When players start to play their favourite racket sport more frequently, they are confronted with this question… usually after checking their wallets in the local sport shops: should I string my own racquets and is it worth to buy my own stringing machine? Although the answer to this question mainly depends on how often you break your strings, there are definitely some pro’s and con’s against both ways and that’s exactly why we took the time to discuss these with you here.

When we take a trip down memory lane, it is understandable how you did end up here… Just like most people here, you probably started with nothing more than your first racket and enthusiasm and started hitting the ball! Only to find out that playing racket sport is a lot about getting your strings restrung in time… and within in budget. So only at a fair price, if not, you could be spending a fortune, right? As time progresses you weigh playing comfort against costs and find your range. However, there comes a point where you must really wonder… is it time to start stringing myself? So, let’s start with an overview of what comes with the precious art of stringing your own rackets.

Do you even have the time?

Do you even have the time to string your own racket? Sound’s pretty obvious, right? And it is for the main part… We have written a comprehensive post about how long it takes to string a tennis, badminton or squash racket here. Take your time to read it because those will be the times you will be stringing at… eventually. When you start out, becoming better every time, stringing rackets just takes time. Just to put things in easy perspective, consider if you can spare up till an hour on average per racket. Now before you come back at me again by saying: “An hour? I’ll beat you 9 out of 10 in speed!”…. I would just like to check if you have considered the complete process, right from ordering and unpacking your strings, up until starting over again because you unfortunately broke a string and cleaned your machine again. Averaging in all activities related sounds more like an hour per racket, right? Don’t worry, for the most of us, it still can be a good deal but I certainly meet a lot of clients who can earn quite a lot more per hour than me so in that case it does not make a lot of sense to start stringing your own rackets…

Does buying a stringing machine fit within budget?

Racket sports have been known for being an ‘elite’ sport by tradition, but those days are long gone and rightfully so, if you ask me. Racket sport should be available for all of us and luckily so, prices are dropping for a lot of gear. However, to start stringing your own rackets, you definitely need some budget, which might just be a bit too much for some of us. Of course, you’ll need a stringing machine and they come in a lot of varieties and a lot of different price ranges. You can find drop weight machines that are on the cheaper side of the spectrum, but have a big downside in not keeping constant tension. That means they work by the so called ‘lockout’ principal like a torque wrench. Most electronic machines however, work with a constant pulling tensioning mechanism but these machines are definitely more expensive. Also, with just a machine, you are not there yet. Of course, you’ll need to buy your strings in bulk (meaning you’ll buy them on 100 or 200 meter reels). You’ll start saving money from the get go, but it’ll take a bit more capital to buy the reels upfront. Also, you’ll gonna need some tools and that takes up a bit of cash too. We’ll take a closer look at those costs later.

Do you have enough focus to string your own rackets?

You maybe wouldn’t think so at first sight, but stringing an racket is something in between an art and science. That actually means it will take some effort to become aware of the theory behind rackets and strings. Of course, you don’t have to get a certificate right away, but you’ll have to start reading a bit or watching some tutorials. There are quite some good books out there that can surely help you out. Also, you’ll have to prioritise knowledge as some books make it an academic effort to filter what is nice-to-know and what is need-to-know. Now this is where we come in too. Testing different strings is something you can do on your own and you don’t even have to string yourself for this. But once you have a stringing machine of yourself, will make you want to start testing a lot more. This is good for developing more knowledge, but not for your focus. I must confess that it happened quite a few times that I did string a fresh pair of rackets with two different strings only to find out that I did not like one during matchplay which basically meant I had still only one racket to play the match with. Not ideal… A good stringer can help you finding a good string while still keeping your rackets as identical as possible.

Stringing itself can be quite a tedious job. It definitely suits people who have focus good by nature. If you know yourself, you know if this applies to you. If you get distracted all the time, chances are that you’ll take too long stringing a racket and you might increase the risk to make mistakes. It’s a great exercise for training your perseverance as you sometimes make a small mistake which forces you to do a lot of stringing again. In addition, stringing badminton rackets makes this even more tedious as everything is even smaller than with other rackets.

Let’s calculate if it’s worth buying your own stringing machine?

So now you know the factors involved in making a decision whether or not you should string your own rackets, now let’s take a look at the breakdown of the cost. To keep calculations universal across our blog, we are calculating here with the Babolat RPM Blast 1.25 string here, just like in our other posts. It is the string we have sold the most throughout the years, so it represents a great deal of our clients.

