What is yo-yo vibe and how do I test for it?

:mega: 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
  • alignment

… 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

  1. Throw a hard sleeper
  2. Place your fingernail on the rim, or in the gap
  3. 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 :drooling_face:

  • 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.

:mega: 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.

“Fixing” vibe

:warning: 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

reference video 1, reference video 2, reference video 3


I’m not so sure how necessary it is to have the halves the same weight. I have put together two different halves of yoyos I’ve made with huge size, weight and density differences and it spun quite smoothly.


You gave me an idea for an experiment so I created this … it is half yoyofficer vector, half horizon ultra … and all monstrosity! :japanese_ogre:


Shockingly you are correct, I wouldn’t have believed it unless I tried it myself … but this was dead smooth on the string :scream:

So perhaps you are right that vibe is mostly alignment of the halves?


I often read articles and watch youtube videos on how other woodturners make their yoyos and often try and tell them through the screen ‘it doesn’t matter!’ when they stress the importance of making the halves the same weight.

I think, at least in metal yoyos, the vibe usually comes from sloppy axle tolerances and the bearing. This is why the teflon tape fix often works; it can help absorb some of it.

There are also a lot of loose little parts in bearings that vibrate to varying degrees which can transmit into the body.

Bimetals are another level because there is an extra part. The more parts, the more easily vibe is introduced. I suppose the 9 Dragons is a good example of this (even though the shells are plastic).

Very thin walls combined with very high rim weight can also create a lot of vibe, so design definitely plays a part too even when a yoyo is machined perfectly.


I put together the most extreme half swap I could… half Dread G (80g version), half Smashing Crucible (50g). Massive difference in shape, diameter, and weight, see for yourself :rofl:


Again… dead smooth on the string. It does list heavily to the side and it wants to turn because of the weight differential, but it’s perfectly vibe free. Seriously. I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t tried it!

I’m starting to wonder if the halves matter less than the internal symmetry on each side, that is, distort the weight distribution of any side and that’s the origin of vibe. Because clearly mismatched sides isn’t causing vibe!

(Also agreed that this shows the alignment of the bearing and bearing seats and axle is extremely important.)


My son and I just conducted a vibe science experiment!

Ingredients – MagicYoyo N12 Shark’s Honor*, hammer, and concrete.


Before we begin, I’d rate this yoyo 9/10 on the fingernail smoothness test. I’ve felt smoother, but it’s certainly very smooth with no vibe at all.

Phase 1 – light rim damage

We disassembled the yoyo and used the hammer to damage just one single rim, along the outside of the rim.


reassembled and thrown, no change to vibe, still 9/10 smoothness

Phase 2 – medium rim damage


reassembled and thrown, no change to vibe, still 9/10 smoothness

Phase 3 – heavy rim damage


reassembled and thrown, extremely minor change to vibe, mayyyybe 8.5/10 smoothness?


Given my previous testing combining radically different yo-yo halves and experiencing no vibe, adding these experiments leads me to this conclusion – no amount of rim damage or variance in the yo-yo halves alone can really affect vibe.

Bonus testing – throw damage

Since we know extreme rim damage alone doesn’t work … clearly the damage that matters must be around the axle and bearing. To get that kind of damage you have to throw the assembled yo-yo, I think. We tested by taking the same N12 – still 8.5/10 smooth – and throwing it as assembled, with string, into concrete.

My 9 year old son and I both tested this together, so we started with his throws and then mine (stronger, as I am an adult).

  • after 5-6 light “oops” throw into concrete → no change to vibe
  • after 5-6 medium “oops” throws into concrete → no change to vibe
  • after several heavy intentional adult strength throws into concrete … then, and only then, we got to 7/10 on the vibe scale!

In short, the only way we could introduce intentional and meaningful vibe is to literally throw the yo-yo, assembled, as hard as we could at adult strength, into concrete. And to be honest even at 7/10 it was plenty playable! It was vibe you could detect with your fingernail quite easily but it didn’t impact play and was not visible on the string.

Of course, IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE, we kept throwing the yo-yo into concrete at heavy adult strength levels until it eventually came apart and we saw a visible bend in the axle. We put it back together and the yo-yo was still playable at that point though I’d rate it at 4/10 on vibe. And I suspect you could possibly fix it up a bit more by putting in a new axle.


It’s kind of shocking to me how resilient this yo-yo was, even when we were trying to break it, that wasn’t nearly as easy to do as I thought it would be. Turns out aluminum yo-yos are pretty tough!

As a result of these experiments I’ve updated the first post @Glenacius_K. It does seem that vibe is 90% the axle and bearing seat. I need to run an experiment to see what weight asymmetry on each half does, but I think metal simply isn’t capable of having as much weight density variance as wood or plastic due to unformity of the material.

* do sharks actually understand the concept of honor though


I have to disagree. Damaging a yo-yo half while the yo-yo is disassembled isn’t consistent with how a yo-yo normally gets damaged. When your yo-yo is spinning a full speed and it smacks into concrete the entire yo-yo is effected. It looks like it’s just rim damage, but the force of the impact can cause a slight bend in the bearing seat, yo-yo halves, or axle that would cause vibe.


Isn’t that exactly what I said in the first post edit from 18 hours ago?

1 Like

Oooh I misunderstood. I thought you were saying the damage experiment proved otherwise for some reason. Anyway, since this is a thread about vibe, here’s a helpful video:


what yoyo is on the first photo, right below the video

YYO Blossom

1 Like

A little bit of vibe is no big deal, but as it progresses to a wobble it is an issue. A wobble can definitely be felt. Back in another time and place one could test for vibe or wobble by throwing a good sleeper in front of a CRT TV or monitor. The 60 Hz frequency of the CRT definitely showed any vibe no matter how slight. Unfortunately that trick dosn’t work with an LED monitor. I guess that dates me…


I really appreciate this thread because I thought vibe was determined when you first touch it meaning my Superstar(and only metal) had vibe. I was kind of bummed but not anymore.

1 Like

Now think about that for a sec. When you thought it had vibe you were bummed. But now you’re not. Maybe people get a little too hung up on vibe. :slight_smile:


@codinghorror Can you elaborate on harmonic vibe? I got an iPPON last week and it seems to have this problem straight out of the box. Why is harmonic vibe something to be more worried about than constant vibration?

  1. Does this harmonic (periodic) vibe persist even if you place your fingernail against the gap?

  2. Is it visible in an average throw, does the yo-yo alternate between blurry and not-blurry at regular intervals?

  3. can you feel it in the string on an average throw, where the string alternates between a vibration that you can feel in your finger, and not vibrating at all?

The one vibey yoyo I have that meets all three of these criteria is a topyo/unprld elimination I got off the reddit b/s/t, which is bimetal with an extra metal ring, so presumably has even more variables at work than your average monometal or bimetal…

It’s still playable, of course, but it’s kind of a bummer.

1 Like

So my iPPON does this, but it’s only significant enough for me to feel when I’m not playing and just staring at it while it’s spinning.

The main question is - Does the vibe go away or smooth out when you touch the yo-yo with your fingernail?

Any imperfect throw will result in some vibe. Touching it to smooth it out is the best way to test if the yo-yo is vibey from your throw or from an actual issue with the yo-yo itself.

1 Like

My throw vibe does go away when I touch it to my fingernail but then the harmonic/pulsating vibe remains.

However, I just tried reinstalling the axle and it seems to be almost completely gone now, so that’s nice!

1 Like

I might try an axle reinstall with my Wedge.

1 Like