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Buying a Snooker / Pool Cue

Buying a Snooker / Pool Cue

Object Ball Size 1 7/8" Balls 2" Balls 2 1/16" Balls 2 1/4" Balls
Cue Ball Size 1 7/8" 1 7/8" English 2 1/16" English 2 1/4" American
Table Size 6 x 3 7 x 3.6 or 8 x 4 12 x 6 9 x 4.6
Game Kids Pool English 8 Ball English Snooker American 9 Ball
Cue Length 48" to 54" 57" is standard 58" is standard 58" is standard
Tip Size 11mm 9mm 9.5mm 10mm 9.5mm 10mm 11mm 13mm 14mm
Weight 16 to 17oz 17 to 18 oz 18oz to 19oz 21oz
Beginner 11mm 10mm 11mm 13mm
Pro If you like spin 9mm 10mm 13mm
Shaft Ramin American White Ash English Ash Canadian Maple

Note: The Average Australian Pub Pool Cue is a 57" Ramin Cue with a 11mm Screw on tip


So you are considering buying a new cue? Well you'll be pleased to know that we've put together this article to answer some common questions and to help you decide on which cue suits you...

Q1) What is a splice and how does it effect the quality of the cue?


The splices of the cue are the points you see where the ebony/rosewood part of the butt goes into the shaft. In terms of playing quality, the splices do not affect the cue, although, I would say that in machine spliced cues (where the splices are sharp pointed), the overall quality of the cue is compromised by a reduced quality shaft....basically manufacturers save their best shafts for the more expensive hand spliced cues. In terms of overall quality, then you would say that extra splices mean extra quality because the extra work and extra wood that is required to make a multi-spliced cue means that it will cost you more money!



Q2) Does playing with a snooker cue or a small tip cue mean it would be a bad thing to hit balls hard, such as when a lot of power is needed - high draw shots, breaks, etc. Would I have to get a seperate break cue? Snooker players don't really hit balls hard and the table's natural, yet fast, speed, take care of that.

Most players have between an 8 and 10mm tip. Some break with their playing cue but it is becoming more and more common to have a seperate break cue. Obviously, repetitive stress (e.g. break off shot) on any material causes a degree of wear so you are wearing your playing cue tip by breaking off with it. However, if you achieve a good split of the balls with your playing cue then you should probably stick with it.

Q3) I have learnt that a small tip means one can generate more spin from the cue ball but is harder to register the middle of the cue ball. However, does a small tip also mean the tip is a lot more delicate and shots such as masse and swerve will potentially damage the cue? Apart from chalking, what would one have to do to maintain an 8mm tip?

A well fitted 8mm tip should allow you to play all types of shot. Adding to my response to question 2, due to the nature of a masse shot (i.e. when you are striking down on the cueball), you are placing stress on the tip. Since the action required to generate the neccessary spin onto the cueball involves the cueball sliding towards the edge of the tip during contact, you will inevitably, wear the tip down quicker if you are playing a lot of masses shots. So, my advice is to play masse shots only when they are required (not just when you want to show off in the pub!) and to regular shape and burnish your tip. Also, tips with a harder consistency such as triangle tips will last longer so you could experiment with your tip choice until you find a type that suits you best.

Q4) If the tip is bigger, does this mean a tip which can give less spin? Or is it all in the dome shape of the tip?


Much depends on how well you strike the cue ball and time your stroke. I know top pool players who achieve more spin with a 10mm tip than most do with an 8 mm tip. However, what I would say is that you may find it easier to generate spin with a smaller tip but I haven't seen you play. Adding to my response to question 3 - with a smaller tip, you may apply unintentional side to the cueball, especially when you are under pressure because your action may not be as smooth. Again, a lot depends on personal preference but a tip between 8 and 9mm should be about right for you.

Q5) I am just over 6ft (tall for a 20 yr old!), so what cue length would suit me?


Standard cue length is 57-58 ". There are players as tall as you who use cues shorter than this but I think it would be wise to go for a standard length cue.

