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What to look for when buying a custom cue? - 07-10-2020, 01:11 AM

Hi,

I'm very new to the pool cue world, and I have some questions about custom cues.


I know playability is very subjective, so let's leave it aside first.


My question is purely on the appearance of the cues.


What's considered a good/great custom cue?


1. Sharp points?

2. As many points as possible?

3. Cue finishing, what type of finishing is consider top notch? Lacquer? CA?

4. Inlays. I know most inlays are done by CNC. And the value/material of the inlays vary a lot. So let's leave it aside first.

5. Hand made or CNC? Lot's of work is done on CNC, but isn't it like a competition of who's having the best CNC equipment and CAD skills?

6. What else?
  
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07-10-2020, 03:40 AM

Good Qs & I don't have all the answers but, in general, the more labor goes into something, the more the final price. Sharp points seem to be desirable. CNC can produce great results & shouldn't be dismissed. Just b/c a machine helped D/N mean the cue can't look & play well. Exotic woods drive up the price, too.
  
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What to look for when buying a custom cue?
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What to look for when buying a custom cue? - 07-10-2020, 03:58 AM

First things first and the first thing is the hit. I hear all the time, as you say that hit is subjective. I don’t believe that. I believe the player is subjective. There all are sorts of explanations as to what a good hitting cue is. In my 47 years of playing the game the conclusion I have come to is the cue must have feedback. If it hits like a solid one piece cue then that is not a cue I want. If I did I would play with a house cue. It’s not a good hit. Ever!

If it was then every musical instrument or tennis racket would be carved out of a solid piece of wood and they are not. Feedback to me is the way a cue feels when you hit a cue ball but again the player is subjective. In other words if you are a slow rolling player then other than balance any cue production or custom will do. However if you hit the ball with a little spice then you will want to hear that cue and you will want to feel that cue ball. That is the definition of feedback. Getting something back from the cue when you hit they ball. I hit other people’s cues whenever I get a chance and I can say with 100% honesty that on a very few cues out of maybe the 40 I have owned and who knows how many I have played give the player the type of feedback I would consider a good or great hit.

I have hit some pretty expensive cues in my time. Certainly not all of them but when I hit with a cue I can usually tell within the first hit if it’s something I would want. I have hit Gina cues and they hit awesome. I have hit TAD cues and find them hit and miss some play out of this world and others...well not do much. I have hit Scruggs and Diveney and Southwest and Tascarella and Andy Gilbert’s and some other off brands along with many production cues. So the hit is much more critical than the looks. I have had some gorgeous cues that I sold because to me the hit was just not there.

The original question is a loaded one!

Points wether CNC or hand made is not relevant unless you only care about collecting which I do not. I only keep cues around that I can pickup at anytime and play and be comfortable with. When I say comfortable I mean I can stroke that cue and get a beautiful draw and expect the cue ball to be close to my intention.

Materials can effect everything mentioned above.

Key points.....(no particular order)

1-Hit
2-Sound
3-Feel
4-Balance
5-Diameter of the butt
6-Diameter of the shaft
7-Taper of the shaft
8-Weight

When these all come together then that’s the cue for that player.

I am a firm believer that the sound and feel of a cue are critical. When you hit a ball good before the ball is ever pocketed you know you hit it good by the sound and feel of a cue.

If you hit a ball bad then you know you hit it bad before it hit the second diamond and left your opponent an opportunity.

I have cues that are older than my 20 something kids that I will never sell because they fulfill the 8 points (no pun intended) stated above and still rely on to this day.

Good luck with your search.


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Last edited by ThinSlice; 07-10-2020 at 04:03 AM.
  
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07-10-2020, 08:12 AM

Engineering.
There are a lot of different methods to construct a cue.
The top makers have figured this out very well.
Just for an example a local maker here in Colorado named Ernie Martinez.
His cues are always perfectly balanced and just glide smooth as butter.
Ernie has the engineering part figured out.
As far as points,inlays ,rings and such thats all just deco that adds nothing to the play ability and sometimes can hurt it.
The great Gus Szamboti said to me once the more I have to put into a cue(inlays-rings-fancy stuff) the harder it is to make it play right.


