Pool Cues Buying Guide

If you're new to the game of pool , do your research before running out to buy a cue.  Expensive doesn't always guarantee quality, and for beginners, the more basic the better.  A simple cue  that is durable with a firm hit will be the most forgiving for novice players--try a fibreglass shell to protect against dents and warping, and a leather tip that's resistant to wear and tear--while fancy wood finishes are more suited toward experts and make for great collector's items .  If  you're still feeling iffy about diving into the big world of billiards , use this guide to help you get set up with the perfect cue; you'll be on your way to pool shark status in no time.

Choosing a Tip

Some of the most common questions when buying a pool cue have to do with the tip.  There are so many different sizes, styles and materials that choosing the tip that's appropriate for your skill level can be a daunting task.  Consider the:

  • Tip Density:  Different tips  have different levels of density, ranging from extra soft to extra hard.  The softer the tip, the more likely it will be to flatten out after each hit of the cue ball.  Thus, the softer tip will require more maintenance.  Soft tips are often preferred, however, because players feel like they offer a better sense of control and have better chalk retention.  Those who do opt for the harder tip are more concerned with durability and expense, since you would most likely replace them less frequently.
  • Brands and Boxes:  Tips come in boxes--there are commonly 50 in a box--and are usually very affordable at around £13 per package.  These are some of most popular brands, listed in an approximate order (subject to some variability from store to store) from least expensive to most expensive:
  • Size:  11-14 millimetres is the legal range of cue tip sizes for most regulation pool games.  For beginners, however,  12-13 millimetres may offer a bit more control of the shot.  Shorter tips also work wonders for stubby fingers.

The Cue Itself

The Weight:  A 20- or 21-ounce cue is often recommended for beginners because the added weight helps to maintain stability.  The added mass may also increase the spin of the cue ball, giving it more force and a cleaner direction.  If you opt for a lighter cue around 19 ounces, you'll have to have a more accurate stroke--otherwise the cue could be prone to slipping and wobbling.   The lighter the cue, however, the easier it is to control the speed of the cue ball.  Intermediate players can often do well with the 19 ounce cue, while some masters opt for even lighter.

The Feel:  Most cues have some sort of wrap to provide a more pleasant grip that plain wood can.  Materials that are commonly used include Irish linen, nylon and leather.  No one option is really better than another--unless your hands overly perspire, in which case leather is the way to go--so it is often simply a matter of taste and budget.

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