Oftentimes when people first learn how to string rackets, they focus on trying to become as fast as possible. While speed is important when stringing, consistency takes a higher precedent. As a stringer, your job is to be able to recreate the same service over and over again. Having clients consistently come to you is essential in building a foundation for your stringing business. Most of the time returning clients will give you the same racket, and more time than not the same string. Making sure there are no crossovers, misweaves, and same tie-offs are all important when trying to recreate the same quality of stringing each racket. In this post, I want to talk about some of the things all stringers can do to help improve consistency and keep your clients coming back for more.
Mounting the Racket
Mounting the racket is often overlooked as something that can be done poorly. Regardless of how many points your machine has, make sure to not overly tighten one part of the frame. Make sure to evenly tighten each mounting point so as to not warp part of the frame. Another key part when mounting the frame is to mount them the same way each time. For example, I always make sure the handle of the racket is facing the tension head. The other thing I pay attention to is what direction the logo faces on the buttcap, I always make that the logo faces up. This way when returning customers bring me rackets, I will mount them the same way again so it feels and looks identical to the previous restring.
Pulling tension is obviously required to string a racket, but one thing stringers may not think about is how long tension gets pulled. This is going to vary depending on the machine. Electronic machines typically have some sort of beep or chime for when the tension head has pulled to the desired tension. You should not be clamping the string until you hear this beep or chime, this way the string will be clamped at the same tension no matter what. For drop weight machines there is no beep or chime, but you can see once the weight balances out then you know you can clamp the string. Try your best not to clamp too early, even though it may be tempting to try and save time. Lockout/Crank machines are a little different. When stringing with polyester on a crank there normally shouldn’t be an issue. Differently, when stringing with natural gut, multifilaments, or synthetic guts the string may stretch after “locking out”. With this in mind if you use a crank machine, just do your best to always pull at the same speed every time.
One Piece or Two-Piece Stringing
Deciding whether to always one-piece or two-piece a racket is completely up to the stringer. One-piece stringing often looks cleaner on the outside of the racket, but when doing hybrids you need to switch over to a two-piece. Another issue with one piece stringing for beginners is if the mains in the racket end in the throat then you must do the around the world stringing method. Many racket manufacturers have a fine print in the warranty of frames saying the warranty is voided if the crosses are strung from the throat up. If you decided to string all the rackets with the two-piece method it is easier to be more consistent with tie-offs, but often makes the outside of the racket look messy. Just pick a preferred method and stick with it!
Keeping the racket clean
Keeping the racket clean is arguably the most important part of the process. People do not want a racket their racket to be handed to them with messy tie-offs, crossed strings, or random paint chips you may have accidentally caused. The messy tie-offs are something I see often when new customers bring me rackets. When doing tie-offs just make sure the knot is pulled tightly and cut short so the customer won’t hit the “tail”. Another thing to keep in mind is crossed strings, when going over main skips or tying off the racket make sure to not cross the string on the outside of the frame. Lastly, be careful when removing old strings, and mounting. Accidental paint chips can happen, but do everything in your power to make sure the frames don’t get any unnecessary damage.
Becoming Second Nature
All of this information may seem like obvious knowledge to some of you, and it may all be new to others. Little things like this are what separate the independent stringers from the club only stringers. Gaining new clients is difficult on its own, keeping them is just a matter of being consistent with their rackets. Over time all of these things will become second nature and you will be on your way to being a consistent stringer!.