Below are key questions to help narrow your selection. Get the best cue, first!
Consider the price range for a decent cue also. $20 simply will not bring you what you need. Anticipate $100 and up for a quality cue, although some makers can sneak in a playable cuestick for under that cost. A really fine cue could set you back thousands of dollars, although at some point you are paying for decoration and not playabilitiy.
Ornate or Simple Cue?
Decorations increase the price, but not the playability, of your cue. In fact, the natural wood feel can be lessened if too many inlays or other modifications are added to the cuestick.
A pretty design, however, makes a player confident and may give you an added boost. I feel more “psyched” to play shooting with an attractive cue.
Hard or Soft Tip and Width?
A soft tip provides added feel through the shot; a harder tip lasts longer on the stick and retains its rounded shape better. Most pros opt for a hard or very hard tip unless a repairman is handy always to replace their tip.
11-14 millimeters is the legal range of cue tip sizes for American pool. Most beginners need or want 13 mm, with 12-12½ mm for stubbier fingers or as a matter of preference after some experience has been gained.
Heavy, Medium or Lightweight Cue
A 20- or 21-ounce cue stays on line longer and is recommend for beginners. It may also be easier for the beginner to get added spin from the added mass of the cue, but beware, miscues and unwanted english are also enhanced by a heavy cue!
A 19 oz. cue requires a more accurate, skilled stroke but is easier to use to control the speed of the cue ball. Most intermediate players use a 19 oz. or lighter stick and many of the pros have gone to 18 ounces in recent years.
Wrap and Balance Point?
Most cues have an Irish linen or nylon wrap, providing a more pleasant feel than plain wood, others use leather or an exotic wrap. Beginners should test for a preference of nylon or linen before buying. If you perspire excessively, leather may be best for moisture absorption.
Find where you can balance a cue you are examining on two fingertips only. Remember where this spot is located and shoot different cues to see whether you like a balance point toward the rear or forward.
Brand Name Stick or True Custom Cue?
Nearby my home, Russ Sill of Gainesville, Florida and Chris Nitti of Orlando are famed for quality cues made to a customer’s every whim, by hand, and for a reasonable price. Other fine cuemakers are located worldwide. Or you might select a catalog model from a mass production house like McDermott, Mali or Helmstetter and still enjoy a fine cue for a low price.
Save money and make your first cue or two a mass production model for around $100, until you get a better feel for what options you need and want.
A busted joint will ruin the enjoyment of your cue. Longer lasting screws (on the male end of the joint) are generally larger, with wider joint threads, than their weaker counterparts.
Color Scheme and Case?
A bright, ornate cue may be fun for you—or it may draw unwanted attention at your local pool hall. Any color of the rainbow is available as a shaft or butt stain from most cuemakers.
Protect your cue (and innocent passerby from the pointy ends) with a hard or soft cue case. The softer the case, the lighter the weight, but the less protection for the cue.
Reviewing the questions as above, my playing cue’s specifications are:
Cue Design: Simple with inexpensive inlays
Tip Hardness: Two shafts with different tips; a Moori medium (soft tip) and a medium LePro (hard)
Cue Weight: 19 oz.
Wrap: Irish linen
Balance Point: A few inches ahead of the wrap, a common spot neither far forward or backward
Brand Name or Custom Cue: Quest Cues sold my cue for a retail price of $495, I purchased it used at $100!
Tip Width and Joint: 13 mm, quick release joint
Color Scheme and Case: Six red points float atop the varnished wood; stored in a 1 x 2 tube case with shoulder strap