There are a number of things to know when shopping for a billiard cue stick . The number one thing you need to know is of course yourself, you need to determine which skill level you are in.
For beginners, a good range to start will be from $50 to $150. Do not go lower than that. Ultra cheap billiard cue sticks do have problems, like the straightness of the billiard cue stick may be compromised, or the finishing is lousy.
And you can forget about durability.
For intermediate to advances players, you should consider billiard cue stick ranging from $200 and above. You have to be knowledgeable somehow, because a big part of the cost you are paying for are for the wrapping, designs and ornaments on the billiard cue butt.
As professional players tend to go for light billiard cue stick nowadays, the average weight of a billiard cue can range from 18 – 21 ounces.
Break cues are billiard cue stick you may consider buying sometime down the road. As breaking can shorten the lifespan of your billiard cue stick. So if you have a break cue to do the job, it will help minimize the wear and tear of you billiard cue stick.
Wood cues, Graphite cues and Fiberglass billiard cue stick, which one is the right one for you?
Of course, if you are a beginner, this question will not bother you. Overall, wood billiard cue stick are better, as they give you a better feel than graphite or fiberglass. But having said all this, wood billiard cue stick need more maintainence as wood billiard cue stick are subjected to dents and moisture.
And to add more weight to this discussion, professional players swear by wood billiard cue stick than graphite or fiberglass billiard cue stick. Wood billiard cue stick are more sensitive to the feel, weight and balance.
After all, the billiard cue stick you are about to buy have to meet your own criteria, your budget, your likings and how serious you are into the billiard game. The rest are secondary.
So before you head on down to a billiard shop and start playing in a billiard parlor, do consider the above as a simple guideline.
Here is our updated list of the best pool cues for intermediate players:
- Players Technology Series HXT15 Two-Piece Pool Cue
CUESOUL House Bar Pool Cue Sticks
Valley House Bar Pool Cue Sticks
Players Classic Birds-Eye Maple with Triple Silver Rings Cue
Viper Underground 2-Piece The Raven Billiard/Pool Cue
Viking Valhalla 2 Piece Pool Cue Stick
EastPoint Sports Composite Billiard Pool Cue
Are Two-Piece Pool Cues any Better?
Let’s get the basics right about two-piece billiard cue stick , they mainly consist of two pieces of equal length. One called the “Shaft” which is narrower and with a cue tip attached, the other is called a “Butt”, a thicker piece which is the end with a rubber attached to it.
The main reason for the invention of this two-piece billiard cue stick is because of convenience. But billiard enthusiast got carried away and got into the trend of customizing the billiard cues. Billiard cuemakers started altering the size of the anatomy of billiard cues that could affect the performance of the billiard cue, after that billiard cuemakers started decorating the billiard cue stick to suit the customers taste and fancies. Sometimes the cost of these exotic billiard cue stick could cost more than your set of wheels.
Now what about the price?
The lower end range of these two-piece billiard cue stick can cost between $30 to $100. The material for this range are usually graphite, cheap maple or ramin. These materials may be too shabby for a regular billiard player, but for a beginner billiard player, it is acceptable, but go for the graphite and the cheap maple ones.
Whereas for the butt, it will be plain. But not for nowadays, they come in decals, which are transfers or stickers that goes around the butt almost seamless. They are coated with a clear protective layer and is hard to tell from the real thing like metal, maple or shell inlays.
Well, for the mid-rang two-piece billiard cue stick, they sell for between $150 to $500, they are common equipment for regular billiard players. The first thing that differentiate them from the low-end billiard cue stick are the shaft. They are always better grade maple, which is lesser blemishes and it stay straighter in various conditions, it looks better too.
The butt of these mid-range billiard cues are mostly real inlays of good grade wood. They comes in various designs of exotic wood and metal, in weight, size, joint designs and styles. Some material used may affect the game play.
Now for the high-end billiard cue stick range, the $500 and above, it can go up to $200,000. Most of these high-end billiard cue stick don’t play any better from the mid-range billiard cue stick; you mainly pay the extra for the beauty and exotic materials on the billiard cue stick. But some of them really have improve performance in their play.
Bonus Mention- Predator Pool Cues
The line of Predator cues came from an idea to build a robot which could scientifically test the performance of any cue in existence. The reason; Alan McCarty and Steve Titus wanted to develop the best hitting ferrule possible. But once the robot was created, the resulting project turned into designing the whole shaft of a cue which would measurably outperform all cues ever made!
Up until the creation of Iron Willie, even the best players had their opinions on which cue was best–but there were almost as many differing opinions as good players. Iron Willie would cast his vote with two major changes from the “experts”: He wouldn’t have a presupposed favorite and he would be completely objective.–(Even the best players have learned to compensate in their aim for squirt and deflection to the point where they don’t notice it–and Iron Willie doesn’t need endorsements to survive.)
