Old vs New - buying a used machine

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by ba4x, May 9, 2018.

  1. ba4x

    ba4x New User

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    Hi folks,

    After some frustrations with my current stringing machine, I've been browsing the local craigslist to see if I can find something better. My hope is to find something with high quality clamps and an electric tension head for around $1k. Here are two options I see:

    1) Prince 5000. Found a listing for $1500, can probably get it for $1200. I understand the Versa clamps are stellar. The PC board is the major liability here, although it was supposedly replaced only months ago. The seller describes $900 worth of maintenance recently completed by Tennis Machines, including a load cell, PC board, and calibration. Link to listing. If the link doesn't work, it's the only one currently listed on "the big auction site".

    2) Gamma X-ST, and upgrade to Wise tension head. I could possibly get the machine for around $400-$450 (local listing is asking $500), and the Wise would add $650-700 to the cost. This results in a newer machine, electronics that are warrantied (for 2 years) and have parts available if needed. The clamps are better than what I've got currently, but not the same cam-lock style as the Prince.

    Considering the prices are similar, which would you go for? Old school quality on its last legs, or newer and mediocre (nothing against Gamma machines)? I'm tempted to go for the Prince, if only to experience the higher quality clamps. Perhaps that's not the wisest choice :)

    I've searched TT and read the threads about the Prince 5000 being at end-of-life. With a new PC board (and the old one, described as possibly functional, included) this kicks the can down the road for the short term. My mind is trying to rationalize the liability in the electronics with plans to salvage the table and fabricate a mount for a Wise, if it comes to that. Not sure if that's possible, it would be a fun project.
     
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  2. esgee48

    esgee48 Legend

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    Ask @Gamma Tech if the clamping system on the ST can be upgraded to the ones like the Gamma 6004. If I were in your boat, I would stay away from the Prince 5000 just because you may not be able to obtain parts. 3ยข

    If the tensioner on the 5000 expires, you should be able to remove the entire box. To mount a WISE is relatively easy. Drill a few holes for a L shaped piece of metal that will accept the WISE. Gamma may even sell this piece.
     
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  3. Steve Huff

    Steve Huff Legend

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    And, that could be why he's selling it--can't get it fixed.
     
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  4. SavvyStringer

    SavvyStringer Rookie

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    I would get the prince. I have used one extensively as well as having an alpha ghost as one of my personal machines. I do agree with the above poster that maybe the machine can't be properly fixed and that is why the person is getting rid of it but if it is a working machine, it is a great machine. I would be curious to know how many rackets have been across it that it needed a new board and load cell. I know I probably put 1500 rackets across the prince 5000 I was using and probably close to 4000 across my alpha and have had no problems with either.
     
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  5. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    A buddy of mine bought a Prince 5000 with knowledge that it is out of service. It's been running fine for 3 years now. It's a risk, but if the price is right.....
     
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  6. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    I bought a used stringer and have strung almost 2,000 rackets on it and it is still going strong. Let's assume I spent $4.000 for it. That comes to a cost of $2 per racket. If you're willing to spend $1,000 for a machine I assume you want to string for profit? Do you want to replace your machine every couple of years? Or would you rather have a machine that will take you through 10,000 rackets at a cost of less than $1 a racket? Think about that before you buy a machine.
     
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  7. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    If you have issues with the Prince, call up Tennis Machines in Missouri. They are incredible.
     
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  8. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    i agree, but if Tennis Machines has issues getting parts from Prince who do they call?
     
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  9. Chotobaka

    Chotobaka Hall of Fame

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    Remember when SA closed their doors and many lightly used Prince 5000's were sold at attractive prices? The boards were already at end-of-life at that time with no more available from the manufacturer in Taiwan. TM only had three in stock with no option/ability to purchase more. I would not touch this machine with a ten-foot pole unless it came with a proven-good extra board.
     
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  10. SavvyStringer

    SavvyStringer Rookie

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    Is it not the same board in the alpha ghost? Do all those stupid LEDs really change it that much?
     
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  11. RobS

    RobS Rookie

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    The Prince machine is nice but I wouldn't consider an electronic machine when parts availability is in question. It's great that the machine was recently serviced but that fact that it cost $900 lets you know what you're in for if something goes wrong and that's if the parts are even available. The Gamma X-ST on the other hand will last a very, very long time with minimal maintenance. You could also turn around and sell it for close to your purchase price if you wanted to make a change in a few years. Manual machines tend to hold value and sell relatively easy. If you add the Wise, you now have a machine with new electronics, product support and a 2 year warranty. You can also keep the Wise and put it on another machine or sell it on it's own if you move on to another machine.

    As far as the clamps go, the all metal Gamma clamps on the newer X-ST are very good quality.
     
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  12. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    Prince sounds scary if you cant get it fixed.

    The 2 things I don't like on the Gamma are the clamp bases (the clamps themselves on my 5800 work really well) and the dual adjustment knobs on each end (I'd much rather have a single dial for both arms)

    That said both the knobs and clamp bases work fine, just not as convenient as the ones on the Gamma 6004.

    Why not get a gamma 6004 and maybe in a year or so then get the Wise? or if that's too expensive maybe the Alpha Apex Speed.