Q6) How do I know if a cue does not suit me or it is just because it is new and I need to "wear it in with practise"? This is important if I buy a cue off the internet, where choice is much more of a luxury but also where it'd be impractical to buy a cue, return it, buy another one, and so forth.

You'll  need at least 4-6 weeks of practice to know whether a cue is right for you. During this time you'll experience highs and lows (hopefully more highs!)....what you must try to do during low points is to believe in and to know your own ability. Your thoughts when buying a cue should be to buy something that fits to your own game and playing ability. A new cue can improve your game but you must also apply yourself in the right way....don't expect miracles immediately but persevere and you'll find that you'll start to like a new cue once you've really got to know it plays.

Q7) What is the difference between a maple and ash shaft? Does one or the other give a better performance?

In appearance terms, a maple shaft is clear whilst an ash shaft has grain (you probably know this already)...my opinion is that most (but not all - and some will disagree) maple cues have a stiffer feel than ash shafts. My own cue certainly does but it is quite an old piece of wood. However, what you will find is that some maple cues are very whippy. Regardless of whether it's maple or ash, every piece of wood has it's own characteristics - my advice would be to stick to ash unless you try and like the feel of a particular maple cue.

Q8) Is there a difference in aluminium and plastic cases (the cheaper/cheapest ones)? I have heard about humidity and certain case factors effecting the cue. Can anyone shed some light on this? Does the rubbing the tip does on the case interior damage the tip? When I leave my cue in its case and in the car, which is driven everyday, and play, I see a lot of chalk marks in the case.


A good quality aluminium case is well padded on the interior. This padding is enough to protect your case during travel. There aren't many examples of plastic cases these days, with the exception of the long tube cases perhaps. With regards to the humidity factor, I'm really not sure which would be better but the plastic cases I know of don't have padding and so I think that an aluminium case will be your best option.

Coaching

Pool and Billiard Coaching Aids - Improve your pool game! We have plenty of training aids to get you playing billiards like a pro, including the Jim Rempe training ball. We have videos, DVDs, books, and audio tapes geared toward making you a better pool player. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pool and Billiards is a great book for the beginner, and The Official Rules and Records book is great for everyone. Our collection of pool instruction items should offer sometihng for poolplayers of all levels.

Apparel

Pool and Billiard Apparel and Clothing - The billiards world has evolved over the last few years. We have created our own style and flavor of clothing and apparel, t-shirts, hats and even thongs. Billiard King Sportswear has become one of the biggest names in the industry for pool and billiard tee shirts, hats and clothing. We do offer price matching if you find a pool and billiard clothing at a lower price on another website.

Pool Cues some sound advice.

Compilation of advises, tips and tricks from my experience with others

Throughout my time playing snooker, I’ve been trying to constantly improve my game my way and seriously, my way was taking me to Timbuktu via Holland. My brother is actually quite a snooker player himself but I was not given many lessons from him until later when I seriously wanted to play the game. Throughout the years, I’ve met many good players and here’s a compilations of advises they gave to me.

Buying your first cue? Ash or Maple?

Lucky I was when I was 18 that I was given a cue by my brother’s friend on my birthday in One Snooker Club(thanks Darren!) and boy do I still remember vividly how that day went. My first cue and it was the legendary Cityboy. The cue is still in production but under the CM1 brand now and somehow it’s not like the first batch of Cityboys. Man, how I missed that cue! It warped due to my little knowledge of caring for a cue but I’ll touch on that later.

So some of you now might be interested in getting a cue, let me share my experience with you.

