The string in your racket is absolutely crucial to your success in playing tennis, as it is, hopefully, the only part of your equipment that makes contact with the ball. It plays a significant role in determining the power and spin you can apply. This explains why top professionals tend to get their rackets restrung so frequently- they want the string to be in peak condition every time they play. For good juniors and aspiring professionals, regular restringing is essential.
Paying someone else to do this can become expensive: typically $500-$1,000 per year just for labor, excluding the cost of the string. Many players will therefore consider purchasing a stringing machine and doing the job themselves. However, good stringing machines can cost several thousand dollars, so they will be looking at the cheaper end of the market. What sort of options is worth considering?
In this article, we will mention five relatively affordable stringing machines and consider the pros and cons of each. The Gamma 5003 W is a ‘lock-out’ machine with a spring to set the tension, whereas the other four options, from Tourna, Gamma, Klippermate, and Eagnas, use a drop-weight. Their prices vary, so we will consider a balance between quality and value.
Gamma 5003 W/ 6 Point Mount Stringing Machine
The Gamma 5003 W is the most expensive machine we will be looking at here, currently retailing for around $1,200. It comes with its own adjustable stand. The racket is clamped in place on the turntable, and when the string is in place, the handle is turned. It will click and lock when the preset tension is reached: the string is then clamped, and the process is repeated. Lock-out machines like this are easy to use, although there can be some tension loss before the string is clamped, as the machine stops pulling when it is locked, giving the string time to stretch. The other disadvantage of this machine is that it is large and heavy, meaning that it is not practical to take it ‘on the road’ to tournaments, leaving you at the mercy of expensive on-site stringers. Overall, however, it is a solid, easy-to-use option.
Tourna 150-CS Stringing Machine
The Tourna 150-CS should be available for just under half the price of the Gamma 5003 W. It is a very different type of machine in that it creates the string tension using a lever with an adjustable weight on it. The turntable is similar to that of larger machines, but the Tourna 150-CS does not come with a stand, so it is essential to find a solid table to work on. When stringing with a ‘drop-weight’ machine like this, the tension is determined by the position of the weight on the lever. The lever should find a balance point parallel to the turntable: if it goes too far, tension will be excessive, or if it stops short, the tension will be too low. It is, therefore, difficult to tension the string accurately. On the other hand, there is no ‘lock-out,’ so the string is kept closer to the set tension prior to clamping, and this machine is far more portable than the Gamma 5003 W, so it could possibly be taken to tournaments.
Gamma Progression 200 Stringing Machine
The Gamma Progression 200 is a genuinely cheap machine, retailing for around $230. It looks more flimsy than the Tourna 150-CS, with string clamps that do not attach to the base. The turntable only offers two mounts, which can result in difficulties in holding the racket in a stable position. The other disadvantages of the Gamma Progression 200 are, as with any drop-weight machine, the difficulty in obtaining an exact tension and the time taken to string. The relatively spartan turntable area also brings some risk of damaging rackets for inexperienced stringers. Nonetheless, this is a solid, portable machine weighing in at 24 pounds, which can save you a lot of money.
Klippermate Tennis Racket Stringing Machine
The Klippermate is another very basic drop-weight machine, currently available for about $250. Its design is likely similar to that of the Gamma Progression 200, and it will have similar pros and cons. Therefore, it will be portable but not the quickest to use and not as precise with tensions as more expensive machines. It will also be tricky to keep the racket stable. Two of the biggest selling points of the Klippermate are that it is made in the USA and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Eagnas Hawk 10
The Eagnas Hawk 10 is currently the cheapest machine reviewed here. At just over $200, it undercuts even the Gamma Progression 200. It looks very similar to the last two machines and should have similar advantages and disadvantages. However, several users have reported issues with using the machine in terms of setting tension, breaking clamps, etc. This probably does not mean that the machine itself is sub-standard, but rather that it is not the easiest to use. This may suggest that the Hawk 10 will not be the best choice for many.
Is It Worth Buying A Tennis Stringing Machine?
Stringing is not the most enjoyable job in the world, but if you do not have unlimited funds, you can save a lot of money and inconvenience in the long run by purchasing your own machine.
The cheapest machine here is the Eagnas Hawk 10, but reviews suggest that it is outperformed at the market’s bottom end by the Gamma Progression 200 and the Klippermate. The Tourna 150-CS is a drop-weight machine with a more solid turntable, which is likely to be easier to use but costs $300 extra. If you can afford $1,200, the Gamma 5003 W will allow you to string at home with less effort but is not portable. So there are some great options here, but your decision will depend on your needs and stringing experience, as well as price.