Unless you feel your yo-yo has a serious problem in play, it’s unlikely you need to worry about vibe on any new, undamaged yoyo. Most modern yo-yos are exceptionally smooth because the quality of manufacturing is so high today, and vibe is nowhere near as common as it used to be 10 or 20 years ago!
What is yo-yo vibe?
It’s when the two halves of the yo-yo are mismatched in
- weight distribution
… resulting in vibration when the yo-yo is spinning.
If each yo-yo half is aligned perfectly flat against each other, and the weight is evenly distributed in each half, no vibe should be present.
What causes vibe?
Damage is a big one. Slam your throw into the concrete enough and it may introduce vibe because the axle or bearing seat gets bent! Dings and damage on each half don’t matter much, except insofar as they are evidence that the axle and/or bearing seat are now damaged.
Materials. Some materials cannot be machined with the precision of metal, especially wood, and to a lesser extent plastic, and are inherently going to have a bit more vibe. This is normal. Also note that bimetal or trimetal yoyos add more variables to the mix for metal yo-yos.
Manufacturing variance. No matter how good the manufacturing is, there may be minute differences in the materials used, the machining, or rare contaminants. People and even machines sometimes make mistakes!
Testing for vibe
- Throw a hard sleeper
- Place your fingernail on the rim, or in the gap
- Let the yo-yo stabilize for 2-3 seconds against your fingernail
If there is significant vibe you will feel it (and hear it) on your fingernail. I personally like to hold my fingernail in the gap so it smooths out any “fake vibe” from my crappy throws, like so:
with your fingernail held in the gap for a few seconds after a hard throw …
On a really smooth yo-yo, you will feel no vibration at all – it’s like an air hockey puck sliding across a perfectly smooth gap of air on an air hockey table. Ahhhh
On a vibey yo-yo, the metal in the gap will never fully stabilize against your fingernail – it’ll bounce and shake around and never rest smoothly against your nail, instead clanging against it constantly.
A bit of vibe isn’t the end of the world! There’s no reason to obsess over vibe too much unless it’s actively interfering with your play – a little vibe is plenty playable, and “perfect” isn’t necessary.
When should I be concerned about vibe?
If the yo-yo is visibly wobbling on the string on every throw (in the same way).
If the vibration is so severe that it interferes with normal play because the yo-yo is unstable on the string.
“Pulse” or “Harmonic” vibration where the vibration is not constant, but happens in repeating patterns.
It’s not usually possible to fix vibe since vibe depends how balanced and aligned the two halves of the yo-yo are. However, you might be able to improve it if the axle or bearing is a factor.
In order of difficulty and cost:
- flip the axle around and thread it into the other side
- flip the bearing around
- clean and/or lubricate the bearing
- replace the axle with a different or new axle
- use teflon tape on the axle to make it thread tighter (if threads are becoming loose or stripped)
- replace the bearing with a different or new bearing