Activities Sports & Athletics Choosing A Smart Pool Cue Make The Right Moves (And Save Money) Share PINTEREST Email Print Cue materials and weights are vital to good, consistent play. All About Pool Sports & Athletics Billiards Equipment Shots & Strokes Baseball Basketball Bicycling Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cheerleading Cricket Extreme Sports Football Golf Gymnastics Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Swimming & Diving Table Tennis Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Other Activities Learn More By Matthew Sherman Matthew Sherman is an experienced pool and billiards instructor and the author of "Picture Yourself Shooting Pool." our editorial process Matthew Sherman Updated March 08, 2017 Some fine questions today from a reader wanting pool cue advice. How would you answer their questions? Dear Quick Draw, I would like to purchase my second cue stick and I bought my first one at Wal-Mart for under $20. I thought I wouldn’t play pool much so I bought a cheap cue stick like this one just to have when I do play. But now, I play more than I thought. Now, I would like to buy a good one for an intermediate player with a budget of less than $100. Which brand should I buy? Where in Chicago can you find a reputable dealer? What are great questions to ask the dealer about cue sticks without sounding like a fool? What should I look for in technology? I like to play with a 21 ounce cue stick. Is there a difference with weight or is it just about the feel? What kind of cue tips do you honestly recommend? Where is a great place to replace them? Thanks for your time. Great questions, all, and the kind of questions I frequently answer in person or in group clinics. You can get an excellent cue stick for $125 to $200 from a big brand name like McDermott or Viking (and most any custom made Sneaky Pete to get quality of hit without much cue decoration). Beware of some of the overseas cue makers. There are some exceptionally poor cues coming to the USA and Europe lately from Asia. There are a great number of questions you might ask your cue dealer. And there are countless local makers these days who have innovative products, like this amazing orange-and-blue cue. Above all the questions, actually hit the cue or a cue similar to one they wish to sell you. Having said that, here are some questions I have for my cue folks: Why is this cue stick better than other cues?What is your warranty on defects and against warpage?What type of player is this cue meant for? Consider that last question. Are you needing a break cue, a jump cue or a combination of both? Obviously, your questions are about everyday shot making cues. 20 ounces as you wrote is a bit high. I'd recommend you get done to 19 as soon as you are able. You need a light enough cue to control the all-important speed of the cue ball. Heavier cue sticks these days are given to beginners, to aid them in imparting topspin and draw to the cue ball and in keeping the cue on line as long as possible. But the expert realizes a poor hit on the cue ball with a heavy cue provides added unwanted spin. So more weight becomes a dangerous thing. As for technology, use purist materials in your cue. You'd need a very good reason to shoot with, for example, a graphite cue, and I've never heard a good reason yet for this product choice. Tip Recommendations I don't know that I'd recommend one brand of cue stick tip as there are many quality ones now on the market. Like chalk brands, this is an area where people seem to be spending far too much money for very minimal returns. (Just use Master Chalk, dude.) I will say this, go with a harder rather than a softer tip, unless you like a tip that needs more frequent replacement and with less consistent results. If your tip changes shape much from play, you won't know one session to another how much english to apply to get the usual results and etc. A nice hard tip means you get the same results all the time. This is a game about consistency. Unless soft tips help you truly pocket every ball you look at, stay clear of them, in my opinion. Take A Tip From Me As for replacing a cue tip, get a pro to do it. I mean a pro cue repairer, not a pro pool player (although from experience and habit, many of them are excellent at changing cue tips). I cannot emphasize this enough--get references for your cue workers. If you meet a player who has anything less than a perfectly rounded tip, absolutely flush with their cue stick's ferrule, soon after a repair, avoid their references.