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View Full Version : I hit with a Balabushka yesterday!


Williebetmore
05-13-2007, 08:55 AM
Though I'm no cue expert or afficionado, I have always been intrigued by the mystique of the Balabushka cue. Some have suggested that the reputation of the cue was made by the movie/book "The Hustler", but most pool cognoscenti think the reputation is based on the quality of the work, and the quality of the hit. I've always wondered.

Imagine my surprise then yesterday when "Hal2" from Ohio made a visit to Betmore's Basement for a little straight pool; and pulled his Balabushka from the case. He was kind enough to let me hit with it for a while. Just an unbelieveable solid and accurate hit. I've always played with low-deflection Predator or OB-1 shaft; and the hit of the 'Bushka is very different (yes, better). It was just a pleasure to look at, and more of a pleasure to play with.

Many thanks to Hal for bringing it along. He actually uses it in his bar table league as his main playing cue. After 2 long games of straight pool; we decided to play some 8-ball; Hal grabs the Balabushka and prepares to break (he has a sledgehammer break). I had to yell at him to stop; and gave him one of my break cues to use - I had horrible visions of the Balabushka splintering into pieces....VERY bad kharma for my basement.

I had heard a famous cuemaker say before that if you can't break with your playing cue, it must not be very well made - the Balabushka certainly stands up to that test.

cuejoey
05-13-2007, 09:00 AM
There is nothing like Old Growth timber..

Fatboy
05-13-2007, 09:06 AM
i never have, good for you, i like how old cues play.

classiccues
05-13-2007, 09:20 AM
Though I'm no cue expert or afficionado, I have always been intrigued by the mystique of the Balabushka cue. Some have suggested that the reputation of the cue was made by the movie/book "The Hustler", but most pool cognoscenti think the reputation is based on the quality of the work, and the quality of the hit. I've always wondered.

Imagine my surprise then yesterday when "Hal2" from Ohio made a visit to Betmore's Basement for a little straight pool; and pulled his Balabushka from the case. He was kind enough to let me hit with it for a while. Just an unbelieveable solid and accurate hit. I've always played with low-deflection Predator or OB-1 shaft; and the hit of the 'Bushka is very different (yes, better). It was just a pleasure to look at, and more of a pleasure to play with.

Many thanks to Hal for bringing it along. He actually uses it in his bar table league as his main playing cue. After 2 long games of straight pool; we decided to play some 8-ball; Hal grabs the Balabushka and prepares to break (he has a sledgehammer break). I had to yell at him to stop; and gave him one of my break cues to use - I had horrible visions of the Balabushka splintering into pieces....VERY bad kharma for my basement.

I had heard a famous cuemaker say before that if you can't break with your playing cue, it must not be very well made - the Balabushka certainly stands up to that test.

Congrats.. and great to hear. Hal is good people.

JV

luckylady
05-13-2007, 09:37 AM
There are only two kinds of cues in this world--
Balabushkas and cues that wish they were Balabushkas

Pushout
05-13-2007, 09:53 AM
I got to play with one for about an hour once, years ago. Nothing fancy, but the hit and playability were unlike anything I'd experienced at the time. I've played with Gus Szamboti cues that didn't play nearly as well, for me, that is.

JoeyInCali
05-13-2007, 10:00 AM
There is nothing like Old Growth timber..
tap tap tap
Just shows tonal quality of shaft and handle wood matter.

berlowmj
05-13-2007, 08:31 PM
Though I'm no cue expert or afficionado, I have always been intrigued by the mystique of the Balabushka cue. Some have suggested that the reputation of the cue was made by the movie/book "The Hustler", but most pool cognoscenti think the reputation is based on the quality of the work, and the quality of the hit. I've always wondered.

Imagine my surprise then yesterday when "Hal2" from Ohio made a visit to Betmore's Basement for a little straight pool; and pulled his Balabushka from the case. He was kind enough to let me hit with it for a while. Just an unbelieveable solid and accurate hit. I've always played with low-deflection Predator or OB-1 shaft; and the hit of the 'Bushka is very different (yes, better). It was just a pleasure to look at, and more of a pleasure to play with.

