1st Stringing Machine - tabletop, $1K budget

FedGR

Professional
Hello all,

I sat down and calculated (through the Mint app) how much I've spent on stringing services in the last year and I had a mini stroke so the time has come for me to get my own stringer. I've been reading about it for a little while and know the basic differences between machines (drop weight, crank, electronic) and clamps. I also have a good friend that used to string for his club and he will teach me how to properly use the machine.

So the main requirements are:
  1. It needs to be tabletop and small
  2. It needs to be max $1K USD
  3. it needs to be easy to use so I can minimize the stringing time as I get to string more and more.

Obviously it needs to be quality, reliable and sturdy but I believe that at this price point all of the machines will pretty much be good. I also understand that typically someone would start with a cheaper machine but I feel the learning process will be quite fast for me to be able to utilize a more expensive machine in a shorter timeframe. I've seen the Gamma Progression II ELS that is bit over my budget but seems to satisfy my criteria and I am confident I'll be able to get for around 1K during Black Friday.

What are your thoughts? Any input? Any machines that fit my criteria better than the Gamma above Progression II ELS?
 

peteyswift

New User
I’m in the same boat as you, though I did string with a drop weight about 15 years ago. I just ordered the Gamma X-ELS (same as Progression II). Would love to hear where you can get a deal on it, though — I think they are “on sale” for 10% off now.

Will report back after using it a couple of times.
 
Alpha M8 could be another option. Or even the Alpha Revo 4000 if you wanted to save some money and get a tabletop L/O. Could always add a Wise later on to get electronic CP.
 

clutch21

Rookie
If you can get the ELS for 1k and don't care about spending at the top end of your budget, go for that. You'll get the most efficiency out of an electronic machine which seems to be a high priority for you. If going non electronic, I'd recommend a crank over a drop weight for sake of efficiency. Gamma progression STII and Alpha Revo 4000 are both good choices in that category.
 

speedysteve

Legend
Love the 'mini stroke' comment.

Decent quality is the key.

Whatever you choose, I found that as I learned what results I got by playing with what I'd strung and developed consistency, great results were possible.
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
I would say this and from this retailer (you simply cannot do any better than Tennismachines)


Good luck!
 

DanF1961

Rookie
If you go with the Alpha Revo, I would get it from the Alpha dealers, New Tech Tennis. Mark is great, and you'll get free shipping in the lower 48 states, and they have Alpha parts (clamps, springs etc.)
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
I would go to FB Marketplace and the auction site and try to find a late model eCP machine. I would prefer to buy one I could go look at and take your good friend with you. Just because a machine comes with a stand does not mean it can’t be used as a table by taking the base off.
 

FedGR

Professional
I’m in the same boat as you, though I did string with a drop weight about 15 years ago. I just ordered the Gamma X-ELS (same as Progression II). Would love to hear where you can get a deal on it, though — I think they are “on sale” for 10% off now.

Will report back after using it a couple of times.
Congrats on getting the machine, I am sure you'll love it! Regarding any deals, I am working with a local dealer that might have access to some special Black Friday pricing even though the current 10% off is supposedly their BF best pricing.
 

MAX PLY

Hall of Fame
If you need a tabletop, with your budget, get the Revo or the Gamma X-ST. But if somehow you can store an upright--get a reconditioned Neos at TM and add casters.
 

FedGR

Professional
Alpha M8 could be another option. Or even the Alpha Revo 4000 if you wanted to save some money and get a tabletop L/O. Could always add a Wise later on to get electronic CP.
From my understanding, the Gamma ELS and the M8 are very similar machines. Is there a reason why you would prefer one over the other?

If I am not able to get the electronic ones for around $1K, I think the Revo 4000 is the best option.
 
From my understanding, the Gamma ELS and the M8 are very similar machines. Is there a reason why you would prefer one over the other?

If I am not able to get the electronic ones for around $1K, I think the Revo 4000 is the best option.
I just think Alpha has the best after sales service and support. I've seen some people say the Gamma's sometimes have too much flex in the towers but I don't have first hand experience with that. All I know is my Axis Pro was rock solid and is even better with a Wise on it now and I've consistently gotten great support from Alpha with anything I've needed or questions I've had.
 

