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Stringing Tennis Racquets for Beginners

Learning To String a Tennis Racquet

Something a little different the blog today as I thought I'd do an update on learning to string tennis racquets. I recently took the plunge and bought my own machine to string my own frames. It's something I had thought about doing for a while and when I got two new racquets from Zus Tennis in the USA I thought I'd go for it as it means I can a.) learn a new skill b.) have more control over the quality of the string job and c.) test out some different strings.

The machine I bought is called the Pro's Pro Pilot and it came from Racquet Depot here in the UK. Really good buying experience so I'd definitely recommend them. It's a crank operated machine which allows for quicker and more accurate stringing than a drop weight machine. The next step up is an electric one which works on the exact same principle as the crank just no manual work involved. The first surprise I had when it was delivered was how weighty it was – it's around 40KG and not the easiest box to carry.

Pro's Pro Pilot Stringing Machine
Pro's Pro Pilot Stringing Machine

As you can see despite the weight it's a fairly simple bit of kit – the racquet is secured by the 6 point mounting system and the crank is used to pull tension on the string. The crank works via a tensioning spring: you set the desired tension, manually wind the crank back, two plates then grip the string and tension it – when the tension is reached there's a break on the tensioning arm which activates and locks in place. You then clamp the strings using one of the fixed clamps on the base of the machine, release the break and tension your next string.

I chose the Pro's Pro because mainly on price and because it has some decent reviews. Like most tennis products you'll find plenty detractors on the Tennis Warehouse forums but I'd just make a decision and roll with it. Based on my experience so far if you're looking for a crank operated machine to string your own racquets then you won't go far wrong with the Pro's Pro Pilot.

On the flip side – if you're looking for something a cheaper then go for a drop weight one with floating clamps – just be aware it will take you longer to string a racquet and from what I understand it's harder to minimise tension loss. Or if you're looking to make stringing racquets into a part time job / side income stream go with an electric one – it's going to save you time on each string job. But if you have never strung before I'd go with a drop weight or crank version and see how you get on. It makes more sense to upgrade later rather than spend big off the bat.

Things You Need to Start Stringing Your Own Racquets:

Aside from the obvious part of needing a stringing machine here's what I've found useful so far:

A How To String a Racquet DVD or YouTube Guide

Unless you have an experienced stringer to teach you hands on then you'll definitely need some sort of guide to get started. I didn't have that luxury so I got the racquet stringing DVD from Racquet Depot which goes through how to setup the machine, how to string 1 piece and 2 piece and maintaining the machine. Without that I'd have been pretty lost and it's a great little resource to see a string job completed from start to finish. I watched it in full a couple of times then had a go myself, checking it back every so often if I wasn't quite sure on the next step.

I also used the YouTube video below which is again very useful and shows a two piece string job from start to finish and covers all the potential mistakes newbie stringers might make. I made plenty on my first attempt – ran out of string, couple of misweaves and not the greatest tie off knots to name but a few 😉

The YouTube video above is fairly similar to the Racquet Depot DVD but the lighting / camera angle is better on the DVD video which makes it a bit easier to follow and understand. Tennis Warehouse also have a decent video and there are a couple of other shorter videos on YouTube that are more like snippets of advice (like tie off knots etc.) which are worth checking out. I tried to combine as many resources as I could to make sure I didn't miss anything important.

Needle Nosed Pliers

Needle Nosed Pliers

Some grommets on the racquet can be a little tricky to get string through so some needle nosed pliers make things way easier, especially when you're stringing close to the mounting points which can make things awkward. I've used them at least 2/3 times every time I've strung a racquet. They're also useful for wrapping string around when you're tying off your knots.

Some Clippers

Cutters

You'll need to this cut the string when you start the job and when you cut down your knots upon completion. Any cutting tool will do but make sure it's sharp and makes a crisp cut. Ideally when you start you want to cut the string at a point which makes threading it easier.

An old racquet

N Tour II 105

Not 100% necessary but I did my first few strings on an older frame (an N Tour II 105, Justine Henin racquet) that I haven't used in years. It's also useful if it's strung before you restring it because then you can take a picture of it so you know the skipped holes, the shared holes and the tie off points. I think it's unlikely you could trash a frame but there's always a chance you could do some damage when you're applying 50-60lbs of tension to something relatively flimsy.

