I learned on a Gamma X-2 manual dropweight. Initially getting the bar horizontal did require multiple attempts; however, with some experience you reached the point where this was a rare occurrence.
Now use a Stringway ML100 automatic drop-weight, and besides no such issues, the consistency and reliability of the machine is a joy to work with.
Received a used Toas crank machine about a year ago, that was in good shape but needed some serious cleaning. Last night finally had the time to calibrate and test out the machine. Frankly can not see how turning and manipulating the crank would be any faster than my ML100. Was also surprised at how changing the speed of cranking varied the tension. Had always heard and read this, but have to now wonder about anyone stringing who isn't paying attention to this. Going to play around some more today, but I was seeing up to a 3-5 lb tension difference simply by how fast or slow I operated the crank.......is this usual?