FedGR

Professional
I would go to FB Marketplace and the auction site and try to find a late model eCP machine. I would prefer to buy one I could go look at and take your good friend with you. Just because a machine comes with a stand does not mean it can’t be used as a table by taking the base off.
As I am a newb to this whole stringing thing, I am really hesitant to get something second hand, especially if it's electronic where if something goes wrong, good bye money. If it's crank, sure but I guess I still prefer the warranty and the peace of mind that comes with it.

Regarding taking the stand off, I feel that maybe a tabletop machine is designed with space saving in mind so even if you take out the base it's still pretty big. Am I wrong to assume that?
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
Regarding taking the stand off, I feel that maybe a tabletop machine is designed with space saving in mind so even if you take out the base it's still pretty big. Am I wrong to assume that?
The turntable of all machines is pretty much the same size. The tensioner is probably about the same also but a LO machine would extend farther out than an eCP and an eCP with a rotary gripper might be the shortest.

I just checked on FB and there’s an eCP Gamma Progression, 6 point, with a floor stand for $650 in Lex., Ky. If it is in good shape I could live with that. I also have a Gamma X-2 and depending on how much you may string I could be satisfied with that.
 

FedGR

Professional
If you need a tabletop, with your budget, get the Revo or the Gamma X-ST. But if somehow you can store an upright--get a reconditioned Neos at TM and add casters.
There is no way I can get an upright one sadly. I live in a 900 sq apartment with one wife, one dog and two cats!

Btw, which Prince Neos are you referring to? I see a couple different models.
 

FedGR

Professional
I just think Alpha has the best after sales service and support. I've seen some people say the Gamma's sometimes have too much flex in the towers but I don't have first hand experience with that. All I know is my Axis Pro was rock solid and is even better with a Wise on it now and I've consistently gotten great support from Alpha with anything I've needed or questions I've had.
I see the Axis Pro comes with 5 years limited warranty, that's pretty sweet. This and good after sales support is huge imo. How long was it taking you to string a racket with the old crank system compared to now with the ECP?
 

FedGR

Professional
Pay attention to the base clamps (I always say this) as one of your most important features.

The Revo and M8 are better in this sense than the Gamma offerings in this range, IMOI.
I read that the clamps are one of the most important features but I (having no prior experience) am not sure what exactly to check in terms of clamps. How can I recognize what is good and what is... better?
 

FedGR

Professional
The turntable of all machines is pretty much the same size. The tensioner is probably about the same also but a LO machine would extend farther out than an eCP and an eCP with a rotary gripper might be the shortest.

I just checked on FB and there’s an eCP Gamma Progression, 6 point, with a floor stand for $650 in Lex., Ky. If it is in good shape I could live with that. I also have a Gamma X-2 and depending on how much you may string I could be satisfied with that.
You think something like this is worth it? It seems like an older model that has probably seen a lot of use. But of course at the same time it costs half the price of a new ECP.
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
You think something like this is worth it? It seems like an older model that has probably seen a lot of use. But of course at the same time it costs half the price of a new ECP.
I think it's like buying a used car and you could save a lot of money over buying a new car. But I would not base my purchaser on price alone. It would have to be a current model and in great condition or at a great price.
 

MAX PLY

Hall of Fame
There is no way I can get an upright one sadly. I live in a 900 sq apartment with one wife, one dog and two cats!

Btw, which Prince Neos are you referring to? I see a couple different models.
Neos 1000. 900 sq. feet certainly limits your options. Irvin may be on to something when he recommended one of the smaller eCP machines (but new ones will be about $1300–above your budget). It would be more compact. Good luck.
 

struggle

Legend
I read that the clamps are one of the most important features but I (having no prior experience) am not sure what exactly to check in terms of clamps. How can I recognize what is good and what is... better?
Single or Switch action is most desirable (referring to base clamps). Gravity Release is out of your price range, so don't worry about that.
 
