Here is a brief guide to different types of splicing found on cues and will teach you how to identify cues correctly and judge/price them accordingly.
Useful for the novice but also worth a read for those who think they know it all...
Q: What splicing is best?
A: Any splicing that is done well...
Hand spliced cues are generally considered superior, but that is debatable and depends on how well it was made. Also, it is dangerous, when searching online, to assume that just because two cues may look similar, or are described the same, that they are actually built to similar quality standards.
Many could also be called machine spliced, because there is very little hands on work that goes into them. Machines are employed to do virtually all the work and there are no quality control checks. Not made by craftsman but made by operatives. Made quick, sold cheap.
It should go without saying that cheap mass produced cues are likely to be poor regardless of whether they are 'machine' or 'hand' spliced.
It is the eyes, attention to detail, and most importantly - the hands, that ensure the quality of the cue. The quality has nothing to do with the splicing method, it is the cue maker that determines the quality.
So don't be fooled into thinking you are buying a quality hand made cue just because it says hand spliced.
The butt on a hand spliced cue has four smooth rounded points.
This is achieved by adding four individual splices of butt wood over the lower part of the shaft. This means, although you can't see it, the shaft runs to the very bottom of the cue, albeit in decreasing diameters under the butt wood.
Many people insist that this method produces the best feel in a cue. Without doubt it creates the look favoured by the majority of players.
Essentially, hand splicing is a simple task, but it is much harder to get the splice points even. Not just at the top, but at the bottom too. Playability wise, this makes no difference of course, but if you're paying top dollar, you should be getting a level of accuracy that is faultless.
Personally, I have always paid great attention to this build feature but if you look carefully at any number of other big name cuemakers, you will quickly spot that corners are cut in this department.
It takes tremendous skill and a lot of time to do this correctly, and this is why you will always find that a top quality hand spliced cue costs much more than a machine spliced cue.
However, you can also find cheap hand spliced cues, but invariably the quality of the splicing is poor. You are far better off buying a well made machine spliced cue rather than a poor quality hand spliced cue.
Butterfly splicing produces two points, or 'wings', and these have a rounded appearance at the tops of the splices similar to a traditional hand spliced cue.
This type of cue is made slightly differently in that it comprises a solid butt, into which the shaft is 'set', and only runs to the point you see at the bottom of the butterfly splice. Put simply, the shaft does not run the whole length of the cue but stops where it meets the butt wood.
If this is done well, a very nice looking cue can be produced, and there are some very expensive butterfly splice cues out there. But it's not easy to do well
The benefits of this style are:
- Butterfly splicing has rounded points similar to a full four point hand spliced cue
- It is easier to make than a 'full' hand spliced cue, so is usually cheaper.
Like all other cues, if made well, and with good materials, a butterfly spliced cue is a good cue.
Machine spliced cues have four sharp points where the butt meets the shaft.
Although easier to produce, machine splicing does not mean that wood is put in a machine and pops out the other end as a cue. There is still work to be done...
A machine spliced cue is made by taking a solid piece of wood for the butt and sticking it to the shaft by cutting an interlocking shape in both shaft and butt and pushing them together with glue.
Similar to a butterfly spliced cue, this means that the shaft wood makes up about ? of the cue, and the solid butt makes up the last ?.
It is relatively easy to manufacture this type of cue which is why this style is far and away the most common type you will see in clubs, shops etc..
Most are low quality mass produced imports, but a well made machine spliced cue can still be a very good cue and should not be dismissed lightly.
There is one last type of butt out there - 'painted'!
These cues are usually made to look like genuine hand spliced ebony cues by the process of simply spraying black paint over a template giving the impression of being hand made. Or they have 'decals' printed on to appear like they have genuine additional splices.
Generally cheap, they may appear to be very good value but be aware of what you are buying. I have lost count of the number of people who have found that the paint has chipped off leaving unsightly white wood or undercoat underneath.
Please note that I am not criticising these cues for their playability, I am just making you aware of what they really are. Personally, I would steer well clear.
The cue below is a strange one because it is actually hand spliced underneath the black painted splices at the top. But the quality of splicing hidden underneath this paint/thick lacquer is very poor, so I can only assume the manufacturer chose to paint further up the cue to make it look better than it really is. Bit naughty really...
- The actual method of splicing does not necessarily make one cue better than another
- However, the standards of craftsmanship, and quality of materials, do