You’re looking for a new cue ?
Here is some advice to help you decide what’s best
There are countless players looking for new cues every day. For some it’s easy but for others it seems a near impossible task!
If that is you it’s important that you read the content below.
The good news is the brands we sell are well established and have great reputations for consistently making excellent cues. When choosing a cue from our website you know you’re buying quality.
You can be safe in the knowledge that Maximus, Ton Praram III, Asia Cues, GBL, SP & Mastercues are all used by professional players.
General Cue Advice
- 1 pc or 3/4 jointed – A cue with a well fitted 3/4 joint can play just as well as a 1 pc, it’s also much easier to transport and carry.
Some players say they prefer the balance and feel a 1 pc cue provides.
Most professional players these days tend to choose 1 pc, some still use jointed cues but they aren’t as popular. All things considered it’s personal preference.
- Ash or Maple? – Ash is by far the most popular wood for snooker and English pool cues. Maple is denser than ash and does not have the pronounced visual grain of ash. The enhanced grain of ash cues is used by many players as a visual aid to aim and get a sense of movement of the cue, this can be distracting for some players so maple will be the better option. I personally prefer ash, I use the arrows/chevrons in the grain to aim, I have no direction with maple, it’s personal preference. Both types of wood are suitable for cues and play well.
Cue Size Guide
Tip size – Most used 9.25mm – 9.75mm with 9.5mm being preferred by many.
To give an idea of tip size differences – 0.10mm is the thickness of a piece of paper.
- Under 9mm isn’t really suitable for snooker but is more suitable for English pool
Why isn’t it suitable for snooker – The smaller the tip the more you will be punished for inaccuracy with unwanted spin. Some cues shafts can lack strength and power at this tip size.
- 9.25mm – 9.8mm – This is probably the most common tip size bracket. 9.5mm being the most popular when buying a new cue. 9.5mm is ideal, it’s proved to be the most suitable size for keeping an accuracy while being able to generate good spin.
- 9.9mm & 10mm – Are not always the best size to play with. There is a point a tip size becomes a little too big to generate good spin, in fairness good technique will overcome this. For the majority of players a big tip will encourage them to strike the cue ball harder to get a desired reaction. Big tips can create more push / throw / deflection when striking off center.
Choosing a tip size is a personal preference. There is no wrong or right, it’s what works best for you that counts.
*Please note choosing a tip size that has to be an exact size is extreme, a tenth of a millimeter under or over size your ideal size will not make any difference to how the cue plays or feels. Remember it’s the thickness of a piece of paper.
Something to check – Players with a cue for a number of years could be using near 9mm or even less without knowing, the cause is usually a combination of re-tipping and constant cleaning of the ferrule using an abrasive paper.
Weight – Most used 18oz – 19oz with 18oz – 18.5oz being the most popular
To give an idea of weight differences – A block of chalk weighs 0.6oz
- 17.5oz or less – This isn’t ideal for snooker ( Great for English Pool ) a lack of weight in a cue isn’t helpful when trying to generate power, also straight forward shots can become an effort. Not all cues will play well on a snooker table at this weight or less.
- 17.6 – 18.5oz – This weight bracket is very popular especially with a 1 pc cues. A good weight to generate power but is also light enough to give touch and feel.
- 18.5oz – 19oz – This weight bracket is popular with players who like to feel some weight in a cue, cues near 19oz generally feel quite heavy in the hand. Personally I prefer to keep near to 18oz, I feel 19oz is just a little too heavy for myself, I lose a bit of touch and feel, and will sometimes generate to much reaction because of the extra weight. I mention this because this is very common.
- 19oz and over – These are heavy cues for snooker, not ideal. Admittedly there are some players who feel the benefit of a heavy cue. Trial and error required for that one.
Choosing a preferred weight is personal preference. Again there is no wrong or right, it’s what works best for you that counts.
*Please note when choosing a weight that has to be exact is extreme, 0.2oz under or over your ideal weight will not make any real noticeable difference to how the cue plays or feels. Remember it’s a third of a block of chalk.
Length – Most players use 57″- 59″ with 58″ being the most popular.
This can only be a rough guide to length, the reason being it’s not just height that has to be taken into consideration to find a suitable length of cue. We all have different body frames ! Skinny, big , long arms, short arms I could go on but I guess you’ve got the idea.
Technique / stance also is a factor.
The golden rule is never use a cue that is too short, this will stop you giving a correct delivery through the cue ball and hinder what you can do on the table. The good news is you will know when a cue is too long for you !
It’s not good to hold the cue right at the end, most players hold roughly 1″ – 2″ down. This extra length enables players to lengthen up their technique to play power shots, it’s also very helpful when stretching to play shots just out of reach.
