Written in 1999
It has come to my attention that the term "deflection," which we introduced in 1976 through our Meucci literature and through the professional ranks, has now taken on a different and very incorrect meaning. Deflection had always been clearly understood to mean cue ball deflection.
Whether through misinformation or as a result of not educating the new generation of pool players, deflection has now become falsely understood to mean the deflection of the cue shaft away from the cue ball as it strikes it or even the flexibility of the cue shaft itself. So, it is time to once again clear the air and re-educate the industry about cue ball deflection.
As a result of years of research and development, studying the hit of a pool cue, by using high-speed photography, the following information on cue ball deflection emerged as the industry standard.
Cue ball deflection occurs when the cue ball is struck off-center as when "English" or "side spin" is applied to the shot. This causes the ball to take a path off-angle, veering in the opposite direction from the side on which it was struck. In other words, strike the cue ball left of center and it will deflect off course to the right of the direction established by the alignment of the shaft.
Cue ball deflection will vary from very little (1/8 of an inch in the span of 8 feet) to a whopping 1 1/2 inches in the same span. These variations are a result of three factors;
Therefore, when selecting a cue for maximum deflection (which is highly undesirable in my opinion), get one with a stiffly-tapered shaft and a soft tip (13 1/2mm or larger). It should also have a very hard ferrule such as ivory or a phenolic resin type material and a stiff butt-joint such as steel.
Strike the cue ball off-center 3/8 of an inch; hit it hard and youll get maximum deflection. The cue ball will veer off-path from the direction the shaft is pointed by 1 1/2 inches in an 8 ft. span, missing the entire object ball when aiming center to center.
Obviously, any player, given enough time, can program his mental computer to make allowances for all deflection variations, if he is playing all the time and in perfect stroke. He can get by with it. In reality, the player has unwittingly handicapped himself.
Through an evolution of trial and error, players in the past discovered inexplicably that they could play better with a smaller mm tip. They dealt with poorly designed cues made with ivory ferrules, steel joints, and improper tapers by reducing the shaft size down to as small as 12mm, they put some flex back into the shaft and unknowingly reduced deflection; unfortunately, at the same time to some degree they also lost the ability to make long shots by having less tip surface and less control, which is only accomplished by using a larger tip.
At Meucci Originals, our focus has always been first and foremost the play of the cue. Secondly, a tasteful design and value for the dollar spent. With that in mind, it should be easy to understand why we designed a shaft with a special Pro-Taper to dramatically reduce deflection yet still enable a full tip size of 12 3/4 mm to 13 1/8 mm to give more control.
If you are looking for minimum cue ball deflection, you will need a cue with a soft/flexible ferrule which will absorb shock and allow the tip to wipe across the ball. The cue should also have a flexible shaft and a plastic joint. All to accomplish two purposes:
To test this for yourself, find a cue with a 13 1/2 mm stiffly-tapered shaft with an
ivory ferrule or a very hard surfaced ferrule and a stiff joint. Put an object ball on the
spot and the cue ball in the center of the table on the foul line. Strike the cue ball 3/8
inches off-center but keep the shaft on line or parallel for a straight-on, center to center hit (not using tuck or throw of course). Hit the
cue ball firmly and you will probably cut the object ball 90 degrees or miss the object
ball completely. Perform the same exercise with a 4-point Meucci cue and you will cut the
object ball off the straight line to the end diamond by no more than 1 1/2 inch, which would
still be within the error allowed in a 4 1/2 inch pocket with a 2 1/4 inch object ball.
Written in 1999
There has been over the years a lot of conversation about the balance of cue sticks, both in the U.S. and overseas, so let us look at all the aspects so you can be an informed buyer when making a purchase.
Written in 1999
Spine is a term that describes two very different aspects of a cues ability to respond. One
which is desirable and the other which is detrimental.
First, there is the meaning most commonly understood as a well seasoned, high-quality piece of wood to maintain it’s natural resiliency to return to its natural position. In other words, to snap back after being bent. The longer that a piece of wood has the ability to snap back, week after week, month after month and year after year, that shaft is considered to have great spine or memory, obviously this is very desirable.
The second meaning of spine, as in a spine and probably more important to understand, refers to the one place in the shaft which least wants to bend. As in your backbone, this place in all cylindrical objects known as the spine, is a definite spot in the 360 degree circumference that will offer more resistance than anywhere else in the shaft. Usually, but not always, the softest spot in the shaft or the place that wants to bend easiest is approximately 180 degrees from the spine.
Some materials are very homogenous in nature and have a nearly negligible spine. Such as tubular steel as used in some golf shafts. Where as other materials like fiberglass, graphite or boron will have a very definite spine. So much so that if spine alignment is not considered when mounting a head of a golf club to a graphite or boron shaft, that club will never play consistently. Therefore, every club in the bag will hit the ball differently if the manufacturer does not consider that all important spine alignment.
As for cues, most high-quality cues are made with maple shafts which is much more homogeneous than fiberglass or graphite, but every piece of wood will definitely have a spine that is measurable and detectable in the hands of a great player. Such as the legendary Buddy Hall, who always before pulling the trigger, makes sure that the grain of his shaft runs horizontal to the table by keeping what he calls, "the feathers" (grain ends) "looking straight up."
The stiffer a shaft is, the greater the difference between the most rigid section of the shaft (the spine) and the more flexible section of the shaft. Consequently, the stiffer cue’s response from striking a ball, high, low, left or right will vary considerably, if the cue is rotated into different positions for each different shot.
In England, playing snooker on 6 x 12 foot table, shooting a 2 1/16 inch ball into a 3 inch pocket from 13 feet away will definitely bring to light the spine of a cue. Thankfully, tradition in England dictates a flat on the end of the butt of the cue. Snooker players always keep that flat in the palm of their hand, which guarantees the alignment of the grain in the same position every time, enabling the player to make allowances for the multitude of variations caused by a cue with extreme spine.
