Ultimate Pool Cue Buyers Guide
Questions to consider when buying a pool cue
Should I buy a one-piece cue or a two-piece cue? What is the difference?
Two-piece cues are almost always a step up from a one-piece cue. I say almost always, because some big box retail stores do sell two-piece cues made out of plastic that are of lower quality than a wooden bar cue. We do not sell this type of cue. With a two-piece cue, you get better quality, more selection and the option of having a wrap to grip onto. Not to mention, a two-piece cue will fit in a case for easy portability!
One-piece cues are primarily used in bars and pool halls because they are too big to just walk out with. They aren't generally really high-quality, as most businesses are more concerned about the cues walking off than whether they play straight. Billiard supply dealers used to sell one-piece cues with home tables because it was an inexpensive way to offer cues for guests to play with as a gift with purchase. Nowadays, most pool table accessory kits (or play packs) come with two-piece cues.
"Two-piece cues are almost always a step up from a one-piece cue... One-piece cues are primarily used in bars and pool halls because they are too big to just walk out with."
What is a jump cue?
A jump cue is a short cue with a really hard tip designed to make it much easier to jump balls while maintaining control. A jump cue is used any time you are trying to maneuver the ball out of a really tight spot.
Why do I need a break cue?
A break cue is important because it will save the life of your playing cue. Breaking with a regular cue, even a high quality one, can damage it over time and causes the tip to wear out much faster. Break cues feature a stronger ferrule than playing cues, and have a harder tip. The ferrule and tip allow you to hit the ball with an extreme amount of force without damaging the cue or the tip.
How can I tell if a cue is good quality?
It certainly isn't by price. Although the old adage that 'you get what you pay for' is somewhat true for pool cues, a good quality cue doesn't have to cost you a fortune. There are plenty of brands out there like Players or Action that will cost you under $100 and make the perfect cue for beginners to league players.
A few things to look for...
Material - You want a cue with a shaft that is made out of 100% Hard Rock Maple. This means the shaft will be straight and usually that the wood has been turned and dried during the manufacturing process to prevent warping.
Treatment - A shaft that has been treated with a wood stabilizer to protect from atmospheric changes is great, as is one that has a high-gloss UV finish to prevent against fading and chipping. Luckily, a lot of brands in the $100 and under price range have this.
Ferrule - You want a fiber ferrule or one that mentions that it won't crack or chip. Plastic ferrules (like those found on low quality cues) have a tendency to chip or crack. Not something you want to be worried about in the middle of a game.
Tip - Leather tips hold chalk the best and lead to less mis-cues than phenolic or other types of tips. For a playing cue, this is what you want.
Why are some cues so expensive?
Some cues cost a lot because of the name, or where they are manufactured. Companies that manufacture their cues in the USA typically cost more than cues manufactured elsewhere, because the market supports the cost increase. This doesn't necessarily mean they are of better quality, just that at least part of the cue is made in the U.S. Cues from manufacturers that have been around forever also typically cost more. Also, cues made by custom makers cost more because they're very labor intensive to make.
Other factors going into cue cost...
Wood - If a cue has an exotic hard wood like Cocobola, Ebony, Bocote, Purple Heart, or Rosewood, it will cost more than a cue made out of Birds-eye or Curly Maple. Exotic wood is beautiful (so is Maple, if you treat it right!), but it's more expensive for cue manufacturers to buy, which raises the price of the cue.
Inlays - Real handcrafted inlays can also drive the price of a cue up. They're beautiful to look at, and the craftsmanship that goes into cutting and inlaying them in the pool cue costs a little more. The price for inlay also depends on what kind. Inlay material that is natural like Abalone or other type of shell, metal or stone are more expensive than decorative plastics. Decorative plastics can look really, really beautiful, but natural materials always cost more because they are in shorter supply.
Wrap - Depending on what kind of wrap you prefer, wraps can drive the cost of a cue up. Genuine leather wraps are more expensive than leatherette wraps, which are more expensive than Irish linen wraps, which are more expensive than nylon wraps.
Technology - Technology, or performance, cues can also be more expensive. These cues offer your game a little oomph and cost more because of it. Pool cue manufacturers pour lots of time and money bringing you the best and newest ways of improving your game. Often, the materials they use are expensive or difficult to manufacture as well, driving up price.
What kind of warranty should I get?
Never buy a cue without some sort of warranty; at the very least, look for a 30 day money back guarantee on unused, unchalked cues. This will at least allow you to make sure your cue is straight with no warping. To test your cue, screw the shaft onto the butt and roll it across the table. Does it roll smoothly and does everything look straight when you look down the length? If so, you're good to go. If the cue wobbles around as it rolls or looks a little bent, send it back! Aside from checking for straightness, check your cue thoroughly for any chipping, peeling, or scratches. Note: check your cue before you chalk it! Warping once a cue is chalked is not considered a 'manufacturer's defect' and is not covered under that type of warranty! Some cue brands (like Lucasi, Lucasi Hybrid, Viking and Players) give you a longer warranty – but always be careful to make sure you read the warranty before you chalk the cue, no matter what brand you go with.
"Never buy a cue without some sort of warranty; at the very least, look for a 30 day money back guarantee on unused, unchalked cues. This will at least allow you to make sure your cue is straight with no warping."
What kind of wrap should I get?
The function of a wrap is to give you a place to hold the cue while shooting. The grip you choose should be comfortable and have a texture that is pleasing to your hand. This is different for everyone, but a rough guideline is:
Leather - Feels soft in the hand – not the best material if your hands sweat a lot.
