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Racquet Tech: Stringing Blind

On the off chance that you can’t find a pattern in the USRSA’s Stringer’s Digest, you still have the tools to figure out how to string the frame.

By Bob Patterson

The USRSA’s Stringer’s Digest is the most comprehensive guide to stringing patterns in the world, but each year one or two frames inevitably escape us. Most of the time, these unlisted frames are Special Make-Up (SMU), meaning they are made exclusively for a chain store.

SMU frames often use the same mold (and string pattern) as a previous model from that company, so stringing instructions are usually available, but they’re just under another name. While it can be frustrating trying to identify what the previous model was, if you use your experience and a bit of detective work, you can usually figure it out.

(For a complete tutorial on this, USRSA members can check out “Stringing the Unknown Frame” in the USRSA Racquet Professional Study Guide found on RacquetTech.com.)

If the unidentified racquet is strung, you should jot down the pattern, skips and tie-offs before you cut out the old strings. However, examine the racquet to make sure it was strung correctly; otherwise you will be repeating your predecessor’s mistakes. Does the pattern spacing look uniform? Are the tie-offs in a reasonable location? If so, chances are the pattern is correct.

If the pattern doesn’t look right or you get the frame unstrung, then loosely “pre-string” the mains. As you begin, pull the string taut with your hand before tensioning with your machine. If the spacing is irregular, try skipping a hole and see if it looks more uniform. It is trial and error until you figure it all out, but if you aren’t tensioning, then no harm is done.

When you start the crosses, you will always want to start at the top for safe measure. If the mains end at the throat, then you will need to employ the two-piece method. Of course, you should fill up the remaining holes, but remember that many frames have shared holes, so pay attention to spacing here as well. If the strings are too close together or too far apart, there is a good chance you have done something wrong.

Remember, not all patterns are in the printed Stringer’s Digest; we purge some of the less popular models and older frames for space with each printing. But all patterns are available online. USRSA members can also always call for support (760-536-1177, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.to 7 p.m. Central Time), and we’ll do our best to help.

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About the Author

Bob Patterson , the founder of the RacquetMAXX customization service, is a Master Racquet Technician with more than 20 years of experience. He was RSI's Stringer of the Year in 2005. He is Executive Director for the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association.

 

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