Starting Clamp Method on a Neos 1000
The Machine: Prince Neos 1000
The Mounting System: 2 Point
Stringing Method: 2 Piece 4 Knots… Starting Clamp to Begin Crosses
When to Use a Starting Clamp and The Reasons Why
Like so many stringing decisions you’ll address this on a case by case basis. However, most stringers who receive rackets in good condition will use the same method again and again on any given machine to ensure consistency from one string job to the next. On the NEOS 1000 I always go 2 piece starting knot to begin the crosses because I’ve found that method produces the best overall string job in my opinion. A starting clamp just isn’t that practical on a NEOS because of the draw bar clamping system but it is doable and in the video you’ll see my method. The primary reason for using a starting clamp is so you can use 4 finishing knots as opposed to 1 starting knot and 3 finishing knots. Starting knots allow you to pull tension directly to them and then hold while finishing knots simply hold tension. When you use a starting knot you are pulling directly on the grommet as opposed to anchoring against the frame (starting clamp). After the video we’ll go more into the specifics but that’s the general idea. As a stringer you’ll need to ask yourself what method makes the most sense for you.
#1 Tensioning Method
A lockout machine does literally that it locks/brakes out. Once it hits the predefined tensioning point it stops pulling tension and then holds tension. The distinction of pulling vs holding tension is the critical part to understand. On a constant pull machine when you release the clamps it continues to pull the correct tension until it is clamped off. I find using a starting knot on a lockout machine works really well because you’re not stressing the grommet to the same degree like you would on a constant pull and the result is a higher dynamic tension.
#2 Higher Dynamic Tension?
Just because your machine is calibrated correctly doesn’t mean your final tension is going to come out perfect. That’s fine and it’s something I’ve discussed in previous posts. As a player getting your racket restrung you can’t get too caught up on the weight (the number) rather you just need to be thinking tighter or looser and adjust accordingly. Let’s say you ask for 50 and feels too loose…next time ask for 54. Machines and methods vary as will the final dynamic tension.
As a stringer if you want a higher dynamic tension starting knots are the way to go (Assuming your knot is nice and tight before pulling tension on it). There’s no excess loose string that isn’t being directly tensioned as is the case with a starting clamp. The other option to consider for a higher dynamic tension is a one piece string job whenever you aren’t hybriding. However be sure your clamps support the around the world method when the mains end in the throat.
#3 Grommet Preservation
On the NEOS the only time I won’t use a starting knot is if the starting tie off or first cross grommet appear to be damaged. The downside of the starting knot is that you are pulling right on the grommet. That is why I use a bulky starting knot. With thinner strings and smaller knots it is possible for that knot to go right inside the grommet and into the frame and that is an absolute killer and terrible predicament to be in. When in doubt about the grommets use a starting clamp.
#4 Racket Frame Preservation
Now on a constant pull machine with the exception of my rackets (where I use a starting knot) I’ll typically use a starting clamp because I don’t want to prematurely damage grommets on peoples rackets. Constant pull keeps on pulling until you clamp off so you will be putting more stress on the grommet with that tensioning method. However, if a frame/bumper guard looks vulnerable or damaged I might opt for a starting knot to prevent damaging the frame any further. Typically though if a frame is a beat up the grommets will be too.
The starting clamp is holding tension against the frame. The frame serves as the anchor. When you pull that first cross you’ll see your starting clamp push up nice and tight against the racket. If the frame at that point of contact looks more vulnerable than the grommets I will use a starting knot. This is extremely rare.
Every stringing decision should be made on a case by case basis but in general on a lockout machine (especially the NEOS with the draw bars) I will use a starting knot and with constant pull machines I will use a starting clamp. But what this really boils down to is experience with your machine and finding the method that makes the most sense to you and produces a quality consistent string job.