Help buying first cue


Hello everybody. First I'd like to say I'm sorry if this post is in the wrong spot. I looked around and couldn't find anything exactly related to noob questions about cues. I'm 33 and have been playing since I was a kid. Several tables in the family. I never played a league until now where a buddy of mine invited me to play in an APA league.

I haven't played in 5 years but I love the game. Went almost immediately to a 6 and got beat back down to a 5. None of my teammates have their own cue so we've been using house cues that you can't even draw with and tonight it finally cost me two games.

I want to get something that's quality, but I'm still new and not sure how serious I'll get. However, a good pool cue is something I know that I can take care of and use for a long time. Went and talked to a shop today and realized I'm in over my head.

What i think I'd like is a 19 or 19.5oz and leaning towards a 12.75mm tip. I think I'd also like something with a soft/soft medium tip which I know can be changed but it would be a plus if it came that way. I don't know brands what so ever though. Can somebody point me in some kind of direction where I can get quality but not spend a ton? Would like to stay well under 200, though i usually find myself the type to spend the extra 25-50 bucks if it means a pretty good feature or something I see as good value. One that I've wondered about is the players hxt15. Anybody know anything about it?

Thank you very much in advance.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
First of all welcome to the forum.
What is really surprising for me that somebody who has been playing since he was a kid having several tables at the family still does not have his own cue.
Well at least I hope you already know your preferences when it comes to what feels good in your hands.
I guess if you want more customization for a very affordable price Schmelke is hard to beat. If you're fine with a standard length and so on then there are some production cues to choose from. The best way is to find a shop (place) where you could hold a cue in your hands or trying at the table is the best possibility. Good luck with your choice.
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Bar Banger, Cue Collector
Silver Member
You aren't going to find much for under $200 that will last a long time. Players is a start off cue when you're learning but if you're a 5-6 speed already you way many a little better cue. If never owned or hit with one but for your price schmelke might be the way to go.


Ooh! This is fun!

For under $200, I'd recommend:

Pure X w/ HXT shaft- low deflection shaft + lifetime warranty. Made in China
Schmelke- customizable + Made in U.S.A.
Pechauer- the JP models are on clearance at Seybert's now. You can get a new one for just over $200. Only knock on them is a proprietary joint. Made in U.S.A.
a used McDermott or Viking

Personally, I'd go w/ one of the 1st 3 options I listed unless you realy like the design on a used McD or Viking.


Tellin' it like it is...
Silver Member
There are a number of things you said that make it clear you are still a developing player, or what would in relative terms be called a "beginner" by the "good" players. No problem, every single player in the world, no matter where their skills and experience are at now, spent time going through that period (and sometimes it lasted for a while!). I only bring that up because it has some influence on what you should or should not do with your first cue purchase, and honestly you are on the right track from what you posted (many aren't, so that's good news!).

First, you don't know what your preferences really are yet, and you will over time almost certainly develop very strong preferences about various things related to what makes a cue the perfect fit for you. Second, although you will start to develop some preferences fairly early one, they will likely change some over time as you get even more skilled and experienced and have had the opportunity to try out a variety of other cues over time. Make sure you do just that at every opportunity, ask to hit with other people's cues when you can because that is one way you will ultimately find out what you like best, but remember your preference can and likely still will change as you get better.

The first thing I would say, and you already concur, is at this point you absolutely don't want to spend a ton of money because of the fact that there is a decent chance your preference is going to change before too terribly long if you stick with it (and you don't even know if you will even stick with it for that matter), plus, depending on the cue, once you spend more than somewhere in the $150-300 ball park range you aren't getting much more quality or performance, you are just starting to pay more for the name and/or for the additional workmanship that goes into the looks. There are plenty of quality options in the $150-300 range if you don't have to have certain names or looks. Don't let somebody convince you that you have to spend substantially more to have a good quality stick, or that only a custom cue will do as it just isn't really true although you may or may not want to do so later for other reasons.

The second thing I would say, since you don't yet know your preferences, is to stick to the specs that the majority find preferable and still find to be within the "usable" limits even in cases where their preferences turn out to be slightly different.

First, go with a 19 ounce cue, give or take a quarter ounce at most. Most players end up preferring a weight right around there, and almost all end up preferring a weight within an ounce of there.

