Why buy a custom cue over a national brand?

mrpiper

Registered
I am genuinely curious what the advantage is. I confess I have never owned or played with an individually made custom cue by a reputable individual maker.

Just to use Viking and McDermott as examples, I can choose the shaft taper, shaft material, diameter, length, and tip. On the butt, I can choose from many different inlay designs, and can specify stain, inlay material, and color, wrap or wrapless, and if wrapped, I can choose many styles of linen, or leather, or stamped leather, or even an exotic material in the color of my choice. I can choose what type of joint I want between the butt and the shaft. I can choose the weight, the butt cap color, and even have my name scripted on the butt if I so choose. For a national brand with a solid warranty, that seems like a LOT of customization to me, and at what appears to be a fraction of the cost of a cue made by an individual maker.

This question came from my recent experience with my favorite cue. I own a Meucci 97-11, a McDermott, a Lucasi, and a Viking F50. All of these are medium to high end for the respective maker. My viking F50 is my go to, personal favorite cue. I have enjoyed it for about 17 years. Recently one of the two shafts seemed to be warped a little. I called Viking and they took it in for repair under their Lifetime Warranty at no charge, and even paid the shipping back to me. I realize that companies come and go, and even Viking went silent for a little while and made a comeback, but if a custom cue maker retires or is no longer able to repair a cue, it just seems buying from a national brand that has a lifetime warranty backed by a company that may remain for many decades makes more sense.

Custom cues can certainly be more personal I suppose. They MAY be more carefully made. I totally want to support small business whenever I can. Still, a custom cue is significantly more expensive, may be difficult or in some cases, impossible to get warranty repair for, and the major American made brands offer a tremendous amount of customization in building a cue just the way you like it.

Other than collectability, what, if any, is the advantage? I can't imagine that a custom made cue could actually change the game for a player to a large extent. Certainly not as much as lessons and practice.

What are the thoughts of those here who have played quite a bit with both?
 

CocoboloCowboy

Cowboys are my heros.
Silver Member
Custom is like you have more control over.

Woods.

Inlays.

Wrap choice.

Tips.

Balance point.

Shaft taper.

list is long, or you buy a McDermott or X Brand less choices
 

chenjy9

Active member
What is a national brand? Going by your examples, I assume that you are talking about production brands meaning companies that churn hundreds if not thousands of cues at a time. Would that be an accurate assumption?

In my humble opinion, it all depends on what your expectations are and what you are trying to get out of a cue. Strictly from a performance standpoint, there is very little difference as long as both are correctly made. When I say correctly made, I mean the cue is straight and the tip is rounded and holds chalk. A $70 McDermott Lucky can pot balls just as accurately as a $400 Meucci or $4000 Southwest provided all three cues meet those requirements. This is where we get to the crux of things however; if they are correctly made.

The primary difference between a production cue and custom cue IMO is quality control. When a production cue company churns out hundreds of cues in say a month, they are usually utilizing an assembly line process and batch sample testing for quality control. A custom cue maker is usually just by themselves or part of a small team of 2 or 3 and therefore can assure quality every step of the way. From a time invested perspective, we are on opposite spectrums here.

Then we have the discussion about uniqueness. Just like a custom tailored suit or custom made furniture, you are buying something made just for you. This isn't ordering from a bulk shipment or picking the best cue off a rack. This is a cue that from start to finish, was made for you and you specifically. Take my custom Sneaky Pete from Jerry Powers (Jerico); while he has made a few ebony / curly maple SPs already, this one is mine and mine only. It started out as a blank until I put in my order. He turned it based on my personal preferences. Unless someone copies every one of my decisions, they will not be able to buy another SP from him and have it exactly the same.

The point about uniqueness becomes even more prevalent when we start incorporating design. I have asked Chris Nitti to make a truly custom cue for me. It will take probably over 18 months and we talked multiple times over the phone and I have emailed him various basic design ideas for him to get started on. When he is done and I have it in my hands, it will will be a true 1 of 1 cue. Something like this is now functional art and will be something I can give to my future kids or nephews/nieces as a heirloom along with my Mezz as a normal player.

TLDR
With a custom cue, you get the highest of quality control with each step in making the cue, your own personal preferences for literally everything, and the ability to own something truly one of a kind.
 

CocoboloCowboy

Cowboys are my heros.
Silver Member
“TLDR
With a custom cue, you get the highest of quality control with each step in making the cue, your own personal preferences for literally everything, and the ability to own something truly one of a kind.”

Quality control is an interesting comment. Some Custom Carmakers are ROCK SOLID, other are let’s say inconsistent.
 

Joe P.

