Selecting a Snooker Cue .-

Perhaps a brief history (more about the story of cues go to snookerheritage.co.uk) about the development of the cue should be made before any suggestions on selection of a cue. The original implement to strike the balls was called a Mace.

 

Maces

In some of the old rules you could select which to play with the mace or with the cue.

It is perhaps a point of interest to note that the flat on the butt of a British style cue is a throw back to the mace head and all the overseas type cues be they U.S.A. Pool or European Carom cues have round butts!

The snooker player themselves should select the cue as it is a personal item and has to feel right for them. You could design you own 'bespoke' cue - I recommend cuewizard.co.uk and if you place an order direct mention that you were directed to the site by Thurston.

Hand work on cue butt

Fashions have changed with regard to weight of the cue. Some years ago the most popular weight was 16 ½ oz. ( 467gms) but the current weight preferences tend to be 17.5oz (495gms) to 19 oz (538 gms). If trying to base your selection on an old cue remember that the weight stamp on the old cue was only to the nearest ounce and the cue might well have lost some weight over the years as re-tipping thins the shaft.

The oldest cue makers in the U.K. are Peradon (founded in 1885) and they incorporate both Weilding and MacMorran, two other old British cue makers.

Peradon have a put together a very educational guide to cue on their bespoke cue web site and it is worth adding the main points to this article.

What are the different gradings on cue shafts?

Peradon Ash shafts are made only from the highest grade Ash from North America, we find the climate in this region results in the best rate of tree growth to give the grain structure we require. After felling the trunk of the tree is cut into planks at the mill to a special pattern which we have found generates the straightest grain structure and degree of rigidity suited for quality cue production. After kiln drying the planks are shipped to our Liverpool factory where we inspect and cut them into squares ready for shaping to tapered cue blanks.

Peradon's stock of ebony & ash Squares

Even though our timber is sourced in this manner the vast majority is still rejected as it does not make the grade for production of a Peradon cue.

The Ash squares are taken down to their final tapered shape in numerous stages over a long period, this reduces the shock to the timber and helps maintain the straightness of the shaft. Further shafts are rejected at the inspection processes between each stage. The remaining shafts represent only a small portion of the original timber consignment and are graded and stored as one of five grades ready for cue production.The cue maker then selects individual shafts by grade for bespoke cue production

A dark grain filler is used on our ash shafts to enhance the grain pattern. Both Ash and Maple shafts are then finished using numerous sanding and oiling processes until the final silky smooth finished is achieved.  

Ash Shaft Grade P1600 - One piece in every 1,600 pieces typically makes this Peradon grade.

These are extremely rare pieces which have the straightest grain pattern with no reverse arrows on top of the shaft and a maximum of 3 to 5 evenly spaced grain arrows on the top of the shaft. These shafts are the most rigid available and have a stunning clean, white ash appearance. Please note because of their scarcity, cues made from these blanks typically have longer waiting times.

Ash Shaft Grade P80 - One piece in every 80 pieces typically makes this Peradon grade. These shafts have a nice straight grain structure with no reverse arrows on top of the shaft and evenly spaced grain arrows on the top of the shaft. With high rigidity and a clean, white ash appearance these shafts make beautiful cues with a superb feel.

Ash Shaft Grade P60 - One piece in every 60 pieces typically makes this Peradon grade. These shafts are selected to ensure that there are no reverse arrows on the top near the tip end.

The clean, white Ash shaft has good rigidity and playing characteristics.

Ash Shaft Grade P30 - One piece in every 30 pieces typically makes this Peradon grade.

These clean, white Ash shafts are selected for their good rigidity and grain structure

Grade Shaft P20 - One piece in every 20 pieces typically makes this Peradon grade.

These Ash shafts are selected for rigidity and grain structure.

Maple Shafts - Maple has a grain which is not as visible as that on an Ash shaft, so the grading of this timber is based more on rigidity and appearance. Ash and Maple are the traditional timbers predominently used for the production of cue shafts with Ash  currently the most propular. Players will however often opt for Maple for its clean appearance and its more rigid playing characteristics. All Maple shafts are produced from quality North American Maple, selected for high rigidity and appearance.

What length should I choose?

The length of the cue is measured from the butt end of the cue to the end of the ferrule beneath the tip.  A  full size Peradon snooker cue is 58” long, whilst 8 Ball English Pool cues are usually slightly shorter at 55” to 57”, but we can bespoke make your cue to the length you require.

Players of around average height will usually find a 58” full size cue suits them for snooker, whilst particularly tall players may require longer cues and shorter players may require shorter cues.

The generally accepted method for checking the length of cue you require is hold the cue in your usual playing stance over the table with your forearm vertical from hand to elbow. A cue of the ideal length would then have 12” of shaft protruding from the bridge hand to the tip of the cue.

If you require a cue longer than 58” it should be noted that in order to do this you will first need to first select a Butt Timber which the cue maker will splice to the shaft.

What Butt Timber should I choose and should it be hand or machine spliced?

Butt timber (Ebony or Rosewood) can be spliced to the shaft of your cue either by machine or hand splicing to add natural weight to your cue.

Hand splicing is the technique originally developed by Peradon, it is generally considered to give the best feel and is the preference of most professional players. This method involves bonding four timber wedges around the shaft of the cue and then shaping them to create the four curved points which are characteristic of a hand spliced cue.  

First stage in glueing veneers on hand spliced cues

Machine splicing is a very effective and more economical way of splicing butt timber to the shaft of a cue. The shaft of the cue and the butt timber of the cue are shaped by machine to interlock with each other, before being bonded together. This method creates the four sharper points by which a machine spliced cue can be recognised.