For shaft diameter, 12.75 mm is indeed about a perfect starting point, and would be the diameter most would probably end up close to if low deflection were not a consideration (low deflection requires cutting down the weight near the tip end of the cue, which is typically at least partially accomplished by reducing the shaft diameter, so with the low deflection rage also comes smaller shaft diameters but it wouldn't be most people's preference for diameter otherwise).

Speaking of low deflection shafts, they tend to be substantially more expensive, and I wouldn't worry about them right now until you start to develop stronger preferences and are exposed to more things over time as you try them. Pool was played at the highest levels it can be played at without them for many decades, and still is today. If you find later that you like them, and are going to stay in pool long enough to justify the expense, then feel free to explore them but it isn't necessary at this point.

Get a standard pro taper. It is by far the most popular taper, and even for those whose preferences end up changing a little from that, it isn't usually much.

For a tip, if you have a choice, I would start with a medium. Many end up ultimately preferring that hardness, plus it seems to reduce miscues for newer players than what some of the harder tips will result in. And since you don't know yet what you will like, might as well start with the lower cost ones while experimenting and rule those out first. Triangle tips (it is called a "hard" tip but it really is more like a medium tip) are cheap, good performing, and might have been the most used tip over the past few decades and would be a great one to start with and adjust from there if needed.

Start with a 58" cue. It is ideal for most people and by far the most popular. If you have abnormally long arms you might consider a 60" cue but even for most tall people 58" is most popular.

Most prefer a slightly forward weighted cue that balances at about 19" or so from the butt end if you are able to try them out that way before buying, but this probably isn't a massive consideration right now and most aren't usually too far off from that anyway.

Joints and ferrules won't matter that much right now and/or preferences vary wildly and you just don't know what yours are yet so I wouldn't be real worried about them.

Same with wraps, you just don't know your preference yet. As you have done a lot of playing with house cues, if you already know that you like the wrapless feel that would be a great choice for that reason. If you find wrapless not to be perfect, an Irish linen wrap is by far and away the most popular so I would suggest starting there.

Butt caps are mostly for looks although you definitely want your cue to have a rubber bumper on the butt end to prevent it from damage when it touches the floor.

As for brands, there are quite a few that offer good cues in your general price range and I can't think of many off the top of my head so it would be best to ask here as you consider some, but a few that I can think of that you can get good cues in that price range are Schmelke, McDermott, and Pechauer. Schmelke will even let you customize things to an extent in that price range (they also allow you to leave off their logo if you find that you don't prefer the looks of it).

Texas Carom Club

9ball did to billiards what hiphop did to america
Silver Member
Player sneak Pete will last for ever , and I do mean forever
Has 12.75 with lepro tip and costs 75 bucks or so new
It'll be dead straight 10 yrs after you buy it


It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
Players brand are generally good starter cues as are McDermott lucky. Action brand are alright too. I'd second what has been said, you don't really need low deflection and I wouldn't spend a ton on a first cue. Check your facebook marketplace, craigslist and pawn shops if you don't mind buying a used cue. You can often find a players cue where I live for around $75 with a case. Pretty much anything will treat you better than a house cue with a bad tip.


Get a Valhalla by Viking. They're around $70, play great, and have a lifetime warranty even against warpage. Get a 19oz. You can always add more weight later if needed. The only thing I don't like about them is the tip. I would change it when you buy it if you can. My gf has a medium G2 on hers and it hits great.

