How do I speed up my stringing? I'm new to the process.
The time it takes to string a racquet will vary. Are you under an hour after some practice? That is reasonable once you get going. Don't try to compare yourself to others. Racquets vary. Strings vary. Machines vary. Your overall ability may not be that of another stringer--ever.
Just stick to the rules in the "Safety" section and your racquet and strings should remain in good shape when stringing. The details of making it your holy grail of string beds can come with experimentation (within the rules).
Have the process down. Study the materials in the thread and analyze your racquet as you read/watch. Be efficient. Have your string and tools out and ready. Have your notes ready. Keep in mind several main points about the racquet:
One-piece or Two-piece?
Start loop: Head or throat?
Mains and Crosses: How many of each?
Main Skips: What grommet holes do you skip for the racquet to leave for crosses?
Tie-offs: Where do you tie off mains? Where do you tie off crosses?
Write yourself a note you can easily read to answer these questions. Have it ready if/when you get flustered. You most likely remember main points better if you write them out. Examine your racquet beforehand.
So, break down the process.
1) Have the machine ready to go. Don't think about the stringing. Just focus on setting the machine up. Include clamps in this process.
2) Mount the racquet. This part is important for protecting you and the racquet. Stay focused. Have the procedure worked out. Having bits and pieces scattered isn't helpful.
3) Use the previously prepared string and lace the two center mains (L & R) accordingly.
4) Using the guides, get the process going. Remember, the process basically repeats itself to tension each string. Just remember the main skips when you are approaching that grommet number. Alternate tensioning mains left and right, as note above in the stringing instructions.
Little Things That Save Time
Weaving takes some practice. Other issues that are more simple to control:
1) Keep control of your string tips. Searching for them to insert the tip for the following main/cross wastes time.
2) Have enough light to see where the grommet is to insert the string. Stay calm. Jittery fingers don't help.
3) Read the stringing notes in advance to get the string through blocked grommets. Don't get lazy here, as you'll waste time bending string tips, blunting them, and making the process even harder.
4) Don't keep counting. If you know your first main skip is at 8T (8th grommet at the throat, left and right), keep going with the mains 1-7, as an example.
5) With crosses, as noted earlier, if you start OVER a main string, you'll end UNDER and vice versa. If this doesn't occur, you missed an odd number of weaves.
6) Weave one-ahead on the crosses as described above.
Issues That You Can't Control
1) The string may stretch a lot and take a bit of time to get the bar to horizontal.
2) The string may be stiff and harder for you to weave.
3) The string may have a roughness or smoothness that makes it seem more difficult to work with.
4) The racquet may have more mains/crosses.
5) It will be more difficult to weave crosses at the end because of string bed stiffness and a lack of space. If you have to, weave a bit, pull some slack, and continue to weave (for the same cross).
Don't obsess on knots. Don't! Pick a knot in advance, both for a starting knot if using one and a finishing knot. Go with it. There are videos, as noted. Remember knots are always tied on to (around) an anchor string.
Have in your head (example: final mains (left and right=total mains divided by 2))
"Finish final main (left/right) by tensioning it and clamping. Insert the tip into the grommet for the anchor string." Check your note for the tie-off string if not sure. Remember, count GROMMETS.
Just have the knot "mantra" in your head. Write it down in your note if needed. In other words, like, "Over the anchor string. Under the anchor string. Through the loop, etc..."
For any project, there is the possibility of too much light (or not properly positioned) or too little. Make sure you can always clearly see what you are doing. A bit of glare off the metal parts may be enough to distract you. Grommets you can't see because of poor lighting causes you to poke around. Black string doesn't help this. Temperature matters. Sweaty fingers plus tennis string is not a good combo. Have a towel handy if you're the wet handshake guy.
And make sure you have a clear head. Also, trying to learn the process while watching your TV or playing with your smartphone should be avoided. Save the multitasking for later.
Help me, too! I have a machine with a dropweight, but I have fixed clamps (Does not apply to the X-2 or Progression 200 or other machines with floating (flying) clamps.). How do I start my mains?
Here is a simple version. Methods vary. This will get you started with at least basic procedures for clamping, tensioning, and lacing mains in an alternating manner (left and right of center to maintain equal tension on both sides of the racquet). Remember to take your racquet type and string type into consideration. Note: If you have an electric or crank machine, use that tensioning system as is appropriate. The clamping method noted below still works. X-2 and Progression 200 users may skip this section.
EXAMPLE: Gamma Progression II 602 FC
A Basic Starting Mains Method for Fixed Clamp Machines
Lace your center left and right mains (LM1 and RM1) from head to throat or vice versa depending on what your racquet requires. Check your pattern. See information above about one-piece vs. two-piece stringing.
Note: You can start on the left or right. The following is an example.
Clamp your RM1 (right main one) near the frame on the side of the starting loop (Loop in the center of the racquet that leads to LM1 and RM1.). Make sure you have the clamps clean and tight enough to hold the string.
Insert the LM1 (left main one) string in the gripper and pull tension by lowering the drop weight arm (See alternate methods of positioning the arm above.). And I hope you have the weight on and adjusted to a reasonable weight! Drop the bar so it is about horizontal. If above, insert less string. If below, insert more string. If you have a ratcheting model, use it as appropriate to bring the bar to about horizontal depending on your model. You are now pulling tension on LM1.
WHILE MAINTAINING THE TENSION (bar is horizontal), clamp LM1 (RM1 is still clamped near the side of the start loop near the frame.) on the side opposite the start loop near the frame. YOU MUST maintain tension until you've clamp the string. Then you can release tension. Raise the bar.
Lace LM2 and tension after you've rotated the racquet. Move the clamp for LM1 to the opposite side on LM2 close to the frame.
Rotate the racquet. Pull tension on RM1. Move the first clamp you set on RM1 to the opposite side (side of the tensioner) of RM1, and clamp close to the frame. Remember, you must keep the string tensioned (bar horizontal) as you remove and move clamps.
Lace RM2, rotate and tension. Continue to lace, rotate the racquet, and tension each string, never getting more than two ahead on either side (alternate tensioning string on the left and right of center).
Remember to skip grommets (called "main skips") when necessary (used for crosses). After you've completed the mains left and right (final mains tensioned and clamped), insert the string in the grommet for the tie off anchor string and tie a finishing knot (Parnell, double half-hitch, Pro/Wilson, etc.).
As you have fixed clamps in this example, you may apply information from the above mentioned video sites that require fixed clamps. You have the links. You can search those "channels" yourself.
I have a similar machine (floating or fixed clamps), but my gripper is a ratcheting LINEAR pull model. What do I do?
See this: Video by "topanlego": www.youtube.com/watch?v=adMW3mARDV4
Other basic stringing info still applies.
(Continued in Post #15.)