Inexpensive String

Pros Pro Blackout

There's no point doing your first string job with Natural Gut or other expensive strings as the chances are you're not going to do a peRFect job. So buy some cheaper strings and use those to practice with. Pro's Pro Blackout is a good choice and you can get a reel of it for around £20-25 online. It's actually not bad string either and plays just as good as some of the more expensive stuff.

The Klipper Database

Klipper

This Klipper online database has a ton of information on the stringing patterns of basically every racquet out there. It tells you recommended tension range, how much string you need in feet for the mains and crosses, the skipped holes and the tie off points. All very useful so bookmark it.

Other than a lot of patience that's basically all you'll need – an awl is also useful if you need to enlarge grommet holes but I've not really needed to use one so far.

How Hard is Stringing Racquets?

The answer is: it's fairly easy. I had no prior experience of doing it other than seeing it done at live tournaments (various stringers on site in Basel were working out in the foyer on Babolat RDC machines) and I've never had a tutorial from anyone in the flesh. Like I said, I watched the videos on YouTube, watched the DVD and then had a go myself. After about 4/5 attempts I'm more than competent and can string a racquet in about 40 minutes to a high standard. I still need to make a few improvements on my tie off knots and weaving speed but once you get the hang of it you can do it on auto pilot.

Should I Buy A Stringing Machine?

Tough to say really – I think you'll either fall into 1 of 2 categories – you're just curious to learn like me and decide to spunk some cash on it. Or you want to turn stringing into a little side business and string for your friends, club members etc. and become the next Priority1 😉 Or you may start in the first category and just wind up finding yourself making some cash out of it in the long run. So far I'm definitely happy with the purchase as I've found it pretty fun to do and it's something to do with time that would be otherwise spent messing around on YouTube or Twitter.

As for the overall cost – is it worth buying a machine? Again impossible to say as it depends on various circumstances. I think the cheapest is around £120 and the more expensive ones can get up to well over £5k. Up until now I just used whoever I could find to string my racquets and most clubs have a couple of guys who string for a nominal fee. I paid around £12 per string job. So £24 a time for 2 frames. So after around 15 restrings (factoring in the cost of string on top of the machine) I'll be at breakeven compared to paying someone else. I think if you own your own machine you'll string more frequently too. I used to get them done months between but now I'll be stringing them fortnightly in summer.

Other Recommended Resources

Let me know if you have any questions or feedback on the post 🙂

About Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer - I'll pretty much try and watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Fed and tennis in general.

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33 comments

    • Have you played with the racquet? Did you find it comfortable to play with it?
      In Guatemala its really cheap to string a racquet (about USD12) so I don’t think I’ll be doing that in the future but it would be fun to try.

      #GoRoger

    • I haven’t used my new Zus frames yet – they’re still unstrung as I decided to practice on the older one first before having a go at doing the ones I plan on using.

      12USD is good – does that include the string – if so what type?

      Over here I think the cheapest you could find is £12 (18USD) and that will be with a fairly inexpensive string that the stringer gets in reels. If you want anything better like luxilon it will be over £20.

  1. 🙂 A post after the season ended, yeah!

  2. Nice post! 🙂
    Might look into somewhat soon, it’s 30eur per racket here in France… (String include, RPM blast).
    What strings do you use?

    • How often do get restrung?

      At 30 euros a throw it wouldn’t take that long to pay itself back. It would cost me similar over here for a restring with RPM blast.

      I varied quite a bit recently – I used Alu Power Rough hybrid with natural gut for like 2 years and just made it last about 3 months.

      Then when I was playing more often and paying a guy at my club I just used Prince synthetic gut which was his standard offering at £12 a go.

      Now I’m using Ashaway Monogut.

      • Yeah I restring every two months maybe, playing ~6-8 hours a week. Why did you switch from the natural gut, too expensive/ not durable enough?

  3. Oh boy, my racket never been restrung…maybe for 10 years 😆

  4. 😆 You can totally imagine her excitement in this piece, can’t you?

    Love match by Michael Hennegan [Today’s SundayTimes’ Style Magazine]

    You’d think that the folk on this magazine would know how to keep their cool when meeting famous faces. So, when the tennis greats Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray took a night off from practising for the launch of the ATP World Tour Finals with Moët & Chandon champagne, we didn’t expect one senior Style staffer totally to lose her cool. Babbling like a 15-year-old girl backstage at a One Direction concert, she told Federer (repeatedly) how much she loved him. Ever the perfect gent, he looked into her eyes (while removing her hand from his arm) and told her, “It’s an absolute pleasure,” before moving on. Atta boy.