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2b || !2b t^ ?
Let me tell you my story. I’ve been playing “for real” for a few years. Life kept me busy with other things so I only played a very small number of times over the years just for fun. A few years ago I was invited to join a league. The hook was set and they reeled me in. Played with a house stick for a while until my dad gave me a Minnesota Fats he didn’t need. Not a great stick, but it was mine and better that a house stick. After playing for a while and realizing pool was not a passing interest I decided it was time to get a real player.
Having zero knowledge and little experience with brands and quality I fell into searching through what was in my price range of around $100. A guy had some sticks he wanted to sell and I thought I could get more bang for the buck. Wrong. I ended up getting a McDermott which was ok, but as a novice (idiot) I basically bought a newer version of what I already had. The guy was nice enough to let me return it though he did charge me a fee to have it re-tipped. Back to square one I started searching again. I found myself looking at Pechauer more than any others. At the time I was scared to spend that much more for a cue. The one I wanted was actually $350 but it had the look I wanted with inlays and such. I know it doesn’t affect the hit or feel. Personally I am drawn to the beauty of the cue as well. So you can get the same great cue for less.
I feel my game began to improve quickly. Part of the improvement was a more quality cue and part of it was the confidence I gained just holding it. I really love my Pechauer and I like the story behind the company which also helped me in my choice.
Be careful though. As a person who thought he couldn’t spend more than $100 for a cue, I now have 3 Pechauer’s.

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AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Check out the Billiardwarehouse jump/break cue ($159):

Note that it comes with free joint protectors. Here's my review of that cue:

I think it's a great cue to play with, break with, and jump with.

Another option is to go to the McDermott website, and look at the various price ranges and see if you can find a cue that you like:

For their less expensive cues, McDermott has a lifetime warranty excluding warpage. The lifetime warranty for their more expensive cues includes replacement if your cue warps. In the description of the cues, I think "overlay" means that it is a sticker. "Inlays" are when the points or designs are made by carving out the butt/shaft and inserting another material. Stickers are considered a sign of a cheap cue, which is why a lot of people are recommending "Sneaky Petes", which are cues with a simple design that look like house cues, but they are two piece cues.

Billiardwarehouse also has a list of cues by price range:

For comparison, if you want to see what custom cues look like, check out:

or check out the For Sale section on azbilliards:
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Kickin' Chicken

Kick Shot Aficionado
Silver Member
A custom cuemaker to consider would be Dave Brainerd of Cues Directly in Oregon. He makes a really fine cue and they are customizable to your preferences and he is a total pleasure to deal with.

I had him make me a custom cue that was going to be my dedicated bar player but then came covid-19 ans so l won't be going to bars anytime soon. A little above your stated price range at $340 shipped but very hard to find any true custom of this quality in this range.

Cue is made of African Blackwood cored with purpleheart, old school brown with black speck linen wrap, very select shaftwood used featuring over 15 rpi straight end to end and some swirly orange acrylic rings for an interesting aesthetic. Cue has a radial pin and shaft has a Triangle tip, all things added together, we ended up with a very crisp, firm hitting cue with excellent balance, great feedback and, imo, a terrific understated look.

Cue weighs 18.5 oz , tip is 12.9 mm, and overall is a standard 58" (a 29/29 even split. This cue is in test hit only condition.

Other suggestions I like that were already made would be Schmelke and the lower end Pechauers that are on clearance. Those two plus Cues Directly like this one I have are all great quality made in USA and exc values.

good luck.

brian kc


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AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
You aren't going to find much for under $200 that will last a long time. Players is a start off cue when you're learning but if you're a 5-6 speed already you way many a little better cue. If never owned or hit with one but for your price schmelke might be the way to go.

I agree. Players or Schmelke for that price. I knew a guy who won mvp of his league with a Players sneaky Pete. For serious games he used a better cue but for the league the $50 Players worked fine and he didn't have to worry about the cue being stolen or damaged.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I knew plenty of SUPERB "A" players who used either house cues, or inexpensive cues.

You can find a nice inexpensive cue, just make sure you like the taper of the shaft AND butt. The Tip. And, the weight.

Then just take care of it, play with it all of the time, and you'll get better and better.

There was a time when one of the best (and at times, THE best) players in Richmond never used a cue worth more than maybe $100. He'd laugh when people mentioned spending all of this money on cues. (Of course, I love nice I GET people wanting beautiful cues - but he ONLY saw the cue as a means to an end. A tool and nothing more)


AzB Platinum Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Plenty of good used cues at that price point.
Just search the for sale section for “inexpensive cues”. :)


Developing cue-addict
Silver Member
Ooh! This is fun!

For under $200, I'd recommend:

Pure X w/ HXT shaft- low deflection shaft + lifetime warranty. Made in China


IMO nothing even comes close for the same price.
You really need to go to $500 ish and get a Mezz to get a significantly better cue then a Pure-X.