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View Full Version : Buying a custom cue - What did you wish you knew?


broken
06-01-2011, 05:17 PM
I'm currently in discussion with a cue maker for 2 matching "plain janes" (or are they merry widows? The handle is a different wood than the forearm and butt - but no splices, points, or any of that fancy stuff) One is a break cue and the other is a playing cue.

Right now the price is little steep (but not unmanageable) and the wait is much longer than I thought it would be.

1) What sort of questions should I ask my cue maker?

2) If you have bought a custom before, anything you wish you had known ahead of time?

Thanks in advance.

Tramp Steamer
06-01-2011, 05:31 PM
Welcome to the forum, broken.
Actually a "merry widow" would have been my third wife, had I stayed married to her.
You, and your cuemake should be dicussing items such as cue length (some folks like them a bit longer than the standard 58 inches). Type and size of joint. Tip diameter. Type and brand of tip. That sort of stuff. Usually, the simpler the cue the easier it is to sort things out. :)

West Point 1987
06-01-2011, 05:38 PM
I'd ask him how old his shaft dowels are, how long he rests them between turns. A lot of makers keep a special stock of center cut and/or old growth dowels that are really old and really stable--not a requirement, but if you ask and he's willing to throw you a couple I think you'll be pleased. They tend to stay straighter longer regardless of climate changes. Most people never think to ask. I'd also want to know how he plans to balance/weight the cue; whether he always uses weight bolts or if the materials you prefer/want make that unnecessary. Does he core the forearms on all or some cues? When? On your end, I'd make sure you're familiar with the type/material of joint and ferrule you're planning to order...if, for example, you're ordering a flat faced ivory joint with a big pin, but you've never tried that or if you're trying ivory ferrules for the first time, I'd recommend you find a way to test something similar (it can be a HUGE surprise if you change up to something unfamiliar).

Last, but not least, I'd ask for pictures of similar cues to what you're ordering...then you can see something you like in terms of figuring of the wood, stain, etc. That way, he has a great idea of what you are expecting so he can select the materials and meet your expectations.

Majic
06-01-2011, 05:38 PM
I'm currently in discussion with a cue maker for 2 matching "plain janes" (or are they merry widows? The handle is a different wood than the forearm and butt - but no splices, points, or any of that fancy stuff) One is a break cue and the other is a playing cue.

Right now the price is little steep (but not unmanageable) and the wait is much longer than I thought it would be.

1) What sort of questions should I ask my cue maker?

2) If you have bought a custom before, anything you wish you had known ahead of time?

Thanks in advance.

What do you consider steep for a plain Jane?

GoldCrown
06-01-2011, 05:39 PM
ask about Taper

Mr. Wiggles
06-01-2011, 05:48 PM
I'm currently in discussion with a cue maker for 2 matching "plain janes" (or are they merry widows? The handle is a different wood than the forearm and butt - but no splices, points, or any of that fancy stuff) One is a break cue and the other is a playing cue.

Right now the price is little steep (but not unmanageable) and the wait is much longer than I thought it would be.

1) What sort of questions should I ask my cue maker?

2) If you have bought a custom before, anything you wish you had known ahead of time?

Thanks in advance.
Even though it may be a plain Jane go ahead and inquire about some custom touches. Hoppe butt, some ringwork, a few mop dots can make it a little more special. Best value is a PJ from a really fine cue maker. Figure out your specs before talking will make his job easier. Money down should be 20-30 percent. Never pay full amount before delivery.if possible test drive a similar cue. Feel, balance and hit are everything!

manwon
06-01-2011, 06:02 PM
I'm currently in discussion with a cue maker for 2 matching "plain janes" (or are they merry widows? The handle is a different wood than the forearm and butt - but no splices, points, or any of that fancy stuff) One is a break cue and the other is a playing cue.

Right now the price is little steep (but not unmanageable) and the wait is much longer than I thought it would be.

1) What sort of questions should I ask my cue maker?

2) If you have bought a custom before, anything you wish you had known ahead of time?

Thanks in advance.



