'Why fixed axle?' you may well be thinking... We'll tell you why!

(Spinworthy Glen) #1

I want to open in giving just two reasons why fixed axle yoyoing should not be overlooked by you ball bearing only throwers out there.

My reasons are numerous, but one thing that I love about fixed axle yoyoing (wood particularly) is that fact that it is such an interesting juxtaposition of being the very roots of yoyoing, a path that has been well worn over may decades, yet has been resurrected as a very fresh and exciting modern style by the efforts of Ed Haponik, Drew Tetz and others. It makes it both classic and an exciting avenue brimming with new creative possibilities.

It’s also a rewarding challenge that strikes a great balance between looking slick and kinda goofy; both inspiring and giving a few chuckles. I don’t think modern 1A style quite strikes that balance in the same way.

Chime in, everyone! Share some of your reasons why fixed axle is a worthy pursuit.


I am not very good at it, but I really love fixed axle for multiple reasons. First of all, some fixed axles I have seen are beautiful. I have a TK no jive mandala, for instance. Also some of the tricks people do, are amazing!

(⛷ Noisy Lurker) #3

Wooden fixed axle was the beginning of my yoyo journey. My grandmother made most of her toys as a child and taught me to make many of my own as well. The yoyo was the first toy she showed me how to make out of a fallen tree limb and a piece of dowel. Therefore, the wooden fixed axle play starts with warm memories and is incredibly special to me.

For me, one of the special things about wooden responsive yoyos is that the yo can be made at home for little to no cash. They can be as simple or extravagant as one wants. They can be made for others, slammed into the ground, sat on, stepped on, abused, and you just make another. Making your own allows you to experiment and makes yo-yoing even more of an individual experience.

I’ve always enjoyed being able to simply give the string a tug and have the yoyo return. I still remember the first time I got it right and the yo zipped back to my hand, and “around the corner” made me cheer and let’s not forget my friends requesting “dog through hoop.” My first trapeze on a responsive was the day I really believed I could yoyo lol.

When I introduce someone to yo-yoing, I usually hand them a responsive yoyo. Responsive is more than a beginning, it’s a journey, it’s joy, it’s frustrating at times, it’s effort, it’s rewarding, it’s time well spent.


My first yoyo was a wooden Butterfly. Why? Because that was what was available in those days. Yes I like bearings and have quite a collection but my first “love” is wooden, fixed axle yoyo’s.


Despite what some will argue, it WILL make you a better player when you go back to bearings. Fixed axle will punish any sloppy play. It will really help you to become a smooth player.

With that said, I do believe that if you’re not interested in fixed axle play, that’s ok too :slight_smile: As much as I, and many others, love it, I’m beginning to understand that it’s not for everyone. Maybe eventually it will be, but some people love tech just as much as I love doing a stall or a kickflip, and that’s awesome as well :slight_smile:


The yoyo that led to my discovery of modern yoyos was an impulse purchase Duncan Butterfly several years ago. I wanted to learn more tricks than sleeper and walk the dog, and I stumbled on this site and another…my eyes were opened.

I started playing unresponsive and enjoy it, but, when I saw Ed’s fixed axle tutorials, then later the fixed axle “trick war” videos of Ed and Drew, I was hooked. How could anyone take such a simple toy, one that I sometimes found challenge to rock the baby without spinning out, and do these amazing, magical tricks. I was on a mission. I learned that some of the ‘nicer’ wooden fixed axles had better spin time, but, that skill was the ‘secret’. It transported me back to grad school, hearing my advisor tell me “the poor craftsman blames the tools.” I was on a mission to learn some aspect of Ed and Drew’s (among others) magic. It has been a crazy journey. It has also been a huge amount of fun, so much so that I don’t think I have days where I don’t pick up some fixed axle, just to throw for a couple of minutes. Also, an unintended side effect is that my unresponsive play has improved. It still takes me forever to learn new tricks, but, fixed has fixed my bearing play.

(InvaderDust) #7

(warning, i just woke up and am sipping coffee. The following may not be totally coherent)

Just for sake of friendly debate and to further conversation, Ill stand on the other side of the fence.

I think the reason they are not popular is that they are in stark contrast to todays throws and journey. Fixies are pretty hard. Down up, not so much, but any tricks become a mountain of a mole hill. If anyone started on fixed, sure they’ll “get it” but those that started with modern will be feeling like they are taking a GIANT step backwards. The difficulty curve goes nearly vertical past rock the baby. Doable? sure, but dam is it hard! Spirit Bomb? I imagine theres only a handful of people that can do this on a fixed. Kinda like Kendama, few people stick with it due to the very very high difficulty.

But with NonResponsive, if you mess up, you can try it again. Going off kilter? adjust and try again. Horrid knot or axle wraps? Unscrew it and get it out effortlessley. With Fixed, if you miss or it fails, game over. Time to rewind. One shot to get it perfect before having to recover its insane flopping and twists from a minor imperfect move and wind it back and fix tension. Not to mention that massive majority of fixies cannot unscrew, and have super tall walls and tiny thin gaps. This is a nightmare and borderline deal breaker for me personally. Having to pick a bad knot from a fused fixie is like a bad dream. I know im hurting the string digging and gouging away in there trying to fish out and get into that rock solid knot. I hate that feeling. If you cant get it, you gotta slice it out. That just sucks.

Also cotton string. (shudders at the thought) The constant fear of it breaking is enough to put me off.