New cue-Schmelke custom Bocote merry widow
Best of the bunch- The Mighty Lucasi Cocobolo
Back up cue - Troy Downey
I woke up.
Triangles tips and Masters chalk are good enough.

Willie said “I will only say this...when I beat Ralph, they would say it was because he was drinking....but every time he beat me, he was drinking too.”


The Truth: If you have a stroke the gear don't matter... If you don't have a stroke the gear won't help.
The above quote by Softshot
  
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07-10-2020, 08:16 AM

whatever style im liking at the time, i go through phases

first was plane janes, then pretty woods
then full splices,
i never been much on inlays but i love veneers, boxes points butterflies, thats what i want next

all i care about is that its not overly heavy, 21 and up and how it looks,
i like to spend money on cues and cases what can i say, they got me hooked


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07-10-2020, 10:28 AM

Lots of information here, thank you guys.

Let me digest a little and reply.
  
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07-20-2020, 09:29 AM

Having someone build one for you, make sure that the "builder" that doesn't throw you some optimistic timeline that they know they can't keep.I'd recommend asking around for cuemaker recommendations as well as workmanship.

Keith
  
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07-20-2020, 10:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by uttrading View Post
Hi,

I'm very new to the pool cue world, and I have some questions about custom cues.


I know playability is very subjective, so let's leave it aside first.


My question is purely on the appearance of the cues.


What's considered a good/great custom cue?


1. Sharp points?

2. As many points as possible?

3. Cue finishing, what type of finishing is consider top notch? Lacquer? CA?

4. Inlays. I know most inlays are done by CNC. And the value/material of the inlays vary a lot. So let's leave it aside first.

5. Hand made or CNC? Lot's of work is done on CNC, but isn't it like a competition of who's having the best CNC equipment and CAD skills?

6. What else?

Who is the Cuemaker is part of the price, say you want a Barry Samboti. You are going to pay mega bucks. Same woods, same points, same everything from a lesser know maker. Way cheaper.

Many great cuemakers out there who do not have big name yet.


“Pool is geometry, in its most challenging form, the science of precise angles, and forces" - Quote from: A Game of Pool, The Twilight Zone 1961 Television Show.
  
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07-20-2020, 11:09 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by CocoboloCowboy View Post
Who is the Cuemaker is part of the price, say you want a Barry Samboti. You are going to pay mega bucks. Same woods, same points, same everything from a lesser know maker. Way cheaper.

Many great cuemakers out there who do not have big name yet.
Geez Cowboy have you been taking Prevagen?


New cue-Schmelke custom Bocote merry widow
Best of the bunch- The Mighty Lucasi Cocobolo
Back up cue - Troy Downey
I woke up.
Triangles tips and Masters chalk are good enough.

Willie said “I will only say this...when I beat Ralph, they would say it was because he was drinking....but every time he beat me, he was drinking too.”


The Truth: If you have a stroke the gear don't matter... If you don't have a stroke the gear won't help.
The above quote by Softshot
  
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07-20-2020, 11:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by CocoboloCowboy View Post
Who is the Cuemaker is part of the price, say you want a Barry Samboti. You are going to pay mega bucks. Same woods, same points, same everything from a lesser know maker. Way cheaper.

Many great cuemakers out there who do not have big name yet.
I disagree. Not all cue makers use the same quality woods, especially shaft wood, and some source their parts from China.

Many players/buyers critique a cue from pictures and that is impossible to do. You must see a cue in person. The fit and finish of a cue made by an experienced cue maker is quite different from one made by someone without the same skills. Also, the number of years experience is not a guarantee of a high level of quality.


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Last edited by Type79; 07-20-2020 at 11:25 AM.
  
