Updated: Nov 1
The purpose of this blog post is to provide information for people who are new to badminton equipment or badminton in general. It will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to read this article.
During my career as a stringer, I have encountered many customers who had no idea about things like tension and string types. I often had to make decisions for them, which is something I shouldn't have to do. It's a matter of personal preference, similar to asking about someone's favorite color. I am writing this to give you a general idea about stringing and equipment so that when you come to me, you know what you want.
Q: What is string tension, and why is it important?
A: Tension refers to the amount of force applied to each string of the racket. For example, 24 lbs (pounds) means that 24 pounds of force are applied to a single piece of string, held in place by a clamp. The application of tension can be easily explained using the picture below:
Tension is responsible for generating repulsion in badminton. Without any tension, imagine playing badminton with a bug catching net.
Q: What tension suits me?
A: As I mentioned before, knowing the appropriate tension is something you should determine before consulting a stringer. How do you decide what tension is best for you? String tension affects several factors, including power (repulsion), control, durability, and vibration.
However, the above image isn't entirely accurate, as the common string tension range for badminton rackets typically ranges from 18lbs to 33lbs. When the tension is lower than 20lbs, it can create a 'bug catching net' effect, resulting in less power due to loose strings. Conversely, when the tension is very high, the string bed becomes rigid. In such cases, players need proper technique to generate enough power for advanced shots, such as hitting clears from the backcourt to the backcourt. Advanced players often prioritize control for better shot placement, which is why higher tension is preferred. Regarding durability, higher tension leads to less durability for the strings. Vibration, on the other hand, isn't a significant overall factor to consider as it also depends on the construction of the racket shaft. While there are various types of strings available in the market, this section represents the general characteristics applicable to all strings.
In general, For feather shuttlecocks:
Beginner: 18lbs to 23 lbs
Intermediate: 23lbs to 25lbs
Advanced: 26lbs to 28lbs
Pro players: 29lbs+
For plastic shuttlecocks: 1lbs lower than above values
These are just a recommendation, and it’s not restricted to what YOU actually want
Q: What are the common strings to choose and understanding their characteristics?
A: Unfortunately, in Canada, our options for string brands are quite limited. There are three major brands to choose from: Yonex, LiNing, and Victor. Almost all strings from these brands are made in Japan because Japan has the leading technology when it comes to nylon material and weaving patterns. Yonex, in particular, has a string lineup with "unreasonable and confusing" names, which can confuse many new players due to the presence of over 10 different strings. LiNing, on the other hand, offers only three types of strings, each with a clear definition based on your playing style. Victor has around five products in their lineup, with clear naming and characteristics as well. Before diving into a detailed discussion of each brand, let's focus on the one essential aspect you need to understand about strings: the string diameter.
String diameter typically ranges from approximately 0.5mm to 0.7mm+. Thinner strings provide better repulsion, a sharper sound, but less durability. Thicker strings offer better durability and can handle higher tension, resulting in better control. There is no perfect combination that excels in every aspect.
Yonex, being one of the largest brands for racket sports, offers a wide variety of options. The best way to distinguish Yonex strings is to look at the color of the package and read the pentagon chart.
Yellow stands for durability: Long term use & cheapest category & high tension
BG65 & BG65TI 0.7mm
Blue stands for repulsion: Smasher & not durable & breaks fast
BG66 Ultimax (aka. BG66UM) & BG66 Force 0.66mm
BG80 & BG80 power 0.68mm
Aerosonic (aka. BGAS) 0.61mm (Thinnest string Yonex provides)
Green stands for control: All-round player & most expensive category
AeroBite & AeroBite Boost a mixing of main 0.72mm cross 0.61mm
However this category also has okay durability (more durable than blues, less durable than yellows)
Red stands for hitting sound: not commonly used category
The pentagon chart:
Each yonex string has a pentagon chart above and it’s self-explanatory
LiNing string lineup:
LiNing has the simplest lineup for strings. (to be updated, this lineup is discontinued)
No.1: Competitor of Yonex BG66 series 0.65mm
No.5: Competitor of Yonex BG80 series 0.68mm
No.7: competitor of Yonex BG65 series 0.70mm
Victor string line up:
Victor string all starts with the name VBS (victor badminton string):
VBS-63: competitor of Yonex Aerosonic/Exbolt 0.63mm
VBS-66N: competitor of Yonex BG66 series 0.66mm
VBS-68/P: Competitor of Yonex BG80 series 0.68mm
VBS-69N: Competitor of Yonex NBG series 0.68mm
VBS-70/P: competitor of Yonex BG65 series 0.70mm
Q: After knowing my options for strings, which one is the best for me?
