So let's say you're a novice, looking into purchasing your first pool cue. You're a regular player that's spent a lot of time down at the local bar or billiards hall, and now it's time to invest in a cue you can call your own. You're tired of losing because you picked up the last remaining cue at the bar, you know, the one with a missing weight bolt and a virtually non-existent tip that needs chalk after every shot. Here is a basic pool cue buying guide, so you can improve your game with proper equipment, and style.
What To Look For
Here are a couple of helpful tips for the novice pool cue buyer: You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars. A perfectly good cue that can be found for under $150. Certainly budgetary restrictions are an issue for everyone, so don't break the bank looking for the right cue. Sporting Goods stores aren't going to carry quality cues, so here's where to look instead:
- The Web. Plenty of sites offer excellent cues at reasonable prices, such as BorderBilliards.com
- Your local billiards shop.
As a novice pool cue buyer, you're going to need something durable, so watch out for cues with a history of warping or ones that easily dent. We recommend manufacturers like McDermott, Viking, Lucasi, Players and Dufferin, known for making cues that play exceptionally well. Or try the Sneaky Pete, a great value at under $100 that you can buy at sites such as BorderBilliards.com.
Here are some other considerations:
- The intricacy and aesthetic appeal of inlays-- while they may look sharp, finely crafted inlays can raise the price of a cue by hundreds of dollars.
- You probably don’t want to try out a custom cue unless you’re a very serious player or already know a lot about cues. Manufacturers make plenty of excellent, playable cues good for the novice pool cue buyer.
- If you’re a female player looking for a good cue, try the Flirt Series from Players or Athena, a manufacturer specifically designing cues for women.
The Stuff Cues Are Made Of
Consider the materials a cue is made out of:
- The harder the materials used, the more power your shot will have.
- Softer materials provide better control, a need for many players.
- The two primary types of material used to construct cues are fiberglass/graphite and wood. Serious players opt for wood, but fiberglass/graphite is resistant to warping and some other maintenance issues.
- Cues weigh anywhere from 18-21 oz. Weight is also an important consideration.
- What weight you use isn’t really determined on physical strength, but rather on your preference for a heavier or lighter cue. Among professional players, the trend is moving toward use of lighter cues.
- Some cues have removable weight bolts, as many players favor breaking with a heavier cue. Or some players use a separate cue for breaking.
- Pool cues are usually 57-58 inches. The longer, more tapered sticks facilitate more spin and ball control. Also, if you have longer arms, a longer cue is a recommended step.
The Parts That Matter
Some parts of the cue are more important to the shot than others. The cue is broken into two parts: The butt, and the shaft. The butt is the heavier, bottom half of the cue, and the shaft is the top half, ending with the tip. One part many people consider essential to the shot is the joint, usually a metal screw that connects the butt to the shaft of a cue. Some points on the joint:
- A joint is where a shot’s “feel” is determined. Using other materials than metal—such as ivory, plastic or wood—can change the feel of the shot.
- Longer, wider joints generally are longer lasting.
Consider the wrap, or handle, of the cue as well. If you perspire a lot, a leather wrap might be the best option to absorb that moisture. Wraps are also made of nylon or wood with a high-gloss finish. The tip, or end of the shaft where one strikes the ball, is also critical. Generally made of leather, a softer tip is going to provide better control. You’ll also want to consider purchasing a cue case to make sure your stick is protected when you travel with it.
The Big Picture
The pool cue is the only variable equipment in the game between two opponents, so take the helpful tips from this pool cue buying guide. The both of you have to play with the same balls, on the same table, in the same environment. Having a cue that fits your needs, personality, and style of play is an important part of developing your overall billiards game. As a novice pool cue buyer, you'll discover the satisfaction and importance of owning your own pool stick.