What’s on your cue?

The question, “What’s On Your Cue”?, is a quote from Kamui Tips, USA…..but it is an excellent question, one that every reasonable proficient pool player should be able to answer.  Why should you be able to answer this question?  It means that you know why your cue performs the way it does.  If you need to change the feel of the hit, how do you accomplish that?

First, knowing what you have as far as a tip and particularily, a ferrule, will be information to give a cue repairman, such as myself, to help us tailor the hit differently (or same, if you like all the ways the cue hits presently).

If you have not had a tip or ferrule replaced, and your shaft is from a production cue brand such as Predator, Lucasi, CueTec, Viking or McDermott, then a repairman should be able to tell you what tip/ ferrule combination you have.  With this information, the repairman can recommend a ferrule, tip or combination of the 2, to give the cue a softer hit, a harder hit, a higher action or lower deflection.  Knowledgable repairmen will carry a larger supply of all major ferrule material and in rod form, to allow for complete customization of the ferrule and thus, the feel of the hit.  A thru ferrule has a hit that is evident when you hit the cueball (more feel) whereas, a capped and threaded ferrule will produce a harder, more firm hit.  If you have an implex ferrule (such as Meucci Original) and have a hard tip installed, the ferrule will mushroom and crack, causing the tenon to split, the shoulder of the tenon at the shaft to crack or mushroom.  The implex and other softer ferrule materials, such as, Juma, PVC are the worst for hard tips and will not last as a breaking cue ferrule.  They will deflect and not hold up to the hard hit! 

What’s good for a break cue?  Must be a reinforced material such as, LBM (linen-based Melamine) or Ivorine III or Ivorine IV.  Another hard and acceptable ferrule material is linen-based Phonelic.  It is also used widely in custom cues by American Cuemakers….a mark of higher quality.  Applications include butt caps, joint/ shaft collars, and recently, shaft inserts.  You might have heard of a glass and linen material known as G-10 being used as ferrules, tips and especially, joint pins. 

If you play in leagues such as APA, BCAPL, TAP and VNEA, break cues must have an all-leather tip to be legal in National and Regional events eff: 06/2009.  The reason for this rule is that the harder phonelic materials damage the cue ball and are harder on the table cloth, causing burns.  Cue Tip manufacturers, such as Talisman, Moori III, KamuiTips, Samsara (also, a well respected cuemaker) and Tiger Products, produce break/ jump specific tips of single layer leather or laminated (layered) leather.  These tips generall lie within 92-99 hardness range and while a super hard leather, they all hold chalk well, and not damage the cueball.  The composite tips made of Phonelic, G-10, LBF (linen-based fiber) are acceptable for jump shafts because they don’t attain the speed necessary for break shots.  You cannot use a jump cue to break with but you may use a break cue to jump with.

Say you want a soft hitting shaft but want to “save the elephants”, there are several materials acceptable as Ivory substitutes, including Elforyn Ivory and Ageis II.  Since they are softer tips and subject to splitting/ cracking or chipping, it is recommended they be machined as a capped and threaded ferrule and a fiber pad installed between ferrule and tip (usually available in Black or red color).  Pure, legal Ivory is available but it should be unbleached by solvents and left in a natural state.  Otherwise, the Ivory becomes brittle and more at risk of cracking.  You definately don’t want to use a hard tip or even medium hard for an Ivory ferrule or a shaft that is thinner than 12.50 diameter at the ferrule.  One manufacturer, Predator has a shaft model Z2 that has an 11.75 diameter tip w/ a medium Tiger Everest laminated pig leather  but that is also a conical shaped shaft rather than a pro-taper.  Thus, it has a stronger hit the 12.75 diameter Predator shaft w/ a 16″ pro taper.

Many of my customers who have been using a linen phenolic tip/ ferrule combination on their break shaft have gone with my recommendation to change to a hard leather tip for break cues.  I carry all the styles and brands but highly recommend ‘Samsara’ 9 layer pig leather break tip even for a jump shaft.  They are a premium tip and worth twice the $40.00 I charge for the tip/ installation.  Another, less expensive but still strong performer is from Tiger Products.  The Tiger Break/ jump tip has 2 separate types of laminated leather.  lower 1/2 is a harder leather (black) and upper is brown pig leather splits.  This configuration allows for power w/ control.  The tip sells for $35.00 installed and will far outlast and outperform any phenolic tip, as well as IT’S LEGAL IN ALL Leagues, events and venues!