Description Purchase price Number Subtotal Note
Stringing machine 338,00 1 338 Cheapest drop weight machine on the market.
Starting clamp 24,95 1 24,95 We definitely recommend stringing with a starting clamp. Even on a minimum budget.
String scissors 10,95 1 10,95 To cut out strings and cut strings after knots.
Babolat RPM Blast 1.25 200M reel 109,95 1 109,95 You’ll have to reorder after stringing approximately 17 rackets with an average cost per racket of 6,47. Comparing against the cheapest local sports shop price of 17,99 (without labour) you’ll save 11,52 per racket.
Total initial investment 483,85
Break-even-point 42 Meaning you’ll have to string 42 rackets to cover your initial investment and start saving money right away. However, if you want to hit break-even-point while doing so, you do have to consider the extra variable cost of buying more string. We found that in that case you’ll actually need to buy 6 reels, to string 90 rackets. You can then string 12 more ‘free’ rackets, saving you enough to buy another reel and to be cashflow positive.

Of course, this rough calculation is not even taking into account the time it takes you to string a racket. Roughly said you could say that, if you can make more than a clean 11,52 per hour, you’d be better of letting the stringer do the stringing for you.

Your experience

What about your experiences with saving money while stringing? Maybe you have some valuable contributions to this calculation or do you disagree with some parts? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Leave a Reply

  1. antony vo

    imperfect assumptions because it doesn’t take it account the value of the stringing machine for if you sell it. Your breakeven point becomes a lot less when you take into account that you own the value of the asset (stringing machine) and can resell it.

    1. Bob

      Hi Antony,

      Thanks for your thoughts. Of course, from a accountancy perspective, you’re a right. This would make a perfect case if you were able to sell the machine for the residual value price you had in mind. However, it is my personal experience that a stringing machine is not that liquid. The market for these machines is not too big and that means that you have to lower your price dramatically to stand out and sell fast or just wait a long time to sell.

      In any case, I can add a few paragraphs to the article to do an extra calculation with your example in mind.



    2. SSB

      Very nice article. Thanks for writing. @Antony Vo: I think the assumptions are quite accurate. I would argue that If you sell, you need to start paying for someone to string your raquets and you are back to square 0. If you keep the machine for too long, its economic value goes to 0.

  2. Kevin

    The quoted statement in your post is wrong. Drop weight indeed are constant pull. Electronic lock-out machine on the other hand are not.

    “You can find drop weight machines that are on the cheaper side of the spectrum, but have a big downside in not keeping constant tension. That means they work by the so called ‘lockout’ principal like a torque wrench.”

  3. Rick

    I purchased an electronic, constant pull machine last year. I happened to find one used and got a decent discount over the new version. I also got some free string in the deal. I found that I was spending about $30/string job with my local place and was going through strings somewhat frequently with breakage.
    I would say that initially I purchased more tools than you have outlined in your breakdown, but they weren’t that expensive, so not too much more than what you have outlined. I feel that with the flexibility to strong my own rackets when needed and the ability to test out different strings and hybrid combos the machine has paid off for me. I look for deals on string and there are plenty of there. I’m hoping at some point I’ll start stringing rackets for money and that will help recoup the cost, and then some, that I spent on the machine and tools

  4. Jimbo

    Dropweight is constant pull. Gravity is doing that for you. A crank machine is lockout.

  5. Mark

    what if there is no stringing option in the area? example: Gainesville, FL; tennis racquets, OK. racquetball racquets; Nobody reliable.
    so, mail in is the only way to get a string job. $50++. and the results are not always happy. in my last experience the racquet came back strung at about 25 lbs; way off of the specified 32 lbs. so, spend another $50 to get the racquet re-strung? could buy a new racquet????

  6. Hannes Swanepoel

    Good day, I’m from South Africa what to purchase my own string machine can you please give me some guidelines where to go or can I order a machine online.
    Thank you.

  7. Roger Morse

    I am definitely in favour of restringing my own rackets. I buy strings in bulk, experiment with tensions, and get my rackets feeling just as I like them. From the outset it is cheaper than paying someone else. And I string for a number of friends, offering same-day or next-day service, and they keep coming back so they must be happy with the service, and it considerably offsets initial costs. For me it’s a no-brainer. Buy a machine, learn to use it properly, and you won’t regret it.