Buying a stringing machine is one of your most important buying decisions when you are a stringer. Not only because it will probably the largest amount of cash you’ll hand over, but also because it will be your main working tool for years to come. What adds to the difficulty of choosing one is that there are multiple price points to look at and compare. In this guide I’ll take you through your best options, based on my own experience stringing rackets for more then ten years now and stringing more than 5.000 rackets, on different machines.
Things to consider when buying a stringing machine
One of the first things you should consider, is how you plan to use your stringing machine. Are you a recreational player, who’s just getting started with playing tennis, squash or badminton and likes the idea of string his or her own rackets? Completely reasonable and understandable, but that put’s your plan in a complete different perspective as opposed to an aspiring professional stringer, who wants to string for different clubs or even retailers. The main difference will be noticeable once you are starting to work with a large number of rackets and that is exactly where it might be a smart investment to pay a bit more for your machine. Furthermore, as stringing machines come in different form factors, you might want to consider your own fitness. This might sound a little bit far fetched, but trust me, it isn’t. Especially if you plan on stringing a large number of rackets, stringing can be quite the exercise and a little bit of automation does not hurt in such a case.
Below you’ll find a short list with some more points you’ll want to consider before your purchase.
- What’s the amount of space that you are willing to sacrifice? Some machines are considerably larger to put away than others?
- Do you want your stringing machine to include a foot stand? If so, how tall should it ideally be?
- What is your current fitness level? Would it be a problem to handle a drop weight lever or rotating crank to pull on some strings? If yes, then go for a electronic tensioning head.
- Are you planning to string just your own rackets and maybe for a couple of friends or are you planning to offer your services to other club members too? If so, the number of rackets you’ll be stringing can suddenly increase quite fast and you’ll probably want to invest in a machine that makes it comfortable to string with for a longer period of time.
- Not all stringing machines are designed for every type of racket sport. Most stringing machines support tennis racket stringing, but not all machines support badminton and squash rackets. So be sure to double check this with the machine specifications upfront.
- Last, but not least, where do you want to string? Are you on the road a lot? Are you a travelling (semi) professional, looking to string before training sessions and matches? Then you’ll need a machine that can travel with you and can do the job.
Top stringing machine brands to consider
Just to give you a reference point for machines to compare you’ll find the top brands down below.
- Wilson – one of the oldest brands in tennis equipment and one with a great reputation when it comes to quality and design. Is especially known for it’s top of the line Baiardo stringing machine.
- Babolat – the ‘original’ stringing brand, you could say. Babolat, the brand made famous by Rafael Nadal’s topspin forehand, did only focus on producing strings and stringing machines up until the beginning of the 90’s and the brand is responsible of many of today’s market ‘best practices’ when it comes to stringing machine design and functionality.
- Tecnifibre – this French brand that is relatively less known, as opposed to the former two brands, is a big player in the stringing world and rightfully so, as it produces top of the line products and machines. Furthermore, one could argue that on the professional tour of stringing, it’s Ergo line of machines is the best out there.
- Prince – a true classic brand within the racket sports industry. However, when it comes to stringing machines, Prince buys the machines from other (Taiwanese) manufacturers under a white label construction and then resells them. They’re solid machines though.
- Gamma – not a typical racket sports brand, but a company that has been steadingly and increasingly building their product range through the development of strings and accessories and later, stringing machines. They specialise in the advanced hobbyist product range, with their price points being in the lower to medium end of the spectrum.
Performance of stringing machines
With so many stringing machines to be bought at so many different entry levels, it can be tempting to buy a machine that just falls within your desired budget. However, as this might be a very wise choice from the perspective of your personal finance, from a business and especially performance point of view it can be very wise to take a moment to truly foresee your plans with your machine. Of course, people tend to play it safe and want to start out with just stringing a couple of rackets and then see from there. Stringing machines, however, are expensive machines regardless of the price point you want to step in. So the real challenge in my experience is to evaluate your true goal of stringing.
