Shaft Tapers - The Pool Cue Taper And You

Tap The Right Taper And Your Game Could Really Improve

Cue stick shafts taper, fluctuating in thickness along their length. The three most popular options provide different play capabilities for the aspiring pool shooter. Know them, and use them to your advantage.

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Standard Taper

Jump Cue, jump cue tip
Jump Cue. Photo courtesy of Joseph Picone Cues

Most cue sticks have a shaft that is thinnest near the ferrule. It then thickens, widening gradually, until it reaches its maximum width somewhere from a foot from the joint to at the joint itself.

The taper lets the cue pass through the fingers, yet provides enough weight and mass for a stable stroke. For some, a taper can aid in shortening and ending the stroke, before a hearty follow through becomes too long and awkward.

In other words, what happens is this: the cue "grows" in the player's fingers via the tapering cue's width getting wider and wider, until it "sticks" inside your bridge hand. This sort of gradual taper helps those with super-long (wrong) follow through their strokes.

As Newton put it, "every action has an opposing reaction" and your backstroke and follow through past the ball should be roughly the same length and for most shots. The gradual taper described here can help shorten those crazy-long follow through movements that describe a lunging stroke.

Newton's Laws And How They Can Teach Us Better Billiards

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Pro Taper

Photo courtesy of ESPN

A pro taper, which comes as a standard feature on most cheaper shafts, maintains an even thickness for about the first twelve inches of the cue's length.

Nothing special here, this is just somewhat disingenuously called a "pro" taper when it isn't particular to all pros. Push the cue through the fingers of the bridge hand to get results. If you think cheaper may not be better, you are right.

I don't mind using a pro taper and I recognize they come on cheaper cues (think about it, it's easier to turn out a cue with one width along a foot of its length while keeping it perfectly straight).

I hope I've stimulated your thinking to make you look at all aspects of a cue more closely. Particularly when you are contemplating the purchase of a new or used cue. Visit a store when you can play test a variety of cues, and all three kinds of cue tapers, too.

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Double Taper

Of course, hustlers don't like to call their shots
Of course, hustlers don't like to call their shots. Getty Images

Besides a "gradual taper", our first kind of taper, or our second, delayed for a foot from the front of the cuestick, a third type of shaft has a "double" taper. These shafts narrow at first, starting a few inches behind the tip, then widen again, making the shaft thinnest near its middle.

The expert, who often uses a double taper, has the touch required for the most demanding shots. A light, thin shaft is helpful for delicate moves through the stroke. The actual weight of the shaft is changed.

The additional lathe work needed for a second taper may raise a cue's price. Novices should have no concerns about this type of ​shaft, if they choose to spend the extra money to buy one.

I recommend a gradual taper for beginning to intermediate players to groove (shorten!) the follow through. Even some of the top players have no need for a double-tapered cue stick. Try one and see, you can get some super-powered "zing" on your draw and sidespin shots with this kind of taper but you may find the light mass of cue passing through the shot to be unwieldy.