The Great Cue Tip Debate (Part 1)

June 05, 2017 08:41 1 Comment

Black Heart Ox Bridge Cue Tip

Last week [via our newsletter] I promised a series of upcoming articles and today sees the first of them.

I am now kind of settled over in Malaysia so this email has me writing from a new office overlooking the river Sarawak in Kuching (Google it you know you want to). Amazing place with amazing people so far.

Anyway pushing myself firmly back on topic.

Over the years I have had numerous customers ask the question "which is the best cue tip?"

Of itself it is pretty much an impossible question to answer as there are so many variables but over this email and the one reaching your inbox next Wednesday I will attempt to open the great cue tip debate.

Two Different Style of Manufacturing Technique

The market for cue tips is huge, not only in terms of the quantities sold but also in terms of the brands available.

However, whatever the brand there are two main manufacturing techniques. The first one I am going to talk about today.

Pressed Leather Cue Tips

The first style of manufacturing is probably the one you are more familar with. 

Pressed tips are simply that, the leather fibres and sometimes chalk and other abrasive compounds are mixed together and then under high pressure are pressed into the shape of a cue tip.

Some of the most cost effective and familiar brands use this technique.

Elkmaster, Elk-Pro, Blue Diamond, Diamond Plus, Grand and Blue Velvet are the pressed leather tips that we sell at Billiards Boutique but there are other brands available on the market.

Soft, Medium or Hard?

Choosing the density of a tip is quite important but generally comes down to two things. Personal preference and what you want to get out of the cue ball.

A soft tip grips the cue ball for longer on contact therefore, in theory, enabling you to generate more spin on the white.

A softer tip however does tend to lose it's shape quicker and require more maintenance. Because of the maintence and can mean replacing a soft tip more frequently.

In the pressed leather tips we class the following tips as soft:

  • Elkmaster
  • Elk-Pro Soft
  • Grand Soft

A hard tip in comparison will not contact the cue ball for as long. We are only talking milliseconds but it does make a difference.

A hard tip will require less maintenance and will last longer but when playing with extreme amounts of spin can have a tendency to miscue, especially in the hands of a less able cueist!

Hard tips are as follows:

  • Elk-Pro Hard
  • Grand Hard
  • Blue Velvet (these have changed in the last few years and in my opinion now play quite hard, but are our budget brand)

The medium cue tip is probably the most popular choice as it gives the middle ground of playability and longevity. These would be what we class as a medium tip.

  • Brunswick Blue Diamond
  • Buffalo Diamond Plus
  • Grand Medium
  • Elk-Pro Medium

Cue Tip Size

Most cues come in standard ferrule sizes of 8.5mm for English Pool, 9.5mm for Snooker and then 13mm for American Pool.

Finding the half sizes is actually difficult, they are only available from Elkmaster and more recently Elk-Pro. 

In my opinion though it is much easier to fit an oversize cue tip as it means having to be less accurate with the glueing. It just means after the tip has set you need to trim it flush with the ferrule to get the desired result.

Yes, a little bit extra work but much less fiddly!

One other bit of advice is that I recommend using a gel based super glue as it is much more pliable than a standard super glue that can be quite brittle.

Trying it out

As everything in life, the more you can try out the better opinion you are going to have on what you as a player require. Elkmaster and some of the other pressed tips are quite cost effective so if they don't work for you then it isn't the end of the world. However, Elk-Pro are much more expensive and only come as a pack of three.

Elk-Pro tips are a new recipe and pressing technique that enables them to be more consistent than the older style Elkmaster.

If you have any thoughts, opinions or questions then please drop me an email.

Read part 2 on layered cue tips by clicking this link.

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