Diabolo / Chinese Yoyo Buyer's Guide
The Yoyoplay Guide to Buying a Diabolo / Chinese Yoyo
If you’ve never used a diabolo (also known as a Chinese yoyo) before, it can be a little bit overwhelming to look at all of the models we have for sale. Which one should you buy?
Many of the differences between diabolos / Chinese yoyos are a matter of personal preference, so you probably can’t go too wrong by just buying any of them at random. But let’s explain all the different aspects, so that you can see which type you might prefer for yourself.
Diabolo / Chinese Yoyo Sizes: Big or Small?
If you start looking at the individual models, you’ll see that the sizes can vary between them. Which size should you buy?
In general, larger diabolos can be a little bit easier to control, and are also better for performing, because they are easier to see. However, the larger sizes can make your arms tired faster, and can make doing tricks with multiple diabolos harder or impossible. Smaller diabolos are easier to take with you and store, are a little bit easier on your arms, and are a better choice for doing tricks with multiple diabolos at the same time.
Anything in the 4” to 5” diameter range is going to be a reasonable choice. The 4” size is a good choice for beginners in that it is large enough to be easy enough to learn with, and still small enough that it is portable and not too heavy for your arms.
Type of Material: Soft or Hard
Most Chinese yoyos / diabolos are made of a plastic kind of material. Some are softer and more “rubbery” feeling. Some are harder and smoother feeling. Theoretically, a slippery, hard plastic diabolo can spin faster and longer, because it won’t deform / lose its shape during high speed spinning. But a hard plastic diabolo can also shatter when it hits concrete. A rubber diabolo, on the other hand, is very flexible and durable, but loses its shape when you spin it quickly.
All of our diabolos are made of a slightly rubbery plastic material that makes them quite durable, while also able to hold their shape. That makes them suitable for learning, and also great for high performance.
Fixed Axle vs. One Way Bearing vs. One Way Triple Bearing
A standard diabolo / Chinese yoyo consists of two halves and a fixed metal axle in between the halves, where the string goes. By manipulating the sticks, you make the diabolo spin faster and faster so that you can perform tricks.
Some diabolos / Chinese yoyos have an axle in between the halves that has a one way bearing. Why one way? Because you need resistance in at least one direction in order to make the diabolo spin with your sticks! A one way bearing can make it easier to learn the diabolo as a beginner, and also easier to get a faster or longer spin to more easily do difficult and complicated tricks, such as finger grinds or stick grinds. The downside is that a bearing can be louder when it is spinning.
But if there’s a fixed axle diabolo and a one way bearing diabolo, then what is a triple bearing diabolo / Chinese yoyo? Really a triple bearing diabolo works exactly the same as a one way bearing with just a single bearing. The biggest difference is that a triple bearing diabolo / Chinese yoyo gives you a slight spin advantage over a single bearing, and is typically a bit quieter than a single one way bearing.
Diabolo / Chinese Yoyo Sticks
Diabolo / Chinese yoyo sticks can be made of just about any material, including wood, plastic. aluminum and carbon fiber.
The most common sticks are either made of wood or plastic. Sticks can differ slightly in diameter (thickness) and length. There’s no “right answer” about which stick length or stick diameter is best, and much of it is personal preference.
But as long as you are buying a diabolo, why not consider some high end diabolo sticks to go with it?
Diabolo string doesn’t wear out as fast as yoyo string, but it does wear out over time. Notice how you touch the ground with it over and over as you’re starting the diabolo. It starts to get dirty and to fray, so keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t break in the middle of practicing or performing!
So make sure that you buy extra string with your diabolo!
How long should the diabolo string be? Good question! There’s no exact answer. It depends both on the height of the player, and the player’s personal preferences.
Shorter string makes the diabolo respond a little bit faster. But if you want to do tricks with multiple diabolos, it gets crowded fast if your string isn’t long enough!
Some players like to make the length of the string where it goes from the floor up to around their neck or chin. That’s a good length for a wide range of tricks.
Recommendation for Beginners:
For a beginner, we recommend a medium sized diabolo. It is okay to buy either a fixed axle diabolo or a one way bearing diabolo. It’s less expensive to start out with a fixed axle model, but you can get longer spin times with a one way bearing model.
Learning New Tricks:
Whether you are an absolute beginner or an advanced player, the key to having fun and getting better with a diabolo is continually learning new tricks and skills. If you only know one or two tricks, it gets boring and you’ll stop playing with it. But as long as you are learning and advancing, the diabolo can hold your interest for a lifetime!
One free source of video lessons for the diabolo is YouTube. There are always new videos to watch there if you search for things like “diabolo tricks” “how to play diabolo” and “how to chinese yoyo” “chinese yoyo instructions” and so forth. The only downside is that the instructions might not be very clear, or you might not be able to see what’s going on if the person isn’t good at explaining or filming. You have to watch a lot of bad videos to find the good ones.
Another great alternative is buying an instructional diabolo / Chinese yoyo DVD. Our DVDs have all been professionally filmed, edited and organized. So it’s a much easier way to learn tricks.
Still Have Diabolo / Chinese Yoyo Questions?
Still have diabolo questions? Shoot us an email, and we’re happy to help.
Just Tell Me What to Buy Already!!
"Do it all" diabolo that can convert from fixed axle to one way bearing: Duncan Phoenix Diabolo
All the rest of the diabolos are great too, because we only carry higher quality diabolos and don't stock the cheap, junky ones. Those specific products listed above are some of our most popular models, so you can't go wrong choosing from that list.