Any professional racquet technician is always looking for the ultimate stringing equipment. However, like most of us the ultimate comes with a price we may not want to pay. So how do we decide on a machine by considering characteristics other than price?
That is what our machine reviews are designed to do. At the end of each review a graphic is included that details the distortion and resultant tension. Please be sure to look at these graphics. They are clear and informative.
First, lets be clear, the two main functions of a stringing machine is to hold the racquet and stretch the string and hold it at a desired tension. There is hardly a stringing machine available today that will not pull the string to the desired tension, even the least expensive drop weight models.
A drop weight machine uses a marvelous natural “resource” called gravity! If the weight is situated at the right spot on the drop weight bar then the tension is going to be accurate and “constant”, as in constant pull. Other than being really slow a drop weight tensioning system is typically attached to a really flimsy racquet support system.
So, that leaves us with two other tensioning options, a spring activated “lockout” and a electric motor “constant pull” or “lockout” mode. Here is where the price can start to increase but the tensioning accuracies are nearly the same. OK, that leaves us with the major function of a stringing machine which is racquet support.
When we evaluate a stringing machine the same racquet, string, and tension is used. The racquet is measured before going onto the machine and again after it is mounted on the machine to assure the racquet has not been distorted during setup. The machine supports are set up in accordance with the manufacturers recommendation.
When all the main strings are installed the racquet is measured again and the amount the racquet has increased in width and the amount the main supports, those at 6 and 12, have become closer together is recorded.
Here is the important stuff! The minimum change, ideally, would be zero, and the maximum increase in width should be no greater than .400, or slightly less than 1/2 inch. A pretty good support system will be in the .200 to .250 region. A marginal support system will be in the .300 to .375 region. A really good machine will be in the .062 to .100 region and a really horrible support system will be anything over .375. Some manufacturers say that .375 is not too much distortion which may be true for a new racquet but not so true for a racquet that has been abused.
Our machine reviews go way beyond this information but if you focus on the support system you may find a machine with a good result at a pretty good price and of course the opposite can be true.