At a glance, break cues and playing cues look very similar. This fact may be one of the reasons why this question comes up so often. Unless you know what makes break cues useful, it’s easy to dismiss them as a luxury. But, some players (many pros included) wouldn’t dare break with their playing cue, while others do all of their playing with one cue. So, do you really need a break cue?
The short answer is no. Break cues are not a necessity. If you’re a casual player, breaking with a standard cue is just fine. Advanced and professional players, however, often use dedicated break cues to prevent damage to their playing cues, as break cues are specifically designed to withstand the force used during the break.
If you’ve been pondering whether or not you need a break cue, you’ve come to the right place. In this article we’re going to share with you everything you need to know about break cues so you can decide if buying one is right for you.
This post will cover why break cues are a great investment, the benefits of using a dedicated break and jump cue, and the differences between break cues and playing cues. Keep reading to learn more!
Why Break Cues Are A Good Investment
If you were going to build a house, one of the first things you would want to do is gather your tools. You’ll know that, at some point, you’re going to have to use a hammer. Now, you could use a rock in the hammer’s place. Or a crowbar. Both a rock and a crowbar would allow you to get the same job done, just not as skillfully and conveniently as the hammer. Breaking with a playing cue is like driving a nail home with a rock. It works and with practice, you can get pretty good at it, but it’s not the best tool for the job.
Break cues are made expressly for breaking. Having a dedicated cue for jumping and breaking will cause your playing cue to last longer and go through fewer tips, as well as allow you to develop skills in all aspects of the game.
The Differences Between Break Cues and Playing Cues
There are many crucial differences in construction and materials when it comes to break cues vs playing cues. They both have different jobs to perform and so require different traits.
Break cues usually come with either a hard leather or phenolic tip. Each of these materials has its pros and cons. Hard leather tends to hold chalk better, but phenolic tends to do a better job of transferring energy to the cue ball. Phenolic tips also hold their shape longer than leather due to the fact that phenolic is much harder.
In fact, Amarith balls, the best billiard balls around, are made from phenolic resin. Ultimately though, whether to go with a hard leather tip or a phenolic tip is a personal preference, as they do sound and feel slightly different. Playing tips, on the other hand, are almost exclusively made of medium or soft leather. This is important not only for holding chalk, but also for putting the right amount of English and velocity on a ball.
Normal playing shafts generally have less mass than break cue shafts. We know this is important thanks to Newton’s Second Law of Motion (force equals mass times acceleration). Since much of the game of pool is about finesse, it’s important that playing shafts have less mass. But break cues need shafts with more mass since their job is to ultimately disperse balls throughout the table and hopefully sink a couple to set you up for a nice run right out of the gate.
Of course, shafts on standard cues generally have more mass than the increasingly popular low deflection shafts. Both break cues and standard cues are usually made out of solid maple, but that doesn’t mean they’re of equal mass. Shafts on break cues tend to be thicker than most standard shafts, and therefore have more mass. A wide-diameter tip is not only important for power and accuracy when breaking, but also when jumping. More surface area on the tip makes it easier to accurately jump balls.
Another increase in break cue power comes from the fact that they are usually heavier than their playing cue brethren. While it’s possible to get a heavy playing cue or a light break cue, the vast majority of playing cues are lighter than break cues. The most popular weights for playing cues are in the 18oz to 21oz range, while break cues are usually anywhere from 21oz to 28oz.
Break cues on the heavier side give you more power with a slower stroke, and on the lighter side, most of the power comes from the speed of your stroke. This comes down to personal preference. If you tend to break with a fast stroke, getting a break cue on the lighter side may be better for you. The best way to determine this is to play around with different break cues until you find one that feels right to you. Or you always have the option of purchasing a break cue of which you can adjust the weight.
Break cue ferrules are built to maintain integrity and strength after repeated impacts. While ferrules on playing cues are typically made out of composite or linen material, break cue ferrules are usually made out of phenolic resin or carbon fiber. This is important not only for protecting the shaft but also for increasing the durability of the cue as a whole.
The Benefits of Having a Dedicated Break Cue
As you’ve probably realized, there are many benefits to having a dedicated break and jump cue. While you can surely play a fun game of pool with one cue, if you’re looking to have polished skills and a well-rounded game, it’s a good idea to take these factors into account.
Having a Break Cue Can Save You Time and Money
One of the major benefits of a break cue is that you will have less wear on your playing cue. Given the softer tip, less weight, and less mass in most playing cues, it’s no surprise that tips tend to wear down and mushroom faster when used regularly for break shots. It’s a common misconception that breaking with a playing cue can cause warpage. However, it is true that the tip, ferrule, shaft, and joints on your playing cue can be worn down or damaged over time. Breaking with your playing cue only speeds up this process.
For some players— especially those with multiple playing cues— tip replacement is no big deal, but for others, it can be an expensive hassle. Keeping your playing cue for finesse and English is the best way to maintain your tip’s shape, and therefore your shooting accuracy, over long periods of time.
Break Cues Can Help You Hone Your Skills
It’s easy to dismiss the break as mere chance or an insignificant part of the game, but the truth is that a good break can mean the difference between winning and losing. Learning how to break like a pro is one of the best ways to round out your pool playing skills. The best way to learn how to break better is by purchasing the tool made specifically for breaks— and practicing with it.
Consistency is also very important in the game of pool. If you break with your playing cue, chances are the tip is going to lose its shape and change in density over time, subtly taking away your consistency. This is another reason why break cues, with their hard tips, are ideal for consistency over time. You don’t need to worry about your break cue tip losing shape nearly as much as your playing cue tip.
The Jump-Break Cue Double Threat
Many popular and effective break cues are designed so you can remove a piece of the cue to make it smaller and lighter— perfect for jump shots. This is one of the reasons why break-jump cues are a great investment.
Hard-tipped break-jump cues hold up better over time and usually have the larger-diameter tips for increased accuracy on both break and jump shots. The internet is full of testimonials from amateur players amazed at their break and jump skills after just a little practice with the right cue.
Recommended Break-Jump Cue
One of the best break-jump cues out there, that’s also budget friendly, is the Players JB528. Its a 3-piece, 28 oz cue designed to last a lifetime. In fact, it comes with a lifetime guarantee that includes warpage. One of the nicest things about this cue is the fact that the ferrule also comes with a lifetime guarantee against chipping or cracking.
The shaft on this cue is made from North American Hard Rock Maple. It has a 14mm, incredibly hard Bakelite tip. It also comes equipped with the custom Turbo Lock Quick Release joint for a super secure fit. All in all this is a great break-jump cue for anyone looking to take their game to the next level. Click here or on the pic above to check it out on Amazon. You’d be surprised at just how affordable a cue of this caliber is.
If you’re looking to get a better all-around pool game, then a break jump cue is a great way to go. The heavier weight of the cue and the large, hard tip allow for more power and accuracy on break shots. The removable piece is great for switching to a lighter, shorter jump cue. The specially engineered construction and materials make for a long-lasting break cue, saving you money on tip, shaft, and joint wear-and-tear on your playing cue. Practice makes perfect, but perfect is made faster with the right tool for the job. Check out a break cue today and let us know what you think!