Pro stringing versus home - Ways to improve?

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by Power Player, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    My stringing machine (stringway ms200tt) has been down for the count due to a faulty clamp base, and I had to pony up the $20 and get it strung by a pro on a Babolat machine.

    Off the bat, I noticed a major difference - the racquet I got back barely lost any tension after the initial hit. Im talking 1 pound. This is the same string bed I have tested with racquet tune and mine usually loses 5-7#s after the first hit.

    It is a poly mains/ syn gut hybrid.

    Not sure if it was prestretched or what, but this is extremely impressive.

    Furthermore, the tension was EXACTLY what I asked for. Nailed to the T. I always miss my mark by 3-5 #s even by compensating high.

    Finally, the sound of the stringbed was so good. So loud and I was hitting so clean. Mine usually sounds more muted.

    I honestly am tempted to sell my machine and just pay someone to string the sticks if this continues. I mean, it is just that much better. I know I will lose serious $$$, but I am questioning my abilities to ever make the stringbed as good.

    I'm going to call the stringer and ask them a few questions on how they did this so well. They string every day on a better machine and I string once a week on a very nice cadillac of dropweights, but it's no Babolat.

    Really feeling like I may have been hurting my game a little bit. The difference is that obvious. Not sure if anyone else here has ever had this type of wow moment, but I am really glad I paid the $ to find out the difference between my string jobs and theirs.

    I'd like to think a lot of this is the clamp base, but I think some of it may be details that I just don't do, or my tie off skills are just not good enough (i have spent a lot of time on tie offs to no avail).
     
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  2. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    what about upgrading to a Wise head? You'll get the digital accuracy and the ability to pre-stretch like the fance machines do.

    However I got my own machine because my racquets - strung by one of those fancy $5k babolat machines - were really off in tension and the tension did drop a lot in the first week.

    So I would suggest the stringer himself is doing something special
     
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  3. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    No doubt.

    Im not blaming my machine. My machine is awesome. It's me, I know this. I'm just not sure if I can ever get much better.
     
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  4. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    I don't think the stringer himself if doing something special I think it is the stringer. When I switched from my 6004 w/Wise to the Star5 the same thing happened. I have also noticed the drawback is far less and I didn't and don't use any prestretch. What I have noticed is I have to lift the clamps up higher to clamp the string on the 6004 where on the Babolat the clamps only move about 1/2" up. I think this provides less play and drawback.

    Wise and Babolat tension are identical so that can't be the difference. I don't prestretch with either so that not the reason either.
     
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  5. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    So it is the machine? Well that is disheartening. I made this thread because I considering selling the machine discounted for the repair, and not dealing with it anymore. Just buying some reels of string and then cutting them off and paying the $20 fee.

    The Stringway is an amazing machine, but there is drawback like you have described. I can't produce a stringbed like this. The tension with poly mains only dropped 1 pound after 2 hours of hitting. I have never seen that before.
     
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  6. Dags

    Dags Professional

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    Was there a difference in the amount of time between stringing and hitting compared to what you'd usually leave?

    Last year, I ran an experiment with string tension on my squash racquets. Tension on an unused racquet stabilised after 36-48 hours; there was a suggestion that the initial tension loss was accelerated if the racquet was used before this period was over.
     
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  7. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Legend

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    the machine definitely helps. the babolats have a SUPER rigid mounting system. the turntable is so thick and heavy that there is no flex. the arms are forged so there is no flex. the base clamps as Irvin mention have VERY little drawback.

    if you decide to keep the stringway, when you pull tension be sure to let the tension head pull for 20 secs to allow the string to stretch and settle before clamping off. this helps tension stability. i recently measured a string job that was over 6 months old w/ lots of play time on it and it had only lost ~8# compared to the time it came off my machine.

    the other thing i would recommend is looking into the JayCee method and maybe experimenting with it.
     
