFection Hall of Fame

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    Personally, I would go the route of constant-pull. So, with that you're stuck with going either drop-weight or electronic. I picked an Alpha drop-weight knowing full well that in the future I'll just pick up an electronic head for it. I thought I was going to hate stringing with the weight, but it's actually not that bad. The best thing I like about it most is the ability to wait on the tensioning of each string to stretch it out so that once it's done, it won't stretch much more in the bed just after the string job is done. With a crank, you simply cannot do this, no matter if you pull twice to try and duplicate the constant pull effect of non-crank machines. At least this has been my experience.


    As for the Alpha you just bought Ramon, make sure you go by the hardware store and pick yourself up some larger washers for the two mounting towers on the machine. The washers on the bottom of that machine that are under the table where the two knobs are are useless and don't engage the bottom of those rails enough to hold the towers in place when you string. If you don't replace the washers with bigger ones, you could run into what's called creep, where the tower gets pulled and slides on it's rail a bit while you're stringing and the racquet comes loose. Don't freak out, it's a good machine, but they overlooked this small aspect of things and it causes some small issues for some users, even though supposedly it doesn't happen with everyone. Replace the washers and you should be ok. Just make sure you really righten down those towers before you string.
     
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  19. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    Great advice! I noticed exactly what you are talking about. The towers do creep. I'm going to pick up some larger washers this week. Thank you!
     
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  20. SwankPeRFection

    SwankPeRFection Hall of Fame

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    No problem, glad I could help. Ace or True Value have some perfectly sized one. They're about an inch to an inch and a quarter diameter and pretty much cover both side of that bottom part of the rail really well. The hole in the middle is also exactly the same as the stock washer that's on there. Oh yeah, take that stock washer completely off... I noticed that with both on there, I still couldn't put enough torque on the surfaces to get a good bite. I think it's because the stock washers are a bit smaller in diameter than the black knobs and that's losing just a bit of engagement surface. I was playing around with the idea of maybe doing a lock washer as well, but if mine continues to slip with this new set up at all, I'll just take the knobs off and get some hex screws and use an alen wrench to tighten the towers down. That'll keep them from slipping for sure. It's either that or I'm going to strip the smooth blue paint off the bottom of the rails under the table and see if that improves things. I just didn't want to do that because I don't think that table is made of a non-rusting metal and I don't want to have to deal with rust surface stains from any moisture in the air over time.
     
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  21. Squidward

    Squidward Rookie

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    In my stringing lifetime I've used a dropweight and a crank. After a short stint with a dropweight, I moved on to a crank. Went thru several upgrade with the crank and have used it for over 15 years. But, just this week moved onto a electronic.

    A crank will fill your needs better until the urge strikes to move forward.

    If you decide on a crank, email me. I might be able to help you out.

    Good Luck!
     
    #21
  22. tennis4

    tennis4 Rookie

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    I found stringway's ML100 quite interesting. The simplicity of dropweight and its "automatic" feature are attractive. However, it seems few people mention it. I wonder why.

     
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  23. SwankPeRFection

    SwankPeRFection Hall of Fame

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    Probably because it's expensive for what it is. Who's going to pay that much for a dropweight when they can get something cheaper and throw on an electronic head for less than what a Stringway is brand new?
     
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  24. Peppershaker

    Peppershaker Rookie

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    I've been very satisfied with my Stringway ML100. Seems like those who own them appreciate the workmanship of the machines, the simplicity of the design and the ease of use. In some ways the single drop aspect seems almost unfair to lump them in with other DW Machines.

    There are a lot of good machines out there, and owners very devoted to them. If you are looking for a good reliable machine, nothing wrong with the Stringway models.
     
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  25. tennis4

    tennis4 Rookie

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    Peppershaker, can you comment the speed or easy of use on Stringway ML100? Did the automatic lock feature really make it comparable to its electronic counterparts in terms of speed?

    Sorry I don't mean to hijack the thread, I just feel this is the right opportunity to learn more about this drop-weight model.

    Thanks!

     
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  26. Peppershaker

    Peppershaker Rookie

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    My machine is extremely easy to use and seems very consistent. Facing the machine with the DW on my right I lift slightly on the bar, use my left hand to pull the string thru the gripper (do so in a manner that it's snug...one motion). Then lower the bar with my right as my left hand moves to the clamp, unlocks the base then the unlocks the string, then slides the clamp to the next locking position where I lock the string and then the base. Often I can do this all with my left, but at time I'll bring my right hand over to lock the base. At this point my right hand raises the bar, which releases the string and the process starts all over.

    The fastest frames I have done in just over 30 min., but this is a hobby and since I clean frames (literally wash them down in some cases), and then polish (car polish) them before and then after stringing I usually count on 1 hour per frame.