Leatherette - Feels a lot like leather, but can be a little stiffer in the hand. Also not great for sweaty hands.
Irish Linen - This is the classic cue wrap. If your hand tends to get sweaty, this is a great wrap for you.
Nylon - Nylon is a lot like Irish linen, just less expensive. Nylon feels a little rougher in the hand and is used in less expensive cues.
Suede - Only a few cues on the market come with this wrap (the only ones I can think of are the Players Flirt models F-2750 and F-2780) – this wrap is something a little different and is soft to the touch. Suede does get dirty, but it can be cleaned with any suede cleaner.
Isoprene - Feels like a wetsuit with more grip than a leather or linen wrap.
Veltex - Feels like a soft wetsuit with more grip than a leather or linen wrap.
Lucasi Hybrid Technology - These wraps are textured to give you extra grip and have shock absorbent foam underneath for a really cushy grip that will help your game too.
Players Technology Mz Multi-Zone - This is a super comfortable grip with three distinct traction zones to give you the hit you want.
Predator Sport - This is an ultra-tacky wrap with two traction zones for varied play.
Predator UL Leather Luxe - This wrap is made out of polyurethane with a cushion for increased comfort. This is not a leather wrap.
Rubber - Rubber (or PU or polyurethane) wraps give you good grip but can feel a little plasticky in the hand.
Simulated or Wrapless - A slick feel. You're getting nothing but wood here, so there is nothing getting in the way between your hand and the cue.
If you select a cue with a wrap as opposed to a wrapless model, some brands have models with back-end loaded wraps. A back-end loaded wrap is for people who like to grip the cue farther back than where a regular wrap covers. If this is where you like to hold your cue, you might want to consider a back-end loaded wrap or a cue that is wrapped fully in a material like leather or leatherette.
What kind of tip should I get?
Any leather tip will work just fine for a beginning pool player. The most popular tip in the $100 and under price range is the Le Professional or “Le Pro” tip by Tweeten Fibre. Other popular tips makers include Kamui, Moori and Tiger Products.
I'm a woman, do I need a special cue?
Not at all. There are a number of cue lines these days specifically aimed at women (Players Flirt and Athena being the best examples), but you do not have to buy one of these cues to be a good player. These cue lines feature things like a thinner butt and/or slightly shorter length, but this is not necessary to play a good game. There are plenty of women out there that play with “regular cues” and do just fine.
I'm short, should I get a kids cue?
Not necessarily. If you're under 4'11”, I would, but any height over that should do just fine with a regular 58” cue. Go with your gut. Do you have trouble playing with a bar cue? Have you played with a friend's cue and it wasn't comfortable? Then go with a kids cue. Many brands have kids cues in 52” and 48”.
My game room is small. What size cue do I need?
If your table is 7' and you have a:
11'3”x14'6” room, you need a 48” cue
11'11"x15'2" room, you need a 52” cue
12'11"x16'2" room, you can go with a full-length 58” cue
If your table is 8' and you have a:
11'8" X 15'4" room, you need a 48” cue
12'4" X 16' room, you need a 52” cue
13'4" X 17' room, you can go with a full-length 58” cue
If your table is 8.5' and you have a:
11'10" X 15'8" room, you need a 48” cue
12'6" X 16'4" room, you need a 52” cue
13'6" X 17'4" room, you can go with a full-length 58” cue
If your table is 9' and you have a:
12'2" x 16'4" room, you need a 48” cue
12'10" X 17' room, you need a 52” cue
13'10" X 18' room, you can go with a full-length 58” cue
What size kids cue do I need?
A 30” cue if your kid is age 0-3 or 0' – 2'.9” tall
A 36” cue if your kid is age 3-6 or 3'.0” - 3'.9” tall
A 48” cue if your kid is age 6-8 or 4'.0” - 4'.3” tall
A 52” cue if your kid is age 8-10 or 4'.4” - 4'.7” tall
A 57” cue if your kid is age 11+ or 4'.75”+ tall
Are technology cues just for professionals?
Not at all. If you're an experienced player who is ready to make some changes to their game, a technology cue is a great way to go. The key here is to know what you want out of your technology cue.
Do you want just a technology shaft? Predator mounts its joint inserts into a solid core of phenolic for increased surface contact, better stability and a more solid hit when you play; Lucasi Hybrid uses a special polymer, lightweight core and radial construction for an extended sweet spot, better stability and a more solid hit; OB gives you lightweight technology with the same hit of a traditional shaft; Tiger shafts give you flex with a solid hit; and McDermott I Shafts give stability and vibration dampening.
Do you want a technology shaft with a little extra? Lucasi Hybrid takes the technology cue a step further with the addition of X-Shox memory foam under the wrap that reduces vibration by up to 50% while stiffening the hit.
Should I get a graphite cue?
The general consensus about buying a graphite cue over a wood cue would be to not bother. Graphite cues tend to be of lower quality, and can be very hard to clean. They can also be very flimsy and may not last as long as you would like. There are exceptions to the rule, however, most notably the brand Cuetec. Cuetec coats its wooden cues in graphite or fiberglass to provide increased ding protection, so they're wood cues at heart. Some people claim graphite, fiberglass, aluminum, titanium or acrylic cues are better than wood cues because they do not warp. This isn't necessarily accurate. Many non-wood materials can be very temperature sensitive and can bend over time (especially aluminum). A good quality wooden cue should never warp, unless it is subjected to large temperature variations (i.e. trapped in a hot car for days on end) or has been stored improperly. If you take care of your cue, your cue will take care of you.
Have a question that wasn't answered above? Feel free to give us a call at 800.835.7665.