Thursday, February 02, 2012

Pat Markey

How to keep racket strings from breaking prematurely by using a starting clamp.

A starting clamp is designed to hold the string and keep it from slipping while it is tensioned.  During racket stringing there are several times that this clamp is found useful and in some situations essential in completing a string job.  I don't think there is a time that I did not have a starting clamp in my stringing tool arsenal.  You will find that it's primary job of keeping a string from slipping would warrant purchasing a quality starting clamp.  With research you will undoubtedly find various manufacterers producing such a product.  It should be noted that some less expensive models have weaker springs and therefore might not do the job they are intended to do and end up wearing out prematurely.  My Babolat starting clamps are at least 12 years old, have a little rust but they hold steady.  I would invite you to check around before buying that 15 dollar cheap imitation clamp.  I have seen some good starting clamps by Babolat, Alpha, Gamma and Wilson starting around $25.00 and up.  I do want to make it clear that a starting clamp is not a 'floating clamp'-this is something entirely different.

Today I want to help you solve the problem of premature string breakage during the early stages of string tensioning.  I am not going to get into the discussion of what type of clamps are best, diamond dust coating, swivel bases, glide bars,etc.  The focus is discussing how you can take your current racket stringing machine set up and create a string job that does not allow for premature breakage because the clamp crushed the string at the onset.

It happens and most racket stringers starting out know what it's like to damage the string at the moment you just get started.  I have seen various ways that stringers have started a string job.  When I know that there is a chance that my initial clamp will not hold the first main string when I pull the first main string than I would use a starting clamp placed just behind the machine clamp so that if by chance the clamp fails or slips a bit than the starting clamp would catch and keep the string from moving because the starting clamp would sit up tight against the back of the stationary clamp.  This has saved me on many occasions and I would recommend using this system often.  Basically the reasoning behind this method is that if the string starts to move on the clamp than the starting clamp will do its job.  I hope to add some photo and video soon so check back for a visual of this process.

Another way to keep the initial string from slipping is to use the starting clamp as the initial clamp to hold the first string taught.  Place the starting clamp on the outside fo the racket frame and basically pull the string straight and then clamp.  The starting clamp will keep the string from slipping and you dont have to worry about the marks or string wear from the slippage that might occur if you didn't have a starting clamp.


Summary:  The idea is simple and the execution takes practice.  keeping your first string pull secure is the most important thing, whether you use the starting clamp on the outside or to back up the machine clamp you will save both money and reputation doing it right.

Pat Markey

About Pat Markey -

Patrick Has been stringing rackets for over 25 years including at many professional events around the country including the US OPEN and AUSTRALIAN OPEN. He brings a depth of knowledge and love for the industry.

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