View Full Version : Cue ? for Cue Makers

06-27-2002, 09:05 PM
I am saving to buy a new cue. We had this discussion after playing last night. What is different other than cosmetics such as points and stain. Why is a custom cue any better than a production cue. They both have maple shafts made from good, klin dried wood. The weight can be the same, the tip can be the same, the wrap the same, the balance point equal. I have a production cue with a perfect, straight shaft that has been shot with 20 -30 hours a week for 4 years. The wood to wood joint is still as tight as ever. Other than bragging rights, why should a person spend over $500.00 for a cue stick? The reason I am asking is that I plan to do so and still don't really know why. Please tell me what you can about the value of a higher priced cue.

06-27-2002, 10:20 PM
I just play with them but one quality that stands out to me is the shaft wood. Most production cues from my experience do not have clear white maple. They either have sugar spots, I believe it's called or sometimes grain lines that are coarse. Personally I'll pay extra for that alone.

06-27-2002, 10:36 PM
One of the main wood differences with buying a custom cue is that there is more character in the wood (for the butt) resulting in a more beautiful cue. Other than the fact that most cuemakers probably let their wood sit longer than a real big mass produced company (resulting in less warpage) there isn't much of a difference other than cosmetic.

Cueless Joey
06-28-2002, 12:04 AM
Production cues are mostly crap. They force them to be "straight". I just saw my local cuemaker fix a Meucci last night. The joint screw was crooked. The handle and the bottom of the forearm had uneven parts in them. The owner wanted a new shaft. The new Red Dot shaft rolled funny with it. The cue and the wrap were sprayed on to save time and money. This was a $400 cue.
For $400 yu can get a custom cue with quality workmanship and material.

06-28-2002, 12:23 AM
I hear this question all of the time. E-MAIL me at <blkhrt4@insightbb.com> I'll show you what you get for $225 when you order a BLACK HEART Q. I only make a small number of Qs a year, so I can take my time and pick through the wood, to get better looking pieces. I can also afford myself the luxury of turning my shafts 8 times before they are joined with the butt. I recently went to a Mcdermott web site, where they "braged" about turning there shafts 4 times to insure straightness. There is a down side, like most Qmakers I have a waiting list, but you can get a Meucci or a Mcdermott tomorrow.(both are good Qs)...JER

06-28-2002, 07:34 AM
Its a 'signature' status thing.

Its the same reason you don't purchase the cheapest vehicle, home, clothes, appliences...etc.

Preference and choice.

Many players learn to play pool with a house cue. When you want to play better, you should learn to play with the same cue. If its a house, production or custom cue, as long as it is the same cue, you learn how to play with it consistantly.

Personally, I like cues that look good and play well. But, it all boils down to the player. What kind of game (skill level) you have and what you want to set as a goal for improvement.

Custom cues are a great way to get custom settings on your cue. Shaft length, diameter, taper, weight, balence and looks, can be 'customized' to your specifications.

06-28-2002, 08:16 AM
The same question could be asked of almost anything. Some is pride of ownership, some is investment and resale value. Production cues have poor resale value. As far as cues go, a production cue is mostly generic. You can make changes after you get it, such as get a new shaft with a taper more to your liking, a new tip or different ferrule and so on, you get the idea. Some players are more in tune with their cue and know exactly what they like. They won't be happy a production cue. As far as woods in production cues go. They may use words like selected, and finest in their ads, but I am horrified at some of the shafts and woods used in production cues I work on. Especially when I hear what they paid. It is a personal choice.

06-28-2002, 08:41 AM
I am now playing with a Black Heart. I can attest to the smoothness and feel of the white maple shaft ( 8 turns? Wow!!). I could only afford the basic BH. However, I get a lot of compliments from the beautiful cocobolo Jer picked for me. The linen wrap is so comfortable compared to the productions cues I've played with. I now am in waiting for my second Black Heart. The wait is worthwhile.

Angelo ..... All my production cues are now up for sale

06-28-2002, 09:20 AM
partial snip:
I am now playing with a Black Heart. I can attest to the smoothness and feel of the white maple shaft ( 8 turns? Wow!!).
.................................................. .........

What does 8 turns means? And about how many turns would there be on a production cue and what would be average, good or bad? Thanks.

