Your pool or billiards game is only as good as your cue. Regardless of how much skill you have and how often you practice you can easily find yourself on a near-level playing field with those who have less skill if you’re working with a low-quality cue. That’s not to say your skill isn’t important, it is simply to say that to make the best of all that practice you’ve put in you need the right cue.
If you’re completely new to the world of pool and billiards you probably have no idea what you’re looking for and how to pick the best one. I remember the first time I bought pool cues for my very first table. I’d never played before and had no idea what I should purchase. Needless to say, I tried to save a few dollars by choosing something cheap, unaware of the importance of choosing something of high quality.
If this sounds familiar and if you were leaning toward just grabbing the least expensive cues you could find I’d like to direct your attention to the buying guide I’ve constructed to help you better understand the different parts of the pool cues.
Top-notch Pool Cues in 2018
|18 oz (changeable)||Break-Balanced Weight Distribution|
Fused 4 Piece Butt Construction
|18-21 oz||Crimson Maple Pool Cue|
Full 15" professional taper
|Rage||25 oz||Double Turbo Lock™|
Matte black wrapless handle
|Imperial||20 oz||North American maple wood|
Featuring a lightweight ABS ferrule
|Valley||18-21 oz||High Quality Wood|
Polycarbonate High Density Ferrule
Predator BK3 – The Luxury Cue
It’s kind of hard not to fall in love with the visuals, though.
The body of this cue is carbon fiber, meaning that it is strong and durable without being weighty. This is perfect, since its actually rather long.
Don’t be fooled by the advertising for this thing which somehow implies it is only 29 inches long. Obviously, it isn’t.
Think about that for a minute – a 29-inch pool cue. You’d hardly be able to hold it with two hands, let alone actually exert any control over it.
29 inches is only the length of the shaft section from the center joint to the tip – it does not account for the handle section.
It’s also good for certain trick shots which require a bit of a hop and jump.
Though it has been constructed in 4 pieces, each section has been fused to the other leaving no joints behind. Such fusion means that there will be no lag or withholding of force.
Its construction makes it clear that this cue is built for straight shots, possibly with a small jump, and for serious pool players who like a lot of snap behind their hits.
Players – Under $200
Notice, though, that I used the term “intermediate” in that last sentence.
It’s still probably more expensive than a parent of 4 unruly children would want to spend on a solitary pool cue for family use, but it is not out of the realm of reason for the semi-serious, intermediate player who sometimes places a wager on a game and keeps his cues away from his kids (or just doesn’t have kids).
Heck, why not buy one of each (or at least one at the low end of the scale and one at the top end) so that you really have a range to work with when playing.
Since low-weight cues are best for long shots that require a lot of power and high-weight options are great for difficult shots which require more precision and less power, a range of options may be best.
The linen wrap around this cue’s handle makes it perfect for people with sweaty hands. It will absorb some the moisture of your hands without becoming slippery like some of the other options.
The attention to detail that Players used when creating this cue is evident in its silver rings, used to hold things in place and cover joints. The tri-color appeal is easy to fall in love with, too, as well as the hard leather tip.
Put together with both quality and beauty in mind, this hardwood cue gives you just enough crack to hit those long shots while also absorbing some of the impacts to offer excellent control.
Rage – Top Under $100
Ideal for people with a little extra power and those who prefer a special cue for breaking purposes, this Rage cue is made of solid maple wood and includes a 14mm phenolic tip.
The wooden composition of this cue allows it to absorb some of the vibrations when you hit, helping your ball travel in a straighter path than some of the synthetic cues you can buy. I think this is especially important since this cue is so heavy.
Since this cue actually comes apart at both of its joint you are able to alter the way you use it. You can take the butt end off to grab extra control and create a much lighter cue for nailing those difficult jump shots.
This shortened and lightweight version also helps you hold it at difficult angles.
Want to keep some of the power of the heavier weight behind your hit but don’t have the space to use this long 58-inch cue in a particular are? Not a problem. Remove the middle section to turn it into a shorter cue without losing too much of its hitting power.
Alright, let’s take a minute to talk about the tip. I have to say that, despite all my wonderful feelings about the other aspects of this cue, I’m not a huge fan of the phenolic tip.
Really, it’s up to you. Do you prefer something that can absorb a little impact, that you can use to angle a shot and curve a ball?
If so, turn your attention to something with a leather tip or consider having this one’s tip replaced. If you like durability above all else, stick with this phenolic tip.
A great choice for players who like a versatile, collapsible cue that can double and triple as different types of cues.