The most important thing you need to know in advance is what your want!!:)

I build cues and run into this all the time, people come in and want a Custom Shooter built, but they don't know where they want the balance point, they are uncertain of the shaft diameter, they are uncertain of the length of the cue and many don't know what weight they want. ( Only make it heavy or light )

Now some of the highlights above can be adjusted after the cue is completed and some of them can't, so these are things a buyer should know before they order a Custom Cue. In my opinion if you are unsure I would try a number of cues and find the answers, you will be much happier with the cue in the end. Another idea that may help is to take your current player to the person who is building your cues, by having the cue they can check out your currently player to give them some idea what you like about and what you don't.

If you can answer these questions confidently then a cue maker should be able to build you a cue that will fit your needs and feel comfortable to you.

Oh and by the way, some cue makers charge a deposit and some don't. Cue makers frequently have customers who can't complete the sale, so a simple cue may not require as large of a deposit as a 1 of 1. But it all depends upon the policy of the cue maker, just like everything else there are certainly different approaches to this subject and no single opinion is better then another it is all based upon experience.

Good Luck:)

mattb
06-01-2011, 06:57 PM
Find someone who has one and find out how the dang thing plays. That is the only thing stopping me from buying a new cue from a few people on here. I almost wish cue makers had a cue to send you to test (you pay for it and upon return, you get credit towards your cue).

If you have already done so, take your time and figure out what YOU want. Make yourself informed as Manwon has expressed.

Now if I can only get Manwon to remove the weird dog and make me a cue that will pocket balls for me I will be happy.

bookmd
06-01-2011, 07:20 PM
good thread OP. i like sponging this stuff

63Kcode
06-01-2011, 07:20 PM
I almost wish cue makers had a cue to send you to test (you pay for it and upon return, you get credit towards your cue).



Don't be afraid to ask. All they can say is no.

To the OP. Do a fourm search for the name of the cue maker. You may learn a lot from that.

Larry

thefonz
06-01-2011, 08:03 PM
after going through about 20 cues to try and find one that i really liked, and losing money on every single one. if i had to give any advice to someone looking for a custom, i'd say this.

save your cash and patience, go to something like the SBE. you'll have a much better idea of what you really like over wasting a pile of cash over a long period of time buying and selling cues.:thumbup:

with the money i've lost on cues over the years, i probably could have funded a trip to the SBE two or three times over.:angry:

poolplayer2093
06-01-2011, 11:45 PM
I'm currently in discussion with a cue maker for 2 matching "plain janes" (or are they merry widows? The handle is a different wood than the forearm and butt - but no splices, points, or any of that fancy stuff) One is a break cue and the other is a playing cue.

Right now the price is little steep (but not unmanageable) and the wait is much longer than I thought it would be.

1) What sort of questions should I ask my cue maker?

2) If you have bought a custom before, anything you wish you had known ahead of time?

Thanks in advance.

Where i like the balance point. what length and tip size i like. handle width......

William
06-02-2011, 12:05 AM
Resale, value, etc. Long wait, expensive, rare, usually equals a good cue.

Rocket354
06-02-2011, 01:12 AM
after going through about 20 cues to try and find one that i really liked, and losing money on every single one. if i had to give any advice to someone looking for a custom, i'd say this.

save your cash and patience, go to something like the SBE. you'll have a much better idea of what you really like over wasting a pile of cash over a long period of time buying and selling cues.:thumbup:

with the money i've lost on cues over the years, i probably could have funded a trip to the SBE two or three times over.:angry:

This is a big part of it. I've been through dozens of cues and always decided to resell, usually at a small loss each time.

My problem is that what I like changes all the time. I've gone from 12mm shafts to 13.2mm shafts now I'm in between. I used to like a soft hit, then a firm hit. I've gone from 19.3oz cues to 18.5oz cues to my current player, which is 17.5oz. But now I think I want to go back to 18.5oz. I've liked ebony, then hated it, then liked it. Etc, etc, etc.

So maybe I wish somebody had told me: "custom cues? don't bother. Just buy a nice $200 mcdermott, or maybe a $400 schon, then forget about cues and just focus on your game."

