Stringing your own tennis racket is a great skill to have. It can save you time, money and help you create your own small business.
But, once you have learned how to string a tennis racket, you will then need to get yourself an appropriate stringing machine.
However, not all stringing machines were created equal, so it is important to understand what makes a good stringing machine.
Additionally, the number of rackets you string, budget, portability and usability all play into your buying decision.
So, we have put together a guide to help you choose the best stringing machine for you!
What Makes a Good Stringing Machine?
There are a number of factors that play into choosing the perfect stringing machine.
As with most things, the best stringing machine will depend on your specific wants and needs.
However, there are some objective things that if a stringing machine can perform to a high degree of quality, you will get a consistent string job on your rackets.
Type of Machine
Now, the type of stringing machine you choose will of course be a big part of your decision making process.
This will depend on your budget, volume of rackets you intend on stringing, whether you need a portable machine and the degree of accuracy you need the tension to be.
Generally speaking, a drop weight stringing machine will be the least expensive and require the lowest amount of maintenance.
This is due to its traditional tensioning mechanism, that works by setting a weighted lever to a desired tension, then physically dropping the weight to pull the string tight.
These machines are best suited for stringers that are only stringing a few rackets per week, as drop weight machines tension rackets less accurately and are more time consuming to use, due to their manual nature.
So, if you are on a tight budget, not going to be stringing too many rackets and are not too particular about the accuracy or consistency of your tensions, then a drop weight machine would work well for you.
The next type of stringing machine you need to know about is the crank machine.
This is a step on from the drop weight machine, as it provides a more accurate tensioning mechanism and works more time efficiently.
Crank machines actually pre-load the desired tension and lock the mechanism in place so it can hold the string in place.
It is therefore important to make sure the string is at the correct tension prior to tensioning it, as the machine will lock the string in place and you won’t be able to adjust it.
These are certainly a step on from drop weight machines and are a lot quicker to use, however they will cost a bit more money as a result.
Crank machines are a great middle ground for users looking for a more accurate stringing machine that won’t take too long to get a racket done, but also won’t completely break the bank!
Finally, we have electronic stringing machines. These are usually used for professional, club level or experienced stringers that are consistently stringing a lot of rackets.
These are the most expensive type of stringing machine, but can be well worth the investment over the long term.
Electronic machines are by far the most accurate when it comes to tensioning strings and also work the quickest, meaning you will be noticeably more productive when stringing high volumes of rackets.
Of course these benefits come with costs, electronic stringing machines tend to require more maintenance due to the more complex stringing mechanism.
The main reason that electronic stringing machines are so accurate with their tenison is that they are constantly pulling the string tight whilst activated, meaning there is hardly any margin for tension loss.
So, if you are looking for the most accurate results, perhaps are stringing for a club or professionally and don’t mind investing a bit of money into your stringing machine, then an electronic machine is the way to go.
Ease of Use
How easy a stringing machine is to use plays a major role in determining how often you will actually want to use it.
The speed of its operation is a big part of a stringing machine’s convenience and usability, as getting rackets strung quickly and efficiently is important.
No one wants to be sat around all day stringing rackets for longer than they have to, so factor in how much time you have to spend on stringing before you decide which machine type to go for.
The maintenance required on a stringing machine is also a major consideration.
As we have mentioned, an electronic machine will need more maintenance than a drop weight or crank machine, but this may not be a major issue if you are stringing professionally and string enough rackets to justify this.
This may involve cleaning string grippers, pulleys, the turntable or even replacing electrical parts.
Another point specifically for electronic machines is to consider the number of complex functions on your machine.
Some very high end stringing machines will allow you to record racket data, player profiles, preset string tensions and even have built in customer service functionality!
However, whilst this may be useful for a professional tournament stringer that can offset the hefty price tag against their stringing business, all these features may be useless to a club stringer that does a dozen rackets per week.
So, understanding which bits of functionality you will actually need and use is important, so you don’t end up paying more for unnecessary features.
You may also want a more portable stringing machine that you can travel with from tournament to tournament.
If this is the case, you would probably be better off going for a small crank or drop weight machine, as these tend to be a lot more durable and portable for travelling.
Some companies actually make foldable machines that can clamp onto a table, which makes for a great companion if you are on the road and in need of a restring!
As mentioned above, some higher end stringing machines offer a range of additional features that may come in handy when you string a high volume of tennis rackets.
These are designed to save you time and add convenience to your stringing, providing shortcuts and helping to automate your processes.
Also, it is worth noting how many support points the stringing machine clamps have, as this can range from 2 to 6.