Many thanks to Hal for bringing it along. He actually uses it in his bar table league as his main playing cue. After 2 long games of straight pool; we decided to play some 8-ball; Hal grabs the Balabushka and prepares to break (he has a sledgehammer break). I had to yell at him to stop; and gave him one of my break cues to use - I had horrible visions of the Balabushka splintering into pieces....VERY bad kharma for my basement.

I had heard a famous cuemaker say before that if you can't break with your playing cue, it must not be very well made - the Balabushka certainly stands up to that test.

Is the performance of the chalk comparable?

pdcue
05-13-2007, 09:12 PM
Though I'm no cue expert or afficionado, I have always been intrigued by the mystique of the Balabushka cue. Some have suggested that the reputation of the cue was made by the movie/book "The Hustler", but most pool cognoscenti think the reputation is based on the quality of the work, and the quality of the hit. I've always wondered.

Imagine my surprise then yesterday when "Hal2" from Ohio made a visit to Betmore's Basement for a little straight pool; and pulled his Balabushka from the case. He was kind enough to let me hit with it for a while. Just an unbelieveable solid and accurate hit. I've always played with low-deflection Predator or OB-1 shaft; and the hit of the 'Bushka is very different (yes, better). It was just a pleasure to look at, and more of a pleasure to play with.

Many thanks to Hal for bringing it along. He actually uses it in his bar table league as his main playing cue. After 2 long games of straight pool; we decided to play some 8-ball; Hal grabs the Balabushka and prepares to break (he has a sledgehammer break). I had to yell at him to stop; and gave him one of my break cues to use - I had horrible visions of the Balabushka splintering into pieces....VERY bad kharma for my basement.

I had heard a famous cuemaker say before that if you can't break with your playing cue, it must not be very well made - the Balabushka certainly stands up to that test.

Congratulations Grasshopper.
You have achieved enlightenment

Dale

jay helfert
05-13-2007, 10:58 PM
I actually owned and played with two Balabushka cues in my life. 30 years ago you could buy one for $250. I sold my last one for $200 in 1974 in Dayton. Nice move huh. The sad thing is that I loved that cue. It had a nice clean solid hit. Nothing dramatic, just worked as it was intended.

I had bought it in L.A. a year before for $100 and played well with it, unitl I ran into Joey Spaeth in Dayton. He gave my 8-7 and the Break and beat me for $300 at 50 a game. I was pissed and when someone offered me 200 for the cue, I grabbed it. Who knew?

luckylady
05-14-2007, 04:50 AM
I bought mine from george in 1966/7. paid $75.. sold one shaft in 1970 for $25. still have the rest.
window cue with spain forearm, george wrote my name between metal bands in window area.
i have balabushka autograph of my name.

Snapshot9
05-14-2007, 05:04 AM
Although it has been about 30 years since hitting with a Bushka, a couple of things have stuck in my mind. I remember the shaft being thick, I believe they had a conical taper, and the cue seemed to be top-heavy to me, although my taste in balance has changed somewhat over the years.

Papa Burke, that used to own Burke's Steakhouse and motel here, used to have a Bushka and a Joss West cue, among others. I favored the Joss West at that time overall for feel, balance, and hit.

CaptainHook
05-14-2007, 06:52 AM
Tommy Kennedy and I swaped cues for a few games once, I shot with his bushka and he shot with my Palmer, he found the Palmer butt heavy, but loved the taper off the Wayne Gunn shaft I had on it at the time,
I found the bushka to have a very nice balance, feel & hit.

I always looked at it like this, some guys were used to the SS joint cues and some the composite. Just depends what you grew up with.:)

X Breaker
05-14-2007, 07:02 AM
Although it has been about 30 years since hitting with a Bushka, a couple of things have stuck in my mind. I remember the shaft being thick, I believe they had a conical taper, and the cue seemed to be top-heavy to me, although my taste in balance has changed somewhat over the years.


Some of those early ones were built for the big cue ball, with a big tip and a thick taper. I think that is probably what you tried. My friend once showed me an old Gina with a 13.5+ mm tip, and a very heavy shaft, built for the heavy cue ball.

By the way, I met a guy in Japan before, who played with a real Balabushka and...broke with a real Gus Szamboti!