My conversation with my brother, Alvin Chin, taught me that a snooker cue is made out of 4 splices of wood and a pool cue is made out of 10 splices hence the higher price in pool cues. Snooker cues are usually made out of ash or maple wood whilst the lower end cues can be made out of other woods like rose wood and ebony. In general, ash wood has a very visible grain and maple wood’s grain is very fine. According to an article by Maximumbreak.com, ash wood tends to be stiffer than maple wood cues and some players prefer maple cues as the end is whippier than an ash.

shaft5.jpg

Cue No.1-3 is maple but the more widely found ones are like No.1 whilst cue no.7 is ash wood. Taken from users.skynet.be/billard.billiards/shaft5.jpg

But trust me when I say, you’ll have to play with the cue to really know the difference. I advise anyone who wants to buy a cue to go to a place where you’ll be able to test out the cue and preferably a place with a full size snooker table (i.e.Snooker Arena.Amcorp Mall) so you can try a soft, medium and power strength shot to feel the cue for yourself.

Cue Length

A cue, in general, should be 57-58’ long but due to the difference of arm length and body height, a good length of the cue would be one that reaches +-1’ of your shoulder. Steve Davis plays with a cue 57’, if I’m not wrong, when he should be playing one that should be 0.5’ longer. I would like to think a cue’s power can only be tested properly when the cue is being held properly and that would be not more than 3’ from the end of the butt ( NOTE: Don’t take this as a way to hold the cue for every shot as its only meant for testing purposes).

Cue Weight

Snooker cues, be it ash or maple, can weigh anywhere from 17oz to 21oz. Different players have different preferences for the weight of the cue so be sure to choose one weight that you feel most comfortable with. Heavy cues can be quite tiring for budding players but the longer you play with it; you’ll soon develop a “feel” for the weight and cue that no one will. Moreover, not all cues have the same weight balance. Some cues are heavier at the front, some at the back and some are pretty well balanced. Currently, I am using a JP and I find it heavier at the front compared to my previous cue, an O’min. After months of finding the “feel”, I finally got it.

Cue Tips

Most cues would have a tip size of between 9.5 to 10mm and dome shaped but I’ve seen many people play with flat-headed cue tips and very roundly-shaped cue tips. For beginners, I reckon it best to start off with a cue tip that is dome shaped. There are also compressed cue tips and normal cue tips. Most cue tips that we buy are not compressed. Cue tips are usually made out of leather in layers and by compressing them together for a period of time, a cue tip would generally be harder and thus giving an additional power to your shot over the cue’s power. However, a compressed cue tip that is too hard can result in mis-cues when taking shots with a lot of spin and side.

Truth to be told, no one can just pick up a cue and play immediately with it. Most, if not all, professional players we see have over the years compensated for their cue’s faults. Steve Davis and John Parrot tried Stephen Hendry’s old PowerGlide once and they totally couldn’t play with it.

To 1-Piece or to 2-piece?

I find this topic the most controversial one as many players can sit for hours arguing the “feel” of a 1-piece compared to a 2-piece cue. As you can see, there are many pros using both 1-piece (John Higgins) and also 2-piece (Mark Selby). In the end it is just how comfortable you are with the cue.

Trivial Fact: The ¾ cue was made popular by Steve Davis when his cue was damaged and he brought it to John Parris. It was unsalvageable and Steve gave JP the go ahead to cut the cue and the rest was history. ¾ cues were already made available then but weren’t as popular as the ½ cues.

Cue Maintenance

It is wise for everyone owning a cue to buy a piece of lint free cloth for their cue. Generally, the cloth that is used for car wash would be sufficient. A cue should be wiped during play when it feels dirty or sticky and also again thoroughly wiped after play. Particular attention needs to be paid to the ferrule area. A cue that is not thoroughly clean would have chalk stain especially around the ferrule area. The chalk can actually dry up the wood and cause it to be brittle. For when it needs, a damp cloth can be used to wipe the cue but must be buffed immediately with a dry cloth.

Linsead oil should be applied every 3-6 months to treat the cue and NEVER sandpaper the cue. This would remove the protective sealer and at the same time make it visually unappealing at soon the wood would soon have a grey tinged over it. It’s also wise to keep your cue in a rigid box so that it maintains its straightness. A Haliburton-looking aluminum box can set you back anywhere from RM100 and above.