Help me with buying my first stringing machine

RF_PRO_STAFF

Professional
Hey guys, it's been on and off in my head the last few months but now I've almost decided that I want to buy my own stringing machine. I'm not sure what kind of machine would fit my needs as I'm new to the stringing itself. Hopefully some of you guys want to help me with that.

Some background information:
- I'm 23 y/o, living in the Netherlands. I'm a equivalent to 4.5 NTRP club player, play mostly for fun but also in competitions.
- Long story short: I was never that aware of the importance of equipment until about 2/2.5 years ago. Developed a shoulder injury while using a 274g unstrung Blade 101L with stiff poly strings and I now have to live with that injury for the rest of my life. Now at a point where I can play totally fine, sometimes even up to 5 times a week without too much pain. But I will always have to be careful.
- The injury and my interest to buy a new racquet caused me to demo some racquets and after some trial and error I ended up with two VCORE 95's in May 2020. Those are still my racquet of choice. In a way, I'm kind of thankful for that injury because it sparked something. Since then, I've started researching about almost anything equipment related. Racquets, strings, grips, pallets, dampeners, lead tape, customization, you name it. A whole new world opened for me and it's my biggest passion now (besides playing).
- I now have 9 racquets that I play with, some more than others, and they all need strings in them. As we all know, strings and string jobs cost money. Thats the second biggest reason why I want to start stringing myself.
- The biggest reason I want to start stringing myself is that I find it a beautiful craft. I love experimenting with racquets and strings (and all the other stuff around it) and having my own stringer would make it so much easier, cheaper and more fun. Stringing is just something I really want to learn and become better at, each stringjob I do. I'd also love to string for a few friends/players at my club and help them have the best setup for their game. Sharing the passion.

On the stringing machine:
- I would like machine that is convienent and not too much of a hassle. I'd rather have a solid one at a bit higher price than a cheaper one that keeps annoying me. Also, I can't imagine stopping playing tennis. Of course I don't want to be paying jackpot for my first stringer either.
- What kind of stringing accessories are a must and what kind of accessories would make my life better but are not a must?
- What kind of maintenance is needed for stringing machines?
- What else do I need to think about?

On stringing:
- What would be a good way for me to learn stringing? I know someone very well who's had a professional sports shop and he strung racquets for quite a long time. I guess asking his help would be the best way to go?
- I'm very willing to learn. Investing time is no problem.

The big question:
- What kind of machine would fit my needs?

I'll worry about budget later, I'd like to see what's out there first.
Please let me know if you need more information to give a good suggestion.
 

esgee48

G.O.A.T.
Very well said. I went down this path eons ago, but let's keep my age out of this.

This applies whether you buy a used maintained machine or a new one. Get the most machine you can afford. Since you do not have a budget yet, consider machines with fixed clamps from makers that will support the machine. The number of mounting points is irrelevant. Both 2 and 6 point machine work. Consider how much space you can devote to storing the machine. Table tops take a lot less space than standups. Consider how much time you want to devote per string job. If you want faster, then get a lock out. If you have more time to devote to each string job, get an auto dropweight like a Stringway or an eCP. Plain old dropweights will also work, but they do take the longest times per string job. HAVING said this, never rush thru a string job. Your results will be inconsistent. The level of maintenance will depend on the machine. Lock outs are mechanical and is based on time tested parts. They take very little upkeep, but do need to be checked every few months. Most times, they will be spot on. DWs do not require any tension checking unless you suspect they are off. eCPs also need to be check for tension, but many auto check themselves as part of startups. Clamps always need to be adjusted before using a string. This is true for flying and fixed clamps. They also need to be cleaned periodically, like every 5-10 string jobs.

Reputable makers are Stringway, Prince, Gamma, Alpha, even Pros pro. [Stringway may be the only machine where their flying clamps are almost the equal of many fixed clamp machines. After market upgrades to flying clamps exists, but why pay the etra money when you do not need to do it.]

Factoid. The ref tension you end up with will vary by machine. Do not worry about it. It is just a number. For example, you may use 56# for a lock out, 53# for the auto DW and 52# for the eCP. This is using the same string, same stringer person, etc.
 
Last edited:

Dags

Hall of Fame
If you're looking for opinions here, the most useful thing you can do is find out what is available to you in the Netherlands, either locally or with reasonable shipping and taxes. Many of the posters on this board are from the US, and are likely to suggest brands and models that aren't obtainable (at least economically) in Europe.