- Rough Guide Length
Players less than 5ft 6″ will be comfortable with cues 56″ most popular is still 57″. 58″ can feel too long.
Players 5ft 7″ – 5ft – 9″ will be comfortable with 57″ & 58″ will be fine. Players this height using 58″ will often have 2″ – 3 ” spare at the back of the cue but will be comfortable with the balance of the cue.
- 5ft 10″ – 6ft 2″ Not many players this height get away with a 57″.
58″ is the most suitable for players in this height bracket, some players feel more suited to a 59″ cue when over 6ft.
6ft 3″ – 6ft 6″ There are players at this height who use and play very well with 58″, I’d recommend to go to 59″ or even longer if required.
The longest cue we’ve had made was 63″ for a gentleman that was 6ft 9″
How to check what cue length is suitable
Take up stance as if you were about to play a shot.
Make sure your cueing forearm is vertical /90 degrees to floor.
Tip of your cue nearly touching the cue ball, cue ball distance should be about 12” to the v of your bridge hand. This will ensure you have enough length for a full cue action. Ideally you require about 1” of spare cue past your grip hand so you can lengthen up your stance for power shots.
The 12” measurement for bridge distance isn’t set in stone as some players prefer it to be longer or shorter. This information will give you a good indication to how long your cue needs to be.
Butt Diameter – This is the measurement across the very end of the butt from side to side. Standard butt diameters are between 29mm – 30mm this suits most players.
- Guide to help you
27mm – 28mm is thin – Very few players have this size
28mm to 29mm is slim – Popular with English pool players
29mm to 30mm is Standard – At least 80% of players will use butt diameters in this size bracket.
30mm – 31mm is thick – Not many players like over 30mm
32mm is extremely thick – Very rare, I can only remember ordering 1 cue at 32mm or thicker in the last 20 years !
Balancing Point – This is the position the cue balances at when horizontal.
This will determine how a cue feels in your hands. Some players prefer a rear weighted cue while others like the weight to feel further forward. Like so many things about a cue it’s a personal preference. Lots of things can influence a balancing point, joints, natural densities of woods, shaft and butt size and tapers. It’s all very subjective.
- Going from experience I’d say that most cues tend to play and feel well balanced when between 16.5″ – 18″
Cues with a balancing point of less than 16″ can start to feel butt heavy and light on your bridge hand.
The problem with balancing points is sometimes they can be misleading, but as a rule if you like to feel some weight in your grip hand 16.5″ or less, if you prefer a more evenly balanced cue 17.5″ is good, but 17″- 18″ should be ok, forward weighted go for 18″ or more.
Which shafts are the best ?
Why do I pay more for a cue because of shaft grade.
Good cue makers who grade shafts correctly will charge you more for stronger shafts with better visual grain pattern. The most important factors are a combination of – Strength – Density / Weight – Flex / Spring.
Strength – A shaft must have good strength to be able to produce a good strike and reaction with the cue ball. Shafts with more strength usually produce less deflection.
Density / Weight – Shaft density is important because this creates natural weight and strength in a shaft. This contributes to a more solid strike and better reaction with the cue ball.
Have you ever used a cue which feels light on the bridge hand, when striking the cue ball it feels hollow ? These shafts tend to have quite a lot of flex, the playability of the cue will be limited when shafts have a lack of natural weight and density.
Flex / Spring – Shafts need to be strong, so a shaft that is easy to bend isn’t ideal.
The best shafts have good strength but also a bit of flex which creates spring, this is what helps to get a good reaction with the cue ball, making creative shots easier to play.
Visual Grain – For some players is very important for others less. The grain pattern isn’t what makes the cue play well, visual grain pattern is personal preference. You will pay more for cues with good visual grain because it is a contributing factor when grading shafts. Perfect visual arrows can be difficult to find.
Remember this – The best cue makers know how to select the best shafts, and grade them accordingly.
Only cue makers with knowledge and experience can do this well.Top Tip – For players that prefer shafts with feel and some flex.
Choose from Maximus Classic range cues – Ton Praram III Series 1 cues.
These cues have selected shafts that will be more suitable for you.
Premium & Ultimate shafts are stiffer.
I hope you’ve taken the time to read the above information, hopefully this will give you some help and guidance to finding a suitable cue. Specifications are more about size and comfort that are personal to you, taking into consideration what specifications are the safest / best to use for playability.
Also here is an example for you to think about. Why it’s so difficult to replace your old faithful cue ?
We once had 8 cues made to the same design, with exactly the same specifications. I’m guessing you might be thinking well they will all be the same !
