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View Full Version : Checking a Cue for Straightness and Buying on Ebay



1Time
07-23-2008, 08:51 AM
Many sellers on eBay, individuals and pool businesses, don't know how to tell if a cue rolls straight or they don't care to properly check for you and prefer hiding behind their return policy which usually does not include a refund for any shipping expense. And, I consider it extremely likely that the vast majority of cues sold on eBay do not roll visibly straight. But how straight is straight is a good question. Whether a cue is found to roll visibly straight or not highly depends on how you check it. I base my opinons here on having communicated with and/or having bought new and used cues from over two dozen different sellers on eBay, individuals and pool businesses.

Here's one of my buying experiences as an example. I bought a used Lucasi that was claimed to be straight, as the seller had determined by a local "pool authority" of over 30 years. I believe that seller and the pool authority truly considered that pool cue to be straight. However, that was until I explained to them how to check it, after which the seller admitted the cue had a slight variation that easily could be seen.

Rolling the shaft and butt, separate and joined, here's how I visually check a cue for straightness. Roll it back and forth a few inches on a smooth, flat surface with a source of light on one side and you on the other while watching for any variation in the lighted gap between the cue and the flat surface. I don't claim this to be the best method, just that it is highly effective, easy to do, and it's how I check cues. The surface doesn't have to be absolutely flat either for this method to be highly effective. A table top or hard floor can be sufficient. Not sure the surface is flat enough? No problem just change the orientation of the cue to the flat surface and roll it again. If the variation looks the same each way, then it is true "enough". In other words you can tell if you are checking the straightness of the cue versus the flatness of the surface. Rolling vertically on the flat of a door can work too while supporting the bottom of the shaft or butt. Rolling a cue in this way can show minor variations much better than rolling on a pool table if there is not a source of light on one side and because the material on the table may obscure some of the variation due to its slight depth. Of course some cues are not straight enough that variations can be plainly seen when rolling it across a pool table.

That all said, how much does it matter how straight a cue is? I suppose to some a little more and less to others. I've never noticed much of a correlation between how straight a cue is and my performance at the pool table. Usually it's some other aspect of the cue that seems to make a bigger difference. Take two house cues for example with one straighter than the other. The one less straight may have a better tip and so I may prefer and shoot better with it than the straighter cue. I just make sure to rotate it so the curve is vertical.

KellyStick
07-23-2008, 11:18 AM
I personally don't put much stock in cue straightness myself. I see people at the bars check them by rolling on a table. As you said 1Time I would take a good tip over most other cues all else equal.

I would propose that what you want straight is the assembled cue. Checking shafts separate may not tell you much about assembled straigtness.

I have seen a second way to check straightness. Take the rubber but end and lay it on the table. Extend the shaft end on the rail extending off the table. Give it a roll and watch the tip. This is not an easy test to pass for most sticks. My old Firewood stick passed well.

1Time
07-23-2008, 03:33 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: KellyStick</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I personally don't put much stock in cue straightness myself. I see people at the bars check them by rolling on a table. As you said 1Time I would take a good tip over most other cues all else equal.</div></div>
Rolling a cue on a pool table is an easy and good way to get a general idea of a cue's straightness.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: KellyStick</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I would propose that what you want straight is the assembled cue. Checking shafts separate may not tell you much about assembled straigtness.</div></div>
Yes, an assembled cue that rolls straight can be valued for that alone, even if the shaft and butt don't roll straight when rolled separately. My current shooting cue is like this. However, the same cue may be valued more if its shaft and butt also roll straight when apart. This is because a straight shaft and straight butt makes it possible for them to be joined to other straight shafts/butts and form other straight cues.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: KellyStick</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I have seen a second way to check straightness. Take the rubber but end and lay it on the table. Extend the shaft end on the rail extending off the table. Give it a roll and watch the tip. This is not an easy test to pass for most sticks. My old Firewood stick passed well. </div></div>
This way of checking for straightness should work well, but seems limited to checking the shaft.

Deeman3
07-23-2008, 03:37 PM
I won't play with a cue that is not straight unless I have no choice. Why introduce another varible into your game? That being said, in a bar where there are no straight sticks, I will pick one with an acceptable tip, then play with it bow down the entire time. At least it is consistent and pretty straight side=to=side.

1Time
07-23-2008, 04:04 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Deeman3</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I won't play with a cue that is not straight unless I have no choice. </div></div>
How straight? And, how did you determine this level of straightness?