But, alas, I'm like a woman in a high-end shoe-store any time I browse the W/FS forum, wanting every other cue I see, buying way too many always convincing myself that this next one will satisfy me, that is, until I see another cue a week later...

LAlouie
06-02-2011, 01:30 AM
1) What sort of questions should I ask my cue maker?

.

Don't ask him anything he can bs you on. Ask him if you can hand pick your own shaft wood.

Then do some homework either here, or on the internet, or ask an accommodating well established cuemaker how you should go about selecting your wood. In other words, learn about what you're going to spend cash on. It ain't hard. You'll be surprised how helpful some cuemakers you'd think were unreachable are actually quite personable. It is quite possible a cuemaker might sell you a quality piece of wood. As mentioned in another thread about shafts, some of the very best woods are not used because they are cosmetically unattractive, and are usually put aside.

Ratta
06-02-2011, 02:21 AM
Welcome broken,

if you re visiting a good cuemaker, who has the craftmenship and the experience, you can ask him for sure everything-and if he feels/see, that you re not that experienced, he will ask you the forgotten questions. I don t think that an experienced and wellknown cuemaker would take profit from your dis-knowledge :)

Don t hesitate to ask him all you want-he will like it,

lg
Ingo

whammo57
06-02-2011, 05:12 AM
This is a big part of it. I've been through dozens of cues and always decided to resell, usually at a small loss each time.

My problem is that what I like changes all the time. I've gone from 12mm shafts to 13.2mm shafts now I'm in between. I used to like a soft hit, then a firm hit. I've gone from 19.3oz cues to 18.5oz cues to my current player, which is 17.5oz. But now I think I want to go back to 18.5oz. I've liked ebony, then hated it, then liked it. Etc, etc, etc.

So maybe I wish somebody had told me: "custom cues? don't bother. Just buy a nice $200 mcdermott, or maybe a $400 schon, then forget about cues and just focus on your game."

But, alas, I'm like a woman in a high-end shoe-store any time I browse the W/FS forum, wanting every other cue I see, buying way too many always convincing myself that this next one will satisfy me, that is, until I see another cue a week later...


You are a CB's night mare..... http://forums.azbilliards.com/images/icons/icon7.gif
lol

Kim

asbani
06-02-2011, 05:30 AM
i wish i knew that pictures can lie, one time I ordered a cue to be a plan white colored on the forearm, the pictures under the light looked like white, but when its done and arrived to me, it was creamy , not pure white.... but thats just one thing that came up to my mind :P

broken
06-02-2011, 06:05 AM
What do you consider steep for a plain Jane?

Great Question.

This is the style I'm looking for. Don't know if it's a PJ or a Merry Widow, but it's 2 woods (1 wood for the handle, and the other wood for the forearm and butt) with no wrap. My project is for 2 cues, one to break with and one to play with.

1) High End of my price range.

http://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=231295

http://i51.tinypic.com/330yart.jpg

This seller wants $650. I think this is a fair deal. The maker is relatively known on AZB.

2) Low End of my price range

http://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=228687&highlight=merry+widow

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a107/conexion914/Cues/2011-04-02154445.jpg

Seller wants 325. I see this maker on AZB pretty frequently, and I think this is a steal.

3) Middle of my price range

http://i1215.photobucket.com/albums/cc501/josh4241/DSCN1667.jpg

http://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=232863&highlight=abaya

Seller wants 475 with 2 shafts. This my sweet spot.

___

Low - 325
Middle - 475 (with 2 shafts)
High - 650 (with 2 shafts)

I'm being offered something north of 475 with only 1 shaft.

