The biggest advantage to getting a custom cue is that it is built to your specifications. Here is a list of custom elements that will make a stick unique:
- Balance and weight - the balance can be shifted forward or back as needed. Weights can be embedded into the joint or into the butt of the stick.
- Shape - you can have the butt shaped with turnings per your custom design and pattern.
- Butt wood and shaft wood - you can select from a huge variety of exotic woods, including ebony, tulipwood, cocobolo, birdseye maple, zebrawood, and dozens of others.
- Inlays & rings - these can be made in hundreds of designs in a variety of woods, mother of pearl, turquoise, even silver and gold.
- Points - you can have multiple points of multiple patterns with unique sequences of exotic woods.
- Length - the length can be customized to your height, and the joint placed for a longer or shorter shaft.
- Type and placement of wrap - this can be Irish linen, regular or exotic leather, other material, or no wrap.
- Ferrules - the materials used can be ivory or special fibers in various lengths.
- Tips - there are many different brands of tips of various hardness levels and types (layered or one piece) made from a wide variety of materials.
- Joints - select from any of the several common joints, made from different materials or even a wood-to-wood joint.
With this level of customizable complexity, production cue makers are unable to offer much variety. They can provide a selection of different lines of cues with options, such as different weights, points, and a few design selections. With a custom cue maker, you can get as picky as you want.
To locate a cue maker, talk to several individuals who have custom cues and ask why they selected their maker. Talk about the costs, the flexibility, and turnaround times. If you decide to check out a couple, send them email and ask questions. It doesn't hurt to ask to see any completed cues they may have. You might find something you like. If you are satisfied with the quality work, the next question is to check out the turnaround time. The really good cue makers are usually booked for a couple of years.
You can look for someone who is local (within 50 miles). Even if cue-making is a hobby or part-time, he will take pride in his work. Much of his business will probably be cue repair and tip replacement. But he will have the equipment for manufacturing a custom job for you. Talk with him.
A local maker will be available to fix any problems that comes up, or handle routine maintenance. He will also be able to take a look at your playing styles and make suggestions on specifications.
Mainly, you want a stick you are proud to take out of your case and have others crowding around drooling over various beautiful elements of your prize. With a great stick, you can believe that your game will improve dramatically.
Whoever becomes your cue maker will have an almost fanatic desire to make sticks that reflect their personal sense of craftsmanship. Workmanship and multiple levels of quality control are hallmarks of his work. They will stand behind their work and are always available to fix anything that goes wrong.
You might decide to become a cue collector. You can collect cues based on styles, inlays, exotic woods, cue maker, or any parameters you find acceptable. Depending on your requirements, this can become expensive. But the love of conversing with other collectors and the process of hunting down a specific cue by a specific maker, combined with the bargaining can be an exciting adventure by itself.
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