Complete Guide to Pool Cue Tips – How They Affect Your game.

What is a Pool Cue Tip?

A pool cue tip is the small, rounded piece of material at the end of a pool cue that comes in contact with the cue ball. Its purpose is to provide a degree of grip and cushioning between the cue ball and the pool cue shaft.

Pool cues are used to strike the cue ball in games such as pool, snooker and billiards. The shape and material of the tip determines how well it performs this task.

NB. As with most sports, the top echelon professional players are usually sponsored by an equipment manufacturer or two. Therefore, whilst it is often good practice to emulate cue actions and playing styles of professionals, copying the cue tip of your favorite player will not necessarily give you the best tip for your own style.

The Importance of Using the Right Pool Cue Tip

The tips of pool cues are made from different materials and have different shapes. The tip of your pool cue is one of the most important components to consider when buying a cue. It determines the way that the ball will be hit, as well as how much control you will have over it.

What Do Tips Cost?

Leather tips $3 to $15 each

Layered Tips $30 to $50 each

Tips can be bought on Ebay and Amazon quite cheaply. Buying a box of tips can work out a little cheaper but you usually have to buy  a minimum of10 at a time which is a lot for personal use.

Cue makers and cue repair technicians usually have a good selection of popular cue tips for you to choose from.

How Much To Have A Tip Put On Your Cue?

This will depend on the type of tip that you choose, but most people who work on cues have a lathe and can change a tip in 10 minutes. I recently had a layered tip put on my cue and shaped for $30.

What are the Different Types of Pool Cue Tips?

Pool cues are one of the most important pieces of equipment in the game of pool. The tips on the end of a pool cue can make a huge difference in how well you play.

There are three different types of tips that you will find on a pool cue. These tips vary in hardness and shape, which can affect how they perform when striking the ball.

The 3 main types of pool cue tips are listed below:

The three basic types of tips are:

  1. Leather Tips: these tips are made from leather/pig skin that is compressed until it becomes stiff enough to use and to keep its shape on the end of your cue stick.
  2. Layered tips as the name suggests are made from layers of material glued together under extreme pressure. Usually the material is leather or pigskin.
  3. Phenolic Tips – phenolic is a type of “plastic” similar to the material used to make modern pool balls. It is hard,  resilient and does not compress when striking the ball.

The first two are for your playing cue, the third is for your break cue.

Tips For Your Main Playing Cue.

Your main playing cue should have a leather tip of some sort.

Regular pressed leather tips like a Triangle, Blue Diamond or Le Pro.

Layered leather tips such as Kamui, Tiger, How or Victory.

How to Choose the Best Pool Cue Tip for Your Game?

The Pool cue tip is the most important part of any pool cue.

Choosing the right pool cue tip is crucial to your game.

The best pool cue tips for English shots are softer and less resilient than those for break shots. They produce less power but provide greater control over the ball’s direction when you play an English shot.

What type of player are you?

Do you like to put some spin on the ball for most shots that you play in a game? Do you like playing with center ball, striking the white ball straight up and down the center for most shots. Perhaps you do a bit of both using side spin only when necessary.

If you are new to the game of pool you may prefer a softer cue tip to start with as they are not so prone to miscue with inaccurate striking. Softer tips “give” more as the ball is struck. Harder tips seem to work better for players with more experience but these tips can be less forgiving of errors.

Wear evenly, solid leather versus layered tips

What is the best cue tip / cue shaft combination?

As an example of this my shaft is a Predator Z3 which comes standard with a Victory tip. Now because I had been playing with a Kamui soft on my old shaft, I immediately removed the Victory tip and replaced it with a Kamui. This move as it turns out was not the best for the tip shaft combination. It just didn’t feel right or sound the way I was used to so I switched it back.

Complete waste of $70 as it turned out, but at least I know now. Cue manufacturers will marry together their shaft product with a tip that suits the combination the best.

There is also the matter of feel.

To me feel is everything. There is not a lot to say about this because feel is so personal.

Sometimes it is possible to find a player with the same shaft and ask them if you could have a shot or two with their choice tip, just to see what it feels like for you. Some sales locations allow players to hit a few balls with different tips, dealers at competitions and exhibitions may do the same sometimes.

It all boils down to this:

Your tip is the most important piece of equipment that you have in your cue case.

With my predator shaft and tip, I could attach any number of cue butts that will fit. I should be able to play almost as good as with my own butt whether it is a $5000 custom or $100 low end sneaky Pete. It is the shaft and more especially the tip that make a pool cue feel right.

Tips For Your Break Cue

The best pool cue tips for break shots are hard and usually have a high coefficient of restitution. These hard tips  allow the player to get more power into the cue ball, which can result in more balls being made on the break shot.

However with the introduction of the softer cut break, where accuracy is more important than outright power some players are using a standard leather tip similar to their playing cue with some success.

Once again this is a matter of choice and personal preference.

How Long Does It Take To Play in a New Pool Tip?

I always hate changing my tip! If I could find one that I like, that would last for 5 years, you could sign me up for that tip right now!  $100 no problem.

Many pool and snooker player know that it takes a while for a tip to feel right after it has been changed. It could be a few days time to a week depending on the hours played. So if a tip comes off in a match it can be difficult to replace it with a brand new tip.

For this reason many top players play with a tip for a few weeks then deliberately remove it from the shaft. This tip is then placed in their cue case. This way they have a perfectly “knocked in” tip ready for emergencies. such as coming of during a match.

Tip choice For Your Jump Cue

Most jump cues will arrive with a phenolic tip already installed. These cues are designed specifically to jump the ball and the tip will be an integral part of the jump cue design. Changing the tip on a purpose made jump cue for something else would likely not improve performance.

So What Is The Bottom Line When It Comes To Pool Cue Tips?

When it comes to cue tips, as I said earlier, it is all down to personal preference and trial and error until you find something that you are comfortable with and sticking to it over a long period of time.

Another way to shortcut your tip choice is to find a good player who plays with a similar style to you and find out what type of tip the player uses.  If the player uses the same methods as you its worth a try. There is a lot of information on line both on Google and YouTube including player profiles with cue and tip choices.