A machine with more points of connection will tend to hold the racket in place more securely, which will stop the racket from warping or moving around when it is being strung.
Moreover, the level of string gripper adjustment is an important factor to consider, as you’ll need to adjust the amount of force the clamps grip the strings with.
This is particularly useful if you are often stringing with different string gauges, as it avoids damage to the string surface.
Even some of the more rudimentary electronic stringing machines offer pre-stretching, which helps polyester strings hold their tension more consistently and is often requested by advanced players.
Some high end machines allow you to store player profiles, including tension, pre stretch, player name and contact details, making it much easier for professional stringers to stay connected to their customers.
Value for Money
Value for money is always an important consideration when purchasing an expensive piece of tennis equipment. And this is no more true than with a stringing machine!
It is a very technical piece of equipment so it is important to understand your individual wants and needs and purchase a stringing machine accordingly.
The main thing to think about here is how much you will be using your machine, and who you will be stringing for.
If you are only going to be stringing rackets for yourself, and will only be stringing occasionally, then an inexpensive drop weight machine may well suffice.
However, if you are stringing for a wider audience such as friends or family, but are still restricted to a tight budget, then a good quality crank machine would do the trick.
However, if you are stringing for a large number of people, at a club or professionally, then it really is recommended that you invest in a high quality electronic machine.
Now, the price range of eclectic machines range massively, so be mindful of what additional features you will actually need.
But it is important to ensure accurate and consistent tension, whilst minimising the risk of any racket damage by purchasing a high quality electronic stringing machine, it is well worth the investment!
The Best Stringing Machines
Now, in terms of the best stringing machines on the market, of course we need to consider the highest quality electronic machines.
That isn’t to say that crank and drop weight machines don’t have their place, but it goes without saying that the highest quality stringing machines out there will be electronic movement.
Babolat Racket Station Ultimate Link
If you are looking for a one stop shop for all of your professional stringing needs, there isn’t much else out there that can compete with the Babolat racket station ultimate link!
It features a vibrant 7” touch screen, electronic stand, automatic clamping system and pressure sensitive string grippers.
This means the strings will be taken care of and you will avoid unwanted damage, whilst the diamond coating on the clamps help further protect the strings.
This stringing machine also features an ergonomic table and 6 point mounting system, with soft rubber grips to hold rackets in place securely.
This really is one of the highest end stringing machines on the market, so if you are looking for the best, look no further!
This impressive offering from Head features highly adjustable clamp arms, meaning you can string tennis, badminton and squash rackets on this machine.
This makes it the perfect machine for a busy multisports club! The diamond coated string clamps mean you won’t cause any undue stress on even the finest of strings.
It also offers up to 20% pre-stretch, an automatic brake, table top functionality and a tool draw, making this one of the most versatile and multi-functional stringing machines out there!
Gamma Progression ELS
One of the best selling and most durable stringing machines on the market, the Gamma progression ELS is a real work horse.
It is a constant pull stringing machine with a wheel tensioning mechanism.
Whilst this is not quite as accurate as straight pull systems found on more expensive machines, the ELS is a cost effective, reliable machine that is a great all rounder for anyone looking to get serious with their stringing.
Babolat Star 5
The Babolat 5 star is truly one of the more advanced stringing machines you can get your hands on.
It offers an innovative built in pre-stretch tensioning system, which helps most string types maintain their tenison more consistently.
The easy to use finger sensor helps speed up your stringing process, along with a tensioning system that can actually be removed independently.
This means that maintaining the Babolat 5 Star is easy and convenient. This is a high end stringing machine that certainly lives up to its name!
A relatively new entrant to the market, the Wilson Baiardo is a highly ergonomic stringing machine that is built for speed.
With a hydraulic actuated lifting system, 3 different motors that cater for stringing at all angles and a self guiding tenison head, this machine really does pull out all the stops.
The machine’s height can be adjusted automatically depending on the user’s height and its multiple pull speeds and user data storage system make for a truly customizable experience.
The Wilson Baiardo is a real show stopper, particularly with its sleek all black design!
When you are looking for the best stringing machines on the market, you really want to be sure that you are getting the best quality possible to command the hefty prices.
Whilst it is important to consider the machine type, tensioning system, ease of use, additional features and value for money, you ultimately need to ensure that you are getting the best machine for your specific needs.
So, consider how much you will be using your stringing machine, who your audience is and how much you have to spend before going ahead with your purchase.
Hopefully this guide can help you on your way to finding the perfect stringing machine for you!