Tennis Industry magazine


Guide to Stringing Machines: Your Business Machine

Use our exclusive guide to find a stringing machine that fits your business and provides a good return on your investment.

By Bob Patterson

Every morning when I arrive at my office, I’m reminded of just how much our tradecraft has evolved.

Just outside my door, the reception area of the USRSA office is filled with stringing machines and tools dating back more than 100 years. Calling the earliest ones “machines” is really a stretch, since all they did is hold the frame while the stringer applied tension by rolling the string on a dowel and pulling. But, in its time, I am sure it was seen as a huge improvement over using your knees as the vise to hold the frame still.

Along the same lines, “clamps” were simply awls inserted into the hole alongside the tensioned string to hold it in place for the next pull. Keep in mind that uncoated natural gut was the only string used at that time, which makes this feat even more amazing.

Over time, ratchet devices were introduced to ensure greater accuracy of tension, rather than simply plucking the string and listening for the correct pitch. In time, tensioning devices were added to the vise — and the basic shape and function of a modern stringing machine begins to appear.

Achieving the Basics

Today, stringing machines take many forms, from high-end drop-weights to lockout cranks and computer-driven models that attract attention and simplify the task. But even with all the advances, we still need the machine to help the stringer achieve the three basic goals of a good string job:

With more than 50 machines to choose from on the market, the task of selecting a new stringing machine can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Our 2017 Guide to Stringing Machines provides a comprehensive look at all the features of the machines available.

If you are looking for a new machine, this guide is the place to start. But we recognize that this expansive chart can also be a bit intimidating. The best method for choosing the right stringing machine starts with assessing what you need the machine to do for you.

Assessing Your Needs

As you will see from the chart, there are many bells and whistles to consider. Determining what you need and what you want is a good place to start.

Consider each feature and what it would bring to your operation. If you have a high-volume shop stringing 20 or more racquets a day, then having a quick-mounting system may allow you to string another three or four more racquets per day. If you only string three or four racquets a week, a quick-mounting system may not be a high-priority item.

If you are the only stringer using the machine, an easy height adjustment is probably not high on your wish list. But if you share the machine with other stringers, it can be a must have.

Make a list of your must-have features. This will be your first cut, eliminating all machines that do not meet those criteria.

Once you have the list narrowed down, look at features you would like to have but that may not necessarily be essential. This should allow you to further narrow the list.

Return on Investment

Now, it’s time to consider your budget. Remember, this is an investment in your business. It is not uncommon for a stringing machine to last more than 10 years, even in a high-volume shop.

Consider the money the machine brings in over the expected lifespan to get an idea of the potential return on investment. You may be surprised at how little that expensive machine actually costs in the long run. Because this will be a major investment, you don’t want to pinch pennies now and then have regrets later.

When your final list contains two or three machines, you should try and demo them. If the vendor in your area cannot provide a machine to try, perhaps they can arrange for you to string on one at another dealer after hours.

There are other important factors to consider. Make sure you look at the after-the-sale service and the warranty. This is vital for all operations, but especially if you only have one machine and would essentially be out of business if it is ever out of commission. Make sure you know the company’s policy for repairs, turn-around time and loaners.

For your business and for your players, your stringing machine may well be the most important piece of equipment you can own. Make sure you take the time to find the perfect one.

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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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