Design and specifications say they were but how they felt and played it could not be further from the truth.
A few of them were similar in how they played and felt, but most of them were very different, even though they were all 18oz some felt lighter or heavier than others.
– Weight distribution through the cue causes this, varying weight of the wood –
Tip sizes were all 9.5mm but when playing with the cues some seemed thicker and thinner than each other
– Grain pattern can cause this illusion –
Some cues felt longer and shorter than each other even though they were all 58″.
These are just some of the reasons why having a cue to made to your exact specifications doesn’t mean that cue will be right for you.
In depth !
Why is it so difficult for me to settle with a new cue ?
It comes down to a combination of experience & expectation.
- Less experience less expectation – A good quality cue will be suitable for most novice / intermediate standard players. A little time to work out what specifications will be best for them is well worth the effort, contact us if you need any help with this.
The most common specifications players choose are tip size around 9.5mm, standard length 58″, weight between 18 – 19oz. For most players keeping to these specifications will do the job fine.
- More experience more expectation – This is where it gets difficult !
There is a knowledge that has been acquired over years of playing, this has given an understanding & expectation of how you want a cue to feel and play.
To make things more difficult, some players want to instantly play better with a new cue !
Every cue plays differently, no 2 shafts are the same. It takes time to get to know how the cue will play and react, this fine tuning of shots with a new cue is when a player will decide if the cue is or isn’t suitable for them.
The fact is the better you get the harder it becomes to find a suitable cue.
Every cue is different in terms of feel and play-ability. Being able to adapt and compensate, some players do this well some don’t. To find a cue that you can settle with is priceless.
If you are struggling to find a suitable playing cue after several attempts my advice to you is to visit us, we have probably the best selection of cues in the country in our showroom.
You can compare and test cues out to find what feels and plays well. Our experience is that players often have fixed ideas on what they want in terms of specifications and design, the opportunity to try different cues often ends up with players finding a cue they love, with specifications they would never have considered without trying.
We are available to help and give advice when required.
How a cue plays with off center striking – Deflection
I believe deflection is probably one of the most contributing factors to why players can or can’t get on with a new cue.
When a player is looking for a new cue they generally have an idea of design, size, length and weight but deflection is never mentioned.
Stiffness of shaft is brought up by some players, but that doesn’t always give a true indication to how the cue will play. Players with knowledge about cues will have learned that a cue with a stiff shaft will create less deflection, or that is what they are led to believe, the fact is this can be inconsistent !
There are cues with stiff shafts that produce a lot of throw / deflection and cues with flex in the shaft that produce very little throw / push / deflection. A high percentage of cues with stiff shafts play well, they tend to keep the line of the shot better than shafts with more flex.
A cue with a lot of deflection is difficult to use, it’s less forgiving when accidentally striking the cue ball off the center line. A cue with less deflection is easier to use, players can adapt quickly because it’s more forgiving when accidentally striking off the center line.
How To Test Deflection
We do deflection tests on cues day in day out in the shop, this is to help give an indication of how the cue plays.
Test your own cues deflection to see how much throw / push / deflection your cue produces, you might be surprised !!
You can check your current cue to see how much deflection the cue is producing by placing the cue ball on the brown spot. Address the cue ball to play down the line of the spots (brown to black). The cue ball should travel straight. Now repeat this process using side spin (left or right). The amount that the cue ball curves away from the line of the spots indicates how much deflection that the cue has. The cue must be kept parallel to the center line to avoid natural compensation but this may feel unnatural (I hope this makes sense). When striking the cue ball keep your cue on the line of aim so you should finish your stroke tip towards the side of the black spot you’ve been addressing. The speed to play this stroke is lag pace, that means you want the cue ball to return to the baulk area. Repeat this a few times to check consistency.
Things to take into consideration when doing this – make sure you keep the same height / position when you strike through the cue ball. Height is very important, when striking below center you create drag which lessens the deflection and creates pull, striking above center will create slightly more deflection, so try and keep to central height for best results.
After doing this you will have had the chance to see how your cue is reacting using side and the deflection being created. This is one of the main reasons that players can or can’t get on with new cues. Players with experience have an expectation as to how they expect a cue to play when using side or shots at distance, any difference in deflection will be more noticeable.
A cue with high deflection is more difficult to play with. Although players will get used to them over time and learn to compensate for the higher deflection, this inevitably leads to a lack of consistency. I have found that very good players who use cues with a lot of deflection need to practice more regularly to keep their standard of play high and consistent. A cue with little deflection is easier to get used to. Players benefit from this because it can allow them to play without having to adjust so much from the line of a shot when using side spin.