06-28-2002, 10:26 AM
The choice to invest in a custom cue allows you many advantages over the production cue. You can basically design the cue cosmetically, specifying what woods,wrap and vaneers you want. You can specify the weight,butt size, shaft taper,ferrule material, tip, etc. Along with having a cue that's uniquely your's, you also have the luxury of having a one on one relationship with the builder that makes any future changes or problems with the cue easier to resolve. IMO, I'd much rather have a "basic" $300 custom cue that was made to my specs using quality materials than a $1500 production cue that's pretty close to what I want, but was built with the next piece of wood coming down the assembly line, and it looks identical to 10,000 other cues made at the same time. The re-sale value is also an issue. When you decide to upgrade or change cues, that $1500 production cue is now worth $500 and the $300 custom cue is still worth $300 or more. Steve Hasty

06-28-2002, 10:39 AM

06-28-2002, 12:25 PM
That's a good question. For some it is about owning a unique object (that is if the cue is a "one of a kind"). For others it is about an appreciation of the work produced by a fine craftsman (especially if they produce work that can be considered as "art"). For others it is to own an object that is an "investment". That will increase in value.

Then there are the practical considerations. What if you are very short, or very tall? A production cue might not "fit" you. What if you prefer a very slim, or very thick butt? You might not find a production cue that is made like that. And so it goes.

The word "custom" implies a certain relationship with a "customer". You should be able to get what you want.

This is not always possible with a production cue. At best, you can "customize" a production cue to try and suit your needs.

Another aspect is that while yes, it is possible to find production cues with excellent shaft wood, and perfect balance etc., it is often a matter of luck to do so.

A good custom cue can be made to your specifications. You establish a relationship with the maker that is not possible with a production cue.

Now I'm not saying that you cannot find a production cue that will suit you perfectly. Merely that it might be harder to do so.

Here's a little tale that will illustrate the principal:

Years ago when I was younger I used to race bicycles (not for a living). The day came when I was in the market for a "good" racing bike. I had two choices:
1) look for a production frame that "fit" my body dimensions or,
2) have a "custom" frame made that fit me perfectly.

Both fit into my budget.

To get an idea of what specifications I needed, I had a bike mechanic put me on a special "fit" machine. This was an adjustable "dummy" bike that could be modified until all of the parts of my personal physiology aligned correctly, and the bike was comfortable for me. Any bike that I bought would have to be able to match those dimensions.

After trying out about 50 bikes (without success), I found a lovely Itailian bike that by chance (dumb luck really) "fit" me perfectly. Every dimension on that bike was exactly what had been determined with the fit machine. And it felt perfect, and I thought it looked very elegant. I bought it.

Had I not come across this bike, I likely would have had a frame custom made for me. But I found this bike by pure chance.

One of my cycling teammates was not so fortunate. He searched for months and could not find a production frame that suited his body type. His only choice was to have a custom frame built. The final product was very nice indeed! He was extremely happy with the frame, AND with the whole process that he went through with the craftsman to get it.

If all you are looking for is a generic cue that has the dimensions and characteristics easily available from a production manufacturer (and there is nothing wrong with that at all!), then by all means buy one.

But if you are looking for something "special" (and by special, It could mean special technical specifications and not artistic sensibilities) then the custom cue is the better choice.

-just my opinion mind you...

06-28-2002, 12:52 PM
8 turns means the number of times that a shaft was "turned down". This process is used to help insure that a shaft does not warp by a painstaking process of letter a shaft sit around for a period of time, then cutting/lathing it down, then letting it sit, then cutting it down, then sit, then cut, then sit....etc...until the shaft is finished.

It is my understanding that a number of very good cuemakers such as southwest will perform anywhere from 8 to 12 turns over a period of a year or more. I presume that most of the production cue makers to not peform as many "turns", hence the possibility that their shafts may not be as stable??



Scott Lee
06-28-2002, 01:17 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: AustinFilAm:</font><hr> I am now playing with a Black Heart. I can attest to the smoothness and feel of the white maple shaft ( 8 turns? Wow!!). I could only afford the basic BH. However, I get a lot of compliments from the beautiful cocobolo Jer picked for me.
Angelo <hr></blockquote>

I second the vote of confidence for Blackheart Cues...
excellent value, and highest quality!

Angelo...AND it matches your NEW jump cue! LOL

Scott Lee

06-29-2002, 11:28 PM
Having been a cuemaker for 5 years and after doing alot of research on cues, even if I never made another cue--say I quit playing, sold all of my cues--I would never buy a production cue--I would always go custom. There are so many things but mainly--age of shaft wood, unique-ness (if that's a word), quality of construction, investment potential--the list goes on and on. Why does the millionaire buy a Rolls instead of a BMW--because that's what he wants. Most not-so-well known cuemakers' (myself included) basic cues start around $300. I would much rather have a plain cocobolo or birdseye than a Joss with CNC points. As far as how long to age wood-shaft or butt-it depends on the maker. My shafts go over 10 turns before they even make it to the taper bar. Then it's another 10 or so turns before they're down to 13 mm or so. That's what works for me. I don't use shaft stabilizer chemicals. I am of the opinion that it's not good for the wood. Some makers do and that's what works for them. There are major differences between custom and production, you just have to know what you're talking about. I've seen Players cues with straight shafts--cues that are a few years old--that's the exception, not the norm. I'm not dogging the production cue companies--they fill a need in the market. They just don't do anything for me.

