YULitle Guide to String Tools

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by YULitle, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    By request...

    There are a few tools that you absolutely need, some that I think you should have, and some that you may want to consider.

    Disclaimer: The views expressed below are a mix of fact and opinion. The tools I suggest are based on my experience and what I've come to find works best. I've not tried everything, but I've tried quite a bit. Still, you should understand that I do not claim that these are THE answers but merely MY answers.

    First.
    Tools you Need
    Snips
    These cut the string. Very important.
    The ideal set of snips wil:
    1) reach into tight spaces
    2) cut all string on the first cut
    3) be small enough for easy maneuvering
    The best snips on the market are Xuron's. They cut almost every string, no problem. They are the perfect size for repeated use. And they have a system, patented by Xuron, that makes it so that they never go dull. The only draw back they have, which is hardly anything, is that they are sharp, and could scrape a paint job if you are careless.
    [​IMG]
    A good alternative, that will save you some money, is the Sears mini-plier snips. They are available individually or in a pack of other tools. They cut very well and are the perfect size for most hands.
    [​IMG]


    Needle Nose Pliers
    Now, for these, the ideal pair will:
    1) be flat, no serration
    2) small enough for easy maneuvering
    3) short handles, for more gripping power
    4) bent nosed

    Now, there are a few options here. These are the pair that I recommend. They are a great size, perfect size tip, and bent. The bent tip is great from pushing string into tough grommets. The bend allows you to use a more ergonomic hand position for most stringing chores where this tool is needed.
    [​IMG]
    GSS sells a pair of Xuron bent, needle nosed pliers that are also good. They are even smaller at the tip which makes grabbing string behind a mounting post very easy. The one draw back I see with those is that they are serrated, and this can damage string if you are careless.

     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2008
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  2. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Tools I think you should have

    Awl
    [​IMG]
    This is an important tool. It really helps when unblocking holes and manipulating string in tight spaces. The best awl is one that never breaks, but since that is unreasonable, the things that make an awl great are:
    1) It's blunt
    2) Not too thin, on average
    3) Not too long

    There are a few good awls out there. But, let me explain what I wrote above. A sharp awl can puncture string. You want as blunt a tip as possible to avoid this, and most stringer's awls are plenty blunt enough. A store bought awl will typically be too sharp. Also, it should be thin, to avoid breakage. An awl is not subjected to much bending motions, but when it is, you'd like it to withstand the force and not break. Also, if it is too long, you could get the same bending result. Now, I use the Kimony awl that is available from GSS (their shortest model.) But, I've used many good awls in the past. This is a great tool to have when you need it, but it should be avoided at all costs due to it proclivity to puncture string. Every time you can avoid using the awl, you're saving yourself the risk of heartache.

    Starting Clamp
    This, I feel, should belong in the first category as a need. Since, technically, you don't need it, it's here. But, I strongly urge all stringers to own one. First, what makes a good starting clamp:
    1) Uniform clamping
    2) uniform clamp surface
    3) plenty of clamping power
    4) durability of springs

    A starting clamp can help you in three ways
    1) Help you tighten knots
    2) Act as a bridge when you come up short when pulling tension
    3) Help you start crosses

    Now, there is a lot of talk about the "best" starting clamp. Many say it's the old red Babolat clamp. I say, it's more important that you have any starting clamp than have none at all. But, be wary of cheap imitators.
    I've come across two types of starting clamps, that are different enough to mention. Now, there are some that have more or less springs in the handle. That aside, there is another difference. The clamp that Alpha now sells has a wider head than the one GSS sells. It is also more difficult to open, possibly due to it having a more open grip. I personally recommend the pair sold by GSS. It most closely resembles the clamps I've used and enjoyed in the past (babolat and tecnifibre.)

    [​IMG]


    Setting off awl
    This tool is helpful in straightening string. It is a super blunt awl, which allows you to more quickly insert it into the string bed to straighten strings.
    [IMG]http://www.eagnas.com/jpgp/bs801a.jpg[/IMG]
    It can also save your fingers. When pushing a cross up and down to avoid burning your crosses, you can save your fingers the pain by using this tool instead.
    I've used one or two of these. They are all about the same. Just makes sure that it is a rounded, blunt tip. The more blunt, the better.