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  8. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    What about your clamps? Maybe your strings have been slipping during the entire stringing process? Therefore, when you go and take your post-hit measurements, you'd registered a higher tension lost vs. the racquet from the shop?

    I know for me, if I don't dial my clamps tight enough, I can visually see my string slipping.

    I personally don't trust random shops to string my frames. I used to work at a shop when I was in high school, and trust me, I saw some blatantly bad practices. By bad, I meant: "ain't my racquet, they probably can't tell the difference anyway."

    You're addressing your clamp base already, check the other one, and check the clamps themselves?
     
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  9. ednegroni

    ednegroni Rookie

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    I used to string my own racquets at my former place of work and relied on friends after that.

    In some occasions, I've had to use other stringers and my experience has been mostly negative.

    Loose knots, 'curvy' strings, super fast loss of tension. A friend of mine had a knot untie completely after 1.5-2 hours of play.

    I'm finally going back to stringing for myself when I buy a machine this week, mostly because I don't have to worry about finding someone to string from late one day to early next day.
     
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  10. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yep I will. My clamps are usually adjusted pretty well and i clean them. This stringer is very good and is certified..etc. Its not like it is a random person at sports authority, its someone who just strings racquets for a living.

    I have now logged 4 hours of hitting and the tension has dropped from 55 to 53. Thats it.

    Im definitely going to try and get better, but dang..lol. This stringbed is goating.
     
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  11. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Irvin and I have different conclusions on the 'overpull' of the Babolat machines, but according to Albert Lee, the machines can overshoot the reference tension by up to 8 (or more) pounds and drop back down to reference. This is true for Star 5/Sensor machines, I don't know about the older machines. If you're lucky, Albert will chime in here. I don't know if Babolat has updated their tensioner modules since Irvin has acquired his Star, but I trust Albert's measurement tools, as they're much more sophisticated than a standard calibrator (digital or not).

    As far as your measurements, how are you quantifying your claims? "Barely lost any tension" -- what are you using for measuring? Stringmeter? ERT? RacquetTune? Feel? When they "nailed" your tension, how do you know that?

    As far as other tension loss areas, how is your stringing technique? Are you straightening your crosses while you string?

    I ask because I think that the Stringway tensioner(s) are one of the best in the business across any machines. It's better than many electric/electronic tensioners IMHO.

    If you are feeling brave, I'd post a video of you stringing a full frame, I'd expect some good feedback on technique from most of the guys in this sub-forum. I think the biggest area of impact on the SW machines is the clamp drawback. Clamps are pretty rigid otherwise, mounting system and rails are rock-solid. The mounting method (hold down) allows for some rotation, so that could be an issue, but this can be mitigated pretty easily.

    Tie offs should be more or less negligible for the differences you're feeling, unless of course you hit every ball off center. I'm curious if any of what you're feeling is placebo, but tensioner implementation differences makes this somewhat believable.
     
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  12. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes, racquet tune with the same racquet and same strings. Only reference I have.

    Yes I straighten my crosses. My stringing technique is good, but I may be losing tension when I tie off. I always get a little bit of slack there and have tried all the different guides on that and still cant do it any better.

    Im hoping this is a placebo, but I dont know. The first thing is that I cant get my tension to be at 55 even if I overcompensate. It usually comes out at 50#s. So that is the biggest issue.

    Honestly the tension loss is probably going to be similar. That is what I am hoping.

    Maybe I am not mounting properly. I mean it feels like I am, but maybe there is something I am missing there. One thing I notice is the white plastic pieces at the top are not snug against the frame no matter how hard I try. The one on the left top of the frame has a little gap. That could be an issue, but im not sure how to fix it.

    I think it may be little things adding up to user error. But yeah, I'd like to fix it because I love this machine and I love not spending $20 to have someone else string my racquet.
     