  5. The Davis Cup is in sight of you, Jonathan!

    Rather quiet outside of the two finalists compared to the last year, though.

    • It’s a pointless tournament really, I said same last year, needs changing or something to make it interesting and competitive. Maybe like a World Cup once every 4 years so everyone turns out for it. Even then not guaranteed as tennis is an individual sport.

      Look at this years event – GB basically a one man team and they are going to win it easy, playing in a final against a non country who have one player in the top 20. Hardly compelling viewing is it 😆

      Last year the Swiss swept it easy, and would have done this year too if Stan & Fed played. Assuming no other teams put out there best like Serbia or Spain. At least the final was somewhat interesting though last year as France had 4 good players. Belgium have 1 good player but he is 2-10 vs. Top 10 and has zero weapons.

      • Actually, the matches were quite fun, what I saw of them. But yes, there’s really no way a “one-man team” (no disrespect to the other players, but Andy has been doing the lion’s share of the work) should have been winning it. Otherwise Switzerland could have been cleaning up for years.

  6. Meanwhile I enjoyed watching the last year’s DC final highlights. One of Fed’s best matches on clay. By PeRFect Tennis…ah it’s not your avatar, is it, Jonathan?

    https://youtu.be/nJegNfJaNZ8

  7. 5th. Even in the off season I can’t get a win.

  8. Ad in Spanish newspaper ( Majorcan I think )

    Rackets for sale. No strings attached.

  9. I disagree about Davis Cup being pointless. When you see the tears in Fed’s eyes you know it’s important to him. Same with Murray today.
    I’ve enjoyed watching DC live quite a few times. The reason Belgium got to the final was the other countries didn’t play their best players.

    I don’t think it should be every year though. Maybe every second year but not when it’s an Olympic year?

    Glad you’re having fun with your new gadget Jonathan! You might be starting a whole new career, working for the ATP, traveling the world stringing all the pro’s rackets.

    • In it’s current format it’s completely pointless. Belgium vs. one man team this year = pointless final.

      As for the importance to players – clearly not because they don’t play it every year. It’s just a box to tick that you won it. If it was important – you’d get all the top guys playing it year in year out. Instead they just turn up when there’s a good chance of winning it. I’d cancel it tbh, or make some drastic changes.

      I’ll pass on that one 🙂 . The life of a stringer sounds like it would be easy at first but I reckon it’s hard graft – living out of a hotel room and you’ll never be able to watch that much tennis because all you’ll be doing is stringing.

      Priority1 must work some crazy hours – there’s 3 of them I think. Fed has 9 racquets per match, so in a M1000 that’s 9 racquets to string every day, just for one player! They’re going to be ultra efficient but let’s say it takes 1 person 25 minutes per racquet – that’s nearly 4 hours just to box Federer’s off alone. Isner, Stan, Djokovic Murray all use them. They’ll be stringing through the night, not an easy job.

      And then factor in all the customisation too – regrips, building grips, lead tape etc. Must be quite tough work. My fingers hurt after doing just a couple of string jobs in a row 😆

      I would be interested to see what they get paid though. I imagine it’s reasonable for their “Gold Service” but when you factor in travel costs, hotel rooms and all the other expenses I don’t think there will be masses in it.

      What do you think Fed pays to have them on site at every M1000, Davis Cup and 4 slams per year? Above or under $200,000 per year? Hard to guess.

      1 reel of Luxilon and 1 reel of natural gut will get them ~30 re-strings. And I imagine they pay ~$100 for both of them. In a typical week say he plays 5 matches that’s 45 racquets strung for him. So if he played 90 matches in a year that’s 27 reels of both string just for him alone. Plus practice, training blocks etc. Overgrips – 810 for the year just for matches alone. So string and overgrip expenses per player, per year must be like $5000. Then it’s travel costs, hotel rooms, luggage costs, food etc on top of all that.

      I am gonna guess at over the course of a year $250 per racquet. So for Fed’s 1000 restrings $250,000. I wonder if I’m anywhere close 😀

      • I saw a video about those guys talking about the restringing, and I think it was upwards of 300k. Not 100% sure here, but it was absolutely crazy ^^

      • Got a link?

