Choosing the right material for your pool or snooker cue is an important decision which will impact how you play massively. In this article, I’ll compare wooden, carbon fiber and fiberglass cues so you can decide which is the best option for you.
The Quick Answer
Wooden cues are cheaper than carbon fiber and fiberglass cues and also offer a better “feel” for many beginners. Carbon fiber and fiberglass cues are not prone to warping, unlike wooden cues, and have a lower deflection, which means the player will not need to compensate as much when applying spin.
|Wooden Cues||Carbon Fiber and Fiberglass Cues|
|Lower starting price||Higher starting price|
|More deflection||Lower deflection|
|Will warp if stored improperly||Not prone to warping|
|Feel smoother||Can feel sticky|
|Vibrate more when striking the cue ball||Vibrate less when striking the cue ball|
|Classic appearance||Modern appearance|
What are Cues Made out Of?
Pool and snooker cues are usually made from either maple or ash, however some cues can also be made from carbon fiber and fiberglass which are usually targeted towards more serious players. Here’s a quick overview of each material before we jump into the comparisons.
There are two main types of wood used to make cues: ash and maple. American pool cues are mostly made from maple, whereas ash is used to make English pool and snooker cues. Ash has a more prominent grain compared to the smooth looking appearance of maple which tends to have a much lighter grain.
You can also gain maple cues which have burls to add a more unique finish. Some of the most expensive cues may use rosewood or mahogany instead of maple or ash.
Check out the images below to see the difference in the grain between classic ash and maple cues.
Carbon fiber is also known as graphite fiber, is made from carbon atoms and is a strong and lightweight material. In fact, it’s actually 5x stronger than steel. It is tolerant to heat and chemicals, and will not warp which is one reason why is may be selected over a wooden cue.
Carbon fiber cues are usually either black or grey and will often have some cool design features such as a decorative painted section or decal to add a more modern look.
Carbon Fiber Cues (images link to Amazon)
Fiberglass is made from plastic reinforced with glass fiber. It is durable, stiff and strong and also resistant to warping. Fiberglass is not the same as carbon fiber which is made from carbon atoms instead of glass and plastic. Fiberglass is cheaper and more durable than carbon fiber, however carbon fiber is stiffer and stronger. Fiberglass cues often come in a range of colours.
Fiberglass Cues (images link to Amazon)
Now we know the basics about all three types of cue materials, let’s take a look at the key differences so you can decide which is the best option.
Deflection or “squirt” is the term used to describe what happens when the cue strikes the ball outside the vertical axis to create spin. Carbon fiber and fiberglass cues offer less deflection compared to wooden cues. When a player wants to use spin, they have to compensate for the deflection that occurs which will send the cue ball of course. When a cue has more deflection, the player must compensate more.
Lower-deflection cues mean you don’t need to compensate as much, allowing you to increase the accuracy of your shot. Carbon fiber and fiberglass cues are stiffer which means they offer less deflection compared to wooden cues, which is one reason why some professionals may prefer them. Carbon fiber is stiffer than fiberglass, which means it offers the lowest deflection.
Wooden cues usually offer a superior feel compared to carbon fiber and fiberglass cues. Wooden cues are more flexible which means you can feel the vibrations more when you hit the cue ball. Carbon fiber and fiberglass are very stiff materials, which means they have a deadening effect on the vibrations so they don’t transfer to your hand as well. Carbon fiber is slightly stiffer than fiberglass so will have the least “feel” out of the three materials.
The problem with being less able to feel the vibrations of the shot is that it can be hard to know why a shot was successful or unsuccessful. What I mean here, is that it’s easier to learn when using a wooden cue because it feels more responsive making it easy for your brain to make the connection between how a good and bad shot feels more easily.
It’s worth noting that this difference in feel isn’t massive, but it can make a difference. That’s why carbon fiber and fiberglass cues are not recommended for beginners. It’s also important to note that some players actually prefer the cue to vibrate less, and find that the movement of the cue ball provides them with adequate feedback. A lot of it is down to personal preference.
Another issue with the feel of fiberglass and carbon fiber cues, is that they can feel sticky, meaning your hand will often stick to them if they are slightly sweaty. This again impacts playability and is a complaint some people make when using these types of cues. Wooden cues do not really feel sticky and feel smoother, again giving them a better feeling.
Power and Speed
Since carbon fiber and fiberglass are stronger and stiffer materials than wood, some players find them more powerful. Carbon and fiberglass cues often require less effort to move the cue ball at the same speed than wooden cues, this results in a faster, and hence more powerful shot.
However, there are other factors to consider here as well such as the weight of the cue. Carbon fiber and fiberglass are lighter materials than wood. However, in general, heavier cues will offer more power, so there’s a bit of a debate here as to which type of material will offer the best performance. Check out my article on heavy vs light cues to learn more about the pros and cons.
If you had two cues and both were identical in terms of the tip and weight, but one was made from carbon fiber or fiberglass, and the other from wood, then the carbon fiber/ fiberglass cue would offer better power. Again, since carbon fiber is stiffer and stronger than fiberglass, it would be the most powerful out of the three materials.
Warping and Durability
One of the main advantages of carbon fiber and fiberglass cues compared to wooden cues, is that they are not susceptible to warping. Wood is not resistant to humidity and temperature changes meaning it will contract and expand if there are environmental changes which can cause the cue to warp if stored improperly. Carbon fiber and fiberglass are very resistant to humidity and heat changes.
However, it is worth noting that wooden cues will not warp if you store them properly in a case where they are not exposed to moisture and temperature changes. It’s only if you expose them to the environment where you can run into issues.
Wooden cues tend to look more classic compared to fiberglass and carbon fiber cues which look more modern. Fiber glass and carbon cues often come in unique colours and finishes, and almost always look quite modern. Wooden cues generally have a similar styling, however, you can get some unique looking wooden finishes. Check out the images below (links to Amazon). Keep in mind though that these kind of finishes on a wood cue are usually more expensive (if they aren’t using a decal).
Wooden Cues (all images link to Amazon)
Wooden cues offer the cheapest starting price, followed by fiberglass and finally carbon fiber. Wooden cues range between $30 to over $1000, with good quality cues costing around $100 and upwards. Fiberglass cues range from roughly $40-$200 and carbon fiber cues range from $400-$1000.
Check out this table for some examples of different cue material types of the average prices.
|Lucky Cues by McDermott||Wood||$65|
|Cuetec Avid Era||Wood||$220|
|Cuetec Synergy CT-15K||Carbon Fiber||$400|
|Predator SP2 Revo||Carbon Fiber and Wood||$1050|
Take a look at my guide to how much pool cues cost on average for examples and the differences between cheap and expensive cues.
Which Cues are the Best?
This really depends on your personal preference. Some players simply prefer the look and feel of a wooden cue, and others find that the lower deflection of a carbon fiber or fiberglass cue is more suited to them. If you have a high budget of over $500, then you can choose from any of the three materials. However, if you’ve got less than this to spend, then you’re options are wood or fiberglass.
What should a beginner use?
For beginners, wooden cues are a better option than carbon fiber or fiberglass cues. Wooden cues are affordable, offer a good level of “feeling” and will not warp if they are stored properly. Carbon fiber cues are very expensive so less suitable for beginners and fiberglass cues offer less feeling.
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