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07-20-2020, 09:05 PM

Another thing to consider is time. How long are you willing to wait for your cue to be made? On both sides of the spectrum, Southwest will make you wait 10 years, Schmelke 3 weeks. Yes, both will make you a cue to your specs.
  
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08-27-2020, 11:52 AM

My top level 50,000 foot advice is three things:

1. Be VERY specific about the type of hit and specifications you want in a cue. Try to have an idea of exact weight you want, exact shaft diameter, balance, length. Tell the cuemaker how much flex you like in the shaft, what feel (though this can be super subjective) such as hard (Southwest, Barnhart, Szambotti) or softer (Tascarella, Joss, Scruggs). Many cue makers have their taper and "hit" profile, but the best ways can shape it towards your preferences. The closer you detail this the more likely the cue is going to fit you really well regardless of the actual maker.

2. Leave as much of the design up to the cuemaker as possible. If you have an extremely precise picture of your cue, fine. But my experience is you get a better and prettier cue if you involve them in the design and give them decision making authority.

3. Be prepared to wait. The best cuemakers tend to have longer waits for their cues (not always) but as a rule prepare for 1-2 years to get a custom. Also go in knowing that for many cuemakers (not all but even some great ones) cue-maker time is a little less specific than maybe you are used to. If he says a year, count on 18 months, etc...and then when you get it you won't be pulling your hair out in frustration.

4. Ask about cuemakers and try and hit as many as possible till you find the right cuemaker for you. There are many great ones out there but quite a few you should probably avoid as well
  
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08-27-2020, 09:09 PM

What to look for when buying a custom cue? - 07-10-2020, 03:11 AM

Look for this name on the cue - R. Howard
  
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08-27-2020, 09:59 PM

I look a lot at quality of the workmanship as well. Some cue makers are kind of sloppy with their work, but a lot are really good. Quality wood is important, lots of points is nice but even points are nicer imo. I like to look at the quality of the inlay work and wrapping work (especially if leather).


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08-29-2020, 09:47 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnysd View Post
My top level 50,000 foot advice is three things:

1. Be VERY specific about the type of hit and specifications you want in a cue. Try to have an idea of exact weight you want, exact shaft diameter, balance, length. Tell the cuemaker how much flex you like in the shaft, what feel (though this can be super subjective) such as hard (Southwest, Barnhart, Szambotti) or softer (Tascarella, Joss, Scruggs). Many cue makers have their taper and "hit" profile, but the best ways can shape it towards your preferences. The closer you detail this the more likely the cue is going to fit you really well regardless of the actual maker.

2. Leave as much of the design up to the cuemaker as possible. If you have an extremely precise picture of your cue, fine. But my experience is you get a better and prettier cue if you involve them in the design and give them decision making authority.

3. Be prepared to wait. The best cuemakers tend to have longer waits for their cues (not always) but as a rule prepare for 1-2 years to get a custom. Also go in knowing that for many cuemakers (not all but even some great ones) cue-maker time is a little less specific than maybe you are used to. If he says a year, count on 18 months, etc...and then when you get it you won't be pulling your hair out in frustration.

4. Ask about cuemakers and try and hit as many as possible till you find the right cuemaker for you. There are many great ones out there but quite a few you should probably avoid as well
From my own 20+ years of experience with custom cues, this advice above is very, very good advice- you need to be CERTAIN of all the specs first- weight, length, balance points, shaft and butt diameters, shaft taper, tip type, wrap type, joint type, ferrule and joint material, woods that you prefer.

UNTIL you know ALL of this for certain through trial an experimentation, you would just be GUESSING as to what your very own custom cue should feel like TO YOU. Why bother to order a true custom until you know all of this?

Inlays, points etc. are all secondary to your very own personal specs; unless you just want a custom decorative cue- I bet you want both though- something that feels and plays exactly how you desire and looks great to you too! If so, be patient, be sure, and then be HAPPY with what you receive.
  
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