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  13. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Legend

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    tbh, i think it's mostly technique accounting for the differences so if you can post a vid of you stringing as DD mentioned, i'm sure some very experienced stringers can tell you where you're losing tension if it's due to technique. also you may be losing some tension when you start the mains given that the SW machines without the concorde system do not have 360 rotation and the first main on each side has to rub over the frame. this friction is bound to cause some loss in tension.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
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  14. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Hmmmm, I don't know what to tell you then.

    I don't think you're doing anything drastically wrong. Stringing is a very simple but tedious process. All you do is weave the strings, pull, release X infinity.

    I've got to put it on the machine then.
     
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  15. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    If Albert does respond it would be nice to know if he has measured the overshoot on a Star5 and what the latest version of software was he measured the overshoot on.
     
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  16. BlxTennis

    BlxTennis Rookie

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    Can you at least post a photo of what you mean? My white plastic pieces are pretty snug against the frames both top & throat.
     
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  17. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

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    #17
  18. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    RacquetTune is fine if you do your best to eliminate any systematic error. Are you actually seeing a historical difference across your job(s)? The real reason I ask is because you make some pretty wild/unrealistic claims as far as tension loss tracking, and I'm curious if that's hyperbole or not. This is why I suggested possible placebo effects. The mind is a powerful thing, and this is especially true in tennis. The people who end up caring a lot about their gear (frames, string, etc) IMO allow themselves a lot of room blaming equipment over actual on court issues.

    Tension loss on tie offs is just going to happen. You can look up Irvin's posting history for some novel mitigation methods for this, but more or less it's always going to exist, and it is a waste of time (IMO) to spend significant time/effort to compensate for it. Others will disagree, though. The one drawback (pun intended) on the LF/SW dropweights is that the drawback of the clamps is not pulled out on knots, so you get some slightly exaggerated loss on those strings. It may make sense to boost tension there, but I never did since my outside mains aren't really a major contributing factor to how a frame plays (again, IMO).

    If you have spare string/time/money, I'd experiment to see what you can do to play with your machine to get it closer to where you want. If you can't get it up to 55 lbs, try pulling longer, then try a higher tension. Do you have a calibrator? I'll assume you are 100% sure how your machine works (align the bottom of the weight vs the top). Figure out where the issue lies in your system vs. your baseline (Babolat machine [which was it, by the way?]). I actually think it's a BAD thing that your returned frame was 'right on the money' -- presumably after several hours. It's pretty natural for an average stringbed to lose plenty of tension over the course of the first 24 hours, and moreso over the course of hitting.

    As far as mounting, you're probably fine. Note that for rounded beam frames, you can actually push the frame away from your initial set-up. You don't need to hold the frame down very firmly -- let the mounting billiards do their job. You have flat billiards against a curved surface. The further down you torque, the more the initial contact point will shift. In reality, though, unless you screw down SUPER TIGHT, this shouldn't make a big difference. This is especially true on your throat billiards. Frames with a thinner throat bridge will definitely see this issue. I don't know which version of the LF/SW stocks you have, so I can't comment on how big of an impact this will make. The older versions of the mounting system actually had thin throat bridge adapters (for the Aero series Babolat frames etc). Add some grip material on the hold down stocks and below the frame to eliminate slippage. IF your throat mounting stocks rotate at all, make sure that's aligned properly before screwing down either top and bottom. This can make your racquet mount slightly off center.

    ^ :!::cool:

    I'm also very curious about this, too. I think this is a very important thing to know. IF Babolat changed their tensioning algorithm, I think it's actually kind of big news. If it's a silent fix, then you're going to have systematic/manufacturer imposed inconsistencies, which actually would be a pretty bad thing in the industry -- especially since these machines are more-or-less used as standard equipment. You can easily have shops/teams with multiple machines that suddenly have a (possibly) significant systematic difference as soon as one of them gets serviced. It'd be a mistake if this were the case, IMO.
     