Williebetmore
05-14-2007, 10:07 AM
Although it has been about 30 years since hitting with a Bushka, a couple of things have stuck in my mind. I remember the shaft being thick, I believe they had a conical taper, and the cue seemed to be top-heavy to me, although my taste in balance has changed somewhat over the years.

Papa Burke, that used to own Burke's Steakhouse and motel here, used to have a Bushka and a Joss West cue, among others. I favored the Joss West at that time overall for feel, balance, and hit.

Snap,
This cue had a fairly normal pro taper (I also thought they were reputed to be conical taper). I was told it was a little over 13 mm, but seemed the same as my 12.75mm shaft. Balance felt normal and perfect. It caused a bit more squirt than my OB-1 shaft. It would be hard to imagine something hitting any more perfectly than this cue.

jay helfert
05-14-2007, 10:29 AM
Original Bushkas were 57", with 13mm tip standard. Mine was about 19oz.
Just felt good in my hands, with a nice balance to it. I remember that cue because it was so easy for me to play with.

hangemhigh
05-14-2007, 10:41 AM
I actually owned and played with two Balabushka cues in my life. 30 years ago you could buy one for $250. I sold my last one for $200 in 1974 in Dayton. Nice move huh. The sad thing is that I loved that cue. It had a nice clean solid hit. Nothing dramatic, just worked as it was intended.

I had bought it in L.A. a year before for $100 and played well with it, unitl I ran into Joey Spaeth in Dayton. He gave my 8-7 and the Break and beat me for $300 at 50 a game. I was pissed and when someone offered me 200 for the cue, I grabbed it. Who knew?


Hey Jay,Deano aka "The Maestro" has a Balabushka over there in Dayton,at Airway.

jay helfert
05-14-2007, 10:55 AM
Hey Jay,Deano aka "The Maestro" has a Balabushka over there in Dayton,at Airway.


My old buddy Deano. Wow, does he even remember me? I wonder. Hell, it's probably my cue, for all I know. I may have sold it to him. I can't really remember who bought it, just that I sold it in Dayton.

pdcue
05-15-2007, 12:10 PM
My old buddy Deano. Wow, does he even remember me? I wonder. Hell, it's probably my cue, for all I know. I may have sold it to him. I can't really remember who bought it, just that I sold it in Dayton.

FWIW - Deno got his new from George, by way of Joe Burns
when they were uh..."partners" - around 1970 IIRC.
I sold him a NOS replacement bumper about 5 years ago
only took 1 year of negotiating

Dale Pierce

pdcue
05-15-2007, 12:22 PM
Some of those early ones were built for the big cue ball, with a big tip and a thick taper. I think that is probably what you tried. My friend once showed me an old Gina with a 13.5+ mm tip, and a very heavy shaft, built for the heavy cue ball.

By the way, I met a guy in Japan before, who played with a real Balabushka and...broke with a real Gus Szamboti!

Not so good on the assumptions there Xey...

George built cues mostly for East coast<NY/NJ> straight pool players.
Not Barbox bangers. It was not unusual to see thick shafts on Bushkas.
He made whatever size the customer ordered, and 13mm and
larger was very popular amoung many players in those days.

Also, pro taper all the way. I have never seen, nor even heard of
one of George's shafts being conical.

Dale

Pushout
05-15-2007, 12:36 PM
Not so good on the assumptions there Xey...

George built cues mostly for East coast<NY/NJ> straight pool players.
Not Barbox bangers. It was not unusual to see thick shafts on Bushkas.
He made whatever size the customer ordered, and 13mm and
larger was very popular amoung many players in those days.

Also, pro taper all the way. I have never seen, nor even heard of
one of George's shafts being conical.

Dale

I saw several and don't remember seeing any with a 13 mm tip and certainly not larger. Mostly 12.5 or 12.7. Until Meucci started up, I don't remember anybody making 13mm. I'm not saying it didn't happen, just that I've never seen any. I've never seen a conical Bushka shaft, either.

alstl
05-15-2007, 04:08 PM
Original Bushkas were 57", with 13mm tip standard. Mine was about 19oz.
Just felt good in my hands, with a nice balance to it. I remember that cue because it was so easy for me to play with.