Now I know there is history and lore, timelessness and class with wooden responsives, but I dont see them as ever gaining popularity again. Ive got a few. I throw them a few times, smile at the novelty, and put them back away.

Perhaps this is my inexperience talking. Maybe im too young to “get it” (im 34 btw), or maybe I just would prefer a new sporty car over a classic (albiet beautiful) late 50’s chevy. There are simply different rigs for different gigs.

I do not think that starting on fixed is any better than starting on unresponsive. They both have things to teach you. They both will bring new things to the table, But I would almost recommend people to start with UNresponsive if they want to do tricks like theyve seen me do or on youtube vids. To start someone on fixed that wants to do 1A is not going to do them any favors by forcing them to learn things they dont want or need. I remember hearing gripes of competetitors back in the day being forced to learn 2A just so they could show their style in the freestyles (1A’s humble roots).

Both are important in their own ways. I would argue the importance of Unresponsive’s breakthrough and possibilities act as a crutch in someways but that the same time, with a crutch it allows you to make progress when otherswise it would not happen in a timley manner and it would be FAR easier for an aspiring hobbyist to get burnt out on the challenge of fixed when the convenience of Unresponsive is within reach.

I may go as far as to say start with Unresponsive and once you become proficient in 1A THEN try your hand at the wacky world of fixed. That way you wont hit a wall right off the bat, look at videos of people doing LONG runs of insane tricks, yet the fixed that youve got wont trapeze for more than a second. Thats the epitome of disappointment to the aspiring but over-challenged fixed player.

“Nothing will discourage an aspiring musician more than a beginner instrument.”

If I had a customer come in asking about yoyo and expressing interest in doing tricks with it, the LAST thing I would hand them would be a duncan butterfly. I want them to enjoy the hobby, not quit THAT night because that butterfly is such garbage.

Id go as far as to say that few things have driven away or turned off potential throwers more than the dreaded imperial/butterfly trap. Im hard pressed to find something worse, yet at the same time MEGA popular in people minds as “the one to get.” Then they try it, nearly everything is impossible, they get discouraged and come to the conclusion that “yoyo is not for me” when in reality its just the super sh*t yoyo that hasnt changed since the 50s (guessing at time frame here). Stuck in its old ways worse than my (fictional) super racist g-pa that hates everything. Old, bitter, and needs to retire. It needs to be desperately re-designed or discontinued for the sake of the newbies! They just want to play and duncan made sure to make that happen as little as possible with these aged models. (but they are so cheap!. . . . “exactly. were not talking price, were talking design and execution”) Low prices are good. Bad design doesnt make the low price worth it. Being cheap and being low priced are totally different things.

Again, I want to reiterate that I can think of few things that have turned yoyos off more than the duncan butterfly/imperial. I know some will take it on and continue but I feel that massive majority will abandon the journey based on the perceived difficulty, borderline impossibility, of what they see, vs what they got in their hands.

Yes a poor craftsman blames the tools, but sometimes, it really is the tools shortcoming that prevent a nice final product. Sure when your pro you can take kiddie instruments and make beautiful music, but for a first timer? its a joke.


I post this link all the time, but if you’re interested in fixed axle you have to read these posts, so many great tips in these:

(Spinworthy Glen) #9

InvaderDust, you really are participating in the wrong thread here.

(InvaderDust) #10

Friendly Debates not welcome? Conversation out the window?
i see…
Ill see myself out.

(Spinworthy Glen) #11

I have no problem with what you were saying, this just isn’t meant to be a fixed vs bearing thread.

I have much I could say about what you wrote, but it seems pretty clear to me that fixed axle really isn’t your thing, and that’s perfectly fine!

(yospeedracer) #12

i love them all. i started with duncan back in the 60’s. when i came back to the hobby a year ago, it was because the allure of the new hot shiny ball bearing machined aluminum wonders that were available. i’m hooked. however, fixed axle especially a well crafted fixed axle will definitely make you a better thrower, not to mention it is still a yoyo, ment to be thrown. a viable addition to any throwers collection, not to be discarded as “old school”, but revered. to each there own. bottom line though, what do you have to lose just by trying? i now know as many tricks on my 1a throws as i do on my fixy. i play everyday.

(yospeedracer) #13

even if your just playing catch with yourself. soooo much fun. plus you can do it a lot easier than 1a while your walking.

(yospeedracer) #14

i think some yoyoers out there only yoyo for a goal. a means to an end. but they are missing the fun of just having something in your hands that you can play catch with while still being very challenging if you want it to be.


I like the idea of playing fixed and I have an OUT yoyo, but I don’t do much with it besides very basic stuff. The notion of an unreachable permanent knot is pretty terrifying. I may pick up a different fixed wooden yoyo that comes apart to boost my confidence.

(yospeedracer) #16

i always keep a plastic toothpick in my pocket for knots. i prefer to pick them out vs unscrewing yoyo halves


I use a plastic zip tie that is attached to my Swiss Army knife for knots. I try to avoid unscrewing unless needed.

(From the cranky old folks home) #18

With yoyos that don’t come apart you can always use some sort of pick or thin tool to unravel a knot. Paper clips and tooth picks have worked for me.


I understand what you are intending and I can respect it, but, I do take offense at " that butterfly is such garbage."

(yospeedracer) #20

i have a brand new duncan butterfly on my desk. it’s not crap. i can shoot the moon with it. but the biggest part is how can you not have a smile on your face when playing catch with a yoyo? any yoyo? i mean unless it just doesn’t work. even the chinese duncan butterfly works.