If you haven't done so already, have a read through some of the posts on this board such as this one:


This will give you a feel for what is important to you. As an example, my own number one criteria in a new machine will be the clamps. A priority list of features will effectively lead you to the machine.

As a general rule of thumb, you'll get what you pay for. So whilst you've said you'll worry about budget later, you do need to begin to think about what you might be comfortable spending.

Regarding the stringing process itself, I think the best free resource out there remains an old poster called YULitle:


Paid courses also exist, and the ERSA have recently introduced an online one that may appeal. If your friend from the sports shop is willing to help, then he may be the best option.
 
Hi, fellow Dutchman here. There is an (online) retailer in Zoetermeer that, pre-Corona, gave free demo’s. They had classes of 5 people and you could use their machines to learn to string a racquet for practices. That + YouTube+ this place is more than fine to get started.

they sell good machines too.
Otherwise the wellknown Dutch online marketplace has a great selection of secondhand machines. I got my first machine off there for free and bought my current one through that site too.

I now use a Stringway Dropweight. Solid machine and perfect for my needs. I string for myself, my family and some friends. The ones I do for a small fee, cover the cost of the machine and my strings, so I’m very happy I can do it this way.

If I may give you some advice: get a machine with fixed clamps and also get a starting clamp. An electric machine is nice, but it depends on the number of racquets you’ll be doing if that makes sense economically.

And one thing somebody on here mentioned: get the best machine you can afford. Saving a bit by getting a lower quality machine will bother you at every use, and the extra 100 euro will be forgotten about in a months time.

Edit: current selection at the online marketplace is a bit disappointing...there is a stringway there, but it has floating clamps, so that’s a shame. Going for 25 euros (which is just insanely low, mine was 300 but has fixed clamps). It gets sold for 60 with about 100 euros worth of strings. It’s in Apeldoorn. For that money you can’t really go wrong, but it’s not the ideal machine.
 
Last edited:

Tregix

Rookie
On the stringing machine:
- I would like machine that is convienent and not too much of a hassle. I'd rather have a solid one at a bit higher price than a cheaper one that keeps annoying me. Also, I can't imagine stopping playing tennis. Of course I don't want to be paying jackpot for my first stringer either.

I'm not confortable with the concept of a "first stringer". It's not like a racquet that you will change as you get better. High end stringer are much easier and much more confortable to use than cheap stringer . I would even say that really cheap stringer is a real pain to use.

I personally own a Stringway ML100 which has a great tensioning system (and is Dutch !). If you string a couple of racquets a week it's a no brainer.

If I had to put more money on a stringer I would get this one:


CrazyDoc explains well the pluses and minuses of the two machines.

 
Last edited:

Steve Huff

G.O.A.T.
I would seriously consider a Tourna 300-CS or an Alpha Apex Speed. I have an Apex that is approx 15-20 years old and it still works great. I have a Wise tension head too, as I like the electronic tensioning. The Apex is a couple of hundred dollars more, but it's a little heavier machine too.
 

RF_PRO_STAFF

Professional
Thanks for all the advice and suggestions. I'll do some research on it and talk to some people I know.

Stringway indeed sounds like an attractive brand for multiple reasons.
 

TagUrIt

Hall of Fame
I started my stringing journey a few years ago with a 6 drop weight with floating clamps. I quickly learned that floating clamps are the absolute worst and that all roads eventually lead to the Wise Tension Head. I’d avoid a drop weight machine and go for quality crank 6 point (used is ok) with fixed clamps. Eventually you will end up with a Wise Tension Head and realize how amazing and accurate a constant pull stringing machine is.
 

Folsom_Stringer_Musa

Professional
Sorry to correct you-
I did not write that "someone" should not buy one, but "I" would not buy a crank machine.
This is (from my point of view) a long outdated technology that no constant pull can, such a thing is out of the question for me, because this technology can not bring the horsepower on the road.
This is exactly what happened to the steam engines - you can only look at them in museums.
I see your point!!
Stringing machine pulls tension either thorough electric motor or gravity (DW) or a spring (LO).
Cranks are old, so they don't have enough horse power to pull the reference tension.
 