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  19. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    The more I think about it I would think Power Player's racket may have been prestreched. It's pretty easy to tell. Just look at the Navigator (visual display on the tension module) if the stringer is set to prestretch you will see it blink when tension is pulled. You can't tell how much though without stepping through the display and I would not touch that. You could always just ask, hoping the stringer know what he's talking about.

    Kind of hard to prestretch on a dropweight though but you could increase tension times. Another thing the Babolat does differently is adjust the pulling speed. Supposedly the Babolat pull faster or slower depending on the string. I'm not too sure about that one. It all seems the same to me.

    BTW tension on Babolat strung machine does fall off just not as fast as on the 6004 w/Wise. I imagine you could string with other machines and produce the same results but it will take a lot of testing.
     
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  20. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I don't know about you guys, but that don't sound good too...

    Power Player, quit prestretching your racquets. You heard it here first. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
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  21. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    I don't use a machine pre-stretch unless someone asks for it. And no one ever does. I will on occasion, when some asks for tension over the tension range, advise clients about pre-stretch as opposed to over tensioning.
     
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  22. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Ok well this is a lot of stuff to digest here, so let me try my best.

    I went back and looked at my history in racquet tune. The tension loss is not as bad as I thought, but it is a little better with the new string job. My string job - I set the weight at 57 and it came out at 50.

    Dropped to 47 after one session. So Im close on the tension loss, but not so much on the tension.

    Ok, some of this stuff is making good sense. The outside mains not effecting tension loss is fantastic to read for me. I thought they did and since it is so tough for me to remove all the slack, I just figured I sucked.

    Moving on, the heart of the matter could very well be starting the mains. I have done it the same way DireDesire has explained, but I am thinking that I need to pull the mains with that starting clamp that irvin described. I also may need a new starting clamp, as mine is 4 years old and it may not be handling the task. I believe it is a mutual power that I bought for $20.

    As for technique, I could video it if I can find a stand for my iPhone, I had a gorilla pod, but I want something I can use on the tennis courts too, and the pod doesn't hold it's position.

    So to address that, I start the mains as DireDesire has described in the past since we have/had the same machine. I start my crosses with a bulky knot and not a starting clamp. I use the bead method to weave crosses since it is so fast. I straighten the crosses as I string. My tie off knots are parnells.

    I definitely want to make this work so I hope that when I get the new clamp base that will help as well. Really curious if that was the issue. The action on the locking lever was never right and it literally just snapped off one day when I was stringing. Not kidding. So maybe that is the issue.

    I also will call the stringer and ask how the racquet was strung. They are really nice and are MRT certified. they know I string my own sticks and may share that pre stretch info with me.

    Regardless, the stringbed I have now is perfect for me. So I want to make sure I can replicate it and ill be happy. Sounds doable.
     
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  23. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    PP,

    I have that same Mutual Power starting clamp and I'm guessing you bought it on my recommendation. Mine is still working great. Why don't you use the starting clamp in place of the bulky knot for the crosses? I need to look at that bead method again, I lose a lot of time with my slow weaving.
     
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  24. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes I did buy that on your recommendation and it seems to be ok, but Im thinking a new starting clamp would not be a bad idea either since most people seem to have 2.

    I don't use the starting clamp for crosses because it is tough to fit the machine clamps close to the frame when I need to backtrack and pull the starting clamp off.

    So for all those reasons, I prefer the bulky knot. It's also just faster for me.

    As for the bead method - do it. It's so fast and saves your fingers too. Probably one of the coolest ideas I have used from these forums.

    What I notice - for full poly, lower tension string jobs I can do just fine. It is when I want to go higher at 55 and up in a hybrid that I encounter this tension loss. So I guess you just have to be more precise and on point when trying to string tighter.
     
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  25. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Yep, the interesting thing is that IF the tensioner module is overpulling, that effectively is a pre-stretch. Since it's unlikely that we'll ever know the mechanism and/or algorithm for Babolat's tensioner, it'll be hard to reproduce this behavior (accurately).

