There are four basic sizes to a cue, and each contributes to the overall 'feel':
- Tip Size
- Butt Size
Remember that 99% of cues are mass produced and that they are made to a certain length because that's how the machines are set up. Not because the law states that you must use this length.
We are all different shapes and sizes, so the 'standard' length may not feel comfortable to all of us. Think about buying a pair of trousers - the average leg size may be 32" but what about the rest of us? Either taller or shorter. The principle here is - get what feels comfortable to you.
The average length is around 57"-58" but I have been asked to make cues longer than this. However, I don't recommend going longer because a cue is already quite long and thin and, although it might not sound much, just an extra 1" can make a cue feel much whippier and less solid.
You can easily go much shorter and I have made many cues as short as 53"-54". There is a school of thought that says that a shorter cue feels more compact and helps with a better 'touch' around the pack. But others say they struggle with long pots. I blame the cue action...
Try to keep an open mind and don't listen if someone tries to tell you that your cue is too short. If you like the feel of it then it is right for you. End of story.
As a general guide, some people say that the cue should be around shoulder height. But there are other factors to consider here, mainly your arm length. If you have longer arms than average then your reach will be longer than average, and vice versa. You could be tall but with short arms and so the distance between your bridge and the hand that holds the cue butt will be shorter than 'expected'.
1. Try to stick within the 'standard' lengths, it will be easier/cheaper to find a cue. You can easily adjust the position where you hold the cue butt, or increase/decrease the length of your bridge to suit your body, and get the cue 'feeling' the right length.
2. However, if you really feel you need it different then it is not a problem. You must feel happy with your cue, so have it longer/shorter if that's what you really want.
Like everything else, there are no hard and fast rules here. But there are general guidelines, and it is probably best to stick to them.
Snooker - The most commonly requested size, and my personal preference, is around 9-9.5mm. Not too small and not too big.
9mm is as small as you need to go really, but many players use even smaller tips. However, remember that snooker balls are quite heavy, and the smaller tip you have, the less wood you have, so you will increase the chances of the wood under the ferrule breaking.
Going the other way, 10mm is plenty big enough for those who prefer a 'full size' tip. You can go bigger of course, but I'm not sure there is any benefit.
8-Ball English Pool - 8.5mm is my preference for 8-ball pool, but you can get away with smaller tips because the balls are much smaller and lighter, so there is less strain on the wood under the ferrule.
But you really don't need to go less than 8mm and you are only risking damage over time by going smaller.
9-Ball American Pool - For 9-ball you probably need around 12-13mm because the balls are much larger and heavier so you need a bit of 'meat' at the tip to handle them.
You may get away with a smaller tip in the short term but over time, an 11mm tip is probably as small as you want to go.
1. If you have a good cue action, you can play the full range of shots with virtually any tip size.
2. But if you stick between 9-10mm for snooker, 8-9mm for 8-ball, 12-13mm for 9ball, you won't go far wrong.
The most important factor here is the balance, i.e. how the weight is distributed. A well balanced cue will feel and play better.
As a general rule, cues balanced anywhere between 16"-18" should feel just about right.
Most snooker and pool cues today weigh between 17-19oz, and anywhere in between will be fine. You can go heavier or lighter if you really wish but it's unlikely to be the answer to your problems.
Jointed cues tend to be heavier due to the additional weight of the metal joints, and centre joint cues tend to be balanced well forward, sometimes more than 19", due to the extra weight halfway up the shaft.
Unfortunately, some people tend to focus on the actual measured weight in the eternal quest to improve one's game. In fact, they can be quite obsessed e.g. 'I want exactly 17.6oz'. No you don't, you need to learn how to cue the ball properly...
An ounce is noticeable, but anything less than half an ounce is not really going to be noticed or make much difference to the cue's overall feel.
Also, you can have two identically weighted cues, e.g. both 17oz, and same sizes all over, that will 'feel' and play completely different when playing shots due to the balance being different/wrong. One may be butt heavy and the other may have a forward balance.
So you see, it's not as simple as just choosing a weight, or demanding an exact weight because 'that's how much my mate's weighs and I love that cue'. It's a guide of course, but there are other factors.
Maybe you're one of those who thinks a heavy cue will give you more cue 'power'?
A heavy cue may feel more 'powerful' in your hand, and if you swing a heavy cue as fast as a lighter one, then more force is generated.
Force = mass x acceleration. This is a basic law of Physics.
But this alone will not give you greater cue 'power', and a cue that is too heavy will make 'touch' shots more difficult.
No my friend, improved cue 'power' comes from your cue action, and your cue action is directly affected more by the balance than the actual weight.
1. Like everything else about cues, there is no right or wrong weight.
2. The balance is the most important factor. And this is usually determined by how well the cue has been designed and the quality of materials used.
The butt size is measured across the widest point at the bottom of the cue, i.e. the diameter.
You should consider that the way you grip your cue butt is THE most important factor in achieving cue power and control. You should always grip it lightly, and this is possibly easier to achieve with a slimmer butt, which is probably why players tend to prefer slimmer butts nowadays.
The average size of a mass produced cue is probably around 29.5-30mm. You might think that 0.5 mm does not sound like much but believe me, it feels very different when holding the cue and playing a shot.
I have been asked to make cues thicker than 30mm, and you will find that older one piece cues have fairly thick butts, sometimes as thick as 32mm or 33mm. There's nothing really wrong with that (although I personally hate thicker butts), but it's a fact that most players prefer a slimmer butt these days.
I think that 28mm is about as slim as you need to go but I have made cues with 27mm or less butt sizes.
28mm - 30mm are the sizes I get asked for most, and you should realise that, like the balance point, the butt size can make identically weighted cues 'feel' different. A slimmer butt may 'feel' heavier because the butt of a slim cue is denser than a thicker cue, i.e. the weight per square inch is more. Another physical fact.
Butt Size Summary
1. When you pick up a cue, it should feel immediately comfortable in your hand. If it does not 'feel' right for you, try something a bit different next time.
2. Do not listen to someone else telling you the butt is too fat or too thin. If you like it, you like it. Simple as that.
1. At the end of the day, it's 'all in the mind'. A good player can pick up any well balanced, average sized cue and play reasonably well with it.
2. In time, you will get to know the sizes you feel most comfortable with.
3. If possible, stick to standard sizes because you will have much more choice, and at the end of the day, they are popular because they are proven to 'work'.
Finally, if you really want to improve your game, don't worry so much about sizes but pay attention to how you grip the cue - it is THE key to cueball control and cue 'power'.