I see the Axis Pro comes with 5 years limited warranty, that's pretty sweet. This and good after sales support is huge imo. How long was it taking you to string a racket with the old crank system compared to now with the ECP?
I don't know that I'd say I'm tremendously faster. I mainly got the Wise bc many of the people I string for are used to CP jobs (L/O generally produce a softer feeling string bed) so getting it allowed me to produce work more consistent with what they were used to. If my kids aren't distracting me, I can usually get something done in a little over 20min, which is maybe a couple minutes faster than with the L/O crank. I also like the Wise bc I can turn the CP feature off when I do my own as I actually prefer the feel of the string bed that way.

From a speed perspective, the quality/type of clamp may have a bigger impact than crank vs. CP. I'm planning to swap my clamp bases for Alpha Gravity release models in the next couple months.
 

Tennis_dude101

Semi-Pro
If you after small and don't mind flying clamps, you should also have a look at the Pro Stringer, I've had mine for nearly 6 years now and it is still going strong.
The US distributor is Guts and Glory Tennis in Georgia.

 
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fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
As I am a newb to this whole stringing thing, I am really hesitant to get something second hand, especially if it's electronic where if something goes wrong, good bye money. If it's crank, sure but I guess I still prefer the warranty and the peace of mind that comes with it.

Regarding taking the stand off, I feel that maybe a tabletop machine is designed with space saving in mind so even if you take out the base it's still pretty big. Am I wrong to assume that?
My first machine was a table top drop-weight from LaserFibre (US version of Stringway) that included constant tension, floating clamps, and what was essentially two-point mounting. When not in use, it was very easy to break that rig down and stow it in a rectangular cardboard box, so it's wasn't a miser for space. I have a little extra room to work these days, but I still don't want a floor stand style rig that permanently occupies some floor space wherever I set it up.

I now have a Gamma Prog. II ELS that I keep on a desk in a spare room. Since it doesn't really break down into smaller components without turning some wrenches, I leave it set up all the time and put a dust cover on it when it's idle. I suppose that if I needed that desk when I'm not stringing, I could put the machine in a closet or somewhere out of the way. So this machine has worked great for my situation.

This Gamma machine has also been much better than expected for me through at least six years of use. I know it's a little bit above your preferred price range, but its a very good rig. It's also backed up by Gamma's solid customer service that's based in Pittsburgh (I think). It's great to know that they're on the case and have a really good reputation, but I've honestly never needed them. My machine has had no issues, gremlins, or even personality quirks that required a phone call to sort out.

While I don't think I'm necessarily a LOT faster on this machine when doing just one racquet, I think that my Prog. II ELS is much less tedious to work with compared with my old drop-weight machine. I never wanted to string more than two or maybe three frames in a day with my old rig, but I'm okay with my Gamma if I occasionally get swamped. Even if I catch a bundle of maybe four to six racquets to string in a hurry, it's not at all as taxing for me as with the old machine (which I used for at least a few years). Very easy for me to recommend this Gamma.
 

Technatic

Professional
My first machine was a table top drop-weight from LaserFibre (US version of Stringway) that included constant tension, floating clamps, and what was essentially two-point mounting. When not in use, it was very easy to break that rig down and stow it in a rectangular cardboard box,
IMO you can take the lever off and just pull the turntable off the shaft very easily?

It is not two-point it is 5 point direct (inside) just like we still make, which is better for the racquet than 6-point outside.

 

struggle

Legend
IMO you can take the lever off and just pull the turntable off the shaft very easily?

It is not two-point it is 5 point direct (inside) just like we still make, which is better for the racquet than 6-point outside.

Sure, technically it is a five point, BUT it's damn near a 2 point. I've never heard any reason (nor did you mention one)
where a 2/5 point is actually "better" for the frame than a 6 point (w/ outside retainers of course). It always seems
like personal preference to me (I like 6 point, but clearly 2-point has been used more than any other method in history
with no issues). Can you please provide some technical data which states why 2/5 point is better? TIA
 

Technatic

Professional
Can you please provide some technical data which states why 2/5 point is better? TIA
Very important to understand is that it is not the deformation that harms the racquet but the stress in the racquet material (kg/mm^2)
When we designed our racquet support (in1992) a colleague of mine on the research centre made a computer calculation which calculates the stress in an oversize racquet depending on the position of the supports.