    [COLOR=DarkSlateGray][B][SIZE=3]Tension Calibrator
    [IMG]http://www.photostringer.com/images/alpha_tension_calibrator.jpg[/IMG]
    [/SIZE][/B][SIZE=3][COLOR=Black][SIZE=2]This tool is essential for all stringers. It allows you to check your machines calibration. ALL machines should be checked for calibration, but drop weights only need theirs checked once. Crank machine owners should check theirs' often (about every 25-30 racquets.) And Electric machine owners should check theirs' about every 200 racquets. This doesn't mean that the machine needs to be adjusted that many times, just that it should be checked. Adjustments to this schedule can be made the more you get to know the eccentricities of your machine. [/SIZE][/COLOR]
    [/SIZE][/COLOR]
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2008
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  3. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Tools you might want to consider

    Guide Awl
    I've encountered two types of this tool, but they both operate the same way.
    When you encounter a blocked grommet, you can insert this awl and remove it. Left behind is a small tube that acts as a passage way for the string to pass through.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    This can be useful in a pinch, but be careful when using this tool. It is an awl so it can puncture string if used carelessly. Also, they are notoriously brittle. Once the awl is bent, it rarely works again.

    Parallel Pliers
    You can use these to help you tighten your knots, if you have chosen not to purchase a starting clamp, and are having trouble using your pliers in this way. They are great for grabbing on to a lot of string and putting the tightening on a knot.
    [​IMG]

    Flare-it C Clamp
    This tool is used to apply an after-market flare to grommets on the inside of a frame. Flaring grommets is good for the string and the racquet on grommets that have string exiting at tight angles.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2008
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  4. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Sheers
    If you've got 20 racquets to string today, you may be tempted to cut the strings out in a hurry, and ignore USRSA sanctioned methods. To do this repeatedly, and without frustration, avoid scissors. Use shears instead, they are different. Also, they are mostly shaped with a bend that makes cutting strings from a racquet more ergonomic than straight scissors.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2008
    #4
  5. davidahenry

    davidahenry Professional

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    YULitle, you rock Man. This is perfect for a newbie like me. Thanks a miilion!
     
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  6. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    No problem. :D
     
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  7. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    Great thread. I think the starting clamp should be in the needed category as well. Can you use any diagonal cutters as snips? I need new ones because the current one is rusty.
     
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  8. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Yep. Anything that is typically meant to cut wire, really. Except wire strippers.
     
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  9. almerickso

    almerickso Rookie

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    yulitle,

    the gss website says that its not recommended to cut two strings at the same time using xurons. does this really damage them?
     
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  10. Steve Huff

    Steve Huff Legend

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    No disrespect to Yul (cause he knows I think he's been great for these boards), but it still depends on what you get used to. I've never had a starting clamp, shears, a pathfinder awl, and although I have some snips, I rarely use them (they came in a small set of tools that came with the stringer. I think a 3rd clamp is very handy though. With an Ektelon machine, a half-length slide bar with a 3rd clamp allows you to string an ATW pattern much easier than a starting clamp. For clipping strings, nothing beats a toe-nail clipper in my mind. You can get right up close to the knot, and because of the concave curve in the jaws, it would be awfully tough to accidentally cut the string, and you're also less likely to scratch the racket. Shears?? I guess if I ever HAVE to do 20 rackets in a day, I might consider them--probably not. An awl is essential, but not for moving strings. I haven't used an awl to get through a block hole in 15 or more years (10,000 or so rackets). I have to admit, I did when I first started stringing, but look back at those days and think "boy, was that dumb". There are other, far better ways of getting through a blocked hole. Planning ahead is the best one.

    Don't get me wrong. Yul's tools (wow, I like that) are fine if that's what you get used to. But I wouldn't rush out and buy them if you're happy with the things you're using now.
     
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  11. earbogast

    earbogast New User

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    Yulitle-I've read some posts that the guide awl is extremely hard to use. Have you had a need to use this tool often. Since I started stringing again, cutting the string at an angle and using the bent nose pliers have done the job. Also the starting clamp is really a useful tool as you said. I got one on your recommendation and I use it for tightening knots mostly but have used it as a starting clamp a couple of times. Thanks for your informative posts.
     
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  12. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    I can't imagine how or why... Did they give a reason?

    On that note, why would you need to cut two strings at once?
     
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  13. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Steve Huff and earbogast: I guess I should've added a JollyRoger-esue disclaimer to the beginning of my guide. :D
     
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  14. Il Mostro

    Il Mostro Banned

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    Really excellent guide -- thank you. I was scrambling to get tools after my machine arrived and could not find Xuron locally. A nice alternative was the identical looking diagonal cutters from Crescent. Very sharp, made in USA and came with a matching very small needle nose pliers for around $15.00.
     