I found an old cue in poor condition a while back that was 57", I'm guessing there were other cuemakers making 57" cues also.

pdcue
05-16-2007, 01:16 AM
I saw several and don't remember seeing any with a 13 mm tip and certainly not larger. Mostly 12.5 or 12.7. Until Meucci started up, I don't remember anybody making 13mm. I'm not saying it didn't happen, just that I've never seen any. I've never seen a conical Bushka shaft, either.

Might be a regional thing - in the 70s, I never saw one that was
LESS than 13mm - the shafts on Rempe's Bushka were 13 1/2mm.

He might have still had that one when the pic in your avatar was taken

Dale

Pushout
05-16-2007, 05:52 AM
Might be a regional thing - in the 70s, I never saw one that was
LESS than 13mm - the shafts on Rempe's Bushka were 13 1/2mm.

He might have still had that one when the pic in your avatar was taken

Dale

It might be a regional thing, as you say. I think by the time I met Rempe, he was playing with an Adam. I had a 13 1/2 mm shaft that I ordered for my Palmer, and it was one of two, I think, that I had seen at that time. I didn't play with it long, however.

hangemhigh
05-16-2007, 07:57 AM
Might be a regional thing - in the 70s, I never saw one that was
LESS than 13mm - the shafts on Rempe's Bushka were 13 1/2mm.

He might have still had that one when the pic in your avatar was taken

Dale

Airways Fats has Rempe's old Balabushka.

hangemhigh
05-16-2007, 08:10 AM
FWIW - Deno got his new from George, by way of Joe Burns
when they were uh..."partners" - around 1970 IIRC.
I sold him a NOS replacement bumper about 5 years ago
only took 1 year of negotiating

Dale Pierce

Dale,what is your number for a NOS replacement bumper?

pdcue
05-16-2007, 12:08 PM
Airways Fats has Rempe's old Balabushka.

He certainly does - safely sequestered away somewhere.

It is a super rare "Rambo/Hoppe" style<Ivory ring>.

For years he has been playing with a cue made by some other guy.

Dale Pierce

pdcue
05-16-2007, 12:29 PM
Dale,what is your number for a NOS replacement bumper?

PM sent

Dale

hippiepool
05-16-2007, 01:26 PM
I actually owned and played with two Balabushka cues in my life. 30 years ago you could buy one for $250. I sold my last one for $200 in 1974 in Dayton. Nice move huh. The sad thing is that I loved that cue. It had a nice clean solid hit. Nothing dramatic, just worked as it was intended.

I had bought it in L.A. a year before for $100 and played well with it, unitl I ran into Joey Spaeth in Dayton. He gave my 8-7 and the Break and beat me for $300 at 50 a game. I was pissed and when someone offered me 200 for the cue, I grabbed it. Who knew?
yeah .it would have only been worth at least 5,000

hippiepool
05-16-2007, 01:30 PM
Original Bushkas were 57", with 13mm tip standard. Mine was about 19oz.
Just felt good in my hands, with a nice balance to it. I remember that cue because it was so easy for me to play with.
I shot with one once ... I remember it having a very hard hit ....

BreakNRunner
05-23-2007, 08:22 AM
Williebetmore is correct about the unique hit of the Balabushka Cue, as I too have had the experience of playing with a Balabushka.

Before you get all frustrated and feel the hit of a Balabushka is out of you reach because you are finically challenged.

Consider buying a Keith Josey, or Jim Buss Cue with what I call those expensive old growth shafts both cuemakers offer a an upgrade. Those are the only (2) cuemaker I know of who offer those old growth shafts. Cost is about a 150 dollar/shaft upgrade.

As I have had the pleasure of being able to try out those old growth maple shafts that are kind of a ice tea or weak coffee color rather than the normal color of maple shafts.

Closest thing I have ever hit with compared to the old growth hit of a authentic Balabushka, and a deal if you can not find an authentic Balabushka for sale at a bargain price.

Fatboy
05-23-2007, 08:31 AM
Williebetmore is correct about the unique hit of the Balabushka Cue, as I too have had the experience of playing with a Balabushka.

