Last week I met up with a couple of guys from Throne of String, Cesar and Chris, and the three of us got the chance to hang out, and learn how to string traditional, down in Brooklyn, with the one and only Greg Rose of Zen, Lacrosse, and the Art of Stringing.
It was my first time stringing traditional, ever.
Traditional always seemed impossible to me, it just looked way too complicated. I guess I was always afraid of the maintenance aspect of it as much as anything, so I never really took the time to learn to string. Mesh was always simple to me, but in a nutshell, I learned that traditional is just as simple, maybe even simpler. Think I’m crazy? I hope my story gives you some clarity on how simple it really is.
Chris Tiernan had some of his special treated leathers for me, so half of the battle was already fought. I didn’t have to stretch them or anything. I attached them to the head via a removable top string and I was ready to go (if the head ever breaks, I can transfer my traditional over!).
I was stringing up a Nike Lakota and Greg Rose was stringing up an old school head with only 5 holes on the sidewall (check it out on his instagram). Before we started, we talked about composing my pocket to satisfy my playing style. I’m a shooter (or so I’d like to think) and I love a snappy release with lots of hold (don’t we all?) but not too much so that I shoot at my toes. After some talk, I decided to go with 5 to 6 diamonds.
Personally, I hate rules and I don’t really like to follow them. Traditional has very few rules that you have to follow strictly. The rest is preference, creativity, and very similar to mesh. But as every stringer knows, keeping it tight at the top will always be a good way to start.
Greg taught me how to string the interlocks correctly but I learned it visually. In essence all you’re really doing is just creating diamonds and repeating until you reached the desired amount. If you learn to interlock your diamonds correctly, you’re pretty much golden. Of course I also had my knots way too tight in certain spots but it was fairly easy to go back in and loosen them.
When I finished, I had a big gap at the bottom. I told Greg, this is a problem… right? Then he asked me why, only answer I could come up with was “because everyone else says so”. So he gave me a ball and we pounded the pocket in, naturally the ball sat in the middle of the pocket but could shift low and high. When the ball sat at the bottom, it was snugged in there no problem. The modified bottom string that we used didn’t cause any problems at all. His method of madness worked!
My little brother is using a traditional strung up by Connor Wilson. He loves it, but over time as the pocket broke in, the sidewall ripped and the ball started lipping. My little brother threw in a floating sidewall and even a nylon runner across the scoop of the head. It is certainly something different, but it is something that has been working for him.
So there you have it, my first traditional. Not the best but not the worst. Technique is key and function rules over aesthetics. The way we attached the leathers to the bottom isn’t the prettiest way to do it but it works and at the end of the day, thats what it is all about…Finding what works and getting creative.