Are you a pool shark?
Pool piranha maybe?
Not yet either?
Well, do you want to be a pool player that is compared to an aggressive fish? I thought so!
The first step to improving your game and understanding billiards is purchasing your first cue stick.
“But Game Room Guys blogger! There are literally thousands of choices! Where do I even begin?!”
Calm down, I’m here to help now. Everything will be okay…everything will be okay….
So how much do these pool cues cost?
Like virtually everything else, this depends largely on the quality of the product in question. If you’ve been around the game of billiards for any time at all, you’ve probably seen the fancy professional sticks. These cues usually display mouthwatering inlays, come in a multitude of colors and glisten with a showroom-shine. Most of that is for looks and makes the cue much more expensive than what you would need just beginning.
So to answer your question: the sky's the limit, however, for someone just starting out a good price range is between $100-$150.
The basic components of the pool cue:
Pool cues are made up of two main pieces: the butt and the shaft. As you might have guessed the base or larger end of the cue is the butt, and the tapered end is referred to as the shaft. On the butt of the cue you will find a round rubber piece, this is the bumper or butt cap. (Tip: Butt cap is also a handy insult to throw at your opponent in heated competition.)
On the opposite, tapered, end you have the cue tip that is glued to the ferrule. The tip and ferrule are regularly replaced on cue sticks from wear and tear of play.
Cues can also come in one or two pieces. When the cue is a two piece they are joined in the middle of the stick with what is called a joint. The joint is commonly made of metal (brass) and has a pin that fits into the center of the cue shaft.
Where will you be using the pool cue?
Think about where you’ll be using your pool cue. Is it mostly at your house where you’ll be doing all your sharking and winning or will you be taking your trick-shot-show on the road? This should impact your decision making on whether to get a one or two piece cue.
There are differing opinions on the effect that two vs. one piece has on the play and feel of the cue stick. Some serious players argue that you can never have the same ‘feel’ with a two piece as you can with a one piece cue. Other players disagree and say that a good brass joint should make up the difference, leading to zero change in feel.
The main difference is that two pieces are easier to transport in a carrying case than a one piece cue stick is.
You can try both and see which you prefer!
Is wood the best material for a cue stick?
There really isn’t a ‘best’ material, rather a best for the player. The two main materials that companies use are wood and graphite/fiberglass. Most serious players prefer wood, however, a benefit to graphite is that it doesn’t warp like wood can.
An important concept to remember is that the harder the material the more power they player will have, where conversely, if the material is softer it will give the player more control over the ball. This will also impact the feel of the cue stick during play.
What’s the deal with the varying weights?
Most pool cues weights will run between 18 and 21 ounces but these are not intended for league play or tournaments. Tournament and leagues will usually play with 25 or 27 ounce cues. The weight of the cue has nothing to do with the player’s physical strength but more what is comfortable to the player. Most professional players tend to use lighter sticks but again, it is up to the individual.
Some sticks will have removable weight bolts so players can adjust the weight for various shots like breaking, where more power is desired. (Tip: If you’re shorter in stature, look for a cue that is forward-weighted to help with balance while playing.)
Cues are generally 57 to 58 inches in length. The height of the player is not a consideration when choosing length, it is more of an arm length issue. If you tend to have a larger wing-span, look into possibly investing in a longer cue.
Any tips for deciding on a tip?
Many argue that the tip of the cue is the most important piece of the entire stick. The hardness of the tip has a large impact (pun intended) on how the ball reacts to the player’s strike. Tips are made from leather with varying degrees of hardness or from composite, that can be as hard as the cue ball itself.
Some players prefer to use softer tips because it grants more control over the cue ball via English. The drawback of softer tips is that they tend to mushroom fairly easily and require more reshaping and maintenance. Softer tips will need to be replaced more often as a result.
Harder tips give more power to the player but at a loss of ball control. The loss of control comes from the tip being harder and spending less time impacting the rotation of the cue ball. As a result of their hardness they don’t need as much re-shaping and won’t need to be replaced as often.
Many players prefer to use medium hardness for their tips, giving them the best of both worlds with a little bit of power and more ball control. Depending on your playing style you can decide on what works best for you!
Slip-on tips are also available for replacing tips on cues. These tips include the ferrule and the tip already glued together in one piece. Just like how they sound, these tips literally slip-on over the end of the cue stick.
