Different Kinds of Cues
There are a couple of kinds of cues you can buy once you get into playing on a regular basis. What? You can have more than one? Now, don't get all excited and rack up all the bucks on your credit card now. It's tempting to go haywire because you've found something you really like to do and now you want all the paraphernalia that goes with it. If you've started to play competitively, however, you may want to have more than one cue stick on hand. Most of the pros do just that.
Many players will go for a one-piece cue when they just get started.
That's fine, but you may find that it's a little awkward to carry every time you head off to the poolroom. It's not a bad idea to get one with a relatively wide tip diameter. You're just starting out and you can always upgrade once you know what you want. Some people say that you should just immediately go for the two-piece cue, but you're going to pay a lot more for it. There are others who say get the cheapest thing out there until you know how often you're actually going to play the game.
Tip diameters can be as small as 12.5 millimeters or as wide as 13.5 millimeters. A professional will probably tell you that 12.5 to 13 millimeters is the range to be in. More than 13 millimeters puts you into the break-cue category.
A two-piece cue is exactly what it says it is. It comes in two pieces that join in the middle between the butt and the shaft. The reason two-piece cues were invented was to make transporting them from place to place easier to manage. A two-piece cue can be designed with the parts that you want.
You can get a very nice cue at a reasonable price. You can often pick the parts that you want (the type of tip and the material for the grip, etc.). Just remember that the more you add, the more expensive it will get. For a lower-end cue you can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $100. A cue in this price range will have a shaft made of a lower grade of maple wood, graphite, or a cheap maple wood substitute called “ramin.”
While maybe this doesn't sound like the most appealing cue stick out there, it's fine for a beginner. It will get you started in an affordable price range.
A medium-quality cue will range anywhere in price from $150 to $450. You may see this type of cue stick around the pool hall a lot. The shaft will be high-grade maple wood, which is not only nicer to look at but it will last longer than the cheaper imitations.
The expensive cues will have the fancy inlays on the butt and the supplier will offer you choices of designs. You will also be offered different choices in terms of what kind of material you want for the wrap, what weight you prefer, whether you want a plastic or metal joint, what kind of finish you want, and what size tip you prefer.
A two-piece cue joins in the middle (between the shaft and the butt). When choosing a two-piece cue, consider comfort, your preference, and how well it plays for you. A one-piece cue is one straight piece without the middle joint. All the other parts are the same on the two different kinds of cues.
You don't want to take your brand-new two-piece cue with its firm little tip and its marvelously flexible shaft and use it on your break shot, now do you? Of course not! As you'll soon learn, the open break shot of eight-ball fame will take its toll on the longevity of a cue stick. After you've done all this work to find the “right” playing cue, there's no way you're going to want to be back at the supplier making repairs or, worse, having to buy a new one.
On a break shot, you can choose to use a one-piece cue with a slightly heavier weight and a wider-diameter tip. This will allow you the most power behind your stroke, and you'll watch those balls scatter on the table. If you really get into playing, then you might prefer to carry your own two-piece break cue, just like the pros do.
If you have a table at home, you should definitely consider designating one of your one-piece cues as the break cue. This will allow you to hold on to your other cues a little bit longer, because you will subject them to less wear and tear. When you play in a pool hall or local tavern, you can bring your two-piece cue with you. For the break shot, just use one of the house cues supplied by the establishment. Be careful of those tips, though; they usually have virtually no grip on the cue ball and can slide right off the ball and hit the table.