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Bert Schrager News Article 1986
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Bert Schrager News Article 1986 - 04-10-2020, 07:56 AM

Just came across this quite by accident, very cool read !!
From the LA Times newspaper

On Cue : Bert Schrager’s Custom Pool Sticks Are Known Throughout the World
By JEFF MEYERS
OCT. 8, 1986
12 AM



The German had heard about them in New Zealand. Some of the world’s finest custom-made pool cues were being crafted in North Hollywood, and he had to possess one, had to feel the balance, weight and precision in his own hands. So the other day, after making a pilgrimage to the little shop on Magnolia Boulevard, he approached the owner with the reverence of a violinist placing an order for a Stradivarius.
“I want,” he said, “to purchase a Schrager.”
Since 1968, Bert Schrager, a burly, 62-year-old craftsman, has been putting Schragers into the hands of hustlers, serious pool players and even a world champion. In an age when mass production has made merchandise cheaper but not necessarily better,
Schrager has defied the trend by taking a lot of time and charging a lot of money to make one-of-a-kind pool cues. He and his apprentice turn out only about 130 cues a year, some in three weeks, other taking a year.
A basic Schrager goes for $265. The most expensive cue Schrager ever made sold for $7,500. It didn’t turn the owner into Minnesota Fats. “When you go up in price,” Schrager said, “you’re customizing the looks, the gingerbread.” Which means intricate 14K gold and ivory inlays, all painstakingly fitted into the cue’s birds-eye maple butts.
Bob Wallace, owner of Bob’s Billiards in Anaheim, has one of the largest and most expensive collections of custom cues in the country, including models by such cue masters as Paul Mottey and Gus Szamboti. Schrager created a $5,500 beauty for him.
“Schrager,” Wallace said, “makes a great cue.”
Despite his reputation, Schrager is low key, almost blase. The storefront on Magnolia certainly doesn’t pull people off the street with garish neon hawking “World’s Greatest Cue Maker.” There is nothing in the window but a small wood plaque engraved with his name. The address above the door is difficult to read, almost as if Schrager wants to discourage visitors.
Inside the narrow, cluttered shop, a sign warns customers that Schrager isn’t responsible for goods left over 30 days. A price list for cue repairs is tacked to a wall: a new tip is $6, refinishing $60, and the “Schrager joint” is $50. Nowhere is there anything to indicate the possibility of having a custom cue made.
In the work area, Schrager walked among the lathes and band saws, crunching sawdust beneath his feet. Wood was stacked in a corner as if it were awaiting a less glamorous fate in a fireplace. Schrager buys kiln-dried “exotic” wood like coco bola, wenji and purple heart. A hunk of ebony costs him $200 and he buys veneers from France. A tinkerer, he’s always trying to jerry-rig new woodworking equipment as part of “an unending quest to improve the product,” he said.
Schrager pulled out a carton filled with assorted pieces of elephant tusks. “These are hard to get,” he said. “I bought ‘em from an African.” After selecting a piece for a cue, “I slice it like rye bread,” he said.
Schrager didn’t learn cue making by working in a deli, nor did he attend school. He was 44, “drifting,” he said, through life, when he got into the business. After he, his wife, two children and a dog left Chicago in 1962 “like Okies,” he settled in Los Angeles. In 1966, he separated from his wife and got a job selling pool tables in the Valley.
“Somebody came in asking for a new tip for his cue,” Schrager said. When he realized that he could fill a void by repairing cues, Schrager went into business for himself. First, he sought the help of Harvey Martin, a legendary Los Angeles cue maker who died at a few years ago in his 90s. Martin helped him devise a tipping lathe.
“I went to bars looking for business,” Schrager said. “I built up a route, grubbing for 25 cents a tip at 36 or 37 bars and pool rooms. Gradually, I began making cues.”
His hobby of cabinet-making and his mechanically oriented mind enabled him to survive the early years by improvising. “I had no idea what I was doing,” he said. “What I learned was due largely to trial and error.”
His first workshop was in a spare bedroom of his Sherman Oaks apartment. He later moved to a garage behind a fix-it shop on Ventura Blvd. Money barely trickled in for the first seven or eight years, but he was lucky, he said, because his second wife, Pat, “never once told me to get another job or do it part time. This never would have happened without her.”
Perhaps his biggest stroke of fortune occurred in 1973, three years before he moved to North Hollywood. Butera, who lives in Canoga Park, and Schrager were “like brothers,” he said, and Butera used a Schrager cue to win the world title in 1973. “It became an endorsement,” Schrager said. “I hadn’t been able to afford to advertise, and I can only hazard a guess as to how many cues Lou sold for me by winning.”
Schrager always wanted to be a great pool player but didn’t have the ability. His frustrations carried over into his business demeanor, he said, “and I was mean and bitter, but when Lou won the championship, my bitterness faded. I realized I had put in his hands an ‘instrument,’ and that was very satisfying.”
Schrager went to the back of his shop and picked out a 17-inch block of his best birds-eye maple, which had been aged three years. It was hard to imagine that from a unimposing piece of wood he could sculpt the butt of a tapered, polished pool cue, perfectly balanced, unique in its design. Schrager bounced the block on the concrete floor to test its character. He calls it “ringing the butt,” and only 7 of 100 pieces meet his standards.
“I rely on sight, then sound,” he said. “Every piece of wood is different, even if it’s cut from the same board, just like kids in the same family will be different. Every once in a while I luck out and make a super cue that literally plays by itself. It’s not the jointing or the adhesive procedure that will do that--it’s the actual piece of wood.”
Schrager usually uses Irish linen or pigskin to wrap the butt where the player places his back hand. He makes the cue shafts from Canadian maple and provides the buyer with two. Even though the shafts will be identical in size, weight and balance, he said, “One will be favored because it feels better.”
Schrager’s apprentice, Tim Padgett, 25, has been working for him for two years and probably will take over the business when he retires. Schrager scrutines Padgett’s work carefully, rejecting pieces with even little cracks. Schrager could use wood filler to hide the fissures, and nobody would be the wiser.
“Except me,” Schrager said. “When you buy a cue from me, it goes out with my name on it. The cue lives on, and it’s got to be perfect.”