    I'm curious about your tension difference. If anything, the dropweight should be more consistent and accurate, assuming no systematic tension loss modes... the clamps are suspect, but the tension module differences are more suspect IMO.

    If you look up proportional stringing, the fact that tension differentials don't generally slip around sharp bends (on the order of 10+ lbs!) and 'equilibrium' doesn't occur on frames is why I say that outside mains won't impact your job much. Your starting clamp is probably not the issue. Just clean it. You can test it by pulling through a frame on it at 60-70 lbs and seeing if there's any slippage. Mark the string with a sharpie and check it out. The mentality of "buy something new because I suspect this isn't working correctly" is going to give you a lot of headache, as you'll always have a reason to doubt something.

    A video will reveal a lot about your methodology that you might not see for yourself, so that's the best route IMO. There are also several videos on youtube. I'd search for both the LF and SW model numbers to get an idea. Search ML100/MS200TT/MS200, etc, maybe you'll pick up something there that you missed or are missing from your technique. Also, to confirm, your weight is set via the bottom of the weight, not the top, correct?

    There's very limited reasons to have two starting clamps, but it's not a terrible idea if the expense doesn't bother you. I have 5 :) Are you measuring these lower tension jobs for accuracy, or is it just by feel?
     
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  26. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I have used racquet tune for 2 years for every measurement. So it is my baseline for tension.

    I also went and just bought a GSS starting clamp and am getting back an estimate on a new clamp base from Mark at Alpha.

    From reading these posts, it sounds as if I can pull this off. I need to refocus on a few things. How I start the mains, and potentially using a starting clamp to start crosses instead of a bulky knot.

    I then need to examine my mounting technique as well.

    But this all sounds doable. At first, it just seemed like I was not up to the task, but this thread has helped me isolate the issues hopefully.
     
    #26
  27. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    From what I'm gathering from what A Lee said before you need expensive equipment to measure the over pull because it is so short. I'm not sure if there is over pull or not but that would not be the same as a pre-stretch as you can actually detect that change. Seems to me like anything too short to be measured would not change the playability of the string.
     
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  28. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I missed them today. They were not answering. Hoping to find out and get the details on how it was done and I will share.

    If I am rich one day and bored, Im buying one of those machines because it looks so easy and fun to string on one of those bad boys.

    The stringway though is no slouch and should be able to do what I want. Like I have maintained from the start of this thread, I really believe it's on me.
     
    #28
  29. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Legend

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    I think it's been confirmed that a racquet strung by the same person on the Star 5 and Sensor results in a SBS reading a few points higher than a racquet strung on other high end electronic CP machines. whether this affects playability is difficult to assess.
     
    #29
  30. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Legend

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    my friend, Icorp, let me borrow his stringway to try and i loved the way the string bed felt. however, this is before i got the sensor. nevertheless, i was so impressed with the stringway that i picked up a stringway to use as my backup machine in the event my sensor needs servicing.

    i haven't bothered to compare the two though as i have yet to use the stringway. :)
     
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  31. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Bulky knot should be a non-issue. The SW definitely has mounting deficiencies with the top cross near the tip of the frame. The Bulky knot here should actually result in a tighter top cross than the alternative method. That is not your problem.

    It's a machine pre-stretch regardless. Whether or not it's a calculable/repeatable pre-stretch as compared to another implementation (WISE/Gamma) is another issue. (This is of course assuming that there's over-pull). I believe Albert that there is an overpull issue to begin with, the only thing I'm unsure of is whether or not it's been corrected/addressed in a firmware fix.
     
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  32. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    That's a given the Sensors and Star5 produce a higher SBS. I doubt you will find anyone that can argue that point.
     
    #32
  33. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    You have a Babolat Sensor? Oh man...yeah thats awesome.

    DD, good to know about the bulky. That is my preference, so ill gladly stick with that.
     