Before you get all frustrated and feel the hit of a Balabushka is out of you reach because you are finically challenged.

Consider buying a Keith Josey, or Jim Buss Cue with what I call those expensive old growth shafts both cuemakers offer a an upgrade. Those are the only (2) cuemaker I know of who offer those old growth shafts. Cost is about a 150 dollar/shaft upgrade.

As I have had the pleasure of being able to try out those old growth maple shafts that are kind of a ice tea or weak coffee color rather than the normal color of maple shafts.

Closest thing I have ever hit with compared to the old growth hit of a authentic Balabushka, and a deal if you can not find an authentic Balabushka for sale at a bargain price.


you said what i have been saying here for months old wood is the best part of a cue, i'm playing with a Richard Black here in Germany and it plays good but the shafts suck, i have taken out more dings-they are as soft as balsa wood, i never get dings on shafts, i dont move balls with my shaft etc. but some how this cue just finds a way to get dings in it-the wood is soft and damn near green-the dings thus come out easily but when i get home, out comes an old cue with older wood. kiln dtied wood isnt the same, its like fine wine it takes time, old cues play better

Cornerman
05-23-2007, 09:51 AM
Imagine my surprise then yesterday when "Hal2" from Ohio made a visit to Betmore's Basement for a little straight pool; and pulled his Balabushka from the case. He was kind enough to let me hit with it for a while. Just an unbelieveable solid and accurate hit. I've always played with low-deflection Predator or OB-1 shaft; and the hit of the 'Bushka is very different (yes, better). It was just a pleasure to look at, and more of a pleasure to play with..
I'm gonna tell you that if there was a personality & pool game that would fit with an original Balabushka, you've got it. And since you find it pleasurable, you should find one. IMO.

Fred

breakup
05-23-2007, 10:38 AM
When Mark Griffin lived in Anchorage he had a HUGE cue collection which included something like a 8 or 10 Balabushkas. He had the best 30 or so cues readily assessable in his pool room (in his house) and encouraged people that he invited over to hit with all of them.

…very cool.

RBLilly
05-23-2007, 12:48 PM
Was it an Original or a Chinese model? Did you get the certificate of authenticity? LOL :rolleyes:

Williebetmore
05-23-2007, 01:01 PM
Was it an Original or a Chinese model? Did you get the certificate of authenticity? LOL :rolleyes:

Shark,
Yes, Hal2 had it authenticated with Pete Tascarella prior to purchase .

Williebetmore
05-23-2007, 01:05 PM
I'm gonna tell you that if there was a personality & pool game that would fit with an original Balabushka, you've got it. And since you find it pleasurable, you should find one. IMO.

Fred

Fred,
I'm going to take that as a compliment (or a veiled reference to my pending membership in the "Old Fogey's Club").

I have considered buying one (have signed permission slip from the wife); but I worry about the deflection. I have always played with a Predator or OB-1; and I wonder if the MUCH better hit outweighs the need to re-learn side English (and the slightly higher margin of error this entails). I wonder what George Balabushka would say on this issue (or perhaps someone like Sailor could comment).

Williebetmore
05-23-2007, 01:07 PM
When Mark Griffin lived in Anchorage he had a HUGE cue collection which included something like a 8 or 10 Balabushkas. He had the best 30 or so cues readily assessable in his pool room (in his house) and encouraged people that he invited over to hit with all of them.

…very cool.

breakup,
Yes, very cool. Mark is an awesome guy (and must be an awesome host as well).

P.S. - it must suck for you now that he's got that court injunction and you are not allowed within 100 yards of the 'Bushka's.

NYC cue dude
05-23-2007, 01:09 PM
He certainly does - safely sequestered away somewhere.

It is a super rare "Rambo/Hoppe" style<Ivory ring>.

For years he has been playing with a cue made by some other guy.

Dale Pierce


funny, I happen to be selling a hoppe style bushka with even rarer ebony points. Other than that, it's a plain jane.

Also comes with a letter of authenticity from pete.

For that matter, I am also selling my other bushka. The provenance is off the charts on this one. I purchased it directly fronm George's son, gregory.

