Pool Snooker Billiard Cues
Ash is by far the most popular wood used for English Pool, Snooker and Billiard Cues. Maple was traditionally the only wood used for American pool cues. Maple is denser than ash and does not have the pronounced grain features of ash. The enhanced grain of ash is highly regarded by many players by utilising the arrow pattern of the wood for aim, but can be distracting for those who prefer the plainer maple. Generally ash has a better feel and touch to maple but it is a personal choice. The natural spring in ash gives it more response. The stiffer maple is said to have more power for the break. Remember all natural wood will at some stage warp unless proper care is taken. Ash cues can be bent back, maple cues cannot. Proper storage and care for your wooden cues is crucial. Being a natural fibre they are susceptible to direct sunlight, moisture and leaning against walls. Correct storage consists of cue cases or cue stands that store cues straight and this will extend the cues life.
Composite cues have a construction of outer fibreglass with a graphite component for extra strength and filled accordingly. The filling consists of weights to balance the cue and to give it extra power. They are finally coated with another gloss fibreglass finish to make them warp resistant. Generally a lot more effort goes into making composite cues so their life is enhanced greatly due to their construction. These cues are build to last. They don't have the same give as natural timber cues and are less forgiving to the beginner. Remember the stiffer the cue usually the more power you can generate but your aim is critical to ensure this. Composite are usually reserved for the player with more ability. However good these cues are build they are susceptible to wear and tear and must be cared and stored correctly in a cue case or stand.
Cue Lengths & Tip Sizes
Cues vary in length and are still measured in traditional imperial terms. The shortest cue length is 36" which is made for juniors and tight corners as is 48". 54" cues are young adults and shorter people with 57" being the most popular and comfortable. 59" & 60" are generally for taller people or bigger tables where you need the extra length.
Most Snooker and Billiard players prefer a tip size between 9mm to 10mm. English pool players tend to use a smaller tip between 8mm to 9mm mainly due to using a smaller and lighter cue ball. There are many theories about tip size in relation to amount of spin you can impart on the cue ball with a smaller tip and how it is easier to hit the center of the ball with a bigger tip. It is really down to personal preference. The amount of spin is mainly down to cue action, timing and most importantly a good follow through with the cue after striking the white ball. The ability to hit the center of the white consistently is down to your cue action, a firm bridge, good stance and keeping still on the shot. Tip size does have an effect on the amount of throw caused by the cue on the cue ball when using it. The amount of throw is proportional to the size of the tip i.e. the bigger the tip the more the cue ball is pushed offline, this amount does vary from cue to cue. No two cues react exactly the same with regard to throw off.
Balls vary in size and quality and a higher quality ball set is recommended as it increases the life of your table.
1 7/8" Balls: Smaller tables with tighter pockets and smaller cushions for easier potting.
2" Balls: Standard competition size balls for tables 7" x 3.6" and above.
2 1/14 Balls: American nine ball standard, bigger for nine ball tables.
2 1/16 Balls: Snooker and Billiard size balls used on traditional full size tables.