Imperial – Top for the Money
Emblazon with NFL insignia, I have to say this wouldn’t be the choice gift for the hockey fan in your life.
You can purchase it in one of 15 different styles, each devoted to a particular NFL team.
I want to step away from its looks, though, and focus more on performance and build. After all, those are the things that’ll really matter when it comes time to actually USE this cue.
The standard metal screw joint will transfer the vibrations from the tip to the butt without much lost in transit, allowing you to get the hit you expect without the interference of vibrations at the tip end.
I am very happy to see a real leather tip on the end of this cue! That tells me it’ll assist you with your curve shots.
Of course, a flexible tip isn’t always the preference for all people. Though it is very helpful for curve shots it can make straight shots difficult for those who do not have impeccable aim.
If you are skilled enough to hit the ball in a perfectly centered fashion, however, this leather tip will assist you when you need it to curve a ball without interfering when you just want that straight shot.
Want a nice, soft gripping area? Want one that’ll really work with the grooves of the skin on your hands?
Don’t get caught up in the gimmick of this cue’s NFL branding, it is actually made with quality and convenience in mind.
Valley – Great for Beginners
If you don’t want to spend a fortune securing an entire set of any of the more expensive cues I’ve listed here you just might want to consider this cue, instead.
You can purchase it in a set of 4 or 8 and save yourself a lot of money in that process.
Choose any weight you like, from 18oz all the way up to 21oz, but be aware that you will have to choose one weight per set. Therefore, if you’d like to create sets with multiple weights for each of the tables in your pool hall you will have to order full sets of different weights and do a bit of mix and match after you receive your order.
So, while they’ll stand up better to the beating they’ll receive in a pool hall (or in the basement of a family with young children) these cues aren’t likely to last as long as others in a general sense.
Overall, these are pretty good pool cues. They don’t have any special wrapping around the handle or extra parts or paint that can get worn over time with repetitive use which lends even more to their perfect use at a pool hall or bar.
These are basic cue sticks made for people who need to buy in bulk at a good price for whom quality is important but not the deciding factor in a purchase.
Here, I want to look at some of the most important things you should consider when buying a pool cue. What’s best for you may not necessarily be what’s best for me, or your cousin, or anyone else, but there are a few basic components everyone should look for. I’ll go over those first, then go into more depth about the different things you may or may not want depending on your skill level and other variables.
For some people, these sorts of details won’t be all that important. If you’re just buying a pool cue for the sake of playing a friendly game now and then, you can skip a lot of these concerns. If, however, you will ever place a wager on a game or participate in some sort of competition it’s worth your time to consider the following differences among pool cues.
The Basics of a Good Pool Cue
A decent pool cue doesn’t need to cost a fortune. When I talk about not taking the cheap road with your pool cue I simply mean that it’s best not to choose the absolutely least expensive one you can find.
In the end, those cues aren’t going to be well-made. While they may do the trick for a short amount of time they aren’t likely to give you much control over the cue ball and can break quite easily.
Still, the typical pool and billiards player benefits most from a leather tip. When researching your potential choice look for evidence that the tip is made of real leather.
Selecting Your Pool Cue Tip
I’ve already discussed the importance of a leather pool cue tip. What a lot of people don’t realize, though, is that there is a lot more to a tip than simply the material from which it is made.
Beginners may not care as much as intermediate or serious players, but even if you are a beginner I encourage you to take the type of tip into consideration when making your purchase.
Soft Tips – The softer your tip the more of the impact it absorbs and the less of the energy it actually transfers to your cue ball. If that makes no sense to you, don’t worry.
It’s all just physics mumbo-jumbo, anyway. How this really affects you is that it won’t give as much of an impact your cue ball.
Since the soft tip will squish a bit where it has the most contact with your cue ball it is best for curve shots. When you hit a ball at an angle with one of these tips it’ll put a slight spin on the ball while also sending it in your desired direction.
If you hit a ball at the same angle with a hard tip, though, you will put more spin on it and less curve – sending it mostly forward while spinning instead of sideways while curving.
Hard Tips – Since they don’t absorb much of the impact hard tips help you put the most force into the ball as you hit it. This means that the ball will move faster and straighter.
Medium Tips – As you’ve probably guessed there are tips which lie somewhere between soft and hard on the scale of density. As you’ve also probably guessed, a medium tip acts somewhere between the two when used.
It will create a bit of spin, a bit of curve, and will transfer a medium amount of force. It shouldn’t last as long as a hard tip but will last much longer than a soft tip.
