Starting Clamps: Gamma vs. Alpha

Pumpkin

Semi-Pro
If you’re going to use pliers my guess is you will wrap the string around them and pull. In that case you can’t easily squeeze at the same time. With a starting you just clamp the string and pull the same way without having to wrap the string.

EDIT: I’ve used clamps for stringing for years stringing a lot of rackets. If any clamp is going to wear out it will be a machine clamp before a starting clamp.
No not wrapping.
 

jim e

Legend
It will never happen. What about if you are pulling a staple out of a handle with pliers?
It does happen.
I use a thin small screwdriver blade to pry out staple from the butt cover of handle since you ask.
But cinching up knot, with starting clamp, you do not hold the handle at all. It's technique that you use.
Do as you wish. It's your choice.
 

Pumpkin

Semi-Pro
It does happen.
I use a thin small screwdriver blade to pry out staple from the butt cover of handle since you ask.
But cinching up knot, with starting clamp, you do not hold the handle at all. It's technique that you use.
Do as you wish. It's your choice.
If I hit myself in the face with pliers I will give you $1000
 

Pumpkin

Semi-Pro
Are you for real?
I'm posting this, so if by chance other beginners should know not to use pliers if cinching knots, or if they do to use caution on direction pulling, as posts like yours are not appropriate.
I was trained by one of the best stringers in the world and we used pliers.
 

USMC-615

Semi-Pro
If you do use pliers, best to get in habit of pulling towards your shoulder, as pliers in face really does happen if string snaps , or pliers slip.
A number of years back, someone posted on these boards a picture of his face after needle nose pliers jabbed into his face and he was using pliers to tighten knot. Use the search function on this site, as it may still be there.
I just use fingers to cinch knots, but starting clamp is much safer than pliers and works very well. You do not squeeze the handles when you pull as you need to know how to use them properly.
I just did not want another beginner see your post and think pliers are okay.
Then again, what do I know, I have only been stringing since 1968.
Damn Jim, you been at it for a year or 50 plus...I was born in '67. Lol
 

graycrait

Hall of Fame
I do use a small pair of short needle nose pliers occasionally to pull string in a stubborn spot but not often. When I want to pull tension on a tie off I use the infamous Babolat Cam Action Pliers because it has diamond dust jaws and is easy for me to manipulate. About the only time I use a starting clamp is when I am starting mains or crosses. I used to use a small needle nose pliers or even a starting clamp to pull tension on a knot but the cam action pliers is easier for me. And "Only" the Babolat cam action pliers, not those other abominations of cam pliers sold at a couple of other tennis stringing suppliers. I have one of those other cam pliers and it is as useless as a left handed wind changer.
 
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esm

Hall of Fame
I was trained by one of the best stringers in the world and we used pliers.
(genuine question) - did you pay for this training course, and if so, what happens if you use something (learnt from the course) and then hurt yourself... what course of action can you take for (any) compensations.
it sounds like you guys are best buddies.. :love:
 

Pumpkin

Semi-Pro
I'm just gonna drop this right here...

If you've been 'trained' by one of the best stringers in the world, surely this person has all the insight you need on every topic that you've created half a dozen threads about...amiright?
There's no need to be nasty .
 

LOBALOT

Hall of Fame
I didn't have a starting clamp for the first couple of weeks of stringing as the pro who gave me his crank machine didn't have one so I used pliers.

Using pliers to finish knots was plain awful! The string would slip and get scuffed up, etc.

Starting clamp is the way to go for sure.
 

jim e

Legend
Damn Jim, you been at it for a year or 50 plus...I was born in '67. Lol
I was 13 years old back in 1968. That's when my father bought me my first machine, a Serrano automatic drop weight glide bar machine. The old timer that I got it from taught me the craft. I still have that old beast. Eventually I will need to get rid of it, although it still functions properly, but I never upgraded it to handle the larger racquets of today, as that was back in wooden racquet and T 2000 days using that machine.
 

USMC-615

Semi-Pro
I was 13 years old back in 1968. That's when my father bought me my first machine, a Serrano automatic drop weight glide bar machine. The old timer that I got it from taught me the craft. I still have that old beast. Eventually I will need to get rid of it, although it still functions properly, but I never upgraded it to handle the larger racquets of today, as that was back in wooden racquet and T 2000 days using that machine.
Cool...interesting that you still have it and it's still functional. What sort of a footprint does the machine have?

Edit - I see there's an old thread dated from Feb '11 in here on this machine. Tugging a C-17 out of a hangar dock directly that's headed for Functional Test and engine runs so may be after work but I'll definitely read it. I saw several familiar names in it just glancing through the thread.
 
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Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
I use my Gamma clamp to tie knots, I use my Babolat for bridging, and I use my Yonex for starting mains and sometimes crosses. When I first started, I tied knots with my hands only but I starting getting cracks in my fingers from pulling. Then when I got a Babolat starting clamp in the early to mid 80s I starting using using the SC to tie knots, and I’ve been using a SC to tighten knots ever since.
 

MAX PLY

Hall of Fame
I use my hands or a starting clamp (depending on the type of string--pretty much hands only for gut, multi and softer strings--SC for polys). I think this is true of most seasoned stringers. I do recall the posted picture of the injury some years ago referenced by jim e. Consequently, I now know how a pumpkin can become a jack o'lantern.

Also re: earlier posts--one of my starting clamps is a Gamma--had it for at least 10 years--I have never had the plates come off (although I use it primarily as my back up clamp on my first pull).
 

