Gamma X-ELS Review With Pictures and Details

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by AndI, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. AndI

    AndI Rookie

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    The topic of USRSA is not quite related to the X-ELS machine, it may be a wrong thing to deviate too far from the topic of the thread, but it is related to learning how to string. USRSA web site and material posted in members-only section makes a ... how should I say ... complicated impression. The site evidently was created around 2010-2011 or so and was actively maintained until 2013-mid 2014. At that point, USRSA stopped updating the content. Probably the person who did it left the company... You will find that reviews of equipment do not go past 2013, tables of freebies that come with membership end around 2014, that some tools (e.g., racquet balance calculator, can't remember the exact name) require an outdated Java plugin supported only up to Windows XP, etc. The web site contents were more valuable several years ago than they are now, when they are largely outdated, with a few exceptions. The URSA Racquet Professional Study Guide is a great resource for beginners, 112 pages of good information. It can be downloaded in PDF format and printed. Interactive video tutorial has estimated several hours of streaming videos broken into short segments from less than a minute to several minutes each. Videos closely follow the Study Guide. Videos are professional but resolution is tiny, 240x180. These are also great for beginners.

    The booklet that comes with the machine is a nice synopsis of the USRSA Study Guide, a much shorter version which still contains all key information.

    For experienced stringers, the key value is in Stringer's digest (which comes in printed form only with the full membership) as well as access to always up-to-date online version of the Stringers Digest - also with a little clunky interface, but it works.I've read people writing on this forum that they value live support from USRSA when they need it.

    The ability to get certified may also be of value to those who make profit from stringing.

    Since certification or stringing for others (except perhaps a couple of friends for whom we would restring for free) is not on our "to do" list for the near future (not only because we still have a lot to learn, but also because we bought the machine only for our own home use), I am going to get my trial membership expire (I do not need an up-to-date Digest or free samples of obscure strings which I am not going to use), but I will maintain awareness of values which USRSA membership carries for professionals who take stringing jobs for others or make money by stringing.

    In my opinion, the $9 one month trial membership is an excellent starting point for beginners. Those who have stringing experience but not string for profit might find it less of a value and would likely be disappointed about the abundance of outdated information - articles, reviews, comparisons of equipment which is no longer even made. Professionals will certainly benefit from full membership that comes with the printed and online Digest.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
    #51
  2. AndI

    AndI Rookie

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    I got a clarification from the helpful TW staff that X-ELS was temporarily taken off their web site because it was out of stock with the manufacturer. Now, as of Sept 19, 2017, it is back on stock, and it should have appeared on TW web site again.
     
    #52
  3. ElMagoElGato

    ElMagoElGato Semi-Pro

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    Thanks a lot. It's good information. I checked the USRSA site and I remembered my first impression. I'd be able get the most out of it if I were a US resident. From what you described above, the Study Guide could have helped me like it did to you. But now I guess it isn't much for me anymore. Probably I'll think about it again if I start having customers.
     
    #53
  4. AndI

    AndI Rookie

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    REVIEW OF THE MACHINE. PART 4. TURNTABLE LOCK.

    Nothing groundbreaking here, the lock is located under the turntable.

    [​IMG]

    A 180 degree turn of the lever switches between locked and unlocked position

    Locked:

    [​IMG]

    UNLOCKED:

    [​IMG]

    I found that I rarely need to use it, so it does not matter much how convenient it is. It is not super conveniently located, but it is accessible. No problems with reaching it. Works well.


    (to be continued)



     
    #54
  5. AndI

    AndI Rookie

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    REVIEW OF THE MACHINE. PART 5. POWER SWITCH AND CONNECTORS.

    I could probably skip this as this level of details may be getting boring... Anyhow, I took the pictures, so whoever wants to know everything about the machine, this is the source :)

    The only electronic component in the machine is the tension head unit, so, not surprisingly, power switch and all connectors are on this unit, on its back.

