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Are Expensive Pool Cues Worth the Money – Really?

Pool cues can be anything from $25 right up to more than $1500 - so you have to ask yourself if you spend that much are expensive pool cues really worth the money?

The answer is - Yes - you do get what you pay for - but there is a level of diminishing returns. By that, I mean spending an extra $400for an expensive pool cue over a $50 cue to will give you a huge benefit. But then spending another $1000 on a $500 cue will give you less benefit per dollar spent.

Another way of looking at it is that costly cues are worth it to some people, but not to others. It also is a factor on the individual gamers' experience level. Plus also their preferences for weight, rigidness, style, and skill. What makes a good pool cue is often asked and here we look at the different price levels.

Above a certain price level, you also start to get into rare and collectible pool cues. So this is a different driver for some people. So if you care about your pool skill enhancement you are best to look in high quality the $250-$750 range. And to be honest - a two or three hundred dollar expensive cue will be amazing and give you that low deflection shaft versus just a standard shaft. After learning that would be my next step.

There are many different aspects to think about when buying a really mid to expensive cue. Look at factors like-

  • Shaft construction
  • Tip Construction
  • Butt design
  • High end weight
  • Cues made for balance
  • High end feel
  • Plus high quality appearance

Top Factors Cue to Consider

When deciding to buy an expensive pool cue, you should begin by considering the most important factors of cue manufacturing and how they are put together.

The key pieces are the shaft, butt, tip, ferrule, and the overall balance plus the total weight. This defines what I would call the function.

But remember we also "buy with the eyes" - so what the cue looks like to you is important also as you want ot be proud of your key quality cue acquisition.

Let us look at these key areas in a bit more detail.

Cue Tips

Most cue tips are made from leather that can vary in hardness. So you need to understand that feature before jumping up to an expensive pool cue. See if you can try a friends first so you can experience the difference between soft and hard. Medium is what most people choose as that is easiest for an allrounder.

Say you want to excel at breaking then you will look for a harder cue tip. Tips that are suited for smashing the triangle (breaking) are manufactured from a hard resin to give you maximum power from your shot. Here is where a specialist pool cue can make a difference in your game.

A difference in tip quality can definitely affect gameplay.

Cue Ferrules

Ferrules are what sits in between the tip and the shaft. They are there to protect the wood. Usually they are made from a carbon fiber or a impact-resistant resin.

You will find that expensive pool cues do usually last longer because they include high-quality ferrules which protect the integrity of the shaft and outer key components.

Tip and Ferrule Summary

So the tip and ferrule makeup are important for the beginning of energy transfer down the length of the cue. A badly constructed tip and ferrule will not support other parts of your cue like the shaft.

Cue Stick Shafts

Let's move further down the end cues on our expensive cues investigation. What many players have strong opinion about is a low deflection (LD) shaft or a standard shaft better.

However, before we address that - you will find that both types are likely to be made out of maple wood. This is the industry favorite for shaft construction.

Low deflection shafts are a recent development and like anything new takes time for all to appreciate them. So you do get some differing opinions here.

My feeling is - they are here to stay - so give them a try.

In addition, most of us would have learned on a standard shaft stick, and moving to a low deflection shaft often causes some frustrations until you are used to it.

However the more people I talk to say once you get used to an LD shaft you will never go back.

These are normally found on more expensive pool cues. But do not rush if you are just beginning pool it just is not necessary.  Practice is more important.

Cue Shaft Wood

For cue shafts wood is used. Well as I said before hard rock maple is almost without exception used. Largely because it is strong and lasts a long time. That is what you would want with a top-quality cue stick!

Other factors are of course the color and the grain of the wood, is it stained and how is it treated so the the cue looks amazing for one and all.

The more expensive the cue - the more elaborate the wood preparation.

Cue Wrap/ Butt

The butt - is often not thought of as a beautiful place! - but in pool cues it is!

While the performance of the cue is determined further up in the shaft on the tip of a pool cue. These are key for aiming and executing good shots. The butt of the stick is where the looks are. However it is important that is has a good touch and feel for your hand as that is where the power comes from.

This is where the question - are expensive pool cues really worth the money important is answered. Here on the butt the designs are often intricate and colorful come into their own.

The more expensive the cue - the more exotic the material used and the more artistic the design. The inlay material can even be diamonds - but that is usually just a collector's item, rather than a practical playing instrument.

Colors too are where differentiation can occur with bright colors or fancy metals often being used.

What are the Wrap Materials used.

Cheaper pool cues will usually be covered in nylon. As you move into the mid-range cues Irish linen in bright and varying colors is used.  Colors for both men and women are popular.

For the more expensive cues the most common material is leather. But here the sky is the limit.

Summary of Pool Cue Cost Factors

We have examined the key components above so lets summarize where the value is in pool cues.

  • Shaft.  More costly cues will come with a low-deflection shaft. Because their superior performance is recognised more and more they are therefore becoming more popular. I would invest in this feature. But do your research first - and see if you can try a friends one first before buying.
  • Butt, Forearm, and Wrap. Here is where the money enters- In this area is where expensive cues excel each other. Custom designs and exotic inlay material differentiate you  and perhaps your game. Many people are really proud of their top-end pool cue and think of them as art.
  • Tip. Type of material and its hardness, are the two key factors here. Commonly quality cues come with high-end leather tips. These help with accuracy and insulate wood of the shaft from the "smack" of the balls.
  • Ferrule. The ferrules on expensive pool cues also help to insulate the shaft from multiple impacts that happen in pool games. This stops warping and any wood fracture. A ferrule built well will enhance the shaft life.

There are heaps of different options, different materials that set the price of the pool cue - and hopefully our article has given you some insight into these.

Lets have a look at the approximate price range and what you get for your money in each class.

  • $200 – $500 — Moving up from a beginner - and you are ready to move your game to the next level. In this range will get an LD shaft and good quality tip. At the top end, many will have leather as the wrap rather than the linen option - both are fine though - it is more the weight and feel of the cue that you should choose on in this range.
  • $500 – $1000 — This range is for the very serious play or even the professional. You will of course get a low deflection shaft. But the additional price is due to using expensive woods. The designs will be very artistic and many-colored pearls and expensive metals will be used. To be honest the performance may only be marginally better than the lower price range - it is really the individualization and beautiful designs that you are paying for.
  • $1,000 and above— This range is commonly for collectors or players who want  handmade cues.

Will an Expensive Pool Cue Really Improve Your Game?

Yes, but as I said earlier it is the law of diminishing returns. Upgrading from a 25 dollar cue to a 250 dollar cue you will definitely see a big difference- but then doubling again you will only see a minor increase in performance.

But lets not forget the delight you will get owning a beautiful intricately carved set of cues. But remember a $1000 cue will not improve your game much over a $500 cue. But practice will - so that is where you need to invest.

I have heard of some very expensive collector cues costing tens of thousands of dollars or more - but that is another article.

Final words.

You decide what price you want to pay for a cue. I would rather have a cue set with some extras rather than just one expensive cue. And once you spend over 750 dollars usually you are buying for looks rather than function.

If you want to learn how to hold a pool cue we have a great article here.

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