Playing Cue:
"Runde 14" Alves/Maple/Micarta
Break Cue:
Dufferin Conversion w/Purpleheart shaft
Others:
"Ed Robinson" Birdseye/Ebony MW
"Huebler Mark II" Rosewood/Maple
"Cash Cues" ferruless shaft
  
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04-10-2020, 10:41 AM

I bought my bar box cue from him in 1978 for $150, one shaft. I recently gave it to my son.
  
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04-10-2020, 10:52 AM

Bert made decent cues and some of his cues turned up in some great players hands ALA Lou Butera. Actually Bert mentored some great soon to be cuemakers such as Jerry McWorter and Tim Padget.
  
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04-10-2020, 12:15 PM

true story

i had been visiting with bert in his california shop
we went out to lunch at a little old fashion diner

Family diner

As we were leaving a little kid,perhaps 10 yars old came up to Bert and asked him
"are you santa clause ?'

It was around dec25 ,and this might give you an idea what bert looked like
  
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04-10-2020, 12:22 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by deanoc View Post
true story

i had been visiting with bert in his california shop
we went out to lunch at a little old fashion diner

Family diner

As we were leaving a little kid,perhaps 10 yars old came up to Bert and asked him
"are you santa clause ?'

It was around dec25 ,and this might give you an idea what bert looked like
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-06cCAuAak&app=desktop
In case you missed it .
  
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04-10-2020, 12:36 PM

had a Bert Schrager and sent it back to him to get the cork wrap replaced. Never saw that cue again.

He said he moved his shop to Bakersfield or some place and he would find it. Never happened.

He stopped returning my calls until I left a message I was flying to Bakersfield on Friday, and I"m going to add $300 for the flight to the amount he owes me, but we'll discuss when I get there at 3pm on Friday.

He called me back and sent me a new cue. Nothing like what I had, he sent me a plain jane cue, with a 14mm shaft. I sold it for $400 and called it a day. I think I only paid $400 for the cue I "lost" but I know it was worth twice that much when it went missing. Probably worth 5 times that now

No hard feelings, stuff happens, i came out even enough. But, it was a cool cue, it had the "xmas" tree inlays on the butt with a cork wrap. Been looking for it to turn up for sale somewhere just so I could buy it back regardless of the price. But, nothing.

Oh well.
  
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04-10-2020, 03:20 PM

I had a Schreger I purchase from Burt in when his shop was in Studio City, CA. Remember it was on Ventura Boulvard, behind a "fix-it shop". Mine also has a cork wrap, over time the cork got funky.

I spoke to Bert a few times after he move to Lake Isabella, CA. He offer to replace the Cork for old times sake, knew Burt was struggling at the time. I decide to keep the Cue original, sold it years later too a collector.

Think I did well on the sale as Cue with Two Shafts cost me like $75.00 in 1972. Would have done better had I put the $75.00 in a money marker, but the Cue played very well.


“Pool is geometry, in its most challenging form, the science of precise angles, and forces" - Quote from: A Game of Pool, The Twilight Zone 1961 Television Show.
  
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