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Deeman3</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Why introduce another varible into your game? </div></div>
This makes perfect sense to me... right up until I start shooting better pool with the cue that's not as straight as many others.

Bambu
07-23-2008, 05:18 PM
One thing about buying a used cue on ebay, there are lots of guys who sell, who arent ordinarily sellers. I would make sure they took returns at all. Some transactions are "no return." Also remember to look at the sellers rating. I have seen guys sell stuff, and just keep the money. You can usually get it back, but its a pain.

av84fun
07-24-2008, 02:46 AM
Personally, except for pure collecters who don't intend to play with the cues they buy, I can't imagine why anyone would buy a cue that they have not first held in their own hands and AT LEAST stroked with...better yet, to demo on a table.

Of course, that rules out custom cues built for the buyer (as opposed to custom cues purchased in the resale market at trade shows etc.) However, the above comment still stands.

But to each his own.

Regards,
Jim

1Time
07-27-2008, 02:31 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Bambu</div><div class="ubbcode-body">One thing about buying a used cue on ebay, there are lots of guys who sell, who arent ordinarily sellers. I would make sure they took returns at all. Some transactions are "no return." Also remember to look at the sellers rating. I have seen guys sell stuff, and just keep the money. You can usually get it back, but its a pain. </div></div>
I second what Bambu posted here.

A lot of people selling used cues on eBay don't know much at all about pool, don't how to check for straightness, and don't know how to properly care for their cue. I consider it best to communicate with the seller at least a day before the end of the auction.

Here are a few points I like to cover with the seller before bidding on a used cue.
- Please describe in detail how you determined this cue to be straight.
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how flexible or stiff do you consider this cue to be?
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how smooth and blemish free do you consider the shaft of this cue to be?
- Would you estimate the diameter of the shaft near the ferrule to be 13mm in diameter, slightly more, or slightly less?

Those who say they will take returns usually only do so if the buyer covers all shipping expenses. That way the bulk of the risk of loss in the transaction is with the buyer.

Sellers who state they don't take returns are not protected if the buyer pays by PayPal and the item is found to be substantially different than as described, for example, if the cue is described as straight, but it is found to be otherwise. In this case a seller claiming no return of the item is not protected from being liable for refunding the money less shipping costs. Such a seller in this situation may want the cue back before refunding.

Getting your money back if you pay by PayPal is not difficulte. I have done so a few times because the seller described the item one way but then I found it not as described or pictured. Some sellers do this intentionally, while others do it negligently. For this reason I do not consider it safe to do business through eBay without making payment by PayPal.

1Time
07-27-2008, 11:47 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: av84fun</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Personally, except for pure collecters who don't intend to play with the cues they buy, I can't imagine why anyone would buy a cue that they have not first held in their own hands and AT LEAST stroked with...better yet, to demo on a table.</div></div>
It's really not that hard to imagine. Many pool players buy cues every day online without first shooting with them. Many don't expect one cue to make much of a difference in their level of play over another. Many hope or expect a better level of play in one cue over another based on brand, features, or marketing. And many buy cues based primarily on looks, price, and / or convenience of the purchase.

However, if a pool player is primarily concerned with buying a cue that shoots better for that player than many other cues, the best way to choose is first to shoot with the cue and compare how it shoots with other cues (the more, the better). While choosing a cue by shooting with it and not comparing it to other cues is not optimal, doing so is far more likely to result in a better choice than choosing a cue by only handling it.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: av84fun</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Of course, that rules out custom cues built for the buyer (as opposed to custom cues purchased in the resale market at trade shows etc.) However, the above comment still stands.</div></div>
It's still best for the buyer first to compare how a particular cue shoots with other cues, even if the cue was custom made for that player. There's no guarantee such a cue made for a player would shoot better for that player than some other cue, that is, unless the custom cue maker provided that guarantee.

That all said, it is indeed possible for a pool player to buy a cue online or from a cue maker that shoots better than many other cues, and that's without first shooting with it and comparing it to other cues. And to my suprise that's just what I've recently done.

One cue that I bought online this year shoots better for me than all other cues I've shot with before, a Blaze VR-3. And then more recently I bought another cue online, a KC-2 Custom Cue, that felt and played like crap. But after having its shaft lightened by 0.5 ounces and re-shaped by a local cue maker (Smithlin Custom Cues), I now prefer it to my Blaze cue, an amazing transformation.