Yoyo Buyer's Guide


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So you're overwhelmed with choices and having trouble picking a yo-yo? Don't worry, because here's a buyer's guide to help.

The most important thing you need to know is that it's not the yo-yo that makes the player, it's the player that makes the yo-yo.

A good yoyo player could take any one of the yo-yos that we sell and do tricks that would delight and amaze any audience. In the end, it's all about practicing, practicing, and more practicing. Yo-yoing is a skill. And just like every other skill in life, the only way to really improve is to work at it.

Yoyo Shapes

There are three basic yoyo shapes.

The Classic Shape is the original yoyo shape that most people think of when they imagine a yoyo. This is the shape of the standard wooden yoyo from when the yoyo was originally introduced in the United States. It is an all-purpose shape that's great for all your classic yo-yo tricks.

Some of the yo-yos in this category include the Duncan Imperial, the Classic Wooden yo-yo, and the Duncan Speed Beetle.

The Flared Gap Shape or wing shape is also well-known shape to anyone who has seen or used a yoyo. The Flared Gap Shape gives a wide, V shaped space that makes it easier to catch the yoyo back on the string for tricks like the Trapeze, or Split the Atom.

When it comes to metal yoyos and high end yoyos, the flared gap shape pretty much dominates the market. That’s because string tricks -- the type of yoyo tricks where you catch the yoyo on the string while it is spinning -- are the most popular types of yoyo tricks these days.

However, it should be noted that a skilled yoyoist is also quite capable of doing these type of "string" tricks on a non Flared Gap type of yoyo. Some yoyos in this category include the Duncan Dragonfly, the Yoyo King Merlin, the Spintastics Tigershark and the Duncan Butterfly.

The Modified Shape is the shape of many of the advanced yoyos introduced in the last 10 to 15 years. It is a more streamlined shape than the Classic Shape, which makes it a great choice for looping types of tricks and long spin times.

The idea behind the Modified Shape was to create a yoyo that has many of the benefits of both Flared Gap and Classic shapes. It is smaller than a Flared Gap, making it great for tight Rock The Cradle style tricks. But it also has rounded inside walls for a wider gap. That makes string style tricks like the Trapeze easier than a Classic shaped yoyo, but not quite as easy as a Flared Gap shape. A Modified Shape yoyo will do looping style tricks better than a Flared Gap. It is an excellent choice if can only own one type of yoyo.

Some of the yoyos in this category include the Spintastics Tornado 2, the Yomega Raider and the Duncan Bumblebee.

Yoyo Axles

The axle is the point where the string connects connects to the yoyo, and the part that holds the two yoyo halves together. There are several different types of axles that have different features and advantages.

Fixed Axles

In the beginning, there was only one type of yoyo, and one type of axle. Wood! Yoyos were carved from a solid piece of wood, so everything was made of wood.Wooden axle yoyos are still available today, and they are still very popular because they still have the same feel in your hand as an old yoyo from the 1950s. They are predictable, fun, and a terrific choice for learning all your classic yoyo tricks like Walk The Dog, Around The World, Rock The Baby, etc.

Wooden axle yoyos are excellent to start with if you played with a yoyo as a kid and want to pick it back up, because they are instantly familiar. Some Fixed Axle yoyos also have metal axles, like the standard Duncan Imperial.

Other yoyos in this category include the Duncan Pro Yo, the Duncan Pro Flyand the Spintastics Technic.


A Transaxle yoyo is a yoyo that has a fixed axle with a sleeve around it that turns freely. This sleeve allows the yoyo to spin longer than with a plain fixed axle, because it reduces friction when the yoyo spins. The sleeve can be made of plastic or metal.

Some examples of a Transaxle yoyo include the popular Yomega Fireball or the Duncan Pro Fire.

Ball Bearing Axle

What spins even better than a Transaxle? How about a Ball Bearing Axle! A ball bearing axle is similar to a Transaxle, except that the sleeve is actually a metal device that has tiny metal balls inside it. Most people just call the device itself the "bearing." You can learn more about how a bearing works here.

Ball Bearing Axles revolutionized yo-yoing by allowing spin times much, much longer than with previous types of yoyos. Some of the most popular examples of ball bearing yoyos include the YoyoJam Dark Magic II, the DV888 and the Yomega Raider.

Clutch Axle

Yomega made popular the Clutch Axle when it introduced the Brain series of yoyos. A Clutch Axle uses centrifugal force to make the yoyo "wake up" automatically and come back to your hand. When the yoyo is spinning quickly, centrifugal force holds the clutch open. But when the yoyo slows down, the clutch closes and grabs the axle and makes the yoyo wake up.

Clutch yoyos are great for absolute beginners to learn the basics, or for people who just want to do a few standard tricks. But most people progress from a Clutch Axle yoyo to one of the other types. Examples of a Clutch Axle yoyo include the Duncan Reflex, the Yomega Brain, and the Yomega Power Brain XP, which can convert to a standard yoyo after you don’t need the clutch anymore.

Non-responsive or Unresponsive Ball Bearing Axles

The newest trend in yoyoing is a strange one. It’s a yoyo that doesn’t wake up when you throw a sleeper and tug on the string. To make a non-responsive ball bearing yoyo wake up, you have to do a special kind of a trick called a “bind.” A bind bunches up the string in the gap of a spinning yoyo and literally forces the string to catch and make the yoyo climb back up to your hand.