    Or wait longer for a better used option.
     
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  13. Chotobaka

    Chotobaka Hall of Fame

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    I do not know if it is the exact same board, a different board or a modified board. Same OEM does not guarantee identical components down to the nth degree. And, even if it is the same board as the original Ghost, who is to say what the availability of spares will be from Alpha in the future.

    I have enough orphan products in my life (cars, audio equipment, racquets, etc.) and had no desire to add another when considering the Prince 5000. Adding the cost of an extra board (which was strongly recommended by TM due to unobtainium nature of the part going forward) made it not such an attractive deal, despite the relatively low purchase price -- and this was a machine with something like 150 string jobs.

    If the previous owner of the machine referenced by the OP put over $900.00 into repairs, it's a pretty safe guess that it has been rode-hard and put up wet.
     
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  14. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo Talk Tennis Guru

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    Is the Gamma ST-X comparable to a Neos 1000, especially the clamps?
     
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  15. RobS

    RobS Rookie

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    I have owned and like both machines. The Gamma is a very nice machine for a home stringer. It's easy to use and good quality. The NEOS is the gold standard for a crank machine. The design is somewhat minimalist and it is built like a tank....extremely durable. Great for a home stringer but also suitable high volume stringing. If they were the same price, the NEOS is a no brainer but the NEOS is $600 more when buying new. Price and durability aside, the significant differences are in the mounting and the clamp system. The Gamma has 6 point mounting which keep the racquet very secure and helps prevent frame deformation. The NEOS has a 2 point system. While it doesn't offer the security of a 6 point mount it offers the advantage of not having to work around the arms while stringing. I personally like that. The Gamma has a pair of swivel clamps that are good quality and work well. The NEOS has the glide bar system which takes a little getting used to but is quick and pretty fool proof with the single action clamp. The Gamma clamps offer more versatility while the NEOS clamps have the advantage in speed and simplicity. Overall, I can string a little faster on the NEOS.

    If you're not stringing a lot of racquets, you could be perfectly content with the Gamma when you factor the price difference. If $800 was my budget, I'd search for a used NEOS over a new Gamma but with that being said, either machine canbe used to produce quality string jobs.
     
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  16. ba4x

    ba4x New User

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    Wow, I'm blown away by the depth of experience and knowledge held by the stringers on this board. Thanks very much for the feedback, I genuinely appreciate it.

    Through further correspondence with the Prince 5000 seller, it seems like the machine came from a Sports Chalet closing down. Sounds similar to the Sports Authority story. I've asked for the pull count and serial number. I suspect it's been through quite a few rackets. I plan to contact Tennis Machines with the serial number to inquire about its history. The machine comes with a spare PC board, but the ad mentions it may or may not be functional. It would be good to get the backstory on that.

    Earlier in the week, I offered the Prince seller $1000, and if he goes for it, I'll be tempted to drive up and check it out in person. He came down to $1200, it sounds like he's trying to recoup his $900 repair cost (+ purchase price). The listing has been up for 2 months now. If I was selling, I'd be tired of listing the thing by now...

    For now I'll bide my time, maybe check out the Gamma X-ST as it's just down the street. I will admit, the allure of the Prince's clamps and "professional grade" build quality is hard to deny, even though I'm just hobbyist. I don't expect to put thousands of rackets through the machine. I'm just an engineer with a modest amount of disposable income to spend on hobbies. It's the same deal with buying a fancy guitar or a shiny car - there is joy in owning and experiencing the great heights of engineering mankind has produced. And if it's 10 years old at a fraction of the cost, even better.

    Anyways, cheers and thanks again. I'll reply with any major updates.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
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  17. mmk

    mmk Hall of Fame

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    Is it possible to remove the tension head from a Prince 5000? If so, could it be replaced with a Wise?
     
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  18. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    The tension head can be removed. A wise will not replace it though.
     
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  19. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    About 20 years ago I bought a Klippermate. I had good reasons for this: lousy and expensive string jobs from amateur stringers, long drive to drop them off, long wait. High use of tennis racquets with concomitant wear of strings. I'm extraordinarily handy compared to the average guy and I had no compunction about being able to string, etc. The Klippermate's worked very well all this time for me, no hitch, no problemo.

    But in your shoes, starting out. Now in 2018, and given your budget, I'd go up a notch.The Stringway looks interesting to me. Alpha had a good tabletop model with fixed clamps as well. I'd avoid the inexpensive Gamma---the plastic clamps are awkward and time-wasters, the ratchet so many talk about really doesn't save any time vs. Klippermate, and in general, fixed clamps are a very nice feature. The two-point mount never has seemed a negative to me. So today, I'd be looking at spending $5-600. Avoid Eagnas, since it has a bad reputation.
     
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  20. 1HBHfanatic

    1HBHfanatic Professional

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    The p5000 is a good machine, I upgraded toone, but I think I got lucky, I got one that only strung 300rkts..

    I would inspect this one very well, I would event string a raket onit before committing to it..
    the price 1200 is attractive, but the 900 spent to repair and now being sold, raises flags to me.. what did they repair?
    "Get the carfax report" :D
     
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