Most cues will naturally create some deflection, about half a ball (the edge of the cue ball will go over the black spot) when doing the deflection test correctly.
Less than half a cue ball is good, very few cues produce no deflection.
The majority of players don’t strike through the center of the cue ball when meaning to do so, having a cue with low deflection is forgiving as it reduces the effect of unintentional side.
Some of you are thinking that type of tip and shape of tip will have an influence.
Yes you are correct, ideally the tip fitted is well shaped (slight dome) and bedded in or at least firm.
Question – Can I reduce the deflection my cue is producing ?
The answer to that is yes – Century titanium ferrules are now available.
These can be fitted at our premises. ( Checkout information – Alterations & Repairs )
I don’t know the full science behind them but what I can tell you is I’ve already tested well over 30 cues deflection before fitting and after fitting and without exception every cue has produced less deflection after a century titanium ferrule has been fitted.
After fitting I can honestly say that the overall playability was improved, in terms of feel and reaction with every cue, some of the cues I tested played well before and after a titanium ferrule was fitted, but these all benefitted from reduced deflection.
A big positive to Titanium is it’s lightweight, extremely strong and durable, no need to worry about a ferrule being damaged or reducing in size with repeated re-tipping.
I can’t see any negatives to using titanium ferrules.
Please take note – Anyone who is considering having a Century titanium ferrule fitted to your current playing cue. If you are playing well and happy with how your cue is playing, my advice is don’t fix what’s not broken. Fitting one of these will change the way your cue plays !
Updated / additional information regarding Titanium ferrules.
The benefits of Century titanium ferrule is they reduce the deflection a cue produces when striking off the center line of the cue ball. ( using side )
This means when unintentionally striking off the center line of the cue ball you will hold the potting line of the shot, instead of the usual consequence of pushIng the cue ball off the potting line. Cues producing high deflection will punish you for inaccuracy, causing more missed balls. ( Deflection / push causes a thick contact on the object ball )
Also when playing long shots with side spin less of an adjustment is made when choosing a aiming point to make the correct contact point on the object ball.
( You don’t need to aim so far away from the true line of the shot )
When playing on different types of cloths in varying states of wear ( table conditions ) this will help to make things easier, more forgiving.
It’s not just potting that improves.
Thin contacts for safety becomes much easier, the chances of a thick contact on the object ball is massively reduced.
I’ve now tested well over 200 cues which were original brass then changed to Century titanium and without exception every single cue a Century titanium ferrule has been fitted to the deflection has been reduced, I still can’t explain exactly how or why this works but it does.
Once fitted cues produce less deflection and more spin.
Another benefit is titanium is extremely strong, brass ferrules are prone to losing size, with general wear and tear ( re-tipping is the usual culprit for this, or constant cleaning the ferrule )
Titanium ferrules won’t wear away like brass ferrules, even when deliberately trying to cut into a titanium ferrule to reduce size it’s virtually impossible to do this, they are unbelievably strong. I guess this is why planes are made of titanium.
Lots of positives.
I will say if you are thinking of changing your own personal cues ferrule to titanium, things to take into consideration are.
- You will most likely lose 2-3mm in length off your cue, the reason is because titanium ferrule are shorter than standard height brass ferrules.
- If the current wood stem inside the brass ferrule is too thin to fit a titanium ferrule ( brass ferrules wall thickness vary, a thick wall brass ferrule will mean a thinner wood peg/ stem is inside ) worst case the stem might need to be cut off, which means you will lose the original ferrule height off your cue length, usually it’s possible to overcome this, there are ways to solve this problem.
- Titanium ferrules can’t be manipulated in size, they need to be fitted perfectly/ professionally. I'm pleased to say that ferrules are now made to every 0.1mm / tenth of a millimetre
Brass is easy to manipulate, the brass can be taken back to be flush with the wood, this isn’t possible with titanium, the wood always needs to be taken back to the titanium, or when possible fitted flush on original fitting.
Please note – Changing from brass to Century titanium will change the way your cue plays, so if you’re are currently happy with how your cue plays why change it ?
You need to make a balanced decision taking into consideration your potential reasons for changing.
I always think if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
When making the decision to change it takes time to fully transition. For some players this is a quick and easy transition, for others it will take longer.
I believe that the end result is worth this period of learning.
We have tested a number of titanium ferrules that aren’t genuine Century titanium. We have found that these ferrules don’t lessen deflection or generate spin anything like as well as a genuine Century titanium ferrule.
My advice is stick to Century titanium ferrules, these are 100% guaranteed to work.
The above information and advice was written by Stu Green