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
It's nice knowing that when I walk into a tournament, poolhall, etc that nobody else has the identical cue. Mine is unique, I got to help design it. Have a friend who was extremely proud of the high dollar production cue he bought. And it's a beautiful cue. He was proud because nobody in our area had that same cue. We went to a tournament and there was 5 or 6 shooters with the same exact cue. I'll never have to feel how he did when that happened
 

NathanDetroit

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
All that said about custom cues, you have to admit that some just won't play. And, on the other hand, most will perform above my ability.

I buy good production cues and shafts to upgrade my equipment as my skill improves. At 70 years of age and five years playing, ain't never gonna need a 'buschka.
 

HawaiianEye

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
It's nice knowing that when I walk into a tournament, poolhall, etc that nobody else has the identical cue. Mine is unique, I got to help design it. Have a friend who was extremely proud of the high dollar production cue he bought. And it's a beautiful cue. He was proud because nobody in our area had that same cue. We went to a tournament and there was 5 or 6 shooters with the same exact cue. I'll never have to feel how he did when that happened

If he whipped everybody’s ass with that cue he wouldn’t have had to feel like he did.

Did you win with your cue?
 
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Nyquil

Active member
I have only had one custom and that was a A/C. It was a stunner and hit rock solid. I ended up selling it to pay for some billiard chairs. I now have a Predator sneaky with revo shaft. I will say I miss the rock solid hit of the A/C and there was no vibration but I really like how slick the revo shaft is and ease of maintenance. I also found out I like a slimmer taper by playing with Revo (something I would spec out in a custom if I ever go that route again). Production cues can play just as good imo but if you know exactly what you want in terms of looks, specs, and are willing to wait awhile, custom can be a good option. Customs usually hold their value well if you buy from one of the well sought after makers. I like Predators on the production side due to them also holding their value well and they sell quick if you buy their limited run items. Just buy what you want. It's not the arrow it's the Indian anyway.
 

Bavafongoul

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
With a custom cue made by a reliable top notch cue maker you are able to know that the cue was made exactly to your specs. I’ll give you an example. I ordered a cue to be made with a butt weighing 14.5 ozs., fancy ringwork and non-ivory butt & bumper without any weight bolt whatsoever and the butt was cored to accept headless weight bolts.

That is not an easy task and the cue maker made the butt weighing 14.55 ozs. The shafts were to be 13 mm & 12.85 mm, had to weigh min. of 4.0 ozs or heavier, plus there isn’t any brass receiver since the joint is flat faced. The taper length was 15-16”, the ferrules are 1” ivory and the shaft collars used the same fancy rings just like the butt. Both of the shafts turned out exactly as I ordered. The culmination was the flawless finish and elaborate intricate workmanship.

There are very few cue makers that would tackle a build like this and commit to the specs I presented. That’s what you
get from a quality custom cue maker. There was special CNC programming required for the design and the Pau Lau
abalone kept cracking and chipping so there was painstaking workmanship involved. Every ring uses 16 alternating
dots and diamonds of abalone with 8 ivory stitches above and below (16 per ring) and the butt uses 4 rings and both
shafts have identical collars. This was a difficult design that was executed flawlessly and that’s what you can expect.

Here’s some examples of a few of my custom cue designs. You just won’t get this type quality without a great deal of hands on involvement by the cue maker who invests lots of hours making this come together and it is worth every blessed cent.
 

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Poolplaya9

Tellin' it like it is...
Silver Member
I am genuinely curious what the advantage is. I confess I have never owned or played with an individually made custom cue by a reputable individual maker.
You are going to get a lot of answers, but I'm going to give you the truth. There is no objective difference between the group that gets called "custom" and the group that gets called "production". None. For every definition you can come up with for "custom cue maker", there are a number of cue makers who are commonly called production cue makers that meet those exact same definitions. For every definition of "production cue maker" you can come up with, there are a number of cue makers who are commonly called custom cue makers who meet those exact same definitions.

Maybe 50 years ago there was some objective difference (it seems they were mostly categorized based on their production numbers back then but that isn't so much the case any more), but these days it is about market prestige. Cues/cue makers that the market has deemed more prestigious/desirable, for whatever the reasons, are called custom cues. Cues/cue makers that the market has deemed less prestigious/desirable, for whatever the reasons, are called production cues.
 
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straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Custom is like you have more control over.

Woods.

Inlays.

Wrap choice.

Tips.

Balance point.

Shaft taper.

list is long, or you buy a McDermott or X Brand less choices

Stuff I know or care little about except maybe taper and inlays. Long slim taper and no inlays.
 

336Robin

Multiverse Operative
Gold Member
Silver Member
I got a great custom cue and 2 shafts set up with long pro taper--used for $400 and it plays great.

I got to see it, hold it, play with it before I bought it and I have something that is well known to be
a great cue. I got a lot in that custom cue. I'm still playing with it. Great Cue.
 
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