USMC-615

Semi-Pro
@jim e

Interesting little thread from 2011 on the Serrano machine...had never seen one, much less heard of one. Looks like a fairly stout machine from your pic you posted and no doubt, if looking for a leg workout or Incredible Hulk calves, this would've been the way to go.
 

struggle

Legend
It will never happen. What about if you are pulling a staple out of a handle with pliers?
You can't pull a staple with a starting clamp, but you can pull a knot with one.

You're the expert here ("I'm a beginner"), so quit asking questions.

Holler when you actually want to hear the answers to the "questions" you pose.

We don't need another Irvin around these parts, Best of luck, and please wear some safety glasses.......sounds like they might come in handy.
 

LOBALOT

Hall of Fame
I use my Gamma clamp to tie knots, I use my Babolat for bridging, and I use my Yonex for starting mains and sometimes crosses. When I first started, I tied knots with my hands only but I starting getting cracks in my fingers from pulling. Then when I got a Babolat starting clamp in the early to mid 80s I starting using using the SC to tie knots, and I’ve been using a SC to tighten knots ever since.
I have tried with my hands as well and I have the same issue with cracks especially in the winter when it is dry up here in these parts and we kick on the heat.

I am starting to learn that it is not really necessary to crank the heck out of the string either as it really doesn't make that huge a difference and can damage the grommet.
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
I now use my hands to snug up natural gut knots as it will break at the knot if pulled to hard. For any soft string, I pull it snug by hand. I figure if it hurts my hand I'm pulling too hard. :) For poly though, since it's so rough on the hands and resistant to knotting anyway I use a starting clamp to snug it up. I have recently broken a habit of using too much force to tighten a knot, so I'm probably a little too careful when knotting now.
 

Pumpkin

Semi-Pro
I was wrong. I contacted my mentor and he said it's a good idea to use a SC. He said the pliers we were using were extremely high quality ones and that he's seen accidents occur with inferior ones. So I apologise to @jim e and whoever else I locked horns with over the issue.
 

struggle

Legend
I was wrong. I contacted my mentor and he said it's a good idea to use a SC. He said the pliers we were using were extremely high quality ones and that he's seen accidents occur with inferior ones. So I apologise to @jim e and whoever else I locked horns with over the issue.
Good thing you checked in with your mentor. You're dealing with some tour level/Majors/Slams stringers on this here message board.
 

jim e

Legend
I was wrong. I contacted my mentor and he said it's a good idea to use a SC. He said the pliers we were using were extremely high quality ones and that he's seen accidents occur with inferior ones. So I apologise to @jim e and whoever else I locked horns with over the issue.
Does this mean you will not use pliers to cinch up knots? I was hoping to collect when you get hit in face.
 

graycrait

Hall of Fame

My personal thoughts on racket stringing.

When I read through these threads I can't help but think of the linked video. As a young man I worked in two factories on the assembly line. I was also a farm laborer where endless monotony could grind you down. Later I went to college with some extraneous funding, someone even paid for my masters degree. I traveled to many countries. I am pretty convinced that stringing a tennis racket, however any enthusiast wants to validate their efforts, is a "factory job brought home." Not unlike the video. Oh sure, there are a half dozen knots, understanding string basics vs racket and player skill set, but stringing a racket hardly constitutes an art, even more so when you have to crank out a racket at a high level tourney in 10-15 minutes. Every factory worker does something similar when they want to earn a percentage over the established rate per...

I tell every person who asks me to string a racket to get their own stringing machine because I have never met a "dumb" tennis player whatever level. They tell me they don't have the time. I have never heard, "I am incapable of learning how to do it."

So maybe let off on the acrimony, harsh words and back biting. If there had been a local community college "tennis stringing program" I would have taken it just to shorten the learning curve. However, it seems most of us have to learn this task by doing it in our own fashion on our own budgets and need to lean on those with more experience "long distance."
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
I have tried with my hands as well and I have the same issue with cracks especially in the winter when it is dry up here in these parts and we kick on the heat.

I am starting to learn that it is not really necessary to crank the heck out of the string either as it really doesn't make that huge a difference and can damage the grommet.
O'Keeffe's Working Hands is great for dry cracked hands.
 

Pumpkin

Semi-Pro
I've ordered some high quality pliers. I just think the starting clamp will feel sad having to cinch up knots.
 

struggle

Legend
SC is the best tool for cinching up knots, other than bare hands, IMO.

Only time I use pliers is to push/pull a string through a blocked hole, etc.
 
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jim e

Legend
I've ordered some high quality pliers. I just think the starting clamp will feel sad having to cinch up knots.
That's great! Just let me know when you hit yourself in the face. String can snap no matter how high quality pliers used. Especially nat gut or thin delicate multi. When string snaps or pliers slip, watch out. Post a picture when that happens!! And don't forget the $1000.00
 
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happyandbob

Hall of Fame
That's great! Just let me know when you hit yourself in the face. String can snap no matter how high quality pliers used. Especially nat gut or thin delicate multi. When string snaps or pliers slip, watch out. Post a picture when that happens!! And don't forget the $1000.00
If he did in fact order super expensive pliers for this, I’ll give him some credit for being committed to his position. At least he’s loyal! :-D
 

struggle

Legend
I've ordered some high quality pliers. I just think the starting clamp will feel sad having to cinch up knots.
Please post a link to these pliers so Irvin can buy some!! He is the official TT gear tester and we must allow him to
assess the validity of any such piece of equipment. If he says it's good, then we must accept it as gospel.

Gobble Gobble!!
 
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