06-29-2002, 11:36 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Harold Queen:</font><hr> Having been a cuemaker for 5 years and after doing alot of research on cues, even if I never made another cue--say I quit playing, sold all of my cues--I would never buy a production cue--I would always go custom. [...]

I'm not dogging the production cue companies--they fill a need in the market. They just don't do anything for me. <hr></blockquote> Well, there you have it folks. A cuemaker reports that he prefers custom to production cues.


Cueless Joey
06-30-2002, 12:06 AM
I would never buy production cues. They all seem to buzz between the forearm and the handle after a few months of use.

Voodoo Daddy
06-30-2002, 02:26 AM
You want opinions...ok, here's one. Until you know why your gonna spend $500 + dollars on a cue you shouldnt. I have owned somewhere around 178 cues in my life...all were resold at profit except the 4 I still own. When you know why, it will hit you. At the $500 range, IMO you have several options. A Schon is always a good bang for the buck, I have never had one in my hands that didnt play great. If your gonna venture out into the custom market, try to hit balls with as many hand made rods you can. Each will have their own personality and you will feel the one you like. Remember, its hard to shop for a tool with your eyes unless they are glasses. Let your hands be the judge.

Voodoo...believes in feel first, looks later &lt;in cues that is&gt;

06-30-2002, 03:33 AM
I have some questions for any or all of the cue makers here. Hopefully Blackheart can answer. Most of what I've been reading seems to indicate that sectioned shafts such as Predator's &amp; Shuler's definitely play better then regular shafts. Do any of you make these sectioned type shafts? I'm thinking I would be dumb to purchase a regular shaft because I would be behind in current pool technology. And I'm not sure I would want to have a custom made stick and then end up spending another $200 or so to get and end up using a Predator shaft. So can any of you give me reason's to purchase regular shafts when everything seems to indicate that they do not play as well as a sectioned type shaft?

My first cue was a 65 Brunswick Medalist Cue. I played with it from 65 to 70 and that's when I played my best. But I played 4 to 6 days a week in high school for about 2 to 8 hours a day. Of course I never really played that much after that. Just maybe twice a week in either 81 or 87 for a few months. And most of that was with a friend while we drank beer playing 3 cushion at the IL Billiard Club. And now in the last 3 months I played in 5 small tournaments and about 5 to 10 practice sessions. So it's probably me that stinks now and now my new Lucasi cue. I also shot this poorly in 81 or 87 when I played that little stretch for a couple months. The shaft on that old cue was broken by my cousin. I think my dad crazy glued it and put the joint back on. And it doesn't line up straight. Maybe I can try hitting some balls with it without it falling apart. I would like to see if I feel I like the thinner 12.75 mm tip and taper better then my current 13 mm tips &amp; wider pro tapers. And that old Medalist had a thicker butt. I would also like to test if I like that bigger sized butt better. I don't see cues with that bigger or thicker butt being made anymore. Except by Joel Hercek and I can't afford one of his cues. Is that because the thinner butts play that much better? I liked what I seen about Blackheart's cues. But I would hate to buy another cue if these different sectioned type shafts definitely play better then a non sectioned shaft. But with all my medical and legal problems I won't even consider purchasing another cue for at least 1 1/2 years. Hopefully by then I be able to be playing pool maybe twice a week. Thanks for any info.

Cueless Joey
06-30-2002, 08:02 PM
Eddie, you're going nuts.LOL
There is no reason why a very good quality maple shaft would hinder your game. I didn't know Schuler made laminated shaft. Technoligitis has taken over pool. I'm gonna ask Jer to bore a hole inside his shafts and plug them up with foam rubber. There ya go! Low end mass. Less squirt and somebody is finally gonna break Mosconi's high run. :-)

07-01-2002, 07:44 AM
High Joey.
I'm not sure laminated is what I meant. I'm talking about shafts made from like 8 or 10 sections. Everything I've read rates these as excellent playing shafts. I'm talking about stuff like The Blue Book of Cues, some magazine articles, and some internet sites. If these shafts truely do play better I feel I would be placing myself at a disadvantage to consider buying a cue from anyone who still makes their shafts from a single piece of wood. I'm bad enough as it is. I can use any little extra bits of help I can get.

