One pool cue might cost you $25. A different cue could cost over $1,000. Is it really worth it to invest in more expensive pool cues?
In a word, Yes, expensive pool cues have some benefits.
However, you have to consider that diminishing returns come into play.
Investing $1,500 instead of $500 might not get you as much extra benefit compared to paying $500 instead of $25. Actually, paying over $1,000 per cue is collectible territory.
Let’s explore everything you need to know about finding the pool cue that works best for your specific needs.
Why Are Pool Cues So Expensive?
Many factors exist when looking at expensive pool cues. The first is the material used during manufacturing.
Cue manufacturers use exotic and fine woods when making high-end cues. Your wrap, tip, ferrules, and shaft will increase in quality as the price goes up.
More expensive pool cues get treated with special coatings to protect against environmental changes that cause warping. This is often a consideration if you plan to travel with your pool cues.
Cheaper cues don’t benefit from the best materials. This means they aren’t as durable. They won’t last as long and you’ll need to pay for a new one more frequently.
Also read: 10 Most Expensive Pool Cues in the World
Factors That Affect Pool Cue Pricing
You need to consider the following aspects of pool cue construction when deciding to purchase your next stick:
- Cue tip construction
- Cue ferrule quality
- Cue shaft construction
- Butt design
- Wrap materials
Cue tips vary in their range from softness to hardness based on the type of leather used. The first thing you need to find out is whether you like playing with a soft or hard cue tip.
Visit a bar and check out a few different stock cues or ask a pool-playing friend to try out their cues.
Most people choose something in the medium range, but you must discover your preference for yourself.
As you go up in price range, you’ll discover that a more high-end leather works its way into the more expensive cues.
Cheaper cues affect your game because a poorly constructed cue tip impacts how energy transfers down the shaft’s length.
Ferrules sit between the tip and cue shaft. They’re typically made from impact-resistant resin or carbon fiber. Ferrules protect the wood.
You can expect that a higher-quality ferrule will help a more expensive pool cue last longer.
Low-Deflection vs. Standard Shafts
Bringing up low-deflection shafts means there’s probably an argument around the corner. Some players love low-deflection shafts. Others argue vigorously in favor of standard shafts.
Choose the option you like best. You’ll discover that manufacturers typically use maple wood to construct both kinds of shafts.
While others debate the validity of low-deflection shafts, you should know that they’re usually found on higher-end cues.
Similar to soft or hard tips, try each and decide which you like best before making your purchase.
It’s interesting to point out that many professional pool players use low-deflection shafts today. Take that for what it’s worth as you work to improve your own game.
Cue Shaft Wood
Hard rock maple is most often used to construct cue shafts. This type of wood offers excellent strength and longevity.
Woodgrain and color affect cost. You need to consider how the manufacturer treated and stained the cue you’re thinking about purchasing.
In a nutshell, you’ll see cue costs rise as the wood preparation becomes more elaborate.
Cue Butt Design and Wrap Materials
The construction and quality of your tip and ferrule help to determine your pool-playing performance.
It’s the butt where everyone’s eyes go, however. Butt design affects your image and causes interesting conversations during games.
You’ll find that cue costs go higher based on how colorful and intricate manufacturers make their butt designs.
More expensive cues use artistic designs and exotic materials on the butt. You might even find some collectible cues with diamond butt inlays.
Fancy butt metals or colors round out some of the reasons one cue comes in as more expensive than another.
Inlays and overlays play into the cost as well. Cheaper cues commonly use butt overlays, where the design lays over the wood.
More expensive cue sticks use inlays for butt design. The designs get laid into the butt’s finish. Hand-crafted inlays are commonly used for the most expensive cue shafts.
Exotic inlays might increase costs, but they also benefit you with better aesthetics. Some materials used for inlays include:
- Blue denim
- Sapphire blue
- Pink Asian coral
Let’s now consider varying price ranges and how to decide what to buy.
