first machine...choices oplenty...need advice

hihota

New User
i've improved to the point where my strings break enough to make a stringer worth getting. never done any stringing before. i've done a lot of research including reading tons of helpful posts on this forum, and i'm looking to get a good quality, long lasting, frame friendly tennis racquet stringing machine that can easily accommodate oversizes, widebodies, woodies, and of course my trusty prostaff. so i'm willing to make this a decent-sized investment if it's one worth making. stringing speed is not a huge concern to me so much as accuracy, consistency, and frame-friendliness, but i'd like something a little easier to use than a klippermate as i'll likely have a few chronic string-breaking friends to string for (let's say as much as 5 or 6 jobs in a week at times). i need something i'll be happy with for a long time, at least 5 years, rather than something i'll grow out of in a few months, but nothing of the professional variety. i want it to be fairly well-crafted and easy to use (especially at high tensions up to 70 lbs or so) without it being a struggle or requiring a bunch of makeshift tweaking. cs is important to me with major investments, as is the product warranty which of course is only as good as the cs. so, i'm thinking counterweights are the way to go. the machines i'm considering seriously are the sp swing for $200 because of price, the mp hercules 610 for $320 because of value, the alpha pioneer dc for $400 because of value (what are "dds" clamps in newtech description?), and the lf tt-eco for $450 with floating clamps (which i could upgrade to fixed clamps anytime for the same price, $180, as getting fixed clamps right away) purely because of quality. i think even the tt-eco with fixed at $630 would easily pay for itself within five years and still have half its warranty period left, but i have a few questions about this decision:

which one do you think is my best option overall considering price, quality of product and company, and my personal needs described above? are the more expensive ones worth the price, or would i be over-investing for my needs? in particular, just what kind of a difference do fixed clamps make in stringing, in your experience? is laserfibre an exception to this since they make nice floating clamps?

i've found very little info on the mutual power company and their quality of products and cs. anybody have any experiences with them? the relatively low price makes me a bit suspicious, naturally.

does anybody know if the sp swing even has a warranty? the warranties section on their site appears specific to the estringer only.

i emailed laserfibre with questions and received great answers in about 36 hours, which is a good sign, but can i trust them to provide good post-purchase support and service as well? i think they would because they seem like a superb company, but just want to verify with someone who's dealt with them or heard anything.

any heads-up kinda things i should know about any of these machines or their companies?

any other machines in this quality range that i should be considering?

sorry this is so bloody long. thanks for hanging in there if you've gotten this far. any advice would be most gratefully appreciated!

oh, and this is a bit off subject here, but if anyone has a quick suggestion for an overgrip that can help against hand blisters, i'm looking for alternatives to the tournagrip i've been using.

thanks again

cheerio
 

c_zimma

Semi-Pro
You can search for this. There have been hundreds of threads on machine recomendations. As for the overgrip, you could try some Wilson Pro Overgrip.
 

beernutz

Hall of Fame
I agree with zimma on both counts. I wanted a good, but cheap stringer so I bought a Klippermate about a year ago and I am very happy with my choice. If I was to upgrade to a ~$500 machine I'd probably go with an Alpha Revo based on what I've read in this forum and on the recommendation of a friend who has one. The stringer at my tennis club uses a Prince Neos 1000 which he is VERY happy with.

One way to make your choice is to decide how much you want to spend and then get recommendations in that price range. Another alternative is to decide which features you absolutely MUST have and find units that match those characteristics and choose from that group. My point is that I think you need to adopt some kind of decision-making strategy or else you are just going to spin your wheels comparing the dizzying array of machines out there.

I like the Wilson Pro overgrips and recommend them too.
 

JMaj

New User
At 6 jobs per week, IMO, you want something more than a basic dropweight. Exactly what, I can't say because the SP Swing is the only machine I've used. It takes me about 1 1/2 hrs to do a Prostaff, but I don't try to hurry, I work at a pace that lets each string stretch for a minute or two before clamping. At least the way I work, there is some physical effort (pumping iron) and turning the friction clutch can put some hot spots on the hand.

A friend of mine gave me a Whatagrip to try. Its a one piece that slips over the permanent grip. Nice tack, good shock and vibration absorbing cushion. Sort of a Cadillac of overgrips. Not to easy to find in local retail, I understand, though there are multiple websites selling them.
 