And I'm not even considering a cue for close to two years do to my legal problems and my wife's upcoming whipple surgery. But I do try to learn stuff ahead of time in case I do end up purchasing a custom cue. Right now I'm completely happy with my new Lucasi. And I wouldn't want to spend about $200 to try a Predator shaft. And then not think it was an improvement in playability over Lucasi's regular shaft. That $200 could be use towards a new cue. And I haven't found anyone around that uses a Predator. And I would probably be too embarrassed to ask if I could try shooting with it for a few minutes.

I mentioned Blackheart cues because he was very helpful to me with suggestions about my old Viking cue. And I really liked the looks of his cues and everything I read about them. But if these newer sectioned shafts are really better, I might lean more towards only buying from someone who makes their shafts that way. So I was thinking something about shafts made in sections makes them play better then shafts made from one piece like I think most shafts are made.

Are laminated shafts the same thing as shafts made from sections of wood? I thought laminated shafts were like Cuetec's shafts. Or shafts with something like fiberglass added. I played with one player in his lower 20s a few weeks ago. He was showing me how his Cuetec, with what he called laminated shaft keeps getting sticky every 1/2 hour or so. He was wiping it down and he said that was why he went to wearing a glove. He also said he never shot with any other stick that gave him this problem

Cueless Joey
07-01-2002, 09:45 AM
Eddie, Cuetec does not make laminated shafts. They make coated shafts. Predator, Dominiak, Barringer, Sanko, Arnot are among the many who make laminated shafts.

Rich R.
07-01-2002, 09:57 AM
Eddie, although you will find many on this board that praise the Predator and other laminated shafts, there are also those that do not like them. Also, all laminated shafts are not created equal. I know a number of players that hate the Predator shafts but are playing with laminated shafts by other cue makers. You should also not exclude cues with one piece (non-laminated) shafts. They are also not created equal. You will find it is a very personal choice.
Ideally, when the time comes, you will be able to find a dealer who will allow you to hit some balls with the shaft you are considering, before purchasing.
Rich R.

07-01-2002, 10:25 AM
Eddie;Just because they have Global Satellite Positioning in cars, doesn't mean that everyone needs one. I for one, do not like the Preditor shaft. Never did, still don't. However I have expierimented with making a laminated shaft with 20 layers of maple, plywood style that I am very pleased with. I think that this is the wave of the future, because I have no bad shafts. With conventional wooden shafts I have to seperate them into good, better, best &amp; junk. Unless you look closely you can't tell if it's any different than a regular shaft. These types of laminated shafts play a little stiffer than a regular,but not as stiff as the Preditor. The fact that I like the way they play is the most important thing to me. Secondly, if I can use every shaft I make as a "BEST" quality, then that is even better for me &amp; the customer...JER

07-01-2002, 11:57 AM
I having pretty much the same thoughts about the term "laminated", while reading this thread.

Many people seem to consider the Predator shaft as laminated, but it is actually sectional, as you are asking about. I found this definition at dictionary.com :

lam·i·nate Pronunciation Key (lm-nt)
v. lam·i·nat·ed, lam·i·nat·ing, lam·i·nates
v. tr.
To beat or compress into a thin plate or sheet.
To divide into thin layers.
To make by uniting several layers.
To cover with thin sheets.

v. intr.
To split into thin layers or sheets.

If you check out Bob Meucci's new 'Bullseye' shaft ( www.meuccicues.com (http://www.meuccicues.com) ), you will see that it is truly laminated,

as compared to the predator shaft ( www.predatorcues.com (http://www.predatorcues.com) ):


I don't know how they compare to each other, but I am sure that both techniques of construction offer stiffness advantages over solid wooden shafts. After all, plywood laminate beams are often used in construction nowadays, where a solid 6x12 or 10x12 use to be used. (Yes, there is probably a cost benefit too, but my point is regarding their comparable strengths.)

The use of sections or laminates would also allow a greater level of consistency, from shaft to shaft--as Jerry/BLACKHEART talked about, with his 'new' shafts. This would be due to how strength can be 'engineered into' the shaft, without relying upon nature to get it right. Similar examples, consider how a tube is stronger than a solid rod, at resisting side and end forces, or how a bridge built with triangulated sections is stronger than a bridge of solid, singular-piece construction (and it can be built with 'weaker' pieces, yet attain the same load-carrying capacity).