Let me give you an example: if you just break your strings a couple of times a year it can be smart just to start with a lever or crank table top because the investment upfront would take to long to earn itself back. However, if you are a more advance player and you would like to restring at least once a week during high season because of your upcoming matches, also consider the following. Do you really string one racket a week? No, speaking for myself I always have a freshly strung backup racket in my bag so that makes at least two restrings a week. Sometimes, during pre season, I train a lot and I’ll definitely break a few extra on occasions. Also, I offered to help out my team mates with their restrings and we have a team of six, all with a minimum of two rackets that potentially could break. So, there you go. Just map out for yourself what could be a realistic number of rackets that you could be stringing in the foreseeable future.
If you think you might want to start stringing and earn some extra money on the side, take this into account as well. If you want to know more about what you can expect to earn, read my other post Can you make money stringing rackets?
Durability of stringing machines
Once you have done this, ask yourself if you are willing to spend a bit more on a machine that you’ll know won’t require a lot of attention or maintenance for the coming years. On the other hand, if you’re a technical person and you like to get to know more about the machine and don’t mind getting your hands ‘dirty’, you might be ok with selecting a more ‘low budget’ machine that will require upgrading some parts.
Durability however, will go a long way.
Best stringing machine
In this section I’ll try to help you narrow down your search while selecting your (next) stringing machine. Of course, depending on your evaluation of the questions I put forward in the paragraphs before, this can be quite a difficult task to answer for every possible outcome. That’s why I have divided my favourite selection down to a couple of ‘main’ price points that you’ll most commonly find out there on the market.
Best stringing machine under 500 dollars
Our first category might be the most difficult one, right of the bat. This is because we can actually find everything here: from lever machines, to cranks up until basic, starter electronic machines if you are prepared to search for a good deal. But if you’ve made it to this point, you’ll probably already know that there is a lot to be found on the market at this price point. So, what now?
Ok, let me add some focus here. Sure, you can definitely start with a lever or crank machine at this point to try a bit of stringing. There is really no ‘shame’ in that or anything. In addition, I think it is a great way to get younger kids into stringing. They can learn about different kind of strings and learn machine basics. A lever machine can also be a solid choice when you want to choose a rather light machine, that you can put away easily. There also seems to be a mistaken notion that lever machines for somewhat reason might be a bit shaky when it comes to durability. That is certainly not the case, if you know what brand to look for.
A very good, solid lever machine to start with is the Gamma Progression 200 (link to check it’s current price at Amazon). It has a full 6-point mounting system and has collected positive reviews. Gamma is a solid brand providing great value for money when it comes to stringing machines.
Another good option for a quality lever machine to start with is the Klippermate (link to check it’s current price at Amazon). Klippermate is a brand with a long history in the USA and is known for producing quality machines. They offer a lifelong guarantee on the frame, which definitely is a plus.
Next up, we have a similar type of machine, but from a completely different viewpoint, namely: mobility. Why would this be important? Well, imagine you’re a travelling talent or even just a passionate type of player who is on the road a lot. The one thing you don’t want to carry with you all the time is of course: weight.
That’s why I’m really interested in the, recently marketed, MiStringer portable table top stringing machine (link to check it’s current price at Amazon). I haven’t been able to test it yet, but I will really soon because I think this will be one of the great innovations for my industry in the coming years. Basically, the MiStringer let’s you set up a basic lever machine on any table you come across while on the road and then let’s you put it all back in bag, weighing just under 6lbs! All in all, it comes at a good price too, I think. Check out how the machine works in the video below.
All in all, these three different lever machines will get you going stringing your first rackets and if you string just a few rackets once a while, this is a great option. However, if you have a bit more to spend you’ll notice that you have a bit more range of choice in the next category.
Best stringing machine under 1000 dollars
When we cap our budget at a 1.000 dollars we actually open up our range of choices. At this price point, we can get our hands on some really solid electronic, constant pull table top machines if we look good enough. Also, you can choose between some basic setups (like a table top) or go for a model with a stand foot but to keep the price under 1.000 dollars, we probably stick with a table top for now. On the other hand, you might want to get a fleshed out drop weight or crank machine from a more premium brand.
So, now that we even have more choices available, how can we narrow it down?
I would suggest in this price category to cut to the chase and buy your first electronic, constant pulling machine. At this point you’ll probably know why it worth your investment from a productivity standpoint, but I want to add to this from a technical standpoint. If you want to get the best result out of your stringing jobs, you really want to work with a constant pull tensioning mechnanism. This will ensure that every string gets pulled to the same tension, even when the strings starts to ‘slack’ or ‘creep’ during stringing.