Beginner Pool Cues ($25 to $150)
You can buy a starter cue for anywhere from $25 to $150. You won’t get anything special. You’ll find mass-produced models that don’t use the best materials.
You’ll get graphite or cheap woods for the shaft. Your butt will come with stickers instead of fancy inlays.
You can expect a beginner pool cue in this price range to warp at some point. This is because they don’t benefit from the best treatments.
Manufacturers generally use cheap leather for the tip.
Intermediate Pool Cues ($150 to $300)
Expect to pay $150 to $300 for this class of cue sticks. They’re still generally mass-produced. However, you’ll find higher wood grades.
Most intermediate cues come with overlays. Others do add in more intricate inlays.
You’ll find Japanese pigskin tips here instead of cheap leather.
Entry-Level Custom Pool Cues ($300 to $500)
Next up is the $300 to $500 price range. The design takes a big upswing in this cue class.
Shaft construction gets better with improved joint and pin standards.
You should find that you get a marked improvement in your game when entering this price range of cues.
Mid-Range Custom Pool Cues ($500 to $1000)
Now you’re into the price range of $500 to $1,000.
Manufacturers use some of the best technology and materials when constructing these high-end cues.
Three brands to look at are:
Low-deflection shafts make up the majority of shaft construction in this price range.
You’ll discover excellent butt design and high-quality tip, ferrule, and shaft construction when investing here.
Collectible Pool Cues ($1000+)
Don’t be surprised if you need to put your name on a waiting list before delivery of a pool cue that costs more than $1,000.
You’re now paying to gain access to some of the best manufacturers that place more time and attention on crafting only the best cues.
Makers choose the most top-notch materials to create pool cues in this price range.
Don’t expect to find the most playable cues if you go up to $5,000 or more. They’re made more for collecting, pleasing the eye, and hanging on the wall.
Think like an art collector when paying this much for a pool cue.
Also read: 10 Different Types of Pool Cues
Does a More Expensive Cue Make You a Better Player?
Many players wonder if a high-end cue helps improve their game.
Better craftsmanship and higher-quality material can help a player. However, a highly-skilled player will typically beat you with a stock cue even if you’re playing with a mid-range custom cue.
Make your final decision based on how the cue feels in your hands.
You can play well and improve your skills while playing with a $90 pool cue.
Is the $400 or $600 pool cue better than that $90 cue? Yes, of course.
It’s made from better wood, a well-constructed tip, helps achieve better balance and control, and improves overall playability.
Also read: What are Pool Cues Made Of?
Summarizing Cue Cost Factors That Justify Spending More
Consider the following as you make your next cue-buying decision:
Cue tip construction: Two big factors to keep in mind are softness vs. hardness and materials used. You’ll achieve better accuracy and more effectively protect the shaft with high-end tips made from the best leather.
Cue ferrule construction: Buy a higher-end cue when you’re concerned about longevity. A better ferrule means improved impact insulation. Your cue shaft won’t warp as easily and will last longer when choosing better cue ferrule construction.
Cue shaft construction: You’ll get a low-deflection shaft when purchasing in the higher range. You’ll also get better wood materials that last longer and stay more resistant to warping.
Butt design and wrap materials: Investing in higher-end pool cues brings with it more exotic inlays and custom design features that might make the difference for you. Leather wraps help with longevity better than the nylon used on cheaper cues.
Pool Cue Price Recap
We gave you the five pricing categories above. Let’s break it down more simply by wrapping up with three categories.
- $50 to $500 price range: Start here when you’re a beginner. Choose a nice cue that fits your budget and work hard to improve your game.
- $500 to $1,000 price range: Invest here when you’ve become more serious about playing pool.
- $1,000+ price range: Move into this range only if you want to become a collector.
Take what you learned in this article and put it to good use.
Figure out your budget to know which price range you fit into. Next, try three to five cues in that range to see how they feel in your hands.
Make your decision, purchase your favorite, and go have fun playing pool!
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