If there’s one thing that I would recommend is to get a stringing machine with a stand. I used to own a drop weight pros pro machine which I would use on the kitchen table. There was nothing wrong with the machine, but height of the table was just a tiny bit too low and forced me to bend my back just a little. Which is unbelievably annoying. I would rather do squats for an hour than having my back bent just a little for a while. I hated stringing because of this. Now I own a Stringway ML120 which I picked up on Marktplaats (used products website) for 300 euros. The machine is old. 1992 or so old. But still works perfectly and is a joy to use. Foot operated, good height, decent clamps and mechanism and somewhat accurate. Maybe due to its age it lost some of the accuracy. But for me it doesn’t matter because I only string my own racquets. It could say 50kg for all I care as long as it’s in the 25kg range in reality.
 
If there’s one thing that I would recommend is to get a stringing machine with a stand. I used to own a drop weight pros pro machine which I would use on the kitchen table. There was nothing wrong with the machine, but height of the table was just a tiny bit too low and forced me to bend my back just a little. Which is unbelievably annoying. I would rather do squats for an hour than having my back bent just a little for a while. I hated stringing because of this. Now I own a Stringway ML120 which I picked up on Marktplaats (used products website) for 300 euros. The machine is old. 1992 or so old. But still works perfectly and is a joy to use. Foot operated, good height, decent clamps and mechanism and somewhat accurate. Maybe due to its age it lost some of the accuracy. But for me it doesn’t matter because I only string my own racquets. It could say 50kg for all I care as long as it’s in the 25kg range in reality.
I agree table is useless height, in my case the kitchen top is just perfect height.

stand seems a good solution, but for me a stand is no-go because I have to carry my machine into the kitchen.
 

Steve Huff

G.O.A.T.
I think the Alpha Apex Speed is very hard to get in Europe.
However, I would not buy a crank machine from today's perspective.
It would be an easy upgrade with a Wise (I have 2 Wise heads). Plus, if it ever breaks, it's a lot easier to send it off than sending an entire electronic machine. If that's not a concern, I'd get an Alpha Ghost. But, if mine breaks down, I send it to Wise, put my other one on the machine, and use it. Usually takes a little over a week for them to fix it and send it back. Approx $50 for shipping both ways.
 

graycrait

Legend
That TennisMan.de machine with the Wise head and Xpider clamps is intriguing to me, table top too. But I have my sturdy old Neos and a Wise.
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
That TennisMan.de machine with the Wise head and Xpider clamps is intriguing to me, table top too. But I have my sturdy old Neos and a Wise.
If you like the XPIDER bases and clamps, and possible table top machine take a look at the Tourna 700-ES machine.
 

WYK

Hall of Fame
I didn't mean it that way, but since there is no constant pull in a LO machine, the SBS always comes out of the machine softer than a CP.
The horsepower is lost in the LO function and has no high efficiency.

I prefer a lockout to an electronic myself. I like the feel and the lack of reliance on electronics and electricity.
A lockout is a tool just like a drop weight or an electronic or a tennis racquet. It is how you use it and who uses it that makes the biggest difference - not the machine itself.
As with an electronic or a drop weight, a lockout is adjustable. You can get the exact same results as any other stringing machine by simply cranking a small knob to adjust the tension.
Lockout's are very reliable, do not require power, are very easily calibrated, very mobile(I often string courtside during matches here), and very fast in use.
Constant pulls aren't the be all-end all. They stop pulling once the string is clamped. It all depends on the user what the difference between a cp and a lockout is.
In the end, you are mostly stringing for yourself and maybe a select few others. You will learn what tensions you prefer regardless of what machine you use.
For a first stringing machine, they are an excellent choice. Many can easily upgrade to a WISE tension head later on if you want to go that way.
 
Last edited:

WYK

Hall of Fame
Yes, it's just like real life.
You can talk yourself into anything. Before a poly is properly tensioned, the LO already snaps off.
To achieve the result of a CP, you have to add a few kilos to the setting - but that's another story.

Properly?
The tension is the tension, regardless of what pulls the string. Even from different CP's and different people stringing, there can be a notable difference in tension.
 

Brad N.

New User
If I could do it over I would get a Prince Neos. That said I've had my drop weight for a very long time and it gets the job done. As far as learning, just have someone show you how to start and tie the mains and crosses. It'll take about 3 tries before you get it done without mistakes.
 
Top