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  15. almerickso

    almerickso Rookie

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    when cutting the strings off the racquet i just cut diagonally alternating at the points where the strings meet...

    i think its in the usrsa quick start guide or something.

    halves the number of cuts i need to do.. instead of main, cross, main, cross i just cut at hte intersection.
     
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  16. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Oh yeah, good call. Didn't even think of that.

    I've thought about it, and I think I have an idea. It may interfere with there patented stay sharp system. The idea behind this system, I think, is that the blades don't meet. They are slightly off so that the blades don't touch tip to tip. One of them rests slightly above the other. Cutting two strings might twist the two blades in an unnatural way, causing the tips to touch either at that time, or later.

    Just one theory. :D
     
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  17. almerickso

    almerickso Rookie

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    it may be so...

    so i guess i should just stick to the ones that came with my gamma then :p

    tho i may plonk down some cash for the bent nose pliers from xuron... they look pretty compact.

    btw, any experience with the Guide Slide thing from gss?
     
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  18. Vermillion

    Vermillion Banned

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    I <3 the Awl more than my sister.
     
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  19. zidane339

    zidane339 Hall of Fame

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    Definitely a sticky worthy thread.

    Great job Yulitle!

    By the way, maybe a guide to stringing machines? That would eliminate all those "I'm a new stringer, what machine should i get?" threads.
     
    #19
  20. Aerial

    Aerial New User

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    Yeah..we think alike...I've bought the same stuff from sears and got years of use out of them. They used to replace them for free, if defective...Plus the Babolat starting clamp is really nice. cost me only $25 at the time.
     
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  21. kfactor/all/the/WAY!

    kfactor/all/the/WAY! Semi-Pro

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    Very nice! u are the right man for the job. u are my most trusted person for advice on tennis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    :mrgreen:
     
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  22. davidahenry

    davidahenry Professional

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    Absolutely. This thread deserves a Sticky.

    Another question... I notice the picture shows three snips, and currently GSS sells two different Xurons. Are both needed or just one? Looks like they are different sizes, so I am guessing certain stringing situations require a different sized snip? Or maybe it is just personal preference based on your hand size?

    Thanks.
     
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  23. iplaybetter

    iplaybetter Hall of Fame

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    i use one of the cheepest xurons around, and love them
     
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  24. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Nope. Though it looks like it be worth trying. Alpha mentions something similar to it in their manuals and up until that point I had never thought of such a material. Could be nice.

    Hmmmmm.... Possibly.


    You should only need one. Which? The one in the middle is what I've used, but any one of them should be fine. They all cut very well.
     
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  25. In)SpiRe

    In)SpiRe Professional

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    YULitle, this is an awesome guide, thanks! But do you where I can get alot of this stuff? TW doesn't seem to have much.
     
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  26. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    TW is a great place to start, but there's also Sears (for pliers/snips only,) grand-slam-stringers.com and a-t-s.com
     
    #26
  27. mpenders

    mpenders New User

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    I too use and highly recommend Xuron tools.

    For cutting out stringbeds, I use the Xuron model 9180. It's a shear designed for cutting kevlar fabrics and fiber optic cables. It works great for effortlessly cutting 2 strings at a time when working thru the bed diagonally.

    The Xuron cutters and pliers work great. I originally purchased both the bent nose (450BN) and straight (450) pliers, but really don't use the straight ones that much. They are not serrated, btw (but there are models that do come with serrations). They are precise enough to use as tweezers, and can firmly hold a single human hair.

    The 9200 cutter works fantastic. It's small size can fit precisely where you need it to, without any worries about nicking a nearby string.

    Best prices I found at the time were at "smallparts" (search for it).
     
    #27
  28. chrisplchs

    chrisplchs Professional

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    for cutting out stringbeds, get some Fiskars Titanium Nitride snips that you can find at Home Depot. They are about 10 inches long and are orange/black and gold in color. They never really dull and wow... are fast as anything and extremely comfortable. They do cost about 17 a pair though IIRC.

    I use Xuron, the 9200 long handle with retainer which are amazing as well as the bent nose pliers with serrated jaws. I find the serrated jaws much better at holding string as well as lessening the chance of crushing string because it requires less force to hold the string than the non-serrated one.
     
    #28
  29. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    YU, i just can't find those Sears tools on their website. Any help?
     
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  30. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    #30
  31. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    Also, are 5 inch cutters any better or worse than 4-1/2" ones?