Mr. Blond

Professional
hihota, one question I have for you is about your budget, you said that since you would probably be doing about 5 - 6 sticks a week you don't mind making a considerable investiment. That is an open statement. Considerable to me would be anywhere from 500 - 1000 dollars. there are a number of very good machines well within that range. The reason I ask is because you follow that up with saying a simple drop weight is what you have in mind. One of the requirements is dependable, easy to use and consistant, and a drop weight can be all of those, but takes much more time to get there than crank machines. Cranks probably produce the best results early on. Also, you mentioned a wide variety of frame types......so a six point mount would probably be the best, and go for the fixed clamps. The more you spend now the better in the long run.

i hope this has helped.
 

hihota

New User
thanks very kindly for the helpful replies. i'll give wilson pro a try.

i know there's been a million recommendations posted here, but i found few if any posing the specific questions i have about the machines i'm considering. i found a couple vague posts about the mp hercules 610 with nothing about dealings with their cs, one somewhat unsettling post about laserfibre's post-purchase cs being a bit neglectful, and one vaguely comparing an mp hercules 610 to a lf tt-eco.

beernutz, what kind of volume (how often) and tension do you string on your klippermate? they do sound like a great value for sure, and i love the lifetime guarantee and made in usa. i know what you mean about the dizzying variety of stringers out there. my strategy so far has been to set my budget below 500 with the possible exception of the tt-eco with fixed clamps at 630 if i can confirm that the price is truly justified in the longrun. as far as features, the difficulty comes in being new to stringing and understanding, for instance, whether fixed clamps are truly worth ~150 more than floating ones, or just how much easier and more accurate/consistant a ratchet or laserfibre dropweight is than a klippermate (assuming user's dropweight competence). i guess i'm trying to cut a corner by skipping the cheap beginner's machine, ay.

jmaj, your comments about stringing your prostaff are very interesting as i'd probably be very similar to you in pace and technique. i have no problem with the idea of lifting the dropweights as i figure i can always use a bit of an arm workout, and i know i like constant tension string jobs more than lockouts. could you clarify what you meant about the friction clutch? in the sp online video it looked like the clutch on the tensioner was very easy to handle...

blabit, you're quite right that i was a bit vague. perhaps i should clarify that my 5-6 sticks/week figure would be an occasional extreme and i would likely average more like 1-3/week most of the time. also, being a grad student and that this would just be a hobby investment, i'd say that for me anything above 300 would be a considerable investment and above 500 would be a major investment (a major blow to the old savings account). i agree that it seems that i should probably just part with as much green as i can right now to get the best investment and i do think i should go for a quality mounting system and fixed clamps. i'm also okay with having to get used to the dropweight before my results get better since the dropweight machines seem to be the best value for the prices and don't get out of calibration.

i think my most difficult issue right now is deciding whether i could get away with the cheaper hercules which seems to have everything i want, or if i would be wise to stretch my budget for a tt-eco with fixed clamps even at double the price considering craftsmanship, ease of use, and 10-year/top-to-bottom warrantee (which could in itself be worth hundreds more than a 5-year limited warrantee in the longrun). i'd especially love to hear from anyone out there with longterm experiences with either of these machines or even just with the companies (mutual power and laserfibre).

thanks again and may your weaves be tight
 

gotwheels

Semi-Pro
Alpha Pioneer DC Plus

For a quality drop-weight, look at the Alpha Pioneer DC Plus, same quality mounting system and clamps as their more expensive spring tension/lockout machines. It has a clutch/ratchet system with a linear string gripper. String package included. GREAT customer service, quality components, and a competitive price. Check it out with Mark or Greg at newtechtennis . com (Alpha's retail store).
 

theace21

Hall of Fame
hihota - tough choices and welcome to the TW board. You have already done your homework.

Many of use started with a simple drop weight (Klippermate, SP Swing, etc). As we learn more, the speed, easy of mounting, type of clamps become more important. Some of us have upgraded, some are happy with what they have.

You can do a very good string job with a drop weight. Sure it has its disadvantages, but what do you think you are going to get for under $200. I would not make a major investment while in grad school. You have other priorities. I always say, get the best you can afford - if you had the money buy the Alpha Revo, get the fixed clamps, secure mounting and speed of a crank machine...

The quality of a string job comes from the stringer. They have developed a repeatable method and use it everytime! You can do a great job on a drop weight, it will take longer, and is not as "pretty" as others. As a grad student you probably aren't driving a Lexus either, but you have something that gets you where you need to go.

Good Luck...
 

barry

Hall of Fame
hihota

I would buy a drop weight machine with fixed clamps over a crank machine. The benefit is constant pull, something you do not get on a lockout machine.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality machine. I think the Hercules 610 has everything needed to do a quality string jobs. Stringing machines are very reliable and seldom break. If you make it through delivery, you can count on many years of consistent service from the machine. I have strung over 750 rackets on my machine, and it is still working as well as the day I purchased it. It takes me about 30 minutes per frame.
 

Mr. Blond

Professional
i agree with barry and ace, for the money, the mutual power machine seems to be top notch, I personally have never used one, but hey, I have never heard any negative comments about their build quality either. I started off with a gamma progression II with fixed clamps, and a drop weight tensioner, the results with that set up were as good as I get now with a constant pull electric. The major difference is speed and ease of use. But for a grad student, and infrequent stringer, a dropweight is the best option.
 

Nuke

Hall of Fame
hihota said:
does anybody know if the sp swing even has a warranty? the warranties section on their site appears specific to the estringer only.