Predator’s Unique Flex Radically Improves Your Accuracy!
With Iron Willie’s help, it was discovered that by making a subtle change in the way a pool cue flexes when it hits the ball reduces deflection and the result is a cue–which improves your accuracy–by 25%!
This unique flex is the result of the finely tuned synergy between the proprietary ferrule, the one-of-a-kind shaft design, and a specially designed composite insert running down the center of the first five inches of the Predator 314.
These features combine to centralize the hit, cushion the impact, and reduce compression inside the shaft so the cue buckles less.
The result: Almost pinpoint accuracy.
This composite shaft insert combines with Predator’s proprietary ferrule to reduce cue buckle and deflection. The result: Your accuracy improves by 25%!
The shaft is constructed with ten precision cut pie-shaped pieces of super select northern hard-rock maple–with the grain alligned toward the center–glued and spliced together so perfectly that you literally cant tell that it’s more than one piece of wood!
This gives you a straightness and radial consistency that’s simply unequalled in a one piece shaft.
Better yet, the Predator’s unique flex gives you more power too–increasing the cue ball’s RPM’s 14% more than the Predator 314’s closest competitor. So you get more spin with the same effort, and draw and follow the cue ball further and easier than ever before.
But what impresses players most about the Predator 314 is its incredibly solid feel and hit you just can’t get from an ordinary cue. You see, the same flex that gives you more accuracy and more power also reduces cue vibration. And the proprietary ferrule also reduces cue vibration and allows the tip to stay on the ball longer, giving more spin control and a better feel.
So, you’re ready to pick out your first, very own personal pool cue and not sure what to do?
That’s why we’re here.
Check out our tips on choosing the perfect cue to suit your individual style and taste. The right pool cue can make a huge difference in your game.
How to Buy the Best Cue Stick For Intermediate Player
Test, Test & Test
First things first.
You need to get some pool practice time with several different styles and weights of cues.
If you haven’t played at least a few games of pool, it will help you immensely to try out a variety of cues.
While you are playing, take note of how each cue feels in your hands.
- Is it comfortable to hold and to strike with?
- Does it feel too light or too heavy in your hands?
- Does it feel too long or too short?
Each time you play with a different cue, ask yourself these questions and choosing your personal cue will be much easier and effective.
What’s the Price?
Now that you have a better idea of what sort of cue you prefer, it is time to consider how much you want to spend.
Cues these days can go for as little as a few bucks to a few thousand bucks.
Obviously, if you are just starting out and are looking to play for recreation, we would recommend spending no more than a couple hundred dollars.
This price range will provide you with plenty of materials and styles to choose from, and trust us…they are a good sight better than those ratty cues at your favorite bar.
Take a look at the cues available in that price range. Pool cues come in several regulation lengths: 48″, 52″, 57″, and 60″.
Cues weigh between 17 and 21 ounces (between approx. 482 and 595 grams) and have a 12 to 14-millimeter diameter tip.
Most cues have a 13 mm diameter tip.
Pick out the ones you really like and check them out. Are there any obvious flaws such as knicks, chips, dents, bubbles, ferrule to shaft bumps, or warping? Is there a weight bolt under the bumper of the cue for weight adjustments?.
If you chose a cue that has any immediate visual flaws, discard them right away. For the ones you have left that appear to be in good shape, now is the test of playability.
Just hit off a bunch of different types of shots (don’t bother trying to pocket the ball). Try a few soft shots and then a few harder shots to see if you like the feedback the cue gives you when you shoot.
During the harder shots, listen for rattling in the butt of the cue. If there is any sort of rattle, you could be looking at a loose weight bolt or a flawed cue. In either case, we would keep looking.
Please keep in mind that even though you bought this to be your personal cue, it doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.
If, during the time you play with your new cue, you notice things you really like or dislike when it comes to your cue’s performance–make note of them. You can always get a new cue that is even more tailored to your needs and your style because you know what you want the more you play.
If you have any questions or need some advice on choosing the right pool cue for you, just ask a pimp!
Cue Maintenance Tips for the Intermediate Player
Regular maintenance will protect the investment you’ve made in your quality cue. Not only will it extend the life of the cue and enhance its beauty, but it will improve your stroke. Nothing glides like a clean cue. You’ll find the small investment in time and maintenance products pays off handsomely.
