Comparing yoyo shapes

Modern yoyos have three different shapes. Imperial (left), Modified (centre) and Butterfly (right).


Imperial & Modified are ideal for looping tricks. Mostly because of the narrow string gap width and good weight distribution for 2A. These yoyos are much more nimble and quick to respone than wider, butterfly shape yoyos. Most of their weight is in the centre of the yoyo. Recently there’s been a trend to merge these two shapes to create an ideal looping yoyo.

Example: Duncan Hornet, YoyoFactory 1080, YoyoJam Unleashed

Butterfly: both the shape and name come from the legendary Duncan yoyo called simply “The Butterfly”. Two halves of the yoyo are open to lead the string into the centre of the yoyo (string gap). This way it’s much simpler to execute string tricks which consist of placing the string into the string gap under various combinations. Butterfly is the commonest yoyo shape and is an perfect choice if you want to start with yoyos. There are plenty of beginner yoyos to chose from. You can check out our “First yoyo” section where we pick yoyos  which we think are the best ones to begin with.

Example: Duncan Butterfly XT, YoyoFactory OneStar, YoyoJam Classic.

Parts of the yoyo.

Every yoyo has a number of different parts which make the yoyo spin, stay together or hold the bearing in place.

Bearing – it’s placed right in the middle of the yoyo. It’s thanks to the ballbearing that the yoyo is able to spin for a long time around it’s own axis. And thanks to the ballbearing you can perform all those amazing tricks. We have a whole section dedicated to ballbearings. Make sure to check it out.

Axle holds the entire yoyo together. Thanks to the axle you can screw or unscrew the yoyo, make adjustments or just untangle the string. You can encounter (basically) two kinds of axles. Standard HEX with a nut on the other end. Which is placed into a yoyo (usually plastic) or small, tiny little metal axles which are screwed ino the body of the yoyo (usually into metal yoyos). Make sure you do not over tighten the yoyo, axles can (and will) strip easily if you’re not gentle to them. Most of the manufacturers do not  cover striped axles under their warranty. The same goes for screwing / unscrewing the yoyo all the time, this causes stress to the axle / nut and can easily wear them out. We highly recommend using a pen or a safety pin to untangle your string from the yoyo.

Response system – this makes the yoyo spin and come back to your hand. There’re several types of response and we cover them in their own special section. Most of the response system do wear out and has to be changed regularly.

Spacer – (or bearing seat) holds the ball bearing in place so it can spin freely. Some yoyos have one space on each side (usually plastic) which centres the bearing. Spacer is usually removable. Most metal yoyos have the “spacer” already machined into their bodies and that’s called the “bearing seat”. Again, it’s job is to hold the ball bearing in place so it can spin. These have to be really precise, made down to the micro-meters so the yoyo fits perfectly together. Bearing seats are usually made really tightly and it might be difficult to remove the bearing with bare hands. We recommend using a ball bearing removal tool or pliers.


Yoyos are made from several different materials. You can’t say which one is better or worse because every player likes something different. It’s quite safe to say that beginners should start with plastic yoyos, they are by far more durable and require less maintenance.  They can survive impacts and generally be treated more poorly than their spaceage metal counterparts.

Injection plastic – these are the most affordable yoyos you can buy. You can get a whole range of yoyos, from beginner ones, to intermediates to the high performance ones. Yoyos made from injection plastic have two advantages – price and durably. You can get a decent performing yoyo for as little as 12 USD / 10 EURO. And if you occasionally smash it to the ground not much is going to happen. Modern, high end plastics are comparable (sometimes even better) than metal yoyos for the similar price. Think of them as cars – is it better to have a top spec BMW or poorly equiped Bentley which barely moves?

Delrin / POM (machined plastic) – delirin (and it’s mutations) is a special type of plastic which does not melt if you try to machine it. Which means you can make super precise, plastic yoyos on CNC lathes. They are much more precise than moulded yoyos and they’re usually superior in performance. Which comes at a price, which is the price. Delrin yoyos are usually a bit more expensive than those made from the usual plastic.

Aluminium – 99% of all metal yoyos is made from aluminium which is machined on CNC lathes. The difference between a 40$ yoyo and 200$ yoyo depends on a lot of factors including; quality, precision, type of aluminum used, brand & image, complicated shape, special colouring process, ballbearing type, exclusivity and plenty more. Affordable metals are usually made in large quantities in China, more expensive yoyos are machined in the USA, Japan or Europe. We do not recommend starting out with a (especially cheap) metal yoyo as it’s going to break almost instantly or just become really frustrating because you haven’t learned the basics on a simpler yoyo.

Composite – this is a speciality of the US company YoyoJam (they own the trademark). The inside of the yoyo is made from plastic to which they mount metal “weight rings”.  That improves the performance and overall looks.

Wood – wooden yoyos are usually colector items or intended for “fixed axle” style of play.

Other – yoyo comapnies like to experiement so once in a while we see yoyos made (for example) from Titanium or Magnesium. Metal weight rings on metal yoyos are also a trend.