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Are you planning on buying a pool cue?
Any pool player can tell you the most important piece of equipment in billiards is their pool cue. For such a critical item you shouldn't just drop into the corner sporting goods store and pick up the first straight stick that you see. There are many types of cues, many qualities of cues and many other considerations to think about before you go out hunting for a pool stick.
So what is the difference in pool cues?
Type-wise there are only a few standard cue styles. One-Piece Cues are the ones most people see; every bar with a pool table has them in racks along the walls. Many home pool rooms also have a rack there for casual visitors. Two piece Cues are the second-most common; they have a screw-joint in the middle and can be taken apart to fit into a case for easy travel. One variety of these looks a lot like a bar cue; it may be entirely plain wood-grain in appearance and may have the joint camouflaged. A cue like this is sometimes called a Sneaky Pete a name that implies a devious purpose. In point of fact a simple cue like a Sneaky Pete is often simply an indicator that the player isn't a showman.
There are also three; four and five piece cue sticks available. Many of these are used for specific uses; such as jump shots or when there isn't enough room for a full-length cue. Many players have more than one cue for a variety of applications like breaking.
What are cues made of?
The tip of a cue is usually made of leather or resin and can be flatter on the end or rounded. The flatter tip is usually for breaking shots that require straight accurate shots with no spin. The rounder tips are made to spin more easily; spin is also called putting 'English' on the ball. Cheaper tips are single layer; these are often found on bar cues. Higher quality tips such as those made by Talisman Billiards have several layers mounted on a firmer base.
Because the tip compresses and hardens after impact the tips tend to get glossy and smooth. This reduces the friction between the tip and the ball, which unfortunately results in a loss of control. Cue Chalk is used to restore this friction. After a while, however, chalk just isn't sufficient. At this point some players use a Tip-Pik to aerate the tip. Others may choose to u se a tapper. Some people will then use a scuffer to rough up the tip. At some point, despite your best efforts, the tip will flatten and become misshapen. At this point you'll need to use a shaper to reshape the tip and rough up the leather. Eventually enough of the tip will have abraded that the edges of the curve are into the base. At this point it's time to replace the tip.
Behind the tip is the ferrule that is used to hold the cue tip on. The ferrule protects the cue shaft from breaking by absorbing the impact from the cue ball. Ferrules are usually made of impact-resistant plastic or bone.
The smaller end of the stick is called the shaft. Most shafts are made of wood but a growing number are made from wood coated in fiberglass. Fiberglass cues have greater strength, but are more expensive and can be more difficult to replace. It is important to have a flexible shaft that can withstand flexing.
Behind the shaft is a joint. This is the attachment that the screw is threaded into. Joints can be made of wood, metal, plastic or bone. Joints are installed in the cue stick by attaching a screw type fitting on the larger end of the stick called the handle or butt. Some cue sticks have Uni-Loc quick release joints so breaking down and setting up a cue is faster.
The handle or butt of the stick is often made of inlays made of exotic wood, bone or shell. Various types of decorative wraps made of leather or other material are wrapped around the butt to absorb moisture and improve grip. The butt is usually the most decorative part of the cue. At the end of the butt is a bumper made to protect the cue from being rested on the ground or bumping into the wall or other objects. Within that bumper is a screw with weights. These weights are used to adjust the overall weight of the cue, within limits.
What does a pool cue typically cost?
That's a hard one. Pool cues can cost anywhere between ten dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars depending on design and material. For example, The Intimidator by McDermott Cues is $150,000 and takes 1862 hours of handcrafting to make. This particular cue features a genuine Italian obsidian sphere and is inlayed with 24K Gold, has 46 individual parts, 210 separate inlays, a black Ultra-violet handle and wings. This 9 1/2 pound pool cue is most expensive cue in the world.
A more typical price range falls between a hundred and a thousand dollars. Price is dependent to a large degree on the quality of the inlay and/or the workmanship, and often both. Some very fine cues are quite plain but cost more due to the quality of workmanship. Others may be nearly useless on the table but are quite pretty. Most are somewhere in between. Generally speaking, the best strategy when choosing a cue is to ask others, try out several cues yourself, and shop around. Generally speaking I'd never touch a cue that costs under a few hundred dollars and tend to stay away from any mass-produced cue for anything other than a break stick, but I once found a beautiful Parrot custom cue that someone let go for $89, so do your research and keep your eyes open.
Are you hunting for a pool stick?
We generally don't respond to inquiries from people hunting for things, but we do try to list things that people want to see on the site. Here are a few of them:
For those of you who love your sports, at OnlineSports.com has a wide selection of cue sticks with your favorite team. They also have over 300 other billiards-related items. NFL Shop is another great resource.
If you're looking for Hunting Pool Sticks we found some deer and wolf cues and a moose-head bridge at Rockwell Billiards.
We get several requests from people on a fairly regular basis for brands that are misspelled. For instance, Ventage pool cues are actually vintage pool cues, a McDermick pool cue is actually a McDermott cue.
We have received some inquiries about Metallica pool cues, but we have not found a place that sells them. If you know of a place that carries Metallica pool cues please let us know.
Some other popular professional pool cue companies:
Adrenaline Pool Cues
Blaze Pool Cues
Dufferin Pool Cues
Fury Pool Cue
Joss Pool Cues
Lucasi Pool Cues
McDermott Custom Pool Cues
Omen Pool Cues
Pechauer Custom Pool Cues
Players Pool Cues
Predator Pool Cues
Schon Custom Cues
Sierra Custom Pool Sticks
Sterling Pool Cues
Vintage Pool Cues