Stringing on a Drop Weight Machine
The Machine: Gamma Progression II 602FC… I think it’s this one
The Mounting System: 6 Point
Setup: Table Top (No Stand)
Price Range (For a Drop Weight Machine): $300-$600
Stringing Method: 2 Piece (Starting Knot for Crosses)
Before we get started just one quick disclaimer. The machine I strung on maybe partially busted. I vaguely remember dropping it from about 3 feet up when I was moving it into a basement storage area a couple years back. Regardless we were able to get the racket strung without incident. This article is more about the process and experience of stringing on a drop weight machine and less about the machine itself.
The Drop Weight Experience
Having not strung on a drop weight machine for a few years I can safely say I do not miss it. Like everything in life the more you do something the better you’ll get at it. This is definitely true with stringing and stringing machines. You can see how rare it is that I get the weight to balance perfectly and it usually takes me a few raises to get the tension right. If you use the machine all the time you’ll develop a feel for these sort of things. That being said the drop weight is a pain to string on. The wrap around gripper on this gamma machine isn’t super efficient but it doesn’t do too much harm to the string if you know what you are doing.
No calibration necessary. Assuming you’re not an idiot and don’t drop the machine like I did you never need to worry about calibration or the machine tensioning accurately. It will be perfect assuming you get your drop weight to balance out straight.
Very little maintenance required. A lot of other tension mechanisms need to be replaced or taken apart and cleaned regularly. Not the case with a drop weight. Just wipe it off every month to prevent any rust and you’ll be fine for life. But don’t mistake the drop rate for your clamps. Those need to be cleaned regularly and replaced over time.
Ability to manually make every tension pull looser or tighter without adjusting the tension setting. Some may view this as a negative but when you get good with a dropweight it gives you a lot of physival feedback. You literally feel that tension being pulled and can alter how tight or loose you want a main or cross without having to reset or change any setting. Obviously the number you set on the drop weight won’t correspond but if it’s your own racket you’ll probably take advantage of this overtime.
Time Consuming. Drop weights are both the most accurate and least accurate method of tensioning. If you get that drop weight perfectly balanced the tension is correct guaranteed. However doing that in practice is not so easy and it can be very time consuming especially if you are a perfectionist. Just the process of lifting and dropping the weight is very annoying and will drive you crazy if you need to string on the machine daily,.
No Stand. I’ve never seen a drop weight machine that comes with a stand by default. Some you might be able to purchase as an optional add on (I would advise this) but for the most part you are getting a tabletop. So with that in mind you better have a good non slip table that’s high enough off the ground where you aren’t going into an uber crunch to reach the racket head. I remember someone telling me they did their stringing on the floor… I can’t even imagine. I’m not going to lie in my youth I had a few close calls where the machine nearly toppled off the table.
Distance to the Gripper. This might vary machine to machine but one of the biggest issues with this drop weight machine is how far the string travels away from the racket before going into the gripper. There is no way to adjust or vary this. The mounting system is what it is and the distance to the gripper is what it is. To be safe when using a reel you should pull a little extra string just to be safe.
Who should buy and use drop weight string machine?
Drop weights are typically for hobbyists on a budget. It’s not really a pleasant experience having to keep lifting and dropping the weight again and again and, of all tensioning systems, it’s by far the most time consuming. Additionally it’s very hard to get an even tension all the way throughout the racket from start to finish. You’d have to get every drop absolutely perfect and that’s not easy. This is why a drop weight isn’t ideal for professionals. It’s hard to guarantee that consistent tension racket to racket and the time it takes just isn’t practical. Would most people be able to tell or notice that inconsistency in tension? Probably not but that’s not really the point.
For some people the manual nature of the tensioning is a positive because as they get further from the center of the racket head they can push on the weight a little more and make the overall “tightness” of the mains and crosses more consistent. That’s something that on a different machine would actually be more time consuming than on the drop weight.
To wrap this up I think I could see myself doing 5-10 rackets a month on a drop weight. Once you start needing to string more than a couple rackets a week or a number of rackets in a series the machine and tensioning system will become too tedious.