As you can see:

- The stress in a simple (Ektelon like) system with 2 supports is already quite low .
- With outside supports the stress depends strongly on the position of the outside supports in relation to the size of the racquet.
(Therefore it is no good to string a badminton racquet on a 6 point tennis support)

The explanation is quite simple:

The worst moment for the racquet occurs when all the main strings are tensioned.
- In a direct (inside) support system the supports work directly against the forces of the mains.

- In an indirect system the force of the outside supports have to be transferred to the position of the main strings.
This causes bending stress in the racquet, which is not there at all with direct supports.

This picture explains this:

Compare the racquet with a beam in the wall.

The question is where to support the beam against the weight?
- In position A where the deformation is maximum (1B)?
- Close the position of the load G (1C)?
 

Technatic

Professional
The "2 supports" ≠ 2-support.

- you don't have by any chance a graph for a 2-support
A 1- point support does not exist because on these machines a “banana piece” was used to lower the pressure in the racquet.


- in a "6-point", would the stress be less if you only use it as 2-support?
No certainly not because the pressure on the narrow 6 and 12 supports would be huge and the racquet is bended around it even more than with a 6-point support



Apart from the position of the supports it is very important that the supports are wide so that the pressure between the racquet and the supports is low.
 

Technatic

Professional
Maybe this is some practical prove that simple direct racquet supports are much better for the racquet than 6 point indirect:

How often do you hear about racquets get damaged on the old Ektelon / Prince racquet supports with 2 head supports and a banana / 4 supports at 50 mm apart?

These machines were used when tensions were much much higher than nowadays and the racquets were much weaker. Prince oversize racquets had to be strung at 72 lbs.

While:

Prince Extender (drop shape) racquets broke on the machine when the crosses were strung from throat to head! The reason for this was that the pressure on the headside outside supports became huge.
 

FedGR

Professional
Hello all, kinda resurrecting the thread here as I have more questions!! So I moved to a new place and now I have space for a floor standing machine! :) :) I found locally a Prince Neos 1000 for a good price. The seller mentioned it was bought in 2002 and was used for about 6 years. Then it was put away and covered since then until recently when he started using it again. He is willing to have me test it in all kind of ways and also string a racket before purchasing.

Should I go for such an old machine? He is asking $500 for it.
 

Wes

Professional
I found locally a Prince Neos 1000 for a good price. The seller mentioned it was bought in 2002 and was used for about 6 years. Then it was put away and covered since then until recently when he started using it again. He is willing to have me test it in all kind of ways and also string a racket before purchasing.

Should I go for such an old machine? He is asking $500 for it.
I'm inclined to respond "Yes! Don't walk - run!"
However, before I (or anyone else) tells you that... do you happen to have a photo, so that we have a better idea of it's condition - as well as which "era" it might be.
 

AceyMan

Semi-Pro
The NEOS 1000 has some limitations to be aware of.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but you can't (or it's super difficult) to string an ATW pattern since you can't have a cross clamped at the same time as a main.

As an owner of a current-generation Stringway ML120 I find the drop weight be very fast; unlike other DW systems, there's no need to ratchet the arm to be parallel. (I do wait a moment for the arm to settle as the string elongates, but there's no getting around that, no matter what CP mechanism.)

I also find the floor-standing models to effectively take up less room. I don't have a big flat surface to put a tabletop, nor anywhere to put it after I'm done with it.

Depending on the base/legs, when a stand mount is not in use the legs can tuck under something else (table, desk) and de facto take up less room than you'd imagine.