It's not outrageous, but just a smidgen more (10-15%) than I woud like. Everyone's got to eat.

broken
06-02-2011, 06:06 AM
Welcome to the forum, broken.
Actually a "merry widow" would have been my third wife, had I stayed married to her.
You, and your cuemake should be dicussing items such as cue length (some folks like them a bit longer than the standard 58 inches). Type and size of joint. Tip diameter. Type and brand of tip. That sort of stuff. Usually, the simpler the cue the easier it is to sort things out. :)

^^thanks, I didn't even think to ask those.

broken
06-02-2011, 06:08 AM
I'd ask him how old his shaft dowels are, how long he rests them between turns. A lot of makers keep a special stock of center cut and/or old growth dowels that are really old and really stable--not a requirement, but if you ask and he's willing to throw you a couple I think you'll be pleased. They tend to stay straighter longer regardless of climate changes. Most people never think to ask. I'd also want to know how he plans to balance/weight the cue; whether he always uses weight bolts or if the materials you prefer/want make that unnecessary. Does he core the forearms on all or some cues? When?


^Expert level questions.

broken
06-02-2011, 06:09 AM
Money down should be 20-30 percent. Never pay full amount before delivery.if possible test drive a similar cue. Feel, balance and hit are everything!

Thanks, I will have to bring this up.

broken
06-02-2011, 06:27 AM
Don't be afraid to ask. All they can say is no.

To the OP. Do a fourm search for the name of the cue maker. You may learn a lot from that.

Larry

I did some research on the forum. The main problem was delivery took longer than agreed upon. That's a typical problem with all custom goods. In my day job, I see people fight over custom homes all the time. Heck, I've got 2 dress shirts being made right now that are 5 days over due.

In terms of construction, quality, hit, and getting what you were promised - Cue Maker X comes out pretty good.

1pRoscoe
06-02-2011, 06:44 AM
I'm curious to understand what motivates a cuemaker to complete cues on time.

Heck, I've got 2 dress shirts being made right now that are 5 days over due.


Get ready to measure your wait in years, not days, weeks, or in most cases months.

Koop
06-02-2011, 06:53 AM
I know I want my cue to weigh a hair over 20 oz when put together and I use an after market shaft.
The things I tell my cuemaker are:

Butt weight: 15.7 oz with weigth bolt. The shaft is 4.4oz that I use. It also gives the balance I want which is forward.
5/16x14 Stainless steel joint - adds to forward balance
Birdseye maple forearm - found I like it the best over harder woods
Pressed linen wrap
Butt thickness thin like Schon, not fat like Joss.

Anything after is just personal preference on looks for me.

poke&hope
06-02-2011, 06:57 AM
That most custom cues play no better than some production cues.

That some custom cues are kit cues from prather and other sources and charge much more for the name custom.

That unless you really know what you like and what fits your style of play no cuemaker can tell you.

That a lot of cuemakers make beautiful works of art but only a few make great player cues. If you are buying a work of art thats one thing, but if you want a player cue recommendations from real players only should be considered.Even then without trying before buying its a shot in the dark.

That its better buying cheaper cues until your game is good enough to know what you like and want, then with your input purchase the big ticket cue from a reliable cuemaker that you have researched and played with his cues if possible.

TheThaiger
06-02-2011, 09:59 AM
This is a big part of it. I've been through dozens of cues and always decided to resell, usually at a small loss each time.

My problem is that what I like changes all the time. I've gone from 12mm shafts to 13.2mm shafts now I'm in between. I used to like a soft hit, then a firm hit. I've gone from 19.3oz cues to 18.5oz cues to my current player, which is 17.5oz. But now I think I want to go back to 18.5oz. I've liked ebony, then hated it, then liked it. Etc, etc, etc.

So maybe I wish somebody had told me: "custom cues? don't bother. Just buy a nice $200 mcdermott, or maybe a $400 schon, then forget about cues and just focus on your game."

But, alas, I'm like a woman in a high-end shoe-store any time I browse the W/FS forum, wanting every other cue I see, buying way too many always convincing myself that this next one will satisfy me, that is, until I see another cue a week later...

Yeah, it's an illness. It wouldn't be so bad if cues weren't so damned expensive.

