A very common question I get asked from pool players, particularly beginners, is “What is the best pool cue?” The question is a valid one but is too vague to answer simply Brand X or Brand Y. The question that I believe is really being asked is “What is the best pool cue for me?”
This article should help you answer this by looking at factors to consider prior to purchasing.
Cue Straightness- The most common straightness test I see is the old “roll it on the pool table” method. This technique can show you if there is shaft warpage but is not reliable by itself as the table you’re rolling it on may or may not be level as well as any debris on the cloth can skew your perception of a cue’s straightness. Another method is to sight down the cue like a rifle barrel and rotate the cue in your hands while watching the tip movement. The tip should move smoothly throughout the rotation. Shaft warpage is the most common reason for a cue not being straight, an improperly centered or bent joint pin is another. Straightness is the most important thing to check when considering purchasing a pool cue.
Cue Weight- A cue’s weight is important but is very much a personal choice. The standard weight range for pool cues is between 18 and 21 ounces. Just as important is knowing the cue is weight adjustable if you’re not sure of the weight that works best for you. This will allow you to experiment with different weights without having to buy additional cues. Changing a cue’s weight is usually a simple process.
Wrap- In years past just about every high quality 2 piece cue had an Irish linen wrap. The purpose of this is to absorb any perspiration or moisture from your grip hand while shooting. Now there are more choices as there are cues with leather and rubber sport grip wraps as well as cues with no wrap. Try each of them out if you can to see what’s best for you. If you’re not able to try out different cues, a no wrap cue is a good choice especially if you’re used to playing with a house cue.
Pin size- Overlooked by many players but no less important is the type and size joint pin the cue uses. The most common joint pin sizes are 5/16x18, 5/16x14 and 3/8x10. If you want to replace or upgrade shafts in the future, a common pin size will be a much easier match.
Shaft- Traditionally one thing all high quality pool cues had in common is the use of hard rock maple for the cue shaft. Now days there are additional choices available with shafts being made from graphite, fiberglass and carbon fiber. These new shafts are usually more warp resistant and durable than wood shafts but don’t have the same feel that maple wood does.
Tip- This is the only part of your cue that contacts the cue ball so the shape and condition of the tip is important. Consistency (soft, medium, hard) should be based on your feel and expectation of durability. Maintenance of shape (typically a nickel or dime curvature) and playability (chalk clings to the tip) are also considerations. A pool cue tip is the part that typically will be replaced the most and usually can be done for a modest price so until you find your favorite, try out as many as you can. Modern technology has yet to come up with a better tip material than leather (i.e.- Buffalo hide, pigskin).
Workmanship- Last but not least, look at the overall finish of the cue from top to bottom. Issues such as a loose wrap, poorly fitting joints, visible blotches of glue and the like are indicators of poor quality.
I hope this helps you in your search for “The Best Pool Cue” If not, I’m sure that we have something in the $1000+ price range that you can get by with (LOL).