One Drop Gradient
Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
August 10, 2014
Man, this has been a long time coming… I finally get to review Graeme Steller’s signature yo-yo. We all have those players that we love to watch perform. Most of the time those are well-established names that have been hallmarks in the community for many years, such as Ed Haponik, Augie Fash, Mark Montgomery. Then there are the younger stars, like Graeme, who most of us have watched grow up in the community. It is amazing to see their level of skill and confidence grow. There are many that remember Graeme back around the start of the decade as the winner of the ILYY Liopleurodon on String Burn Live. The reason WHY he was so memorable then was because he promised that if he won he would make and publish a video of himself wearing a Teletubby costume while throwing the yo-yo; which he did.* From that time he has gone from high school novice to a pro, sponsored player in the community who is currently juggling his time between practice, competitions, a social life, and his studies at John Hopkins University. As I said above, today I get to look at Graeme’s signature yo-yo, the One Drop Gradient. A yo-yo that I know he has been looking forward to for years and a yo-yo that he put on hold back in January when One Drop originally asked to make it so that he could devote all his time to his studies and then come out and give his undivided attention to this project. Well, enough reminiscing about the past, lets dig in and see how the Gradient stacks up.
*The Teletubby video is at the end of this review.
• Diameter: 56.25mm
• Width: 44.35mm
• Gap: 4.35mm
• Weight: 66.3 grams (With Stock Aluminum Spike Side Effects)
• Response: Flow Groove Pads
• Bearing: One Drop 10-Ball Bearing
First thing that caught my attention about the Gradient is that profile. I love, love, love a V-Shape design, especially the scalloped V-Shape design that has become popular as of late. It does not matter if it is rounded like the G Squared Quake or a little more angular like the Gradient here. This type of profile gives all the stability of a traditional V-Shape while also taking advantage of the weight distribution that is normally found in a harsher, more aggressive H-Shape. While the Gradient is falls on the angular side you can tell a lot of attention has been put into making sure the hard angles have been rounded off for a gentler feel when it hits the hand. One of the two visual throwback to One Drop’s past is the single projection profile groove on each wall of the wide open catch zone that breaks up the look ever so slightly. The cup of the Gradient has the recessed rim from the Cascade coupled with the minimalist inner cup design of the Benchmark V. The laser etch is an understated graphic that straddles the inner exposed rim right over the ever so slight IGR in the cup an mimics One Drop’s original Project and MarkMont engravings. The finish is One Drop’s Pyramatte finish that has become a popular alternative to more traditional bead blast finishes. It should be no surprise; I am a fan of the Gradient design. It has pretty much everything I look for in a yo-yo, shape, comfort… the whole package.
Between 65 and 67 grams is about the ideal weight range for me when it comes to yo-yos. Falling into that range allows for yo-yos that play well at variable speeds without feeling out of place. Obviously there are other factors as well, that is why it is a range instead of a singular weight. The great thing is that if weight is an issue for you, you can always swap out the Side Effects. The Gradient definitely benefits from falling in that above mentioned weight range. It plays well at a multitude of speeds while remaining stable on the string. It is quick to react to string changes and better yet it quickly reacts to plane changes as well making it a fun yo-yo to transition from vertical to horizontal play mid combo.
Response and Bearing
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this section. The Gradient uses One Drop’s Flow Groove pads and 10-Ball Bearing. Both are fan favorites with good reason due to their long lasting durability and excellent performance.
Design means nothing if it does not play well… luckily the Gradient does not suffer from this issue. It is quick and nimble on the string when you want it to be but will gladly slow down if you just want to relax. One of Graeme’s major areas of focus when designing the Gradient was to make it accessible to all types of players and with this design he has succeeded. As I said above, it is highly maneuverable and can handle many styles of play. That large catch zone makes it super easy to hit while learning new tricks or taking risks while perfecting the tricks you already know. Grinds are pretty straightforward. I know I have bagged on the Pyramatte finish slightly in the past due to it not being friendly in humid weather but I have not had any problems with the Gradient at all even during some of this lovely, muggy, Ohio weather we have been experiencing here at the High Speed YoYo bunker. The only area of slight weakness is thumb grinds. They can be done but if you have larger thumbs like me you are going to want to throw at a slight angle to make them easier to hit.
Ok, Graeme joined One Drop back in 2010… so was it worth waiting all this time for his signature throw? In short, yes. This yo-yo is an awesome addition to the One Drop Signature line and is an easy recommendation to anyone looking for something new. When Graeme set out to make a supremely accessible yo-yo he hit the nail on the head especially in the price department. The Gradient is One Drop’s lowest priced signature yo-yo, tipping the scales at just $79.00.
Quick shout out to Graeme, who graciously accepted my request for a copy of this video to add to the review. The original has been locked away for quite some time. It takes a certain type of person to willingly allow their less than flattering past to come back and haunt them.