Over the past two decades, pool cues have greatly advanced in quality but their popularity has mainly been based on the perspective of the various brands and manufacturers they are affiliated with. These days, it nigh hard to buy a bad cue – at least the available ones sold by reputable dealers tend to live up to their advertising quite well. Even low priced ones are made pretty well and are durable enough. But what exactly makes the best pool cues? What factors do you put into consideration when you decide to buy a cue? Here’s a detailed guide on what to look out for when making your selection in order to get the most out of your cue:
Weight and Size
Most billiard cues have a total weight of 18 to 21 ounces. While some players can break with a heavier cue, light ones are great for finesse shots. A good number of cues are built with most of the weight concentrated at the butt. If you compensate for weight by gripping your cue further toward the joint, it’s probably a little too heavy. Find a more forward-weighted cue. Weights are actually designed to be added or removed easily so if you seem to lose control over the cue ball, it may be too light. When it comes to the size, standard cues are usually 57-58 inches in length. However, short people and children may prefer 50-56 inch long cues but tall people would find a 61 inch cue stick better accommodating.
The most important aspect of this part is that it has to feel comfortable in your hands. With the wrap, one thing to consider is the size of your hand. Large hands do not go well with a small wrap diameter. Small hands go with small wraps while larger hands would get a better grip on a relatively large or medium-sized wrap. If you tend to sweat profusely when playing, you might want to take an Irish linen-wrapped cue as it’s best for absorption. If your preference is a smooth feel, leather-wrapped cues are an excellent popular choice. All the same, not all pool cues are made with wraps. For those would love a cue that allows their hand to move easily, that is, one with a loose grip, a starchy or waxy wrap is ideal.
Your playing style should be able to dictate the type of cue tip that suits you. Several tips are usually made of leather. Softer tips tend to absorb more impact thereby causing more ball spin. This could be just the kind of action you need to improve your game. Nonetheless, it’s the softer tips that seem to require frequent replacements. Hard tips absorb lesser impact. Therefore, the interaction between the tip and the cue ball has a shorter duration thus creating lesser spin. The tip shape is also a great factor of consideration. Rounded tips are standard, but if you make near-center ball hits a lot, a flat tip might alleviate the uncontrolled side spin from your hit.
The taper on the shaft of your cue can either be pro or conical. As their name suggests, pro tapers are preferred by most professional pool players. For their case, the shaft usually tapers from the joint and leave a constant diameter for around 10 to 15 inches before the tip. A standard diameter for the uniform diameter area is 13mm but some people usually prefer having a thinner tip end of the shaft as it’s believed to put more mojo on the ball. The enhanced ability a player has to add spin is weighed against the possibility of a small shaft surface area to cause them to miss more hits.
Style and Vibration
There are two styles to cues and one is easier to customize than the other. The common barroom ones are one-piece cues. These cannot be customized because they are prone to warping with time. On the other hand, two-piece cues are a better alternative as there are several ways you can customize them to suit your preferences. They also tend to have different vibration intensities. Feeling more vibration in your hand is likely to cause lesser control over the cue. While testing out pool cues, note the sound or vibration the stick has on the ball. It reveals so much about its level of vibration; a loud crack means more vibration while a soft, deep sound means less vibration within your hand.
The tips outlined above are meant to help you find the right pool cue. The choice will heavily depend on the type of player you are and what seems to feel more natural to you. Although your strength and size are not primary considerations, there are a host of other factors that will be unique to you alone. These may include what you like, your hold and feel on the cue, schema of movements and your stance. For any magic to be made, however, you and your cue definitely have to be well suited. And only you can tell when it feels right.