The tip on your shooting shafts gets worn away little by little. Every time you apply chalk (especially if you do so viciously), there is a gradually wearing away of the tip material. This is also the continuous tip reshaping and roughing with various tip tools. When the tip edge wears down to a narrow side band of a millimeter or so above the ferrule, the tip should be replaced. The tip can also be replaced at whim.
If you want to experiment with several tips, it's not that difficult to pop one tip off, prepare the surface of the ferrule and glue another tip on. A few serious players have tried out a dozen or more tips over a month to check out and select a tip that has the proper personal feel. If you want to do this, purchase several different tips to test. Place each one on your shaft and play with it for a week or two. Then repeat with another tip. Over a couple of months you should find one that you like. Put it on and proceed with your playing career.
After the tip is installed, shape into the nickel or dime curve that you prefer. In a couple of weeks, a softer tip will spread out over the edges of the ferrule. Trim it and do any necessary reshaping as soon as you notice it. It will take a month or two for a medium tip to show signs of spreading. A hard tip may spread slightly over the first month or two. To trim a mushroom (however small), there are several cue tip tools that can do the job.
Replacing your own tip does take some practice in order to get the tip properly centered. If the tip is oversized, it will need to be trimmed down even with the ferrule. If you change tips only once every year or so, get the mid-priced tools. If you change tips regularly to try out new models, it is worthwhile to get the more expensive tools.
At the pool hall, there is usually someone who handles all the tip replacements for the regulars. This individual is an excellent source of information on tips both good and bad. Also talk with the regulars. Their decades of experience can provide many ideas and suggestions on various tips.
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