Some Yo-yo basics

I am a new Yo-yoer (i am also a novice juggler) who is a fanatic. I have been using any yo-yo I can get my hands on, but I would really appreciate any suggestions on the best yo-yo's.

Robin E. Baylor

Well, for what it's worth, I'm using a "No-Jive" yo-yo. It comes with a metal axle and two wooden sleeves for the axle, and spare string. (I got the thing 6 years ago & lost the spare parts, but the originals still work fine). The model I got was laser carved wood. (I did NOT pay extra for the one with Tommy Smother's autograph carved into it).

I have also seen an office mate using a yo-yo with some kind of mechanical clutch that was supposed to make it easier to "sleep", but I don't know the make of that & I didn't get a chance to check it out for myself.

I enjoy what I'm using, but have no idea how it stacks up against what else is available. (Although it's clearly better than what's in the average toy store).

Steven M. Salberg

What's an SB2? I'm just using a wooden Kodak yo-yo that I got with the Tommy Smothers video. I got quite a and yo-yo for US $5.

An SB2 is a Yo-Yo with ball bearings built in so it can achieve incredibly long spins so you can do a "cat's cradle" followed by "rock the baby" followed by "the texas star" and then "split the atom" without re-loading.

By the way, this thing has a wooden axle. Is that normal? It may not be great, but it beats the snot out of any Duncan I've ever had. I just started playing with mine but I'm getting better.

Yes, that's normal. The "better" yo's out there have replaceable wooden axles. When the string cuts a groove into the wood, it will affect the performance.

If you are serious about getting better, get yourself a "Don Kuhn 3-in-1" wooden Yo-Yo. It is the All-Around Champ for overall performance. It is good for "string tricks", "around the world tricks" and "loops". Also, it is configurable so you can take it apart and make it either a traditional shape (|-|) or a lepidoptera shape |)-(| or a pagoda shape (|-(| (which is a blend of both shapes but I've never seen a pro perform with one).

Brendan Brolly

I have also seen an office mate using a yo-yo with some kind of mechanical clutch that was supposed to make it easier to "sleep", but I don't know the make of that & I didn't get a chance to check it out for myself.

I've had a go on a couple of these. I think they're made by Yomega and I'd avoid them. They're really unpredictable as to when they'll come back up and they're also very heavy.

GReg Cohen

SB-2 is God's Gift to Yo-Yos. It's made of aircraft aluminum, and has a precision ball bearing axle. Sleeping for over a minute is not uncommon. Costs limbs, too... was on sale a few months back for "only" $60.

I am not a fan of transaxles. (perhaps I am a yo-yo snob) They loop poorly, but sleep very well. I guess I am a yo-yo purist. Give me a wooden axle any day. My favorite is the original SB. the same aluminum body, but a wooden axle.

I believe the SmoBroYoYo is made by Tom Kuhn, who also makes the SB-2. The wooden axle is a Good Thing.

The one he is talking about is the Hummingbird Smothers Brothers yo-yo. The TC version is better.

My WWW pages have the entire TC line on them (and more). The TC line, The Yomega line, and other more obscure yo-yos. These are also in my regular catalog now (also see below). I've been hunting for better and better yo-yos for my catalog, and I'm open to suggestions.

Steven M. Salberg

I have also seen an office mate using a yo-yo with some kind of mechanical clutch that was supposed to make it easier to "sleep", but I don't know the make of that & I didn't get a chance to check it out for myself.

The YOMEGA "Yo-Yo With a Brain" is built with a free-spinning axle that has spring loaded brakes. The brakes have weights in them that release the axle when the yo spins fast enough to force the weights toward the perimeter. So when the yo is at the bottom of the string the brakes are off so the yo is spinning without any friction on the string. As the yo slows down, the brakes engage and grab the axle that then rolls up the string.

It's fun to play with and the guy who sells them can do lot's of tricks with them, but I got tired of the novelty quickly and found that you have to learn "new" skills to get it to work (which may interfere with your "old" skills) with tricks.

Robin also cited the "No-Jive" yo-yo. I mentioned the 3-in-1 in my last post. I *think* they are the same, or versions of the same Yo-Yo.

Warren P. Koepp

Duncan Yo-Yo's: Once a yo-yo giant and maker of quality wooden yo-yo's, the switch to all plastic has made Duncan yo-yo's very low quality. However, they are cheap, and I learned many tricks on some old Duncans. Also, if you're interested in learning a lot of neat tricks, get the "Duncan Yo-Yo and Spin Top Trick Book" which can be ordered off the form on the back of any Duncan yo-yo package. Despite many other books and videos out there, the Duncan trick book is still, IMHO, the single best book to learn all the tricks.

