Snooker Basics: Buying Your Equipment
This is the first of those articles and is of course geared towards somebody new to the game that wants to get started but doesn't know where. However, some of the information contained may also act a refresher for seasoned players as well.
Buying Snooker Equipment
I am starting with a subject that I have an immense amount of knowledge on.
Buying snooker equipment.
I have owned and operated Billiards Boutique since 2005 so over the years have gained an awful amount of information (my wife would say useless information) on the types of products available.
For many of you that are reading this that are simply starting out in the game perhaps you play a few times a week down at a local club and use whatever items are on hand. This is a great introduction to the game but to take it seriously you need to select items that are personal to you and you can take a bit of pride in.
So, where do we start?
Buying Your Snooker Cue
The most obvious place to start is with the most important purchase you are ever going to make.
Your snooker cue.
Straight away you will realise that it is a complete and utter minefield. There are now so many products on the market that getting the right cue can prove to be a bit tricky. Especially without doing a bit of research.
Let me try and help you out a bit.
Firstly, let's get rid of a myth, there is no 'best snooker cue on the market' the amount of times I have been asked this over the years is ridiculous. I think it comes from people want a quick fix.
There is no quick fix in snooker!
The best snooker cue for you comes down to a number of factors:
- Your budget
- Length requirements
- Tip size requirements
- Weight requirements
- Affinity to a particular wood or design
- Joint position
Whenever I speak with a customer on the phone, via email or live chat the first question I ask is one of budget. You have to buy a snooker where you are comfortable with the price.
Paying more money is not always going to give you a better product.
Less than £70.00
Spending at this level is what I would class as an entry level cue. Characteristics at this price point include but are not limited to:
- Manufactured abroad
- Cheaper materials (lower quality woods, plastic and metal)
- Thinner brass ferrules
- Cheap cue tips
- Designs created by decals rather than real wood inlays
£70.00 - £160.00
The next step up is what I would call a mid-range snooker cue. The additional money spent adds the following characteristics to the cues available:
- Starting to access UK makers
- Better quality woods
- Less use of plastic and metal
- Designs created through inlaid woods
- Machine spliced and some hand spliced cues
- Real ebony, rosewood and ash
£160.00 - £240.00
What we have here are what I class as high-end cues, they will all have similar characteristics to that listed below:
- Much higher grade woods
- Decorative splices on the butt section
- Thicker walled brass ferrules
- Quick-release joints
- Hand spliced
- Some custom elements (Cue Craft)
Here you are in the realms of an ultra high-end snooker cue. The finest cues by Peradon and Cue Craft would appear in this price point plus cues from the best custom cue makers in the world. Traits include:
- Finest possible woods
- Perfect chevrons in the ash
- Hand spliced and crafted
- Exotic wood splices
- Attention to detail
If you have already tried out a number of cues and have an idea of what you want then a custom cue could be your answer.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by purchasing a Cue Craft cue. By creating select designs in advance and by using larger scale production techniques Cue Craft are able to make cues to your specification at the fraction of the cost of other custom makers.
To buy from a maker like Jason Owen can mean a wait of around 6 months for your cue.
What it does give you though is more flexibility on weight, tip size and the length of the cue.
There are three main joint types available.
One Piece cues have no joint but often have a base joint to accept extensions. They give the best feedback on the hit.
Three Quarter Jointed two piece, a two piece cue but with the joint at between 12" and 16" from the butt end. Slightly easier to carry around and by putting the joint in the butt rather than across the ash less of the feedback is lost.
Two Piece cue, centre jointed. These are the most widely sold style of cue, you can get them in sports shops or even Argos. Much easier to carry around but you do lose the feel as the joint goes across the ash.
This is simply down to personal preference and has no bearing on the way a cue will play.
It will look great down the local club and will maybe draw a few eyes if you have a super sexy cue but the design itself will not make you play any better or be any better than a plain ebony cue.
That being said, we all like a bit of 'wood bling', me I like the Olive wood in the Peradon King for example.
So that goes over the main points of buying a snooker cue, now we need to look at something to keep it in.
Protecting Your Investment
Buying a snooker cue is an investment, it is an investment in your game, for your desire to get better on the table. As with any investment you should try and protect as best you can.
To do this you need to buy a cue case.
I am always flabbergasted when a customer spends a lot of money on a cue but either doesn't buy a cue case or opts for something really cheap.
Buy a hard case where you can
Buying a hard cue case like an attache style, an aluminium or leather case will better protect your cue from damage.
You yourself are not likely to damage your cue (unless it is in a fit of rage after missing that match winning black) but damage can happen in transit or by other people within a snooker hall.
Put it away when you are not playing and always try and lay it flat.
These are my only suggestions.
Other Accessories You May Want to Consider
By now you have purchased your perfect cue and you have bought a cue case to keep it in, what now?
There are tons of products on the market that you may want to consider.
A snooker table is a large place to play and from time-to-time you will find certain shots hard to reach.
You can buy cue extensions that will make this easier and stop you from using the bendy long tackle in the club.
Chalk and Cue Tips
You need these!
Chalk will make contact with the cue ball easier and help to eliminate miscues.
I always recommend keeping a small file handy in your pocket or cue case. This will help during a match or practice session to keep the cue tip fresh and will also be there should you need to quickly replace a tip.
A Snooker Ball Set
As players games progress I see more and more of them purchasing a set of snooker balls.
This is simply because club sets are generally terrible, not maintained, dirty, chipped balls are common sadly.
In order to negate this buying a ball set that you alone control can make a huge difference to make improvements in the game.
They also don't have to be majorly expensive if you look after them.
So this brings me to the end of what proved to be a rather long article in the end.
I hope you didn't fall asleep throughout and that you found some interesting and useful points.
Buying snooker equipment can be an absolutely fantastic exercise, it can be exciting and rewarding knowing that the items you are purchasing are there solely to develop your game.
Always try as many cues as you can before purchase, from friends, in shops, clubs wherever you can. It is the only way you will find out what cue is most suited to the way you play. However, something of your own is always going to be better than the cues found in clubs.
If you ever need any hep then simply contact me via the email address or telephone number on this website.