In the letter, it says the cue was built for him (gregory), but that his father used it as his own cue. and to boot, he can remember some champion players always coming to the house looking to "borrow" a cue for a tournament. he mentions Pete Margo specifically in the letter. Plain 4 pointer (rosewood) and 4 veneers.

any offers?

rg

NYC cue dude
05-23-2007, 01:10 PM
yeah .it would have only been worth at least 5,000


at the price, can I get 10?

rg

RBLilly
05-23-2007, 10:51 PM
funny, I happen to be selling a hoppe style bushka with even rarer ebony points. Other than that, it's a plain jane.

Also comes with a letter of authenticity from pete.

For that matter, I am also selling my other bushka. The provenance is off the charts on this one. I purchased it directly fronm George's son, gregory.

In the letter, it says the cue was built for him (gregory), but that his father used it as his own cue. and to boot, he can remember some champion players always coming to the house looking to "borrow" a cue for a tournament. he mentions Pete Margo specifically in the letter. Plain 4 pointer (rosewood) and 4 veneers.

any offers?

rg


How did I know this would end up being an auction in the end????????? :confused:

NYC cue dude
05-28-2007, 08:48 AM
why would this be an auction, as it isnt listed
'for sale " anywhere in the world. i just figured that in this pertinent thread, i would toss it out there. i have an idea what george's personal cue is worth. are you interseted in paying the more than 20k it would cost to own this cue? and if i wanted to auction it, what is wrong with that? do i have your permission?

rg

StraightPoolIU
05-28-2007, 09:39 AM
have considered buying one (have signed permission slip from the wife); but I worry about the deflection. I have always played with a Predator or OB-1; and I wonder if the MUCH better hit outweighs the need to re-learn side English (and the slightly higher margin of error this entails).

Willie, it's a Bushka. Come on just do it. :)

RBLilly
05-28-2007, 01:22 PM
why would this be an auction, as it isnt listed
'for sale " anywhere in the world. i just figured that in this pertinent thread, i would toss it out there. i have an idea what george's personal cue is worth. are you interseted in paying the more than 20k it would cost to own this cue? and if i wanted to auction it, what is wrong with that? do i have your permission?

rg


It doesn't bother me what you do with it. Do what you will with it.

That statement was meant for someone else I know that has been watching this thread. Him and I talked about it, and I thought he would get a chuckle out of my post.

DennyS
05-28-2007, 06:30 PM
Yes and it is in great shape. Hal2 was nice enough to let me hit with it the day he came over to take a class.

Pushout
05-29-2007, 03:47 PM
Might be a regional thing - in the 70s, I never saw one that was
LESS than 13mm - the shafts on Rempe's Bushka were 13 1/2mm.

He might have still had that one when the pic in your avatar was taken

Dale

Thinking back on it awhile, the one in particular that I was thinking of was one that Gary Pinkowski picked up while on the road. When I first saw it, he had just got it back from Gus Szamboti, who had made new shafts for it. The previous owner was very short, according to Pinky, and he'd had Gus make two new shafts for it. Don't remember exactly when this was. It comes to mind now, that Pinky played 9 ball and One Pocket a bunch and hardly any Straight pool. When I first started to play, a lot of people who ordered cues got one shaft for Straight pool and one for 9 ball that was smaller diameter. I think that quite a few of the 'Bushkas that I saw at that time did not have two original shafts. I know of one local who had a Balabushka with one Palmer shaft and one Szamboti shaft.

NYC cue dude
05-31-2007, 08:30 AM
Thinking back on it awhile, the one in particular that I was thinking of was one that Gary Pinkowski picked up while on the road. When I first saw it, he had just got it back from Gus Szamboti, who had made new shafts for it. The previous owner was very short, according to Pinky, and he'd had Gus make two new shafts for it. Don't remember exactly when this was. It comes to mind now, that Pinky played 9 ball and One Pocket a bunch and hardly any Straight pool. When I first started to play, a lot of people who ordered cues got one shaft for Straight pool and one for 9 ball that was smaller diameter. I think that quite a few of the 'Bushkas that I saw at that time did not have two original shafts. I know of one local who had a Balabushka with one Palmer shaft and one Szamboti shaft.


the hoppe style cue i have came with 3 original shafts, all around 12mm, btw