I would hedge toward the Kmate or X-2, but i'm just not a fan of those
other "portable" type stringers. Some people would be fine with them.
I'd prefer something more substantial in build.
With many of these "lower end" machines, often people want to upgrade
the floating clamps.....so there is some added cost to consider if that ends
up being the case for you. Nice clamps aren't cheap, often costing as much
or more than the machine you already purchased. At that point you may as well
have bought a nicer machine to begin with.
Just something to consider. Many find these machines perfectly acceptable for
their needs as well. They are certainly capable of getting a racquet strung in the
Definitely echo @struggle’s comments.
the X-2 is a very capable machine with capable hands, however, as you progress, you will start to think why didn’t you spend something abit more with (at least) a fixed clamping system.
that’s what I did and I moved on. I think it is quite true in saying - spend the most you can and only spend once.
I have a gamma progression ii that I bought for $200 new right after college and have had for maybe 3-4 years. I am currently looking to upgrade to a crank or electric machine and I am a bit tired of using the floating clamps.
that being said the profession has paid for itself 5-6 times over and I have absolutely no regrets purchasing it. It has been an awesome stringing machine for me. Now that Im making bit more money and not a broke college I want to splurge a little bit on a stringer that I’ll have the rest of my life. I string maybe 4-6 rackets a month and don’t NEED a New stringer but I don’t spend money on much else so I want to treat myself.
I think the progression ii/x-2 is a great stringing machine for someone’s first stringer and you won’t have regrets given the cost.
Your limit is not good and I hope it is not set in stone. $250 will get you a basic DW with floating clamps. You may get a used LO in unknown condition for about $600-$700. Tabletop FC DW and LO are also in this range. A reconditioned NEOS 1000 is ~$950 from TM. The MiStringer comes in around $500, but it is for people that are experienced since weaving on it is a PITA. [The MiStringer opinion is strictly mine since I have issues reaching under that low stringbed. ]
If you don’t mind used, I would look in the classifieds, fb marketplace, fleabay, etc for a used drop weight or crank. A drop weight will teach a lot about a string’s characteristics as the weight drops, but does take a little bit longer to get consistent with it. A crank is great for stringing quickly without too much thought except for the calibration every now and then (fish scales work great). Definitely would recommend fixed clamps over (typically plastic) flying clamps. You can’t go wrong with a Klippermate stringing machine for it’s size and portability though. Saw a few go up with the case and everything for under $250 as they hold their value very well. I also wouldn’t mind supporting klippermate as they’ve been great with their online stringing database which I used a lot back when I first started.