Why would you want a yoyo that doesn’t wake up without a bind? Because it allows you to do a whole range of new yoyo tricks that are not possible with a traditional yoyo that wakes up when you tug the string. Non-responsive yoyos are not usually a good choice for beginners. You’ll need to know how to throw a yoyo well before you can master the bind to make it wake back up. It can take anywhere from a few hours to several days’ worth of solid practice to learn to bind, if you don’t know how.

Some of our most popular yoyos are non-responsive. We mention on the yoyo page if a yoyo is unresponsive, so that you won’t buy it by mistake if you don’t want a yoyo like that. Once you hit the intermediate level of yoyoing though, you should buy one and try it out! There are also a few yoyos like the Dark Magic II and the YoyoFactory Velocity that operate both as a traditional yoyo and also as a non-responsive yoyo, if you want to try it out.

Popular non-responsive yoyos include the, the Yoyo King Grind Control, the Duncan Raptor, the YoyoFactory Shutter the Yomega Glide.

Yoyo Materials

There are three basic yoyo materials, Wood, Plastic, and Metal.

Wood is the original yoyo material. It all started with wood, and wood is still good! Wood has a nice feel in your hand and has the timeless look that anyone old or young will instantly recognize as a yoyo.

If you do tricks with a wooden yoyo, you are going to really impress someone, because he or she will know that you are "keeping it real." Some cool wooden yoyos include the Newton, the YoyoFactory Legend, the Tom Kuhn 3 in 1 Optic, and the Lightning.

Plastic is the material that the majority of yoyos are made of today. Plastic is inexpensive, tough, and easy to make into any shape that you want. So it is a natural choice for making high performance yoyos.

You can't go wrong with a plastic yoyo, really. They're fun, they're cool, they come in all kinds of shapes and colors, and they perform. Some examples of plastic yoyos include the Duncan Pro Yo (which has a wooden axle!),the Duncan Dragonfly, the Yoyo King Merlin, the Duncan Bumblebee and the Yomega Raider.

Most Metal yoyos are made of aluminum. They are naturally more expensive than plastic or wooden yoyos, both because of the cost of the material and because of the expense of machining them into a yoyo shape. Depending on the design, metal yoyos often have a little bit more weight to them, which can give them an advantage of a longer spin time with the right yoyoist.

A shiny metal yoyo makes a big impression, because most non-yoyo players haven't seen one before and they look and perform great! But if you are using a metal yoyo, be careful. You can hurt yourself (or someone else) if you conk something with it. Some popular metal yoyos are the Yoyo King Spin Control R, the Yomega Maverick and the Duncan Metal Drifter. Probably the most famous metal yoyo is the Tom Kuhn SB 2.2, because it was one of the first high performance metal yoyos to hit the market.

Yoyo String

Can yoyo string really be so complicated that we have to write a guide about it?

Well, yes and no. The simple answer is that you can just use any standard Type 8 Cotton yoyo string and you'll do just fine. That's the original kind of string that people have used since the yoyo first became popular, and it is still the top selling type of string overall.

The only hard and fast rule about yoyo string is that string wears out, so you have to replace it. The more you yoyo, the faster it wears out. If your string is dirty or worn looking, don't keep using it, because you might lose your yoyo or hurt someone when the string breaks and the yoyo goes flying. String is cheap, so replace your string regularly.

Colored string performs no differently than white string. So if you like colors, go for it!

Slick 6 and Slick 8 string are "blended" strings that are part cotton and part polyester. They tend to last a bit longer than 100 percent cotton strings. Some people also believe they perform better. Yoyo enthusiasts love to use this type of string. Yoyo King Ultra Premium is a slightly thinner Type 6 string, and Slick 8 is the same thickness as standard Type 8 Cotton string.

There is also 100 percent polyester string, which also typically lasts longer than plain cotton, and has a smooth feel to it.

Trick Books and Trick Videos

Yoyoing is a skill, and there are literally hundreds of yoyo tricks to learn. If you have a friend who is already good at yo-yoing, then you are very lucky! Getting taught in person can really speed up your learning time, and also gives you someone to compete with.

If you are learning on your own, be sure to buy an extra cheap yoyo or two to give to your friends, so they can learn at the same time with you. It makes yoyoing much more interesting when you have someone else to learn with.

But if you are starting out and you don't know anyone who is already good with a yoyo to teach you, then don't worry. Just buy a trick book or a trick video, or both. You can watch the video at home, and you can take the trick book with you wherever you take your yoyo.

Even if you have someone to teach you, chances are that this person won't know dozens or hundreds of tricks. Having a trick book or trick video gives you plenty of new stuff to work on to keep yoyoing interesting. 

If you aren't teaching yourself new tricks, the truth is that you'll probably become bored with your yoyo in a few days or weeks and stop playing with it. But when you're learning new stuff, it stays fun.

Still Stumped and Don't Know Which Yo-Yo to Buy?

Don't overthink it! It's just a yoyo. They aren't that expensive, so you can buy more than one. Or buy one now, and buy another one later. Buy one of each type, maybe. Or several different ones of the same type to compare.

Still having trouble? Then you need some lessons in how to make decisions! But until then, you can't go wrong with these top sellers.

Yoyo King Merlin
Duncan Bumblebee
Yomega Maverick
YoyoJam Dark Magic II
Yomega Power Brain XP
Duncan Dragonfly
Duncan Trick Book
Type 8 Cotton yoyo string

Want to Keep Learning More?

Check out these additional Buyer's Guides:

Duncan Yoyo Buyer's Guide

YoyoFactory Yoyo Buyer's Guide

Yomega Yoyo Buyer's Guide

YoyoJam Yoyo Buyer's Guide

Advanced, Non-Responsive Yoyo Buyer's Guide