The only question I'd ask a custom cue maker would be "can you lower the price a bit/lot"?

mm4pool
06-02-2011, 10:25 AM
Welcome Broken,

I just received a new custom cue. some things that i did when i ordered it, i play with an OB shaft that i wanted to keep so made sure he knew this. described my style of play, what my weight preference was. he let me pick the wood for forearm and butt, i went with a black lizard wrap. we discussed his preferred joint type and how it would affect play. he added some trim rings which really made a difference which i didnt expect.

what part of the country are you in? if close to north Texas i would suggest you contact Don Wallace, he was great to work with and very patient with me.

Mike

cigardave
06-02-2011, 01:07 PM
The biggest problem when buying your first custom cue is knowing what you want.

The only real way to know what you want is to have shot with a variety of cues... noting their length, weight, balance point, shaft taper, butt diameter, pin type, grip material (linen, wrapless, leather, etc.), ferrule material and length, and tip.

All of those factors (and more) affect how a cue plays.

My suggestion is to buy a quality production cue (like a Schon, Pechauer, McDermott, etc.) and play with it for a good while.

Another good choice would be to buy a sneaky pete from a reputable cue maker... like Bob Frey, Jacoby, etc. I have several custom cues in the $1200 - $1500 range and I still like to grab my Frey SP and shoot with it.


And try playing with your friends' custom cues whenever possible as well.

Bottom line... wait until you KNOW what you want in a custom cue.

Spider1
06-02-2011, 01:23 PM
I wish I had known 15 years ago that you can find well built custom cues for relatively cheap, instead of wasting hundreds and hundreds of dollars on production cookie cutter/generic stuff like meucci mcdermott and viking. :(

I swear, every time I heard people discuss full custom cues they owned, they claimed they cost $1500+, so I just kind of assumed they ALL cost that much. Apparently that misconception still exists, you can see it in some of the 'recommend me a cue' threads where people recommend production cues to someone looking to spend an amount that could get them a decent custom!

broken
06-02-2011, 02:58 PM
Welcome Broken,

I just received a new custom cue. some things that i did when i ordered it, i play with an OB shaft that i wanted to keep so made sure he knew this. described my style of play, what my weight preference was. he let me pick the wood for forearm and butt, i went with a black lizard wrap. we discussed his preferred joint type and how it would affect play. he added some trim rings which really made a difference which i didnt expect.

what part of the country are you in? if close to north Texas i would suggest you contact Don Wallace, he was great to work with and very patient with me.

Mike

Great points Mike. It has me thinking about bigger questions. I'm not even sure how to describe my style of play. (average, middling?, typical league banger with the rare flash of pool playing brilliance? he who chokes on the 9 ball?)

And speaking of Texas, The first custom I ever saw was at Clicks off Oltorf in South Austin. The cue was so cool looking I had to ask what it was.

"It's a custom cue from Bloodworth. "

Not sure which Bloodworth, but until then I didn't know you could have a cue made for you. That was probably 10 years ago. I've been playing much more seriously in the past 4 years, but that memory stuck with me.

Matt90
06-02-2011, 03:12 PM
I wish I would of double checked the size of the butt of my cue , I did send it back and have it taken down to specs at a later date .At the time I was so concerned with the shafts,tips ,ring work,wrap, and all the details that it slipped my mind to even think about getting the butt turned down to what feels just right in my hand.

broken
06-02-2011, 03:14 PM
I wish I would of double checked the size of the butt of my cue , I did send it back and have it taken down to specs at a later date .At the time I was so concerned with the shafts,tips ,ring work,wrap, and all the details that it slipped my mind to even think about getting the butt turned down to what feels just right in my hand.

How did you figure that out?

It's a shame they don't do pool fittings like they do fittings for bicycles or suits.

..*business opportunity...*

KCRack'em
06-02-2011, 03:17 PM
How did you figure that out?

It's a shame they don't do pool fittings like they do fittings for bicycles or suits.

