One of the most common questions we get is about what begleri we recommend for beginners. Not surprising, considering we have something in the order of a couple hundred options to choose from. So, what begleri should you choose? The short answer is to go with your gut preference. Pretty much any set of begleri is capable of pretty much any trick.. there are players doing incredible things with hex nuts tied to either end of an old shoelace. So, don't stress. Pick a set that you love the looks of--one you'll be stoked to carry around and keep coming back to.
It's hard to believe we started into begleri with just a single model back in 2015, but as the community has grown, and tastes have developed and diversified, Aroundsquare has worked hard to bring out options to meet the demand. Below is an outline of some of the most popular models we sell, as well as other factors consider. Way at the bottom is a short list of actual recommendations.
Our first major release was the titanium Titans, which are still an absolutely terrific set by pretty much any measure. The Titans, as the name suggests, are hefty by today's standards, which makes them very stable and relatively slow to play. This can be great for developing a feel for manipulating the beads, but they may tire out the hands a bit, and they're less forgiving on the knuckles than lighter sets. The original titanium version was followed by a much lighter aluminum model, a sized down "mini" version, and we have subsequently release a huge range of other options in materials ranging from acrylic, to wood, to exotic metals.
The Hydras were Aroundsquare's first multi-bead set. It's a timeless cylindrical shape with comfortable rounding, that allows the beads to be stacked on either end to accommodate different weight preferences, weight distributions, different looks, and entirely different feels. Like the Titans, the original titanium Hydras were followed shortly by a wide range of material and size options. This range of options in a multi-bead design allows for a hugely customizable system.
The "Emans" are an iconic set with a sloped top and straight cylindrical sides. This shape is very comfortable in the hand, but provides a nice shelf at the top for manipulating the beads during tricks. The clean design quickly became a favourite of many players, and is now available in a wide range of options. The Emans were the first of our "Hardcore Compatible" sets (see below).
The Hybrids were conceived to bring together the best properties of the Titans and the Hydras into a single set, consisting of a domed top bead, and a partially recessed bottom bead. We later built on this design to develop an entirely modular system of component parts that can be mixed and matched together to create a nearly infinite array of different bead designs through our Hybrid Modular System.
The "Modern Standards" are Aroundsquare's homage to the traditional Greek barrel shaped beads that can be found in Greek market stalls and import shops around the world. They've been precision machined from modern materials, for an elegant look and feel. The shape is a classic for a reason, and they're available in a range of sizes and material options.
The Boss Family
Aroundsquare's very first begleri model was a simple spherical bead we called the Lil' Bosses. Those beads were sold in a limited release, and nearly forgotten for several years, until we reintroduced them, along with much smaller Micro Bosses, paired with a range of other materials like wood. These beads have a distinctive look and feel, and the smaller models allow for customization of look and feel, through the mixing and matching of different materials.
In addition to all the above, we also have some additional models, available in a smaller range of materials. These include the Hypes, the Greys, the Hercs and others. Each includes a full write up in their product descriptions, and each has their champions as well. The Hypes and the Greys are notable as being designed by players in the community, and those two are often among the top picks of elite players as well.
Hardcore and Sport Models
Aroundsquare's "Hardcore Gut System" was an early innovation in the development of our begleri offerings that allowed for weight customization, and even some customization of look and shape of the beads. This is accomplished through a mix and match assortment of hardcore compatible shells, and a wide range of weighted inserts referred to as hardcore guts. In general, any beads marked as "hardcore compatible" have a bottom recess that is 12mm deep and 11.9mm in diameter, which perfectly accommodates any of our "micro" sized beads, which are 11.8mm in diameter.
Minis and Micros
Any of the beads labelled as "minis" are sized down versions of a larger design which predated them. But don't be fooled by the name, these beads are no joke, and most of the intermediate and expert players in the community tend to favour minis, as they tend to be lighter and more responsive during play, as well as being smaller and nimbler, which starts to matter more once a player gets into advanced tricks. "Micro" beads are sized down even smaller, and the label has the additional significance of referring specifically to an 11.8mm diameter, which makes them compatible with hardcore shells. While some players love slinging straight up micro sets, they were originally developed as a component--an insert to go with a compatible shell. They are all very small, and they tend to be quite light, so they aren't recommended for beginners as a stand alone set.
Single and Multi-Bead Sets
One of the big differentiators of begleri sets these days is the number of beads involved. Single bead sets, those with one solid unit at either end of the cord, tend to be more compact and slightly more nimble, and in most cases they include a large recess so that the knot can be countersunk for a clean look. Multi-bead sets, usually with two or three beads per end, tend to be longer and generally have a protruding knot. The difference is not purely aesthetic. Some players like the more compact single bead sets, and others find the longer form factors of multi-bead sets easier to manipulate. Single bead sets feel more solid and have a crisper clack, whereas multi-bead sets allow for movement between the beads that can soften the impact and make them slightly quieter and less punishing to play.
Heavy and Light
Another big difference to consider is the weight of your beads. Heavy beads carry more momentum, and play slower overall. This can make learning many tricks a bit easier, since they are more forgiving of micro movements and miscalculations. Lighter sets perform faster and springier, which is a lot of fun, but it also makes the sets a little harder to control for beginners. Most experienced players will recommend alternating between sets of different weight, since this seems to help ratchet up different aspects of learning to flow with your begleri. Aroundsquare's begleri are all well within the playable range, but if you're aiming to have only one set, it's advisable to avoid extremes at either end, and unless you have an aversion to the weight, to air on the slightly heavier side to begin with.. somewhere in the 10g - 14g per end range should serve most new players very well.
A Note on Finishes
Our products are meant to be used, and this inevitably means that they're going to get scratched, dinged, and otherwise banged up. Shiny finishes are going to pick up micro abrasions and maybe more. Sandblasted finishes are going to smooth out and tone down over time. And colours are going to break in and become more muted over time. In general, PVD coatings are more durable than anodized finishes, and colours on harder materials like titanium tend to be more durable than finishes on softer materials like aluminum.
Taking all the above into consideration, here are some actual recommendations for jumping in. These come straight from AO2 HQ, but all are backed by experienced players. You may also want to ask around in some of the online groups like Aroundsquare Worldwide for direct recommendations from community members.
- Mini Hydras: Great all round set; probably our best seller of all time; comfortable design with good angles and a strong "shelf" for control; dual bead plays relatively soft and quiet, and adds a bit of a fidget factor; available in a ton of different materials, weights, and price points
- Sigmas: A much loved mash-up that lands between the Mini Hydras and the Micro Bosses; ultra-comfortable bead shape, with generous bores and rounding; compact size that is great for players of all levels, with a light weight for all day play
- Mini Everymans: Minimalist single bead design; good material options for different looks and weights; hardcore compatible options to allow for different weight and aesthetic arrangements; good range of price points, particularly the stainless steel model
- Titan AL Sports: Classic, ultra-comfy shape; great colour options; large, mid-weight, and super clacky--makes them great for filming, and lots of feedback for beginners