    [​IMG]

    Top right connector which looks like a telephone cable connector is the connector for String Length Meter which has been "currently not available" for at least 8 years. Bottom right connector is for the power cable. Circular connector in the middle of bottom row is for the foot pedal. The round hole in the bottom left corner has no defined function, although deep inside it looks like some sort of a connector with unknown purpose. Perhaps some sort of factory diagnostics.

    [​IMG]

    P.S. After 8 racquets, I am down to 40 minutes. I am still making mistakes, but I am getting better with every racquet. My son strung 10 racquets, and he is also at about 40 minutes.

    (to be continued)
     
    #55
  6. FFo

    FFo New User

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    Nice review, now I want this machine too :)
    Too bad it's about $500 more in Europe. Do you have the footswitch and do you think it would help stringing at all?
     
    #56
  7. AndI

    AndI Rookie

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    FFo, thank you! A foot switch is an optional accessory and I do not have it. I do not feel that need it and buying one is not in my plans for now. It is a natural movement of the right hand to run the string around the tensioner, into the slot, and then press the button as a part of the same movement. This continuous movement helps to make sure that the button is pressed after the string got into the tensioner slot.

    High end machine, as FAR as I can tell, do not come with a foot pedal either.

    The only two accessories which I thought I would need and which I ordered were a starting clamp and a cover.
     
    #57
  8. lukebarnes0511

    lukebarnes0511 New User

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    Hi @Andl, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the insane amounts of effort you have put into this! :)

    Although some might think you had too much detail, for me I would far rather have it than not - I have been planning to get an X-ELS for a while and looking to go ahead next month, and this has reaffirmed just what an incredible machine it is. I taught myself to string on a Pro's Pro dropweight 3 years back, and simply want something of better quality and electronic constant pull - decided Gamma for ~£1200 (I am a Brit!) is far better than Pro's Pro electronic for £700. However, when spending over a grand on a stringer it is so so helpful to have a review of this detail to refer to and provide help once I do indeed make the purchase - I have only found a couple of other reviews of the stringer, but they are more of a thread with comparison to other options, so yours blows it out the water (for reference https://www.stringforum.net/board/showthread.php?t=2680 , http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/feedback-XELS.html).

    I do however have one polite request - do you think you could please tell me the dimensions of the rectangular base, ignoring the turntable? I have a very specific corner on my big desk that I like to keep my stringer, and just want to check that the X-ELS will fit there.

    Thanks in advance, and again for your review - I can't tell you enough how appreciated it is by me, and probably a fair few others in the future!
     
    #58
  9. AndI

    AndI Rookie

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    lukebarnes0511, thank you very much for your nice words! This is much appreciated.

    Sure, dimensions of the base are easy to measure. Length of the base is 740 mm (29 1/8"). Width of the base depends on where you measure it because there is a tool tray on the right-hand side which sticks out forwards. Width of the base on the right side of the machine, where the tool tray is, is 360 mm (or 13 3/4"). Width of the base on the left side of the machine is 250 mm (or 9 7/8").

    Of course turntable sticks out, so no matter how you turn it you need some extra space. And you you mount a racquet, you need even more space for its handle.

    P.S. I have a couple of small things to add to this review, some pictures of the drawers and tool tray and thickness of the base of turntable through the slots in which the clamps slide. I will get it finished eventually...
     
    #59
  10. lukebarnes0511

    lukebarnes0511 New User

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    Hi all!

    With the help of this review, I have now bought and started using this fantastic machine.

    A couple of things to add to this review, from a European consumer (I am a Brit) - machine bought direct from Gamma Europe, shipped and delivered from Germany within 5 days, they were also happy to haggle slightly on price and I ended up convincing them to throw in a machine cover for when I eventually move my machine into the garage!

