1. Learn about splicing
The butt timber is spliced (joined) onto the ash shaft, this is done in one of two ways, by machine or by hand. The two methods produce cues of very different appearance.Machine splicing is less expensive than hand splicing but is a very effective way of adding the butt timber to the shaft. The butt timber (usually ebony) is cut to provide four points, which are glued into four slots machined into the shaft timber. The finished cue has a distinctive four point pattern where the butt meets the shaft.Hand splicing is the traditional method developed by Peradon for splicing the butt timber to the shaft. The shaft has two flats planed on opposite sides of the butt end. The hardwood butt timber is glued to these flats. The cue is then rotated through 90 degrees and two further flats are planed and two more pieces of butt timber glued into place. The cue is then shaped to produce the distinctive four rounded point pattern where the butt meets the shaft.The appearance of both machine and hand spliced cues can be enhanced with additional exotic wood splices or coloured veneers. (This section has been adapted from the Peradon sales brochure)
2. Look for Matching grain
You can always tell the quality of a snooker cue based on whether the grain of the wood matches across the joint.
Having a cue with matching grain affords the user a more consistent and fluid feel to every stroke. A cue that is constructed in this manner will also have a more even balance and the weight will be distributed more evenly.
3. Looks don't equal feel.
This is such an obvious statement but it is very true. The most expensive cue in a range is generally expensive because of the materials that have been used. Another factor is the actual man hours that it takes to produce each individual cue. By purchasing the top of the range cue you are not getting a higher performance model but just a cue that is more aesthetically pleasing. You can get the same performance out of a cheaper more plain looking cue.
It is important that you only take this as advice, you might personally find the top of the range cue suits you best.
You can always come in to Billiards Boutique and handle a few cues before you purchase.