    The key to these machines is that unlike the ratchet type DW that I learned on, with the Stringway rarely do you need to lift and drop the bar more than once per string. Key though is making sure you've pulled the slack out of the string before dropping the weight. If you do not do this the bar may bottom out before you reach the tension and you need to then lift the bar, release the string, pull the slack and then lower the bar.

    When I purchased my machine I didn't understand the T92 clamps and budget wise I'd already hit my max, so rather than delay I was told by a knowledgably individual that the dual action clamps are relatively fast with practice and they were absolutely correct. I can certainly see that the T92 clamps would save some time, but since I can usually use the dual action clamps one-handed, not something that I've thought much about.

    What bothered me about cranks was the issue of calibration, and the need to crank at a slow uniform pace. Having not used a crank, I liked the aspects of the consistency of a DW, that it's a constant pull unit, and that there was no reliance on springs or tension units. There are so few moving parts with the Stringway it's unbelievable. And what parts do move, are solid! Not to say that either of these are issues given the volumes used and the knowledge on this board, but for someone starting out w/o experience, w/o a tutor, and having only used an X-2 determining what to purchase can be nerve wracking.

    As for electronic units, or used units & Wise heads......maybe if you're experienced but as a hobby I really didn't want one more electronic device that gets fried during a thunderstorm, or gives out on it's own volition.

    Hope this helps. If you do a search on this board for Stringway you'll probably find a number of posts.
     
    #26
  27. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    That really sounds like a nice machine: all the benefits of a dropweight and the speed of a crank. I didn't get one because it was out of my budget, but now that I'm used to a dropweight machine, I think I would probably prefer a Stringway dropweight over a crank.
     
    #27
  28. tennis4

    tennis4 Rookie

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    Thank you for sharing the insight.

    Pulling the slack out of a string probably is required for crank and electronic version too, I guess. I heard this stringway can't do 360 rotation, would that be a problem?

    This model definitely is at top of my wish list ....

     
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  29. Peppershaker

    Peppershaker Rookie

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    360 Degree Rotation

    The new Stringway machines have a Concorde option which provides 360 rotation. My ML100 unit is the older version w/o this option, but even w/o it I've really not seen much issue. The unit spins so effortlessly that again, its become such an ingrained motion and process that I do this w/o even thinking.

    However, at some point I'm hoping to upgrade my machine to this simply because it seems like such a nice addition. Anyone out there upgraded their machine?

    Overall there is a certain stigma regarding DW machines, but at the same time there are a lot of loyal DW users. Product may not be on the same plane as the expensive electronic units on the market, but my unit is well built, solid, easy to use and I've been very satisfied.
     
    #29
  30. Wuppy

    Wuppy Professional

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    The fact that cranks aren't constant tension ruins them for me. Yes you can pull a few times and get some of the stretch out, but once you do all that then they're no better than a drop weight IMHO.
     
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  31. KerryR

    KerryR Rookie

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    It's not that cranks are better, it's just that they're usually faster than drop-weights, usually cheaper than electronic, often better than CHEAP electronics , and still perfectly capable machines; as long as the person doing the stringing arrives consistently at the string bed stiffness the player likes/wants/needs the machine is largely irrelevant.
     
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  32. ElMagoElGato

    ElMagoElGato Rookie

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    Apart from stringing pros and cons, does anyone know the difference when played? i.e. when strung on the same racket, the same string, and the same tension, how it feels at first, how tension maintenance goes, how the feel changes over time, and so on.
     
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  33. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    Depends a lot on the machine and clamps being used but for the most part a crank will have a little lower tension that a drop weight (constant pull) machine.
     
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  34. ElMagoElGato

    ElMagoElGato Rookie

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    Yes, that's probably the first thing to notice. How does it go after that? Tension maintenance might be better if strung on a crank even though it starts with lower tension.
     
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  35. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    That would depend on the string.
     
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  36. BlxTennis

    BlxTennis Rookie

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    Agree 100%. The thing for me with electronic that it will break down one day. With Stringway, it's all mechanical so it will last much longer than electronic parts.
     
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  37. ElMagoElGato

    ElMagoElGato Rookie

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    I string Poly Plasma 1.18 at 60lbs. It looses tension by 5 to 7 % in a week. My stringer uses an electronic Gosen machine with constant pull and an optional setting to make prestretching. I thought prestretching would be a good idea.

    The prestetched string bed maintained tension a little better but I found it was a trampoline and a rocket launcher from the beginning, which I ususally find when tension is lost. Stretching seems to kill some sharpness of the string as if it is used several hours already. Now I wonder how it feels if I go the other way pulling as little as possible when stringing.