    - The machine comes only with a european plug - adapter needed for your respective country
    - My machine did not come with an instruction manual - not really a problem however as I was able to download one from their website
    - The european machine also seems not to come with a Gamma string starter pack - this seems to be a purchasable extra!
    - Bolt tightness - all bolts on the machine seem to done up very tight from the factory. Andl mentioned that he was able to string all tennis rackets without moving the support columns, and instead simply adjusting the top/bottom supports. I string badminton, squash and tennis rackets so I did need to adjust the column position - worth noting that a fair amount of force was needed to loosen bolts for the first time!
    - Turntable wobble - I noticed there is a slight wobble to the turntable if you specifically check for it. This was a big problem on my previous cheapy machine and I had to keep tightening it up as it affected stringing. Just to be very clear, this is not a big problem with the Gamma, and in fact you do not notice it when stringing or even at all if you aren't checking for it. Gamma have since confirmed to me that their machines will always have a very slight wobble due to their manufacturing method, and this is not a problem
    - Finally, and something I was so so glad about - the feet, that are screwed into 'sliders' in the base, are adjustable along the length of the machine (within reason of course, you want to keep your machine as stable as possible so as close to the edges as you can. However, if like me you have a certain table or desk on which you want the machine to sit, the feet can be adjusted to fit using an allen key to loosen the slider and retighten it up - see my photos below. This saved me either increasing the size of my desk (I built it myself anyway!) or buying a larger ugly piece of wood for the machine feet to sit on. Gamma also confirmed that adjusting the foot positions is fine!

    Photos of sliders:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    My beautiful machine, sitting on my desk quite happily with adjusted foot positions:

    [​IMG]
     
    Irvin likes this.
    #60
  11. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    When I bought my 6004 machine I got a better price through the USPTA. It was more expensive from TT. Both are drop shipped from Gamma. My box had not string pack either. You get what you pay for.
     
    #61
  12. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    I love that little reel holder
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
    #62
  13. lukebarnes0511

    lukebarnes0511 New User

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    Hehe thanks! I am a Civil Engineer so had access to a *fair amount* of ply and threaded bar - knocked it up on site one afternoon and it's fantastic!
     
    #63
  14. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    I have about 40+ reels of string so I made mine with PVC and 4 fiberglass rods about 2’ wide. I can put 10 reels on each rod. But similar to yours. I was using a wooden dowel in a box but had to keep switching reels.
     
    #64
  15. Marc Nephtali

    Marc Nephtali New User

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    Hi, I am trying to buy a tennis stringing machine and would like to know if i should go crank or drop weight. I read a lot about pro's and con's of each but would love to get some diverse opinion
     
    Smittithekitty likes this.
    #65
  16. lukebarnes0511

    lukebarnes0511 New User

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    Hi Marc, could you please create another thread and I am more than happy to offer advice on there - Andl has put too much hard work into this review to have other discussions on here! Thank you!
     
    #66
  17. lukebarnes0511

    lukebarnes0511 New User

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    I come bringing great news! I have solved the headache of the mysterious pieces, and hopefully the below can assist everyone and avoid the same confusion...

    In essence they are all the same thing - load spreaders for various racket shapes and types:

    Exhibit 1: Tennis or squash spreader - note the pad on the existing top and bottom support needs to be removed before using these as shown, otherwise they raise the racket up too much to be clamped in the shoulder clamps

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Exhibit 2: Also tennis or squash spreader - to fit larger concave. Top and bottom support pad still needs to be removed

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Exhibit 3: Spreader to suit very tight concave frame, perhaps larger badminton racket – fits in the same way as the 2 above with removed top and bottom pad

    [​IMG]


    Exhibit 4: Badminton ‘H’ pad spreader – more confusing this one. Needs to be slid onto the existing top and bottom support pads without removing anything, ensuring the thick bit that can be seen is at the top. I have tried to show this in photos. It then reaches a point down the pad where it stops. Because of how it is fitted, once you have completed the stringing job, it remains within the badminton strings and is lifted off the pads along with the racket


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A final note is that all the load spreaders can slide up and down the top and bottom supports, to ensure that the rackets are centred in the k-mounts on the shoulder clamps. This will make more sense when you try and mount a racket!
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
    Irvin likes this.
    #67
  18. tennisaddict03

    tennisaddict03 Rookie

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    Would there be any possibility of asking if you could make another one? :)
     
    #68
  19. junk

    junk Semi-Pro

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    @AndI ,

    Great thread. Thanks for sharing all this feedback with us.