A: Brands compete with each other and offer similar products within the same class. However, even with the same tension and racket, each string and its competitors can still feel quite different. The choice of which string to play with is purely a matter of personal preference. For someone new to badminton strings, it is recommended to try different types until you find the perfect fit for you. Here are some general guidelines:
Beginners: Focus on your technique as a priority, so opt for something cheap and durable. At this stage, equipment matters less. Low tension strings are also preferred.
Intermediate: This is the stage where you identify your play style. Choose strings that align with the characteristics you desire. Select repulsion strings if you enjoy smashing, durable strings if you're on a budget, or control strings for a more all-round experience.
Advanced: By this stage, you should have a good understanding of the sport and your preferences.
You are encouraged to experiment with different options based on specific reasons (e.g., switching to BG65 from BG66 for better durability). However, I've witnessed many players becoming obsessed with buying "fancy" equipment, hoping it will improve their gameplay. This is a mistaken mindset, as a better racket alone doesn't enhance your skills. Always prioritize your technique and avoid falling into the cycle of constantly buying new rackets and strings, in my humble opinion. I've had customers who returned to me, complaining that their drops were not going over as before and their smashes lacked power. Upon observing their gameplay, it became evident that their forms and techniques were off. To give you an idea of how equipment isn't the most crucial factor, I would say, only 3% of your gameplay depends on the racket, 7% on the string, and a staggering 90% relies on your technique. When it comes to equipment alone, a $300 racket versus a $60 racket or a poor stock string versus a quality aftermarket string with the right tension, the latter has a far greater impact on your gameplay. As long as you don't have a $3 aluminum racket with fishing strings, your racket is fine. Aim to adapt to your racket rather than constantly searching for the elusive "perfect" one.
Q: How do I know if a stringing job is good or not? What is the stringing pattern? What are the differences? What's the best pattern? How do stringing patterns relate to a stringer’s knowledge/skill level?
A: There are many ways to tell if a stringing job is good or not. The first basic thing to look at is if the main & cross is woven correctly. It is very easy to tell if something is wrong if you look at your racket sideways. Then visually check if every piece of string is intact with no sign of cut or wear. Sometimes a stringer may accidentally cut/slice the string (the string wouldn’t break in this case but you can tell there is a cut/slice, since one piece of string is made of many thin nylon strings woven together) and lead to less string life. Knots should be the right size and clean, and they should not slide into the racket after playing with the racket (knot is too small or not strong enough).
There are different patterns to string a racket. Normally, you should only see 2 knots or 4 knots at MAX. Anything more than 4 knots, you stringer probably put some left over short piece of strings to string your racket which means you got ripped off.
Here I have some customer’s racket and I was astonished by his previous stringer’s job
His previous stringer used many short pieces of strings to string his racket and cut costs. This is absolutely terrible and very bad for the racket. By looking at the racket, see if there is any significant deformation showing on the racket. Some deformation is acceptable and rackets are designed to handle them. More bad examples:
Simple way to tell if the tension is high enough as what you asked: pinch the middle 2 main strings and if the tension is high, it will be hard to pinch them so that they touch each other
If your racket looks like this after you get it back from a stringer, you need to hire a new guy
Example of normal non-twisted string and twisted string, a bit of twisting is fine but the one shown in the pictures is really bad
If you get a chance to watch your stringer doing the work, do it! it would be fairly easy to tell if he/she is proficient enough.
BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THOSE WHO PRE-WEAVING MAIN AND CROSS THEN PUT ON THE MACHINE TO PULL, THIS IS A VERY OLD TECHNIQUE AND IT WILL RESULT IN STRING TWISTING FOR THE CROSSES (PICTURE ABOVE) AND THE TWISTING CAN NOT BE RELEASED. PRE-WEAVING MAIN IN TOTALLY FINE
BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THOSE WHO DO CROSS FROM TOP OF THE RACKET TO THE BOTTOM. IT IS PROVEN IN THE INDUSTRY AND TOP LEVEL STRINGERS THAT IT IS NOT A GOOD PRACTICE FOR STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY OF RACKETS. REASON HERE CAN BE QUITE COMPLICATED AS IT IS PHYSICS AND IN SHORT THE T JUNCTION HAS A PIECE OF T SHAPED METAL IN IT AND IT’S THE STRONGEST POINT OF A RACKET, HENCE WE DO MAINS FROM BOTTOM TO TOP. BADMINTON RACKETS ARE NOT TENNIS RACKETS.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, racket stringing is not rocket science. Two stringers with the same proficiency and knowledge will likely have the same stringing quality. However, the attitude of a stringer does play an important role. Some stringer would not care so much about the job quality because customers’ rackets are not their rackets and all they want is to get the money. What you get from those stringers might include: deformation of rackets, not so clean stringing job, many string overlaps on the side, short string life, not enough tension, string sunk into frame, twisted string, broken grommets, even collapsed frame. During my early badminton career, I’ve personally experienced stringer like that and resulted in one of my racket's death. Those who treat your rackets with care and inform your rackets’ conditions are the good stringers to go with. Be careful with those who upsell strings and say blabla string is the best string in the world.