    I asked here because nobody around owns a crank/lockout machine. It's nice to know if there's benefit of it in the playability space.
     
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  38. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    A crank is just like a CP with pre stretch if you think about. Sounds like poly plasma is not the string for you.
     
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  39. Cobra Tennis

    Cobra Tennis Professional

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    I have used a drop weight, electronic, and crank.

    I learned how to string on an old Neos 1000. It only took me about two months to stop using the drop weight. It's not that much harder, but as I string for other people, I wanted something a bit more reliable and work friendly.

    Trust me when I say, the machine pays for itself FAST---especially if you are stringing for other people.

    I personally love the NEOS....it does everything well and is a breeze to use.

    I highly recommend getting a stand. It really makes a world of difference than a table top.
     
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  40. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    Cobra Tennis what you said is correct but I think ElMagoElGato is looking for the difference is feel of the string bed between a crank and a constant pull. The string bed on will be softer with a drank more so than and CP machine whether it is DW or Electronic. So in theory since the initial pull of the LO & CP (assuming over over pull or pre-stretch) is the same reference tension using a LO is like pulling with a prestretch as its initial pull is tighter. For instance is one wants to get the same DT with a NEOS that was achieved with a CP one would raise the tension (pre-stretch) on the LO.
     
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  41. Adles

    Adles Rookie

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    A crank locks out when it achieves reference tension and a CP will adjust to the stretch of the string and pull a little more - but only for the time that it takes to clamp the new string.

    So, wouldn't the difference between the two decrease as the user gets faster? That is, when I began stringing I took a lot of time getting the drop weight to be parallel to the ground, and the string was stretching the whole time. But now that I can do things more efficiently, the string has less time to be stretched and the stringbed will be softer.

    For a stringer that can do a racquet in 20 minutes, I imagine that the CP isn't prestretching the string much more than a crank machine.
     
    #41
  42. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Whatever you get used to is what is best.
     
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  43. ElMagoElGato

    ElMagoElGato Rookie

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    I love the feeling of Poly Plasma until 5 hours of play. It puts the ball exactly into the spot I feel at the moment of impact. But it rapidly dissapears. Actually, it happens with any thin poly like Timo 1.10. I never break a string but I restring it once a month or before 10 hours of play.

    I'm tempted to buy a crank but the local price is $700 to $1,300. It's a bit too much to invest but playability can be one good reason. If there's no such magic, I guess $350 drop weight is a decent choice.
     
    #43
  44. meltedsteam

    meltedsteam Rookie

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    Your logic is sound, but there is a way around this to hold the tension on the strings longer and not take any more time to string a racquet. Just feed the next string string before clamping off the string being pulled. On the crosses this will take you around 20 seconds to weave the next one through. The string will be stretched, and you will eliminate the tension variance in the crosses that is associated with stringing polyester strings.
     
    #44
  45. nathannguyen

    nathannguyen New User

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    Great tip! I wish I thought of this in my dropweight days. The weaves will be tougher, but that extra time will work for you anyway.
     
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  46. Muppet

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    Aren't we trying to find ways to bring the LO up to the tension of the DW and CP? What you've described here will make the strings on a DW or CP tighter still than a LO. Alternately, when you let a tensioned string on a LO sit before clamping off, it just relaxes and loses tension.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014
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  47. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    When you allow the strings on a LO to sit before clamping they relax more. If before you clamp you pull tension again you approach the tension of a constant pull. No matter what type machine you use the instant you clamp the strings start relaxing.
     
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  48. Muppet

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    On CP the string will start relaxing when clamped. On LO the string will continue relaxing at a different rate when clamped. Otherwise, we're saying the same thing in different ways.
     
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  49. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    Why will a string relax at a different rate on a LO?
     
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  50. Muppet

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    When the tensioner locks out, the string is at maximum tension, over a longer length. But the longer part of the string allows more tension to "escape." After clamping, the part of the string inside the racquet is at a shorter length and will continue to lose tension at a much slower rate.

    LO v. CP have different string relaxation because a CP tensioner continues pulling the string to maintain constant tension until the string is clamped.

    On LO, tension pulling stops when the crank locks and tension begins to decrease at that time. There is an opportunity for the string to relax more at this time, until it is clamped.

    The lockout string is at a lower tension at the time it is clamped than the CP is because tension is maintained at the tensioner on the CP and the LO string is allowed to relax until it is clamped. There is a difference of about 5 lb. across a stringbed due to this variance.

    What happens after the strings are clamped will have to be measured with a stringbed stiffness device of some sort, when the racquet is done and dismounted.

    What is to be done? Just set the reference tension 5 lb. higher when using a lock out stringer. From there, zero in on what plays best for you.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014
    #50

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