These tips are generally lower quality but can work nicely if you need a quick fix or are in a situation where tips/ferrules are being broken regularly. Slip-on tips are usually less expensive than purchasing the ferrules and tips separately.
Inspecting a prospective cue stick
When buying a cue inspect it thoroughly. Look for any blemishes or scratches. Brand new pool cues should be all but perfect to the touch. You should be able to run your hand all the way down the cue without feeling any abnormalities. Look for any visible glue- if there is any, this could be a sign of bad craftsmanship. If any part of the cue isn’t smooth or is protruding from the basic shape of the cue, then you can be fairly confident that this cue isn’t for you. Small blemishes are often red flags to larger issues with cue sticks. A good-quality, brand new pool stick should be almost flawless, with little to no change in smoothness between the tip, ferrule, shaft and butt.
We’ve all seen the local pool hall hero come into the bar and roll all the pool cue sticks on the table to ensure they get the straightest one. The only issue with this method is that it is not a good way to check for the straightness of a pool cue.
Three-piece slate pool tables can have tiny lifts in them which will cause the cue to roll abnormally. Likewise, when the cue is hand sanded it can sometimes not roll perfectly but will still be a straight cue. The best way to check for cue straightness is to look down it long-ways while rolling it in your hands to see if any warping is taking place along the shaft and butt.
If you still insist on rolling your cue on the table to check for straightness- pay the most attention to the tip and the joint of the cue. If either leaves the table at any time during the roll, then your cue isn’t straight.
Try it out for yourself!
The best way to make sure that a pool cue is for you is to play a game with it. Break with the cue, try some straight on shots, attempt some harder bank shots and combos- just get an overall feel for the stick itself. The cue stick should feel solid when you impact the cue ball.
If you have found the perfect cue for you but you can’t try it out because it’s online, just make sure the manufacturer has a return policy where you can return the product if you aren’t satisfied. Most online retailers will offer this option.
Another option when ordering it online is to call the company and talk with one of their sales representatives. Make a list of the pertinent questions you’d like to answered and see if that cue online is really the one for you.
Pool Cue Accessories (Cool Pool Tools)
1. Cue Racks
When not using your cue make sure to store it correctly. Everyone has left a cue leaning against a table or wall but leaving a cue leaning against a wall or other object will warp the cue over time. Leaning cues also makes them to susceptible to falling and slamming on the floor. This will often cause damage to the cue stick, even if it isn’t obvious right away.
Cue racks come in all different shapes and styles, some purely functional while others built more with aesthetics in mind. Racks can also vary in price from a few dollars to hundreds, even thousands. Regardless of cost, it is a great idea to have a place to store your pool cues when not in use.
2. Carrying Cases
Having a good quality pool cue stick case for your cue is a great way to keep your purchase protected from getting warped, scratched and dinged. Cases come in as many variations are there are personalities to match them- coming in plain colors all the way to sporting your favorite adult beverage or hunting brand.
3. Cue Wraps
The butt of the cue can be wrapped with various materials, the most popular being Irish Linen, leather, cork and various rubbers. Cue wraps are added to improve grip and control while also absorbing hand perspiration. Wraps also serve as a form of fashion as well as function, coming in a rainbow of colors and can be customized to the purchaser’s demands.
4. Joint Protectors
The joint of the cue, where the two pieces of the stick join together, is an important piece to protect from damage and unneeded wear. Joint protectors are sold to ensure that this important component isn’t damaged while transporting your cue to your local haunt. One protector screws into the core of the stick while the other fits over the pin, armoring both sides against dings and dents that could affect their intricate interlocking parts.
5. Extra Tips
Cue tips and ferrules often wear down and break over time from play, so it never hurts to have a few extra tips and ferrules on hand. Usually having an extra set will be enough to replace them as they wear down over time.
Cue Stick Parts and Repairs
After countless ball-busting-breaks, rubber-bending-banks and soul-crushing-combos your cue is going to need some maintenance or repair. For those who do their own maintenance, you can find an array of parts at our website to choose from to fix and spruce-up your cue stick.
As you can see, even though we’ve gone over cue sticks in great detail we’ve barely even scratched the surface of the options that are out there. The best time to start your cue stick search is now, so start looking and playing! You’ll be running the table before you know it!