There's a guy named Mark Anderson, often at Madison (WI) Area Jugglers, who buys Duncans in bulk up in Baraboo, at the Flambeau Plastics Outlet Store. The "Special" model he gives out to kids when he does school shows. It is an adequate beginning yoyo.

The two models Mark uses himself (among his Duncan's, that is) are the "Professional" (mainly for loop tricks) and the "Wheels" (for things like the braintwister and atom smasher). As is common knowledge, the metal axles suck. He solved this problem by breaking the yoyo, twisting out the metal axle, and replacing it with a wooden dowel using superglue. Because the yoyos are cheap ($1.50 or so) to begin with, he is able to experiment with different axle lengths and different types of wood for the axle. Not every one will break nicely, and sometimes the damage from removing the axle is too great to be successfully repaired, but mostly he gets very good results. The mass of the "Wheels" makes it spin for an incredibly long time, once the right axle is in place.

Steven M. Salberg

Stuff about yo-yo string getting twisted up

This brings back terrible memories of one of my earliest Yo-Yo contests.

There are specific tricks that you throw "between" tricks to wind or unwind the string. They are called "the Sleeping Princess" "the Flying Saucer" and such. I got eliminated by failing on the Princess.

Here's how you do these: The normal orientation of a Yo is vertical (the two halves on the left and right with the string going up the middle). To wind/unwind the string you have to throw the Yo out to the side so it lays on its side like a Flying Saucer. If you throw the Yo out to the side like you are throwing a frisbee (aim down, below parallel) it will spin out and when it sleeps at the end, it will fall back towards you (let it sleep). As it falls back towards you the string will catch on the side of the Yo. So, the yo will be spinning at the end of the string laying flat (parallel to the floor) and it will be TIGHTENING the wrap.

Remember the saying for screwdrivers: Right-Tight, Left-Loose. If you throw flat out to the right, it will tighten the string. Throw out to the left to loosen the string.

The pros use this throughout their acts to Fine-Tune the string... and you should too! If you are going to do LOOPS, tighten the string first with the Right-side throw. If you need more slack for a long sleeper, throw out to the left and loosen the string.

Getting out of the trick can be tough at first. First, just try to flick the Yo up in the air and move your hand out to the right side. The string will get back into the groove, grab the axle, and wrap the string back up.

More control is gained by grabbing the string about 6 inches above the Yo, lifting it up to parallel to your Yo-ing hand, then just toss it up a bit and it will wrap. This is the Sleeping Princess (I think?).

I like to do it all in one motion without using my other hand, without letting the Yo stop moving in it's arc. Throw out to the right, as it swings by your legs (right to left pendulum) it goes into the flat spin, continues out to the left and up (continuing pendulum) then when it gets up on the left side it wraps and shoots across my chest from left to right into my hand.

BTW, I'll let you try to figure out how to throw it to the left. It's tougher than most people think (for you lefties it's tougher to throw to the right). If you get really stuck, post and I'll tell you (ain't I a bastard?).

Another hint: wrap your string finger with tape to prevent that ugly (and PAINFUL) string burn.

Phillip Burgess

The book "World on a String" contains both historical information and a good assortment of tricks. $12.00 (occasionally on sale for less) from, of course, Tom Kuhn Yo-Yos. They also have dandy replacement strings... I think they're $1.00 for five.

Tom Kuhn Yo-Yos: (415) 921-8138.

No, I don't own stock... but maybe I should! :-)

Larry Peterka

on yo-yo strings

(IMHO) What you need to learn to do is throw a "Sleeping beauty" (Or similar trick) This is thrown across your body to the right (If you are left handed) or to the left (If you are right handed) (I think thats right) by throwing across instead of down the yo-yo will not spin on the axle but will spin horizontally - Pick up the string about 2/3 of the way to the yo-yo with the other hand (Not your throwing hand) the string will either wrap tighter or loosen depending what direction you throw. This allows you to adjust tension while yo-ing. To retrieve the yo-yo just drop the string and give a sharp pull. Depending what you want throwing this way you can tighten or loosen the string at will and it just looks like another trick. There are many variations that you can use. An easy one that kids laugh at is called the rattlesnake. Instead of picking the yo-yo up after you make the horizontal throw you let it hang down the string will make loops following the yo-yo's motion let the string touch your pants leg or other surface, the sound of the string hitting the object gives the trick it's name. With a little practice these are easy to do while still staying in "Yo"

Most yo-yo books have pictures and descriptions of these tricks and other variations.

Keep spinning!!!

Some Yo-yo basics / Juggling Information Service /
© 2007 Juggling Information Service. All Rights Reserved.