Something about the Predator shafts and "less deflection" brings another question to mind: Could the reduction in deflection simply coincide well with the aiming abilities of certain shooters? In other words, perhaps some people could shoot just as well with a 'regular' shaft, if they changed their aimpoints, to simple allow for more movement of the cueball. . . .Then again, maybe its another 'margin of error' thing--a greater range of deflection allows a greater range to miscalculate. Opinions?

07-01-2002, 03:22 PM
Sorry, but the idea that a laminated shaft actually "plays" better than a 1 piece shaft is basically undefensible imo. Nowhere does Predator actually claim that their laminations contribute to anything but radial consistency and warp resistance. The whole idea behind laminating anything is to prevent warpage and (hopefully) improve the consistency of the product. Laminations do nothing for the actual performance of the shaft.

Don't worry about "falling behind" in the cue technology race. You're not.

-likes laminated shafts, but knows the truth...

07-01-2002, 03:28 PM
The pie shaped sections used by Predator are not (as advertised) a "spliced" shaft. They are in fact a case of "radially laminated". The playwood style of shafts (with multiple flat layers) are a case of play lamination, or linear lamination. Either way they are all types of "laminated" shafts.

And as I stated before, the laminations do nothing for the playability, they just improve the consistency of the product.

The Predator's claim to fame is the special ferrule and internal treatment, not the segmented nature of the shaft. I've built shafts with radial segments (like a Predator) with a conventional ferrule and end treatment, and I defy anyone to tell it apart from a solid shaft.


07-01-2002, 03:52 PM
Just a point, a tube is in no way stronger than a solid rod. This old wives tale was a problem in engineering class that I worked on to disprove to my father (who believed it for years). Made from the same material, a solid rod is "stronger" than a tube in every measure. Now a tube does have a greater strength to weight ratio than a solid rod. Perhaps that is what you meant?

"Could the reduction in deflection simply coincide well with the aiming abilities of certain shooters?"

In a way. Certainly the Predator produces less squirt than most production shafts. And I've found that many intermediate players see an immediate benefit to adopting the Predator, with regards to their success at aiming shots with sidespin.

But examining the situation carefully, I find that if you are one who aims with sidespin by "feel" or just "judgement" (that looks about right, no maybe here, there that's it - now shoot!) then a shaft with low squirt might be of benefit. But there is a hidden reason behind this.

The common misconception amongst many players is that to aim with sidespin you have to judge the amount of compensation as a correction to the "no-english" aim point. In other words, If I want to aim with outside english, I must aim a bit thinner than I would for no sidespin. But this changes when the shot is closer or farther away from the cueball (while the no sidespin aim point stays the same).

The truth is that you actually have to judge the correct "cue angle" away from the normal aimpoint, not a finite distance. This concept prevents many players from achieving consistent results with a high squirt cue. It seems like you need to memorize a near infinite number of aim points depending on the distance between the balls, and the amount of sidespin used!

In fact, the cue angle stays the same regardless of the distance between the balls, and varies only with the tip offset.

Many players use some other method, like aim and pivot or aim and swerve (what Fred Agnir calls "dynamic back-hand english)which requires a high squirt shaft to work correctly. These methods exploit the fact that the cue angle is what must be judged correctly, not the aim offset.

For those players that try and memorize aim points when using english, a low squirt shaft can seem like an answer to a prayer. The various aim points are much closer together, and nearer to the normal (no english) aim point with a low squirt shaft.

But, with all of this, even Predator do not claim that it is possible to achieve a higher level of play with a low squirt shaft, than with a higher squirt shaft. Only that it might help some players that are having trouble using sidespin.

After all, there are some very good players that can handle sidespin very well with a high squirt shaft.

In the end, once you have developed a high degree of skill at aiming with sidespin, it is best that you do not switch from a high squirt shaft to a low squirt shaft, or vice versa. The skill is not transferable, but rather specific to the equipment used.

-gonna go squirt a few balls around now....

07-01-2002, 08:21 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: TonyM:</font><hr> Just a point, a tube is in no way stronger than a solid rod. This old wives tale was a problem in engineering class that I worked on to disprove to my father (who believed it for years). Made from the same material, a solid rod is "stronger" than a tube in every measure. Now a tube does have a greater strength to weight ratio than a solid rod. Perhaps that is what you mean<hr></blockquote>
I probably "learned" that from, as you put it, an "old wives tale". I can't honestly remember why I knew (or, thought I knew) a tube was stronger than a rod. I may have crossed my signals, and included the strength-to-weight factor. . .or I may have been taught along the lines of "a tube, made from the same volume of material as a rod, will be stronger"--now that I think about it, this would make the tube a larger outer diameter than the rod, which kinda takes us to apples vs. oranges land. . . .Or is that all wrong as well?

In any case, thanks for the clarification.