Longevity – Something else to consider is that hard tips will typically last longer than soft tips. From repeatedly squishing as you hit a pool ball with them, soft tips will become warped and mangled a lot quicker than hard tips.
Phenolic Tips – These tips stand out from the rest because they aren’t made from leather at all. Constructed of carbon fiber, phenolic tips are even harder than the hardest leather tip.
These days, most companies are making breaking cues with phenolic tips.
Mix It Up – What I normally suggest to people is to switch up your pool cues as you play. Since cues with different tips have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to gameplay you can take the best advantage of them by using specific cues at specific times.
Pool Cue Shafts Are Important
I put the conversation about tips first because people do not consider tips enough, in my opinion. Too many websites tell you to focus on the shaft without giving the tip a single nod.
I believe that both are important, but, personally, place most emphasis on the tip. The shaft is very important though, for performance, comfort, and durability, so let’s take a moment to look at that aspect.
Material – There are three main types of pool cue shafts based on the materials they are made from: fiberglass/graphite (both terms mean the same thing, wood, a combination of the two types). Typically, fiberglass or graphite cues are much more durable than wooden cues.
Still, many professional players opt for wood because they offer more control.
It is the soft nature of the wood which offers you the most control over your ball because it doesn’t allow for as much of a transfer of power from the cue to the ball. Think of the differences between the soft tips and the hard tips in terms of power transfer – the same differences exist for the wooden cues and the fiberglass/graphite shafts.
The Joint – Most pool cues, especially those made of wood, are actually composed of a two-piece shaft. At first look, it appears that the cue is all one piece, but upon further inspection, you can see that it really is two pieces.
This is usually the case because the butt of the cue (the larger end) needs to be heavier than the front end (where the tip is located).
The joint itself also plays a role in a pool cue’s quality. The joint’s stability and ability to transfer and withhold force and vibration impacts from your stroke.
Typically, a cue’s joint is constructed with a metal screw holding the two pieces together. Debate still surrounds whether or not this is preferable to some newer options like ivory, wood, or plastic.
The Wrap – A cue’s wrap is the bit of material that is “wrapped” around the handle. Many people select cues with wraps which strike their visual fancy.
I suggest also considering the weight of the wrap. For example, leather wraps are heavier than plastic, vinyl, or nylon wraps which will lend more weight to your handle section.
I can’t say whether that’s better or worse, though, because the weight distribution of your pool cue is a highly personal thing. I suggest trying out different weight distributions at pool halls and seeing which sort of wrap would best suit you.
Many people have pointed out that different types and styles of wraps are preferable for people with dry hands and those who often have sweaty hands. Leather tends to be preferable for the sweatier folks since it is slightly absorbent.
You can, sometimes, even find soft surfaces which are highly absorbent.
People with arthritis and other grip-related issues should look for a cue with a textured wrap. The extra texture will add to your overall grip and keep the cue from slipping out of your hand.
Overall, texture increases your ability to control the cue.
Pool Cue Weight Considerations
When choosing your pool cue you may notice that there are a few different weight options available to you. On this page alone, I have collected cues of various weights and some which are available in multiple weights (allowing you to select the best one for you).
So, which one should you choose?
With pool cue weights seeming so similar it’s hard to know which one you should choose. People see options like 18oz versus 20oz and think that there really can’t be much of a difference at all, but that’s not the case.
As you look through your options, you will see that the general range of weights is from 18oz to 21oz. You will find the occasional cue of up to 25oz (I’ve included on one this page for your consideration) which is made for those extra-strong folks who need something a little heftier to offset their elevated strength.
Generally speaking, the lighter the cue the more snap you’ll have behind your hit and, thus, the further your ball will go. Heavier cues tend to create more lag, but they’re helpful when you don’t want to over-drive the ball.
Selecting Pool Cues by Length, Gender, and Age
Shorter people need shorter pool cues. It should be obvious, but a lot of people miss that point.
Similarly, taller people need longer cues.
Try not to get too caught up on labels like “for women” or “for children.” The truth is, if your arms are short you just may need a women’s or children’s cue even if you aren’t a woman or a child.
If you are a woman with long arms don’t let the advertising fool you into believing that there is a cue for you based simply on your gender.
Firstly, because certain aesthetics are known to appeal more to women than men. For example, pink cues tend to be purchased by women much more frequently than men (but men, don’t let this stop you from bringing home that pink cue!)
Secondly, women often have shorter arms than men, so companies often label shorter cues as being “for women.” Again, men don’t let this stop you.
And women, don’t let these labels stop you from buying a long cue if you have long arms – you don’t want to let advertising gimmicks hold you back from getting the best cue for your game!