    After a few months of use, are you still happy with your X-Els? Is there anything you wish you would have had (self centring mounts, better clamps, floor stand, linear gripper, etc)? Is there anything that positively surprised you - you discovered some features better than expected?

    Thanks!
     
    #69
  20. lukebarnes0511

    lukebarnes0511 New User

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    Hi Andy, I will let Andl respond himself on his findings, however mine are as follows after 6 months of use...

    1. Absolutely no regrets on the machine or any disappointments with any of the features, other than maybe needing the instructions to be clearer on what all the parts are. This thread however now helps, and an experienced stringer should be able to work out a lot for themself in all honesty...
    2. First positive - the feet the machine stands on in the base can slide! This meant I was able to fit the machine on a thinner part of my desk that I was worried about - massive plus.
    3. Machine feels extremely good quality and well built in all its parts, with minimal draw back when stringing and very little turntable wobble (I am advised it is impossible to completely remove these two things)
    4. All tools are very good, and added to my Gamma starter clamp I really dont feel I need any more tools
    5. Clamps havent needed any adjustment yet - I have build up a lot of trust in these and they havent slipped once, having strung rackets from 20lbs (badders) up to 60lbs (tennis)
    6. Tool trays are very useful!
    7. The thing looks beautiful, and it so silent when stringing compared to my previous ratchet dropweight machine...
    8. I love the pull-speed ability, prefer to have this slow when stringing at higher tensions but you can also set this to medium or fast
    9. Pre-stretch function is a revelation - I never feel the need to bed in my rackets any more so i feel the quality of my string jobs have gone up massively, again due to...
    10. The consistency is fantastic - you can tell it pulls consistently due to the sound of mirrored mains when twanged (if you get what I mean) and this all adds up to a joy of a machine to use.

    Hope this helps, but my bottom line advice is this is a hell of a machine and at the price point I don't think it has many rivals that can compete with it! If it is a choice between a Gamma electronic machine or a cheaper Pro's Pro electronic at £600 cheaper, don't skimp as you won't regret the extra quality once you see how good it is!
     
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    #70
  21. tennisaddict03

    tennisaddict03 Rookie

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    Second this completely as an owner of this machine. The one and only thing I wish is for a self centering machine, which would make some of these bigger frames a bit easier to deal. Currently I need to adjusting the mounting posts on the tray and the mounting clamps when dealing with oversized rackets and screwing in 4 mounting posts slows things down a bit.

    Regardless, my machine is still going strong after 2 years and over 400 rackets!
     
    junk likes this.
    #71
  22. hlausic

    hlausic New User

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    I have a little problem with this machine, with memory button. Machine can memory tesions (1-9), but can not memory pulling speed or pre-strech function. Exemple, in position 1, I fix the tension (25 kg), I fix slow speed, pre-strech 20%, presing enter, and when I turn off machine, tension (25) stay, but speed goes to fast (default), pre-strech turn off... What I do wrong?

    P.S. Sorry for my English...
     
    #72
  23. lukebarnes0511

    lukebarnes0511 New User

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    Hi hlausic, perfectly good English, not to worry!

    The honest answer is I believe that the memory function is simply for tensions, it does not remember pull speed or pre-stretch - these are things that I decide on each time I turn on the machine/start a new racket. Gamma only sell the machine as having a memory function for tensions, so I believe they will save the tension number only.
     
    #73
  24. hlausic

    hlausic New User

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    If it's like that, ok... Thank you!
     
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