Do you think that your choice in tips is the right choice or simply politically correct? What I mean by politically correct is, is your choice in tips controlled by the opinion of your peers or some professional player that you know, or is it based on fact? By the end of this article you should be able to answer this question for youself.
What are the differences in pool cue tips?
As you probably already know, you have everything from very soft singlepiece animal skin tips from various types of animals (elk, cow, water buffalo and cape buffalo) to very hard single piece animal skins. There is also the laminated tips ranging anywhere from three to fifteen layers. The laminated tips also range from soft to extremely hard using various animal skins and tannages. The end result is a myriad of confusing choices. I would like to unmuddy the water for you somewhat. All of these variables can impact power, accuracy, and your sight picture.
First let’s assume that you already know that the shape or radius of the tip is of utmost importance and must be maintained at all times during gameplay. That very important shape that I just mentioned is the radius of a dime (roughly) or a “0.375” radius. In other words, hold a dime edgewise up to your tip and look over the top… If it does not match the shape or radius of a dime on the top of your tip, you’ve already got a problem.
When the ball is struck by the tip, the portion of the tip that takes the force is no more than an eighth of an inch offcenter in all directions. This is true regardless of whether you’ve struck the cue ball a sixteenth off center, or a full tip off center. What this radius does is generate the force, regardless of where it is struck, to the center of the tip and down through the center of your cue. Soft tips create more distortion than harder tips. In otherwords, a larger area of the tip makes contact and wraps around the cue ball in the case of a soft tip. This may give you more tip confidence, particularily if you’re a beginner, because you will miscue less, despite having a sloppy stroke; but, the price you will pay is less power and a whole lot more deflection of the cue ball, because you have moved all of the tip to one side of the cue ball with virtually no penetration. On the other hand, a hard tip will focus the energy in a much smaller area at impact and will give you a higher degree of penetration. When I speak of penetration, I mean the force being directed to the cue ball by virtue of the direction the cue is being swung or pointed and that force penetrates the cue ball in the direction that the shaft or cue is being driven. As an added bonus, a harder tip lasts longer.
What about miscueing with hard cue tips?
The simple fact of the matter is, that the small, glasslike particles of chalk, which cause the friction, are held higher up on the surface on a hard tip so that they will penetrate deeper into the surface of the cueball at impact. A soft tip allows more particles to come into contact because of it’s increased tip surface at impact; however, though there be more particles in contact with the cue ball, it does not penetrate the cue ball as deeply and therefore creates less friction per particle. Bottomline: You have the choice of either more particles penetrating less or fewer particles penetrating more… The net total friction is about a trade-off. Whether the tip you choose is one single piece of hide or laminated multipe pieces of hide, the key issue is the more penetration means more accuracy, more power, and tremendously less cue ball deflection and negative effects on your sight picture. As a side note: You’ve probably noticed, if you’ve played much, that a tip plays its best just before it has to be changed. This is because it has been pounded enough through constant play to make the tip more dense (harder in all areas).
What does Meucci Originals do with this information?
After testing every tip on the market, and measuring it’s resultant power and deflection variation, we have found that a hard tip with even harder outside edges around the circumference will perform the best. Harder outside edges so that the energy is directed into the cue will be focused more towards the center of the shaft, while at the same time keeping the outside walls of the tip from breaking down. There is only two ways to get this result: 1. A hard water buffalo tip. or 2. To compress the tip of your choice as hard as you can, then shape to a dime radius and then pound the outside edges to further harden the circumference and reshape that area to be once again a dime radius.
We take both the latter and former choice at Meucci Originals with the well-known Le Professional tips or hard water buffalo tips. I hope I haven’t caused you even more confusion. I think the choice should now be simple: your choice should be made according to knowledge and experience instead of the fashion of the day.