..*business opportunity...*

I wonder if someday cues will be sized and fit to us our strokes like golf clubs are....
Heck, most of us seek new cues the way golfers seek new drivers.
Karl

KCRack'em
06-02-2011, 03:30 PM
To answer your question, I really wish that I knew (and now know) exactly what I want from a cue. I've owned many (and lost money on many) and currently have far more than I need. I don't have one that really stands out from the crowd.
I have a good friend who just mentioned owning more than one to make it easier to adapt to conditions, such as table size, cloth, humidity, etc.
I'm currently shooting with a P2 heavy with a leather wrap. I have both a Z2 and 314-2 for it. You'll find that some folks swear by aftermarket shafts while others abhor them.
I wish I could test drive more cues or could try a variety of tips on the same shaft(s).
I'm enjoying this discussion, and I hope it helps you make a good decision.
Good luck!
Karl

DaveK
06-02-2011, 06:58 PM
good thread OP. i like sponging this stuff

Agreed, well done broken ! There are some professional cue buyers giving you excellent advice :ok:

Oh, btw, I use the cigardave method of trying a friends customs :grin: .

I might suggest buying a cheap set of 6" calipers ($20 ones on sale, not the plastic things). Then you can measure, for example, the butt diameter of cues that feel right in your grip.

Dave

Rocket354
06-02-2011, 08:45 PM
I wish I had known 15 years ago that you can find well built custom cues for relatively cheap, instead of wasting hundreds and hundreds of dollars on production cookie cutter/generic stuff like meucci mcdermott and viking. :(

I swear, every time I heard people discuss full custom cues they owned, they claimed they cost $1500+, so I just kind of assumed they ALL cost that much. Apparently that misconception still exists, you can see it in some of the 'recommend me a cue' threads where people recommend production cues to someone looking to spend an amount that could get them a decent custom!

And, since these were typical guys in a pool hall, most of their custom cues probably cost 1/4 of that at most...

I have a buddy who owns a Dale Perry that he bought for $200, and probably could sell for $150 if he found the right person. But he swears up and down he has a cue that's "worth" $1200.

dr9ball
06-02-2011, 09:20 PM
And, since these were typical guys in a pool hall, most of their custom cues probably cost 1/4 of that at most...

I have a buddy who owns a Dale Perry that he bought for $200, and probably could sell for $150 if he found the right person. But he swears up and down he has a cue that's "worth" $1200.

Most people I've met in bars and pool halls have no idea how much a custom cue costs and they often think a custom cue is a schon, viking, mcdermott because you can order them with your preference of stain, weight etc.

I've had someone pick up my Richard Black and when I pointed out it was my cue, they said they thought it was just a house cue.



I heard someone the other day remark when they were being teased about why they were taking their cue to the bathroom: "Would you leave $10,000 laying out on the table while you went to the bathroom?" The person asking the question had no idea what the other player's Black Boar was worth. They had never heard of the cue.

People don't know what they don't know.

Matt90
06-03-2011, 12:06 AM
How did you figure that out?

It's a shame they don't do pool fittings like they do fittings for bicycles or suits.
.
..*business opportunity...*

A road player let me hit a few with a nova cue he had ,I fell in love with how the butt of that cue felt in my hand. So I took it to the cue man ,we measured it and I sent my cue back and had it taken down.Has to be one of the best things I have done to my cue.

brokenarrowjbe
06-05-2011, 07:39 AM
I have a big hand, cuemaker made the butt bigger so I don't feel like I am shooting with a pencil. What type of joint do you prefer radial joint, stainless steel, uni lock? Balance point so the cue is balanced for you. Soft tip, hard tip, medium tip? Return policy and whether it is honored. Packing for shipping if not a local guy. My cue was damaged in shipment, post office is reviewing claim, made an issue of inadequate packaging. Not even bubble wrapped. PM sent. John

jlynn73
06-05-2011, 09:10 AM
2 cues with the exact same weight&dimensions, same "balance point", tip/wrap etc... can feel completely different when you shoot with it.

skill level is a pretty big factor. If you're used to shooting with a meucci and are going to something with a stiffer taper... be prepared for some adjustments. ;)

I like what I like, but I know whats best for my game isnt always what I like. I can put TONS of juice on the ball with my Joss/predator combo, but I shoot a whole lot straighter with my Olney custom. It depends on my mood what I shoot with.