Don't think I've seen anyone answer this. On the SP site, you can download the manual for the Swing, and it says:

Deuce Industries warrants the Silent Partner Swing for a period of five years. Deuce Industries’ obligation under this
warranty is limited to the original purchaser and applies to the cost of labor and materials to repair a warrantable
defect. A satisfaction warranty is provided for a trial period of thirty days.​

Customer service is apparantly pretty good at SP, from the comments I've seen here. I ordered a Swing last week.
 

hihota

New User
make it so

thanks a ton, yall. the advice has been most helpful, and i've narrowed my choices down to the hercules 610 and the pioneer dc+. they both seem like the kind of machine i'm looking for at prices i can swing (barely), and it sounds like the extra 80 smackers for the alpha would be for the strong company backing i could expect. maybe i can coax some early christmas funds from the folks or something. i'll hash it over for a few more days and try to find out what kind of string package and tools the alpha would come with, and also contact mutual power to see what kind of impression i get for their service.

anyway, i appreciate the help immensely. i can't wait to start stringing up my own sticks and experimenting with strings and tensions. such freedom!
 

Masamusou

Semi-Pro
hihota, if the Hercules 610 and the Pioneer DC are the two you are trying to decide between. I suggest the Pioneer over the Hercules for two reasons: spring assisted clamp bases (trust me on this one, once you have used them, you won't ever want to go back to cone-lock bases), and the thicker turntable of the DC. Don't think I'm biased or anything, I owned an Alpha in high school and my first year at college, now I sold it and replaced it with a Mutual Power glide bar machine. The Alpha machine I had originally had the thinner stamped turntable like the Hercules does, and it works perfectly fine, but the thicker cast turntable on the DC is an improvement. I had absolutely no problems with the customer service at Mutual Power (had a small issue with the brake for the table on my machine), and never needed to contact Alpha, so I don't think you need to worry much about either of those. I think you will be happy with either machine, but if you can spring the extra $80, I think you will like the improvements that the DC gives you over the 610. I'm in college too, so I know how tight money can be, luckily I break strings often enough and string enough for other people that I can justify the $1300 I've spent on my current machine.
 

hihota

New User
thanks masa, that's some great stuff to know about and will change my thinking a bit.

speaking of a turntable brake, the information i received about the lf tt-eco suggested that model does not include a turntable "lock" which is only included on the tt-premium. is this the same as a "brake," and if so, does anybody know if the hercules 610 or pioneer dc+ come with brakes? it's not mentioned at the mp site or at the newtech site for either model. what is a brake used for in stringing, anyway?
 

Masamusou

Semi-Pro
A turntable lock as Laserfibre calls it is most likely the same thing as a turntable brake. Potentially useful when stringing Prince O3 frames, but not necessary. In fact, I've used the brake on my machine like twice, except for calibrating of course. I used the brake on my Alpha machine when I was stringing some of the old Wilson Rollers frames. It's not really necessary for most racquets, but occasionally it can be helpful. Some people lock the table while they tie knots, I don't bother. The main use of the turntable brake is during calibration. I would use the brake on the turntable to prevent it from spinning while pulling on the tension calibrator to get a reading. You can get around using the brake during stringing just by preventing the racquet from its normal alignment process during tensioning by putting your body in the way of the racquet handle. Obviously the racquet likes to align itself straight with the pull while tensioning, but this means that on frames like the O3 and the older Wilson Rollers, the string wouldn't be in the right position, since I hate the boomerang tool, I can either use the brake or simply put my hip in the way of the handle as it would normally come to align itself so the string ends up in the right place. You wouldn't have to do this for every cross because once you get about halfway down it aligns itself correctly. I'm not sure as to if those 2 machines have brakes or not, you would probably be best served to send an email to James at MP and one to Mark at Alpha and just ask them.
 

hihota

New User
i see, i'll email them.

i did plan to get myself a calibrator and calibrate the machine before my first string job since i don't know how much the "factory calibration" can be trusted. is it possible to calibrate without a turntable brake? could you maybe use some other fixed object to pull against?
 

beernutz

Hall of Fame
I only string about 2-3 times per month for personal use and for a few friends and family so an inexpensive stringer like the Klippermates was just what I needed. YMMV.

hihota said:
beernutz, what kind of volume (how often) and tension do you string on your klippermate? they do sound like a great value for sure, and i love the lifetime guarantee and made in usa. i know what you mean about the dizzying variety of stringers out there. my strategy so far has been to set my budget below 500 with the possible exception of the tt-eco with fixed clamps at 630 if i can confirm that the price is truly justified in the longrun. as far as features, the difficulty comes in being new to stringing and understanding, for instance, whether fixed clamps are truly worth ~150 more than floating ones, or just how much easier and more accurate/consistant a ratchet or laserfibre dropweight is than a klippermate (assuming user's dropweight competence). i guess i'm trying to cut a corner by skipping the cheap beginner's machine, ay.
 
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