There are 72/76/80/68/etc..(depending on the racket) gromets on a racket, hence there are more than one way to put on strings (patterns). Here are a few pictures of stringing patterns to give you a general idea
Yonex 4-knots pattern: The most common
ZZ Yonex 4-knots modified:
Gosen Haribito 2-knots:
SZ Haribito modified 2-knots:
And so on…
As you can see, no matter what pattern your stringer uses, there will be at MAX 4 knots on your racket. Among all those stringing patterns, the most common one in the world is the Yonex 4-knots pattern. It is widely used in North America here as badminton is not a popular sport here. A lot of the stringer learnt this way and they just keep using it forever on every racket. In Asian countries, like Japan, China, where the badminton scene is bigger, some good stringers are so good to the point that they invented stringing patterns like Mrs Haribito himself. Then some international level Chinese Stringer improved the Haribito pattern and named it SZ which is a very hyped and popular option in China. Some other guy modified the Yonex 4-knots pattern and named it ZZ. The Stringing pattern was never meant to be unique. When you see only 2 knots on your racket, don’t freak out! The general conception is 2 knots tend to retain tension better than 4 knots as there are less knots and less ‘movable points’ to lose tension. From my reading on badminton forums and stringing techniques, it seems like the Yonex 4 knots pattern is very forgiving to mistakes as it's more 'symmetrical' in terms of tension distribution. Different patterns have different advantages and disadvantages. Which one is better? My experience tells me, This is purely personal preference.
What comes more important than the stringing pattern? Is your racket deformed or not? Does the string tension feel enough to you? (you asked for 26 pounds but it feels worse than the other same racket I have that has the same string and 22 pounds when strung a while ago, that’s not right)
So all in all:
Job quality (skill, technique, attitude) > Stringing pattern
Let me give you a few more scenes to know if your stringer is good or not:
Assuming you have a racket that can take (rated) 35 pounds
You: Could you do BG66um @ 29 lbs in 2 knots pattern?
Stringer 1: Sorry I can’t do 29 pounds. It will break your racket in 2 knots (I can’t do that high of tension on this racket).
BS! If done correctly any pattern works on high tension, he/she is not confident enough to do high tension cause he/she is afraid to break anything. If the racket is in a healthy condition, there is nothing to be afraid of other than his/her own skill level.
Stringer 2: BG66um can not go over 26 pounds it will snap while stringing.
BS! A thin string can take that much, it just breaks hell a lot faster afterwards which is not recommended for amature players like us. Pro, on the other hand, does this all the time because they have sponsorships
Stringer 3: 2 knots pattern is all bad no good it will deform your racket! it will blablabla
Doesn’t that sound very biased to you? If you have some critical thinking skills, you should know that for almost everything, especially a method/a pattern to do a stringing job, there are good and bad at the same time.
Those scenes are just what I remember in my old days when I encountered stringers around me, after me being a stringer/engineer for a few years and as someone who is consistently looking for improvements on techniques on doing things and critical thinking skills. I do my research and I believe in solving problems scientifically. I would say some stringers are truly full of shit and don’t know what they are talking about.
From a customer perspective: There is nothing wrong asking for a different stringing pattern, it is your right to have a preference.
From a stringer perspective: If you only know one stringing pattern, there is nothing wrong with it. In the end, many stringers like me are not professional and do not do this for a living. Be honest to your customers and get really proficient with one pattern.
To summarize this big section, there is no ‘the best’ or ‘the worst’ there is only your personal preference as a customer and skill, attitude, experience from a stringer.
Q: My string broke the first time after I got it back from a stringer, does that make him a bad stringer ?
A: The answer to this question is Yes and No. Personally speaking, this has happened to me many times. I did one or two times, cut/slice the string accidentally while stringing the racket. Later on I give my customers discounts to remedy the mistake. Other times, customers wanted some really thin strings with high tension and I knew for a fact those strings would break really fast. It just happened to break for the first time. That is something I can’t really control and it’s not the stringer’s fault. Sometimes, the player mis-hit and the shuttlecock hit a single string area that would instantly snap the string. This is the reason why I recommend those who want higher tension to choose a thicker string instead. With many rackets, I am able to add another piece of string on the very top. This procedure decreases the single string area. It is widely used among pro stringers and decreases the chance of instant snap when mishit happens.