    #33
  34. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Legend

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    yeah...i've had the sensor for almost 3 yrs now. i can say it's a great machine having previously owned the following:

    Eagnas Flex 865 (electronic)
    Eagnas Flex 940 (crank)
    Eagnas Combo 910 (crank)
    Ektelon Neos 1000 (crank)
    Gamma 6004 6 pt (crank & w/ Wise)

    there's really no comparison.

    i generally use a starting knot for my crosses as well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
    #34
  35. bluegrass_stringer

    bluegrass_stringer Semi-Pro

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    A good racquet technician can provide a quality string job on most any machine. And a good tennis player can play well using just about any strings :)
     
    #35
  36. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    That's true, but a good racquet can spot a s*** machine in a heartbeat.

    I think my Eagnas Flex 940 gets the job done, but it's otherwise quite crappy. After ~5years or so, it's even more crappy. But gets the job done, haha.

    It's so crappy that, when I move. I'm just going to sell it and buy a new machine, not worth the trouble of actually taking it apart and moving it.
     
    #36
  37. bluegrass_stringer

    bluegrass_stringer Semi-Pro

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    Yes, somewhere there is a list of reading of all types of stringing machines and the resulting SBS reading from an RDC. I think in RSI mag maybe? Had some surprising results.
     
    #37
  38. bluegrass_stringer

    bluegrass_stringer Semi-Pro

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    what the heck is a "bulky knot" ?
     
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  39. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    And a good tennis player can tell a difference in string job quality. Which is why i want to make sure i am doing the best i can.
     
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  40. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    #40
  41. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^^^

    Yes I learned it from yulitle's page. It's a great way to start crosses on a stringway machine for the reason DD illustrated.
     
    #41
  42. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    I use a starting clamp because I want all knots the same.
     
    #42
  43. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Interesting point. Is there a reason you like all knots the same, or more about aesthetics?
     
    #43
  44. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    Pretty much aesthetics, but when you pull on the top cross against a starting knot it also open up the tie off hold more because you pull the knot into the grommet and you have a larger knot.
     
    #44
  45. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yep it does that for sure. I made peace with that part though and the bulky knot is really the way to go for pulling that much tension on the grommet.

    But that makes sense, thanks.
     
    #45
  46. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    It makes sense to me........that using a starting clamp provides for a more uniform job. All knots are pulled/tightened in the same manner.

    Using a starting knot means one knot is done differently and therefore the tension on that last string does not mimick the other three (or one). Theoretically the starting knot end would be tighter.

    I also like them to look the same.
     
    #46
  47. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    You sure about this? If you use a starting clamp on the stringway with some racquets, it makes it very tough to clamp off that first cross near the frame, if not impossible. So the tension actually is probably better using a starting knot in my situation.
     
    #47
  48. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, I was speaking in general terms, ive never strung on a stringway.

    Sorry for the off topic reply.

    Ultimately I bet it makes little difference and roger federer couldn't tell the difference but by sight (knot appearance).

    Edit: why is it hard to use a starting clamp on some rackets and get the machine clamp close to the frame? First cross would be clamped on opposite side from starting clamp. No? Also, wouldn't tensioning the first cross remove the tension loss I assume you speak of, before tying off and just after the starting clamp has been removed? Again, never used a SW.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
    #48
  49. bluegrass_stringer

    bluegrass_stringer Semi-Pro

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    Ok. This knot is the old USRSA tie off knot from the stringers digest. I am not sure if I would use it as a starting knot, though I guess it is ok since people now know this as a "bulky" starting knot. I used to use the fishing knot as a starting knot. Good thing about this knot, if you have a really thin string, you just wrap an extra loop. But I have created my own starting knot, similar to a figure 8 knot, that doesn't actually apply any pressure to an anchor string. I will comment on the youtube video about the real origin of this knot.
     
    #49
  50. bluegrass_stringer

    bluegrass_stringer Semi-Pro

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    It isn't that bulky compared to some of the other knots..
     
    #50

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