When choosing a cue for pool or snooker, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want a one-piece or a two-piece cue. In this article, I’ll take you through the pros and cons of each type of cue, so you can decide which is the best option for you.
One piece and 3/4 jointed cues are the most popular compared to 1/2 jointed and three-piece cues in pool and snooker. One piece cues offer the best feeling to the shot, but are more difficult to transport and store. Two piece 3/4 jointed cues are more portable but still offer a good level of feeling.
Types of Cue
Pool and snooker cues can either come in a single piece, or be split down into pieces. There are 4 main types of cue:
- One Piece Cue: make from a single piece of wood with no joint.
- 3/4 Jointed Two Piece Cue: made from two pieces of wood which are joined together at the 3/4 point closest to the butt.
- 1/2 Jointed Two Piece Cue: made from two pieces of wood which are joined together at the center of the cue.
- Three Piece: make from three pieces of wood which are joined at the center point and the 3/4 point closest to the butt.
Two and three piece cues have a joint, which allows you to screw the pieces together so they are flush with one another. The joint can either be made from wood, plastic or stainless steel.
The only other type of cue is a three-piece cue which is essentially an extended one or two piece cue. This is when the very end of the butt can be un-screwed and then an extension can be screwed into the end to make it longer. However, usually the extension is purchased separately and this can be done to many cues (one and two piece) so I won’t go into this much here.
The 3/4 jointed two-piece cue is the most common, followed by the one piece cue. The 1/2 jointed two piece cue is quite rare in American pool but slightly more common in English pool and snooker. The three piece cue is also quite rare in all three types of games.
Portability and Storage
The main advantage of two and three piece cues over one piece cues is that they can be transported more easily. Since these cues can be broken down into smaller sections, they can be stored in smaller cases which take up less room and are much easier to carry or fit in a vehicle.
If you are going to be taking your cue out of the home, then it’s highly recommended that you get a two or three piece cue instead of a one piece cue which can be difficult to transport.
When comparing 1/2 jointed, 3/4 jointed and 3 piece cues, the best for portability are the 3 piece and 1/2 jointed cues because their longest piece is only half the total length of the cue so they are more portable than the 3/4 jointed cues.
Here’s a quick guide to the length of the longest piece of each type of cue when broken down and the dimensions of the case you’ll need. The measurements are for a standard 57″ cue. Full-length English pool and snooker cues are 57″ in length, and full-length American pool cues are 58″.
|Length||One Piece Cue||¾ Jointed Cue||½ Jointed or Three Piece Cue|
|Longest Piece of the Cue||57”||36”||29”|
Note: the longest piece of the 3/4 jointed cue is usually a bit less than 3/4 of the total length of the cue as you’d expect this to be around 42.75″. Also, the two piece 1/2 jointed and 3 piece cues usually don’t join exactly in the center.
Feeling the Shot
The main advantage of the one piece cues over two and three piece cues, are that they allow you to feel the shot more. Being constructed from a single piece of wood, there is less energy loss so you can feel the impact of the cue tip hitting the ball more.
This is why many players prefer to play with a one piece cue as it is more responsive and allows them to feel when a shot has gone poorly or well. This feedback is useful at the top level.
Two and three piece cues have some loss of energy transfer from the cue tip to the players hand which occurs at the joints. This means that they tend to offer less “feeling”.
Three-piece cues are the most guilty of this. Two piece 1/2 jointed cues generally offer less feeling than the 3/4 jointed cues as the center joint will take more of the impact compared to the 3/4 joint.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that this impact is pretty minimal, and most players will be perfectly happy with the feeling of a two or three piece cue. It’s only at high level where a player will notice much of a difference.
Joint Quality Matters
It’s also important to note that there are different types of joints available, and some are very good at preventing this loss of feeling. Stainless-steel and wood joints are usually the best at this, but some high-end cues also use a “high-impact plastic” which is better than ABS plastic joints found on cheaper cues.
The more expensive the cue is, the likely the joint material will be better and the fit. The tighter the joint is when you screw the pieces together, the better the feeling of the cue will be.
One big advantage that three-piece cues have over two piece cues is that they often can be used to shorten the overall length of the cue.
Most cues are 57″ or 58″ in length, which is considered the full-size for English pool/ snooker and American pool respectively. However, for smaller spaces or younger players, a smaller cue may be required.
Three-piece cues can essentially be shortened by removing the middle section and screwing the two end sections together to make a 48″ cue. This isn’t the case for every single three-piece cue, but it is for most of them.
If you know that players of different heights may be using the cue, this is a useful feature to have.
Is There a Price Difference?
Regardless of the type of cue, the price is generally quite similar, so you won’t need to pay a premium for one or two piece cues. On average, pool cues cost around $200, but anything over $100 is usually good quality. Steer clear of ABS jointed cues, screw-in cue tips and front-weighted cues and you’re likely to get a decent one.
Check out my guide to the cost of pool and snooker cues to learn why some are more expensive than others, and how much you can expect to pay to get the ideal cue for you.
What do the Professionals Use?
Most professional American and International World Pool players use 3/4 jointed two-piece cues, however, most snooker players use one-piece cues. Professional English pool players use a mix of either one-piece or 3/4 jointed cues.
Professional American Pool Players:
- Albin Ouschan: 3/4 jointed two-piece cue
- David Alcaide: 3/4 jointed two-piece cue
- Shane van Boening: 3/4 jointed two-piece cue
- Naoyuki Oi: 3/4 jointed two-piece cue
- Eklent Kaci: 3/4 jointed two-piece cue
Professional English Pool Players
- Keith Brewer: one-piece cue
- Liam Stanley: 3/4 jointed two-piece cue
- Lee Smith: 3/4 jointed two-piece cue
- Shaun Chipperfield: one piece cue
Professional Snooker Players:
- Mark Selby: one-piece cue
- Judd Trump: one-piece cue
- Ronnie O’Sullivan: one-piece cue
- Shaun Murphy: one-piece cue
- Neil Robertson: 3/4 jointed two-piece cue
Which Should You Get?
Three-quarter jointed two-piece cues are suitable for most snooker and pool players. They offer a good level of “feeling” to the shot, and are easier to transport than one-piece cues. Most beginners will find that a 3/4 jointed cue is the most suitable, however, they are also used by professionals.
One-piece cues are best for those who are looking for the ultimate level of feeling to each shot, and are not as concerned with transporting the cue. These are often selected for home-use as they can be stored on a rack without the need to split them down or put them in a case to save space.
Two piece 1/2 jointed cues are less popular as they do not offer as much feeling as 3/4 or one piece cues, however they are easier to transport if this is your main concern. Three-piece cues are a good option if you know that players of different heights (adults and younger players) will be using the cue, because you can make it smaller by removing the middle section.
The size of a cue tip impacts several aspects of its performance? Check out my comparison between different cue tip sizes to learn more.
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