The following post is strictly my opinion. I will try to remain as objective as I can and become subjective when necessary. These are not the ultimate authority on any subject.
Here are the different levels of stringing machines. I will give a few examples of each type, and my choice from each category if price was not an object and the one with the best features/quality. (I do not have experience with any of these machines except for the Silent Partner Swing and ATS Super stringer. The choices otherwise are based on reviews and things i've heard from various sources.)
Entry Level Machines
-Table top machines. Basic starting machines for those just stringing for themselves, those that want to learn how to string without going bankrupt, those that want to see if stringing is for them, and/or for those that just want something to get the job done. They come with a basic 2 point mounting, floating clamps, and a dropweight tensioner Some entry level machines may come with 6 pt mounting, for example the Gamma Progression II 602. (Note: Some of these machines come with the clutch mechanism.)
Before anyone asks or makes another thread about the Gamma x-2 vs the Klippermate, read these.
- Klippermate ($135 new, $125 for blemished version that works fine)
- Gamma X-2 ($159)
- ATS Super Stringer II (Gamma X-2 clone, just about the same exact thing, a bit cheaper at $159)
- Silent Partner Swing ($199, $229 with shipping)
- Gamma Progression II 602 ($339)
-The Silent Partner Swing.
-I own this machine as of now, and I have more experience with this machine.
Honestly, pretty much all of these machines are very similar with the exception of the Gamma Progression II 602. The real selling point of each machine is typically the after sales service of the company, what kind of string/tool package each one comes with, and the quality of the flying clamps.
These lower end, entry level machines fall short of higher end machines in the following categories:
- Speed: Higher end machines typically operate quicker.
- Clamping: Fixed clamps are typically more consistent and stable.
- Mounting: The 2 point mounting systems can protect a racquet, but racquets deform more on the 2 point mounting systems (especially the entry level ones) than on 6 point mounting systems
Table Top 6 point mounting and fixed clamps
-This is probably the best kind of dropweight you could get (not including automatic dropweights of course). Fixed clamps that are usually superior to flying clamps. They're more stable, and they don't depend on an anchor string (which isn't even that rigid in the first place). Also, there is no fixed clamping width, which makes the clamping system more flexible. The standard of 6 point mounting. Some come with linear grippers (more about them later). Most come with some sort of clutch mechanism. Sturdier turntables. For the price, you get a machine designed for a more predictable, repeatable operation. This "repeatable" factor improves the consistency of your string jobs from racquet to racquet. These machines protect your racquet more with their 6 point mounting systems. These machines provide many home stringers with a simple, yet durable, product.
- Alpha Pioneer DC Plus ($429)
- Gamma Progression II 602FC ($469)
- Mutual Power Hercules 680 ($299)
- Mutual Power Hercules 690 ($329)
- Silent Partner Hip Hop ($379)
-Here, it's a split decision. It depends on what kind of customers I would have. It's split between the Silent Partner Hip Hop and the Alpha Pioneer DC Plus.
Alpha Pioneer DC Plus
-Great quality. It comes with a linear gripper with a ratchet system, and the spring assisted clamps require less effort to use. The machine also comes with a pretty good package of tools (that you can choose) and a selection of strings. Finaly, Alpha is known for legendary customer service. When you call Alpha, ask for Mark G. Even if he's not there, the others guys, such as Greg, are also known to be very helpful.
Silent Partner Hip Hop
-The mounting system is quicker. It controls both "outside" supports with one knob, opposed to two. Also it has a brake that helps with the stringing of O3 racquets. Silent Partner customer service is pretty good. I've had no troubles with them. It falls short of the Alpha Pioneer DC Plus in the gripper territory. It utilizes a rotational gripper (more on this later as well), but the clutch is silent. Also, the clamp bases take a little more effort to use (they're cone lock clamp bases).
More later, tired now.