        I can see Fed and Djoker paying that much but no way Isner is doing that, he earnt 2 million this year prize money – 300k on strining seems too high.

      • Ah according to this article – http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304520804576343300235154610

        $40,000 a year for the gold service.

        This one too – https://www.credit-suisse.com/uk/en/about-us/responsibility/news-stories/articles/news-and-expertise/2012/01/en/nate-ferguson-roger-federers-racquet-guru.html

        Although it says –

        “When Sampras’s career began to come to an end, Ferguson needed to find a new customer base. He developed a project whereby his Priority One firm provided interested players with a private racquet stringing service at all Grand Slam and Masters 1000 tournaments for an annual all-in fee of 40,000 dollars”

        So that was early 2000’s when it was 40k. Bound to be way higher now he’s established as the market leader. But could it be as high as $300k? I doubt it. How would you justify putting your price up 7.5 times the original amount in 12 years? 😆

        Let’s go with $100k a year. Based on my estimate of Fed’s 1000 restrings in a year, that works out at $200 per hour. Not factoring in any expenses. Not great. They’d need to be well on the ball with travel and accommodation costs.

      • “two at 22 kg, four at 22.5 kg, and two at 23 kg”.
        Man… I can tell a fresh polyester at 25 kgf from an old yellowed cheap nylon relaxed down to less than 20 kgf, but a 0.5 kgf difference is for aliens…

    • Watching Davis Cup live when you’re rooting for one team is an experience to be had. It’s closer to football in the atmosphere department, ans just being there and rooting for your team is huge fun.

      I agree the tennis is not always there, but having been to Geneva for the quarters and semis last year, I can tell you I had a blast 🙂

  10. Yeah, nice to get (a) new interesting picture(s) on top – Thanks Jonathan!

  11. Yes, I do get your point about DC being pointless. And I do suppose it is a box to tick career wise. Well, every 4 years might work.

    I saw a film clip on racquet stringing once, maybe it was Priority1. Looks like a stressful job for sure. Just teasing you about the career change.

    I wonder if your numbers are close. Feel for the guy sleeping in his car trying to make a go of it.

    • I dunno, I went looking and found they charged 40k to do it for a year. I think that was when they first started though so it’s going to be higher. I guess it’s sub 100k a year though per player.

      I guess thinking about it they can’t actually charge premium prices as they’ll just scare players off. Nadal for instance just uses the tournament stringing services that are provided FOC to the players on site. So you’d just do that if they were cranking the prices high.

  12. Hi there. Now that season 2015 is over, and so is the hangover, here we go, two subjects at a time:

    Davis Cup. It started long ago as a means to settle who was the top cat in the sport, US or UK. In abstract it makes sense to turn it into a global competition between nations: the outcome would be linked to the each country’s efficiency in producing good players. In that respect, I’ll say that with some variation Spain has had quite a success recently: they won roughly 1/3 of the cups since 2000. Not strictly because of Nadal but because they invest a lot and invest it well; they have a lot of good players available when the top ones are busy making a living elsewhere… Now the grain of sand in the gear: a national team very seldom puts more than 2-3 players on court in each round, so under certain circumstances the result can be biased. Obvious example: Switzerland was lucky to have one extraordinary and one excelent player from the same generation available to play when it mattered. It’s not the country’s full merit, really (where are #3 and #4?…). At least, not in the same extent, to take another example, as it was for Sweden 1984-1998 (6 out of 15, that’s a feat).
    So, I would not say that the DC result means nothing: it does, but just not enough as to draw much of a conclusion as to what each country is as tennis power because it depends too much on contigencies.

    Strings. A friend of mine who no longer plays gave me a set of natural gut (Tecnifibre), still packed. I would give it a shot if I hadn’t restrung my racket recently with a full set of Adrenaline polyester to replace the stock multifilament that was overtensioned. Anyway: I’d better focus on improving my technique for a few months and only later try fiddling with the strings (I’ll go for it only in the mains and save the rest for a second string job). Right now, I don’t think I would take much advantage of it, in spite of all the praise natural gut gets.

    Cheers

  13. Another great article 🙂 Best tennis blog on the web

  14. Do any of you guys know if roger will be in India on 10 December or it will be only 12th December. Is there any news about it ,if yes please reply😀.

  15. No idea, Pranshul. I’m not crazy about their website. Hard to figure out what’s going on.

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