If you have a personal cue now, then hopefully you already have a case. If this is a soft case, then you might want to consider investing in a hard case. Preferably something with a pouch to carry all the goodies you might need while playing. A hard case will give your cue more protection from damage, as well as to help protect it from humidity and moisture that can cause the butt or shaft to warp. Another way to protect your cue from moisture is to invest in joint protectors. These are inexpensive and they will help to prevent moisture from entering your cue at the two most vulnerable parts of the cue, as well as protecting these areas from other types of damage.
Never lean your cue against a wall! This can also cause your cue to warp and can cause dents and even breakage from falling over. When I’m playing league, one of my favorite places to keep my cue between matches is flat on the floor under the pool table. You might also find my case here, but that’s just to get it out of the way.
Another major cause of dents comes from using a mechanical bridge (or crutch). I often watch players bang their cue against a crutch while trying to get these two tools on the table to make a shot, as well as banging them together while trying to get them out of the way of the balls bouncing off the rail. For these types of shots, you might want to consider using a house cue.
You should never use anything abrasive on your shaft. Avoid anything that will remove any wood, this includes those green scouring pads and all sand paper. If you feel you must use these types of items then use them sparingly, if you don’t, your shaft’s going to end up in the shape of an hour glass. One of the best ways to help keep your shaft clean is to keep your hands clean. I personally never use any type of powder, and have found if you keep your shaft clean, then powder is not necessary. I will do something on cleaning your shaft in the future, even those shafts that appear to be beyond help.
The butt of your cue is pretty much maintenance free, but consider carrying a small, clean, soft towel to wipe down the shaft and the butt of your cue each time before you put it away.
Invest in a tip pick or a tip tapper for roughing up the tip when it won’t hold chalk. Do not scrape at the tip with these tools, both are designed to tap on the tip. If you use one of these tools, your tip will have a much longer life, my personal preference is the pick. You might also want to invest in a tip shaper, you will need to determine which shape you prefer first. Only use the shaper when your tip needs shaped. You can also use sandpaper if you like, but without a little practice with it you may end up with a lopsided tip. Tappers, picks and shapers are inexpensive and well worth the investment.
I know of three things that will harden a tip. One of them is liquid, I will talk about the other two in the future. So here’s a tip to help prevent mushrooming of your tip: Occasionally apply moisture to the edge of your tip. I apply a little water by wetting my finger and going around the edge of the tip. Do this as often as you can, especially when the tip is new. Try not to hit the top of the tip, if you do you may need to use your tip pick or tapper.
Never leave your cue in your car! The temperature change and humidity can cause it to warp. You could also lose your cue to theft, as I did three years ago.
One of the most important things to remember about caring for your cue is to use common sense.
Whether your cue consists of one or two pieces, it’s almost certainly made of wood. If not handled properly, wood will warp. Never leave a cue unsupported, such as leaning against a wall, for an extended period of time. Always store your cue in a rack or in a case when not in play. Protect your cue from environmental conditions such as direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and humidity.
Cleaning the Shaft
The shaft of your cue may develop a sticky buildup over time. Always handle your cue with clean hands. After play, wipe down your cue with a soft cotton cloth. If necessary, a damp cloth may be used, but be sure to dry the shaft immediately and completely.
Smoothers and burnishers are the most effective method of cue care.
Wrap the smoother around the shaft. Stroke the shaft gently, being careful not to apply too much pressure or produce heat through friction. The process is complete when the desired smoothness is achieved.
All smoothing must be followed by burnishing. Wrap the burnishing leather around the smoothed shaft. Using a rapid motion and applying moderate pressure, stroke the shaft. The leather will warm slightly from the heat of your hand and friction. Burnishing is then followed with a final smoothing. Use a soft cotton cloth or a polishing glove to give the shaft a final polish.
Caring for the Ferrule and Tip
Dirt, grime, and chalk regularly accumulate on the ferrule. Left untreated, this buildup can be spread downward, embedding like tar on your cue. To prevent this sticky buildup from depositing on your cue, the ferrule should be cleaned regularly. Your shaft will stay cleaner, your stroke will be smoother, and the beauty of your cue will be preserved.
The cue tip is the hammer behind every shot. It affects touch, backspin, accuracy, precision, and consistent smoothness of stroke. It is truly the “nerve center” of your cue. When not in use, it should never be left unprotected. The slightest ding can destroy its effectiveness. Whether left in a case or placed on a rack, a cue tip should always be covered and protected. This will not only keep your tip in championship condition, it will keep your case– and your cue– free of unwanted chalk dust.
One Last Note
Over time, poorly-maintained cues accumulate layers of embedded chalk and grime. Abused cues may benefit from a cleaning solution. However, we have tried every commercial cleaning solution available, and have yet to find one that meets our standards. We are currently developing a formulation of our own, and we will let you know when we introduce it.