Buying a pool cue may not seem like rocket science, but if you’ve never needed to know how to buy a pool cue for yourself, the choices and temptations can be daunting. The vast majority of pool players gain their initial experience on public pool tables or small home tables. Usually, that means using whatever cues the pool hall buys en masse for cheap, or whatever cues came with the home table. When you buy a pool cue for yourself for the first time, it’s tempting to go for the expensive, flashy numbers that look really cool. But do these cues really do anything to improve your game? They can, if you know what to look for in a pool cue. Here’s our editor’s advice.
- Don’t go to the sporting goods store to buy a pool cue. Few sporting goods stores carry quality cues. If you buy a pool cue for less than $50 from a sporting goods store, odds are it will warp or dent easily. Look for a billiard shop, either local or online, if you plan to buy a pool cue that will stand up.
- Avoid making the decision to buy a pool cue purely on aesthetics. It’s tempting to buy that really cool looking $600-1,000 stick, but in reality, a $150-300 cue is all you really need. Expensive finishes, flashy inlays, and unique leather wraps only add to cost. They will not improve your game.
- Pool cues weigh between 18 and 21 ounces. Weight is a factor when you plan to buy a pool cue for yourself. If you are a true novice, spend some time experimenting with different cue weights on public tables. A lighter weight cue will increase your chance of double hits and miscues. However, not everyone is comfortable with a heavier weight. It depends on each individual’s physiology in terms of what feels right. Break cues, naturally, should weigh more for the highest possible cue ball speed.
- Cue lengths average between 57 and 58 inches. Length is another factor when buying a pool cue. If you need more ball control or hope to gain more spin, go with a longer cue. Likewise, if you have very long arms, opt for a cue on the longer end of the scale.
- Consider the material used to make the cue. Your choices are most often wood or fiberglass/graphite. Advanced players generally prefer wood, but synthetic materials are just as good and provide less maintenance and risk of warp. Keep in mind, harder materials provide power, while softer materials provide ball control.
- Pool cues have two parts, a butt and a shaft. The joint where these two pieces meet is important. Look for long, wide joints for durability. Consider what materials are used in the joint. The most common is metal, but some cues have ivory, wood, or plastic. Each of these materials has a different feel in terms of your shot. If you have only ever played with solid sticks, understand a jointed stick will feel different and take some adjusting.
- From tip to butt, each element of a pool cue affects the way you play. Softer tips provide more control. Butts are wrapped in leather or nylon, or have highly polished wood. Consider how much your hands perspire and how that affects your game when looking at wraps.
- If you are planning to buy a pool cue for the first time, consider buying one or two cues around $100 each, rather than one cue for $300. Choose cues that have different features and attributes so you can experiment to find what cue has the best feel and the best results for your particular style. As your skills and understanding of your own cue needs improves, you can upgrade your cue accordingly.