    EDIT: Also, i found some cheap xurons on a maz on. Would you say it's safe to buy?
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2008
    #31
  32. ryohazuki222

    ryohazuki222 Semi-Pro

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    I've been using these and it was a HUGE step up from the original tools included with either the Revo 4000 or the Gamma x-2.

    http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_...Name=Hand+Tools,+General+Purpose&sName=Pliers

    Every now and then they go on sale for just $10. For that price I think price/performance for stringing... they can't be beat. If anything happens (nothings happened with my own) you just take em back to any sears and they replace it. I actually got mine free shopping on Black Friday.

    Been thinking about buying another set next time I see em on sale for $10. The needle nose plyers arent too good (dont really grip the string enough... not sure if it's just my pair or a problem with them in general), but if you get in a position where you need them over the other plyers... they can get the job done.

    Why buy another set? I measure my string on my counter and cut off from the reel. Sometimes I start stringing and when it comes time to snip the mains, I realize I'd forgotten the snippers on the counter... so having two would be awesome! (though in reality... it's really just being lazy :))
     
    #32
  33. Steve Huff

    Steve Huff Legend

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    I forgot to add that I do use needlenose pliers. I've tried the small, bent nose pliers, but didn't like them. The small sets just don't grip well enough, especially after they get some wear on them. If you're going to do much grip enlarging , a heat gun comes in handy too.
     
    #33
  34. alexmcnab

    alexmcnab Rookie

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    #34
  35. alexmcnab

    alexmcnab Rookie

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    what's wrong with the word s t r i ng way ?
     
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  36. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    #36
  37. alexmcnab

    alexmcnab Rookie

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    I've no idea
     
    #37
  38. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, I've looked at similar devices and still can't figure it out.
     
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  39. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    I find it hard to find them on there too. If you got to froogle.com and search for them, it's a bit easier than using their search engine.
     
    #39
  40. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    Found em. Hmm, did you see my other post about the cheap xuron on am a zon . com? I wonder if they're safe to get. Also, the length is all a preference, right?
     
    #40
  41. Il Mostro

    Il Mostro Banned

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    Everything mentioned here beats the hell out of dropping $300-350 for the Babolat tool set. I am sure it is really nice, but...
     
    #41
  42. iplaybetter

    iplaybetter Hall of Fame

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    manswerz: sounds like what i use, they are great
     
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  43. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Yes...................
     
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  44. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    Sweet, I think i'll get it if I can.
     
    #44
  45. prostaff18

    prostaff18 Semi-Pro

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    I have two Babolat tool sets. When you are stringing at tournaments the case is great. Also the starting clamps are second to none. (RAB are great too) But I would say to buy all stringing tools (starting clamps, awls, ect...) from GSS. You know all the tools for sale there are used by the best stringers in the world so you know they work great. If I wasn't taking my machines and tools to different tournaments I probably wouldn't have purchased the Babolat tool set. But really I love the tools and I am very happy with them. The only issue with the tools that I have is that the starting clamps are not good for tightening knots. The string slips very easily in the jaws and leaves the coating there. I have never had any string slippage while using the clamps during stringing. The highest tension they have seen was 70lbs with a p/s and no slippage. I like to say they massage the string rather than clamping it. Also I have never had any problem with the size of the clamp like some people complain about. But I have an old Babolat clamp that I only use on gut because I feel it doesn't clamp as hard as the new ones. It holds just as good.

    But anyway I think this is worthy of a Sticky. I just wish that I would have had all of this info when I started stringing. Stuff like this plus the vids on youtube would have been so helpful! But I don't think that TW likes all the hype for GSS.
     
    #45
  46. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    *ding ding ding ding* :D ;)
     
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  47. davidahenry

    davidahenry Professional

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    Good point.

    TW should start carrying some of the items listed in this thread. I am more than willing to support TW - as long as they sell the items in which I am interested.

    Since they don't carry all of these items... Tim is a great guy, and he'll get my support on these. I'll still always turn to TW for all my strings and other tennis needs.
     
    #47
  48. Il Mostro

    Il Mostro Banned

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    Prostaff18... I actually wanted the Babolat set, but after pricing everything out I just could not pull the trigger :)

    I bought whatever items I *could* from TW without compromising quality and they will get the bulk of my string business. GSS has been great.
     
    #48
  49. AT92292

    AT92292 Semi-Pro

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    what about a tension calibrator?
     
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  50. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Good catch. :D I'll add it.
     
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