Ebony or Rosewood are the traditional timbers used as cue butt timbers. Their purpose is to add natural weight to the cue and to give the cue a nice balanced feel. Ebony is generally considered superior and is the choice of most professional players however Rosewood is also very effective and is attractive in appearance.  

Also note that the range 'cue weight' options available will change dependent on butt timbers and joint positions selected.


Should I have a joint in my cue and if so where?

In order to make your cue more portable it can be fitted with a solid brass joint. This can be in the centre of the cue or lower down the cue towards the butt in what is known as the three quarter position (12”, 14” or 16” from the end of the butt). The options of joint positions available changes depending on whether your cue is machine or hand spliced. Most professional players now play with cues with a joint in one of the three quarter positions or with a one piece cue (without a joint).

When considering whether or where to joint your cue consider how you will transport the cue as the joint position determines the length of case required. Also note that any cue you design can also have the option of a 'butt end joint fitted' so that extensions can still be used.

All Peradon joints are precision turned in the UK from one solid piece of brass, this eliminates the risk of joint noises which are sometimes caused by other lower cost joints which consist of a brass washer with a separate male or female portion.

Please note that the range of 'cue weight' options available will change dependent on joint positions and butt timbers selected. 

Remember that cue cases vary in internal size (see peradon website) and the joint position you choose will determine which cases your cue will fit into.


Should I have a butt joint fitted?

Most players nowadays opt to have a butt joint fitted to the end of the cue, so that an extension can be quickly fitted directly into the end of the butt.  A butt joint is a female solid brass joint fitted to the very end of the butt instead of the leather butt pad.This joint will accept any one of the Peradon extensions, the most popular ones being the 6” mini butt extensions and the 23” Telescopic extension. 

All Peradon joints and extensions feature the Peradon unique quick action thread, which screws on quickly and securely. 


What is a Dome Joint?

If required a dome joint can be fitted 8 inches from the butt end of your cue. Dome joints are usually only requested by English 8 Ball Pool players who may play in restricted spaces or venues with obstructions. The dome joint enables the player to remove 8” from the butt of the cue and play some shots with just the shaft which is then domed at the end. It should be noted that if a dome joint is selected it is not possible to also select large decorative splices on the butt of the cue because of the position in which a dome joint is fitted. 

What weight should I choose?

The weight of your cue is very much personal preference, so we would recommend that you find another cue with a weight that suits you and request that weight. Please note that the range of 'cue weight' options available will change dependent on joint positions and butt timbers selected. For example a solid 16 inch Ebony butt will be naturally heavier than a cue with no butt timbers. When possible we will select timbers that naturally create a cue of the weight requested,  but when necessary a lead insert may be fitted securely into the butt. As a guide the most popular weights requested are in the area of 18-19oz.

What type of tip should I choose?

The choice of leather tip is very much down to personal preference, we offer the most popular options...

Elk Master
The Elk Master tip is made by world renowned tip makers Tweeten Fibre in Chicago and has been the choice of most professional players for many years. 

Elk-Pro
Tweeten Fibre now also produce the Elk-Pro tip which is a professional version of the Elk Master tip. The Elk-Pro is made only from the premium portion of the hide and is treated and pressed using new processes which give improved consistency and shape. Each Elk-Pro tip is then measured for hardness and graded in Soft, Medium or Hard options.

Talisman
The Talisman Pro tip is a layered tip which have come onto the market in recent years. These tips are made from layers of high quality pig skin bonded together to give good chalk adhesion and consistency.

They are available in soft, medium and hard density.

Talisman Trinity

Talisman Trinity tips are made from top grade Japanese pig skin. The hide is carefully skived into uniform layers then bonded together to give good chalk adhesion and consistency.They are available in soft, medium and hard density.

Kamui

Kamui tips now made in smaller sizes for snooker or pool. Abbreviated with the letters 'SNKR' around the bottom. Hardness: Medium or Medium-Hard Colour: Original or Black. Size 9mm &10mm.



Laminated tips are more responsive but may not last as long as single layer tips. We can not be held responsible for tips de-laminating with use.

Go to Thurston on line shop for all your cue tip requirements - tips, tip clamps etc.

 The above information from Peradon shows the effort that they put into making all their cues not just the bespoke ones. They bring all the experience built up over the years to make quality British made cues. Thurston's online shop has the full range of Peradon cues plus some SPECIALS that are only available in our ebay shop – thurston 1799. These are cues which are listed by length, weight, joint position and tip size . They are made by Peradon but are not in their standard range.

Again fashion has moved on and the one piece cue is not as popular as it once was it does have the advantage of not having a jointed section altering the natural movement of the shaft when striking the ball. The disadvantage is of course carrying the cue and so two piece cues are now more popular. The joint can be in a number of places with the three quarter joint ( Joint set closer to butt) being more popular than the traditional half length position. The players who select the three quarter joint have tended to make their selection because the joint position doesn't 'catch their eye' when cueing up the shot.

Most cues will have a 9 or 9.5 tips and cues of good quality will have either an Elkmaster or Blue Diamond tip fitted with the last section of cue shaft being protected and strengthen with a brass ferrule.

Cue extensions are now used by most players as this helps avoid the use of the half and long butt cues. The choice of extensions is again down to personal preference. So you could have a simple push on fixed length or a push on which is extendible or on some cues the butt has a threaded section so that the extension can be screwed into the butt.

So choice of cue is a personal selection and whilst it is sensible to ask advice the best means to make a decision is to be able to pick up a cue and see how it feels in the hand , does the balance suit and does the price suit your budget.

Once you have acquired your cue you should take care of it. Avoid banging the butt of the cue on the floor to acknowledge a good shot by your colleague or opponent. Do not leave your cue leaning against the wall or table when you take a break. Always protect your cue in a good quality cue case – Thurston have a range of cue cases to suit all budgets.

shop on line at thurston.co.uk