One electronic constant pulling machine that really gives you bang for your buck is the Pro’s Pro F6 MT-300 (link to check it’s current price at Pro’s Pro). Now, as I am based in Holland I can order this machine via the Pro’s Pro website for a small added extra, but if you would like to ship it to the US for example, it would cost you a bit more. I checked the shipping costs at the Austrian postal service and it should be around 200 dollars. That would mean that it still can be considered a machine just under 1.000 dollars.
Let’s take a closer look to this F6, which you actually can find under different (whitelabel) names at different retailers. The machine has a 6-point mounting frame, with brackets that both suit the stringing of tennis and squash rackets on one side and badmintonrackets on the other side. It has a fairly basic frame, that will probably may need some parts replaced, but the good news is: there are a lot of parts for these models available, especially at Racquet Depot UK.
When we look to the engine it has combined the best of both worlds: the cheaper mechanical setup of a rotating electronic tensioning head but with this MT-300 comes with a lineair gripper that will prevent string slipping and twisting. Also, because it will grip the string sooner, you’ll actually need less string to tie off properly and makes the complete stringing job just a bit smoother and faster.
Best stringing machine under 3000 dollars
Now, with a budget of 3.000 dollars we really need to take a closer look towards quality, durability and value for money. You could say that this price point opens up the most options for you and you can really search for days on end to find a machine. But you shouldn’t, because I already have done this…
Basically, what your looking for is a complete, full fledged linieair electronic machine that has a solid and robust frame and foot. Also, you want to be able to string tennis, squash and badminton rackets with this machine so that you can help out when somebody asks you.
The challenge of course is to find a quality machine that you don’t overpay for because this is where all the brands start to sell their (whitelabel) machines. Little do people know there are only a handfull of factories in China and Taiwan that produce all of these machines. When you know, you can start to recognize their form factors and find better deals on them, regardless of the brand they have on the front. However, I’ll recommend you two machines after my own research and experience.
The first one is this slick and great value-for-money Siboasi S616 (link to check it’s current price at Amazon). Now I haven’t actually tested this machine yet, but I have bought several of the tensioning heads they use on this S616 and really like the value that I get for the price I pay with Siboasi. The tensioning head just has all the functions you need and expect from a professional electronic stringing machine, but will cost you less. The only downside I found is that are a bit noisier than other machines, but this has partly to do with their construction that also makes them less heavy that other professional electronic stringing machines.
The frame is a very solid metal construction, that still looks slick and personally, I really like the black finish. The frame has a solid 6-point mounting frame, that can spin easily all the way round. It comes with small added adapters for stringing your badminton rackets. At 40 kilograms, believe it or not, this is a lightweight! This means you get the benefit of having a stand foot but still are capable of moving the machine around easily enough.
Actually, I just found a great review of this machine by Jimbo’s Racket Stringing. Check out the video down below and his thoughts on this (after three months of stringing).
Of course, I would only recommend what I would buy and as a matter of fact, I’ll be probably stringing with this machine very soon and give a full review on it myself.
Best stringing machine under 10000 dollars
In this category we are looking for the absolute professional machines out there. However, that does not leave so many options. We’ll looking for overall quality but also the best scores for durability. Because these machines are so highly priced we want to be sure we can last a very long time with them. Also, because parts for these machines are available but still very expensive, we are looking for the machines that have the best track record for keeping maintenance and repair to a minimum.
Now my first recommendation is one of the best quality machines on the market but also is pretty mobile. It can be deconstructed into a couple of parts easily and then put into a large suitcase and easily put in the back of your car or truck. It’s the Tecnifibre Ergo One (link to check it’s current price at Racquet Depot Co UK) and it’s the machine on which I had to do my ERSA Professional Stringer exam, so I had quite some practice time with it. To get a good impression of it, check out this video down below.
Depending on how you want to store your machine, mounting it to a stand foot can be a wise decsion. If you mount some wheels to the frame, you can easily slide it over to a corner in your room or house. You can defintely store a table top in a closet or something, but depending on how often you need to remove it from the storage, this can really put some strain on your back. In addition, a stand foot can be adjustable in working height, so that could even contribute to ergonomic stringing.