Q: What tools do I use to string rackets and why are they necessary?
A: Stringing machines do make differences. Every job is easy if the right tool is used
A two point stringing machine is the basic stringing machine whereby the racket is held in place at the top most and the ‘T’ section of the racket.
This kind of machine also requires fly clamps which doesn’t hold string tension as good as base clamps
A six point stringing machine has additional metal pieces to support the racket at 2 o'clock & 10 o'clock, 4 o'clock & 8 o'clock face position of the racket.
Assume a stringer does work on two different machines, one is a two point mounting system, the other one is a six point mounting system. Your racket will likely be more deformed after the job on the two points machine. Why? There is simply not enough support from the machine. Try to stay away from the 2 points machine if you can.
Q: Crank, drop weight, electric tension heads
A: 3 types of tension heads to put tension on strings:
Pros: fastest stringing job, relatively reliable
Cons: worst tension accuracy if not calibrated often, once hits target tension it can not add/drop anymore
Pros: Cheapest, reliable, best tension accuracy
Cons: Slow stringing job, less convenient, can’t do pre-stretch
Pros: Pre-stretch, accurate tension if calibrated properly
Cons: expensive, requires calibration and maintenance
What machine did I have? What machine do I have now?
My first machine was very similar to the one in the picture above, generic six points mounting system, Wise 2086 electric tension head. The little machine worked like a charm for many years. The Wise 2086 tension head is such a good product which drove the price of electric machines down significantly. After all these years, the tension head still pulls with an amazing accuracy. But eventually, it is about time to retire my old work horse and be more serious about my tool after stringing many rackets over the years. It was time for an upgrade
When I was shopping my new machine, I wanted a tournament grade machine. Something big and appealing to my customers, not only in the badminton market but also in other racket sport market. Wilson Baiardo then came under the spotlight. It is a very well known machine in the tennis world. It is the one beast that every stringer knows about. However, I didn't get the "full version" of the Wilson Baiardo, I got the lite version of Wilson Baiardo. The lite version is the most recent update of the original Wilson Baiardo, it doesn't have the fancy motorized height/tilt adjustments. However, Wilson Baiardo lite has improved multi-rackets (as in different types of rackets) support and 5 teeth clamp for badminton rackets. Arguably the best machine in Ottawa In terms of small businesses. I am very serious about what I do even though I don't do this for a living.
Toothless pliers to preserve strings, grommets tool to replace grommets, nice solid pair of spring loaded base clamps
“a workman must first sharpen his tools if he is to do his work well”
A stringer who has a high-end machine and tools will likely do a better job than those who doesn’t
Q: It only takes you 20 to 25 mins to do one racket, did you rush the job?
A: Nope, like I said, stringing is a matter of proficiency. Pro stringers can do one racket within 20 minutes and there is nothing wrong with it. You may see some stringer bragging about how fast their stringing job is, 12mins per racket, 14mins per racket, blablabla. My comment is racket stringing is not speed competition, it is a service. Short stringing time shows a stringer's proficiency, but it's not a reason to show off. 15 - 25mins would be a good bench mark for speed and quality.
Q: What are your tips to take care of my 300 dollars rackets:
A: GROMMETS, CUT, ENVIRONMENT. There are many uncontrolled factors when it comes to a racket’s life expectancy. When you play doubles, racket clashes are inevitable. Even when you play singles, you probably hit your rackets many times on the ground. Put the scissors in your badminton bag and develop the habit of cutting the string right after you break it. The uneven tension deforms the racket badly if you don’t cut it soon. Inspect those grommets regularly and ask your stringer to change it if it’s necessary. A responsible stringer would replace the bad ones before stringing it. Grommets are like spacers that lower the pressure of string tension applied on the frame. Bad grommets will cause frame sinkage and eventually damage the racket permanently. I’ve seen customers with rackets that have 12 years old grommets and they are absolutely destroyed. It’s something that’s very often ignored by players. According to my own experience, be extra cautious with grommets with the following rackets:
Victor: JS-9,10,11,12, Auraspeed 90S....
Yonex: All their 5U,4U rackets, arcsaber 11, nanoflare 700....
list goes on....
Search your racket model online and I am sure you will find out if the racket is notorious for sinking
Replace ‘T’ shaped grommets to further lower the pressure if you are worried.
Avoid extreme temperature exposure to your rackets at all time especially with Canadian winter,
If you can’t take your racket bag home after you play, let your racket warm up before you go hard next time.
Enjoy the sport! Any question, regards, please don't hesitate to use the website's contact form to send me a message.