Expert Recommendations For Your Custom Cue

My Custom Cue Might Not Fit You, So Here's My Advice

Matt Sherman

“Which brand or maker of custom cue should I try and buy, Matt?” is heard at many of my pool lessons. And it’s a thought I have myself every so often, too. There’s always a hope that new technology or classic styling will improve my game or yours, right?

When I give lessons, and when I prepare items for pool instructional materials or magazines, I typically use a hundred-dollar cue so no one can claim there is magic paid for in my pool stick. You, too, can get a decent cue for about $100.

At some level, you are paying for cue decoration, the stunning splices and veneers that dress the butt or even the shaft of a cue. Decoration adds confidence if you like the look of your cue, if adding little or nothing to its playability.

How Much?

For several hundred dollars, you can get a fine custom cue from a quality cuemaker, and for closer to $1,000 US, a cue from a top cuemaker now living or dead. But at the higher levels, be sure to consider whether you are paying top dollar for a cue with an excellent hit or a cue widely known for its beauty and design. Personally, I want most dollars toward the hit.

Which Brand?

Players toss out names of mass manufacturers and custom cue craftsman and say, “Theirs are the best cues,” including Meucci Cues, McDermott Cues, Joss Cues, Nova, Nitti, Southwest, Predator, etc., etc. But even when they are speaking of how the cue plays rather than how the cue looks, what qualities do they think make the cue superior?

Some love their custom cue because it feels hefty in their hands, heavier than the actual weight, some because it feels exceptionally lightweight. Even when a player says, “I love the balance”, they could mean because the balance point of the cue stick is far to the rear or forward towards the tip.

An example of what I would call an overhyped cue is—dare I say it—the Predator line. Put a Predator shaft on any cue butt it fits to and you get a harder hit, less deflection and more spin. Many pros use a Predator shaft. But I don’t need a harder hit or more spin—I usually avoid Meucci and Predator work because I get unintended spin on certain shots, too much draw or follow spin, and I can get plenty of “juice” on my own strokes.

I want a cue—and I believe you should also—that gives you tremendous feel and control, that makes it easier to plan and execute a two-inch shot when you need it as opposed to a four-inch roll for the cue ball. Precise speed and feel for speed will save your game a hundred times in 8-Ball, 9-Ball, Straight Pool, you name it.

In Conclusion

I prefer a somewhat softer tip than the rock hard tips that come with many cues today. Although the softer tips compress to lose their shape quicker, I like as much gentle control as I can muster for a shot.

Games make a difference also, and if I was competing exclusively on a 9-Ball circuit and required added power and distance on most shots, I might go to the stiffer shaft technology side of the sport for more power.

I often play 9-Ball on a 9-foot slow table, and because I grew up using many slower tables, I had to build a powerful stroke and not compensate for equipment. Be careful and discerning in your decisions.

You should test any brand in the weight and balance and shaft flexibility, etc. factors you are thinking of before you make a final purchase.

Quality poolrooms often have rental cues and play-test cues just for this purpose. Ask politely and many players will let you hit a few with their custom cue also. Do avoid abusing their custom cue stick or hitting very hard strokes with it. It’s impolite and bad form.