/Acey

p.s. Nine-hundred square foot apartment with two people—you were living like a king :cool: ! (I had a wife and a son in 550 ft² — but no stringer then).
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but you can't (or it's super difficult) to string an ATW pattern since you can't have a cross clamped at the same time as a main.
You can string ATW on a glide bar machine, and it is not difficult. It is just a bother to move the clamp from the horizontal to vertical position and back and forth. It all depends on the method you use for the ATW pattern.
 

struggle

Legend
Hello all, kinda resurrecting the thread here as I have more questions!! So I moved to a new place and now I have space for a floor standing machine! :) :) I found locally a Prince Neos 1000 for a good price. The seller mentioned it was bought in 2002 and was used for about 6 years. Then it was put away and covered since then until recently when he started using it again. He is willing to have me test it in all kind of ways and also string a racket before purchasing.

Should I go for such an old machine? He is asking $500 for it.
Most likely, YES. (Heck you might get it for a bit less, even...)

as noted above: condition matters, but by the sounds of it I'd guess it to be a decent deal.
 

FedGR

Professional
Most likely, YES. (Heck you might get it for a bit less, even...)

as noted above: condition matters, but by the sounds of it I'd guess it to be a decent deal.
@FedGR , $500.00?! That is a great deal if all the parts are there and the machine works well. My used NEOS 1000 cost me a shade under 800.00 shipped to me from Tennis Machines around 6 yrs ago. The age is not a big deal. Here are the experts and they have parts: https://www.tennismachines.com/product-category/parts-accessories/
This is my biggest concern. I did some research online and most used Neos 1000 sell for 800-1000. So at $500 it is too good. Maybe too good to be true. :oops: :oops:

I'll probably go check it out either today or tomorrow and see. Good thing is that it seems like there is abundance of parts so if something goes wrong, I guess I can replace it.
 

graycrait

Hall of Fame
@FedGR , Ask the seller if he has these parts, if not they don't cost much and you will need them: https://www.tennismachines.com/product/throat-retainer-pack/

I see you got three of the throat retainers but if you go to the link I personally use the 3 "pairs" in the upper left hand of the picture 98% of the time.

Go get that Neos. Later, you can always a get a Wise 2086 electronic constant pull head if you think you need it.

 
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FedGR

Professional
@FedGR , Ask the seller if he has these parts, if not they don't cost much and you will need them: https://www.tennismachines.com/product/throat-retainer-pack/

I see you got three of the throat retainers but if you go to the link I personally use the 3 "pairs" in the upper left hand of the picture 98% of the time.

Go get that Neos. Later, you can always a get a Wise 2086 electronic constant pull head if you think you need it.

Thanks for all the info @graycrait and all! Seller claims to have everything the machine came with. But like you said, I might invest in some new retainers as I presume 20 year old hard plastics have probably lost some of their properties.

And yes, the goal is to eventually go to a Wise head if I can develop my skills and maintain my interest in stringing!
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
@FedGR , $500.00?! That is a great deal if all the parts are there and the machine works well. My used NEOS 1000 cost me a shade under 800.00 shipped to me from Tennis Machines around 6 yrs ago. The age is not a big deal. Here are the experts and they have parts: https://www.tennismachines.com/product-category/parts-accessories/
My used Babolat Star 5 cost me $175 + 6% tax. All the part were there and the machine actually worked. The chain was off the sprocket and I tried to get it back on. The chain wasn't going back on easy so I ordered a reconditioned Tension Module from Babolat for $450 (shipping both ways included.) After stringing nearly 3,000 rackets on it I bet I could at least get every penny back if I sold it.

I would imagine if you were to pick up a NEOS for $500 today in good shape you could easily string on it for 5 or 10 years and still get your money back if you kept it in good shape. @FedGR have you got it home yet? If not why not? If you don't buy it someone else will. I would not even try to dicker with the seller.

EDIT: @FedGR said, "I'll probably go check it out either today or tomorrow and see. Good thing is that it seems like there is abundance of parts so if something goes wrong, I guess I can replace it." the longer you wait the higher the chance of it being sold.
 

MAX PLY

Hall of Fame
^^^Agree with Irvin and graycrait--the big key is the tension head and if it is good shape you have a pretty good bargain--if it is missing retainers or pads you can get them at Tennis Machines for pocket change. But, if the machine is as good as it looks in the pic, go buy it now before someone else does. Good luck.
 
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