My hats off to the tenacity of the English snooker player to overcome so much yet still play so well, when they could simply have a cue made for them with a much more homogenous spined shaft and softer ferrule.
How do we diminish the spine of a shaft... or can we?
One way, is to make a more flexible shaft that has good memory (spine’s first definition). A shaft will have memory when it has five or more grain lines across a 13mm shaft that run parallel down the length from tip to joint without diverging off-center more than 1/8 inch. This tight grain indicates that the wood was taken from the part of the tree which took many years to grow, adding stability to the shaft. Keeping the flexibility while maintaining the memory, reduces the variance to a level that can not be discerned on a pool table when shooting 99% of the shots.
There is another way that some cue makers have attempted to equalize the spine. This is accomplished by cutting a shaft into pie pieces and then reassembling it with the grain radiating from the center. In theory , a great idea; in application a few problems.
First, when bonding the shaft back together, you will naturally have glue lines that will vary some in thickness and in strength and will no doubt add some weight to the finished product
Second, try as they may, no cue maker can keep the apex of the pie pieces in the center of the shaft for it’s whole length. Although they can no doubt control the tip and joint end where it can be seen, the middle of the shaft is left to it’s own alignment, when it is being free turned between centers. The sheer fact that it going through multiple turnings and stress relieving processes would cause the apex to only occasionally be in the dead center of this section of the shaft.
So, the question is, in this process was something gained or lost? If in fact, the apex is off-center, than we have no doubt created a more definite spine than intended.
One thing we can know for sure, is that the more modern, low priced imports in which graphite or fiberglass is incorporated, have the most distinct spine of all. If you are an advanced player who is serious about your game, stay with the quality of a homogenous parallel grained maple shaft.
If you want to test for a spine in your own shaft, there is a tool that can be made called a spine gauge. Meucci Originals will make it’s design available upon request.
Written in 1999
The term custom cue evokes a sense of awe and the feeling of an old world craftsman chiseling out a cue with his bare hands with a few simple tools, but the reality is quite different. Cue makers can truly be put into three categories.
The first category is the production cue manufacturer who operates off shore, typically in Taiwan or China, often using almost slave labor at 25 cents per hour. Day after day, week after week, they cookie cut out the same models every time, using the same designs, wraps, joints and shafts, allowing no choice of weights, millimeters or anything else that would separate your cue from the next off the production line. The Innovation, creativity and art of creating a finely tuned instrument is lost. Traditionally, they only attempt to copy a quality cue.
The second category is the low-volume custom cue maker or assembler and third would be the high-volume custom cue maker or assembler. The difference between these two animals is that the low-volume cue makers of onezy, twozy, threezy a week, must charge a whole lot more money for their cues, since there are fewer cues to make a profit. The consumer must pay the extra toll. Also, the smaller custom cue maker probably has one individual performing all assembly operations on each cue, making any perfection's or imperfections in each particular cue the sole responsibility of one man. In most cases, the low-volume custom cue maker has the same or higher technology and equipment as the high-volume custom cue manufacturer.
The disadvantage of the low-volume custom cue, is that in many cases, the
cue maker or assembler may buy various parts and materials of the cue from other sources,
losing control of the quality of those particular parts or materials. As a result, parts,
which may have dimensional or other errors, may be too expensive to reject, possibly
leaving the buyer with variances which can effect the cues performance. A shaft
might be slightly off in size or a little extra glue may be used to fill spaces created by
improper machining techniques or, in other words, a whoopsie. Further,
low-volume custom cue makers are limited in their ability to obtain the highest quality
materials due to their lack of purchasing power. Obviously, standard business dictates
that larger purchasers
have more negotiation power with suppliers, therefore have many more pieces to choose from.
Though, it is surely true that rarity and collectibility can be gained from the low-volume custom cue, you may lose the confidence of having a consistent feel in the play within that particular brand. The buyer is more subject to the luck of the draw. High-volume custom cue makers usually produce most or all of their own parts and materials; they maintain total control over quality and consistency. For instance, at Meucci Originals, we own our own saw mill and manufacture absolutely everything (with the exception of the leather tip and rubber bumper) from basic raw materials. Our saw mill provides some of the low-volume custom cue makers with their high-quality shaft lumber, giving us first selection on the cream of the crop.
Another advantage of a high-volume custom cue maker has is that when running a single operation more than 200 times a day, the first pieces that are machined to set up and establish dimension in a particular operation are thrown in the trash if the dimension is off more than one or two thousandth of an inch. This leaves the rest of that days production exactly the same in dimension, but still allowing for variations in joint style, wrap, stain, weight, tip size and even shaft and butt length to accommodate the customers custom needs. An obvious fact is that if someone performs the same operation over and over he will become more of a specialist in that particular operation of cue manufacturing, rather than having to perfect by ones self every operation. Accordingly, this again will obviously effect the consistency in the hit and playability of each cue within a particular brand.
The only disadvantages of the high-volume custom cue is that you may possibly see a cue just like your own as you travel across the country and limit the perceived value as a collectible due to its lack of rarity in some standard models.
If you are looking for a cue that both has the consistency in play within the brand and a higher perceived value as a collectible, look for the limited edition models from high-volume cue makers. This will both provide the rarity and collectibility and probably a whole lot more inlaid design work for the dollar you spend, without the hype and high prices that goes with the onezy, twozy, cue makers cues.
In conclusion, the day of whittling cues with wood planes and hand chisels
is long past. When you consider that either the high or low volume custom cue maker will
make a cue to your specifications and both make a cue with basically the same equipment
and technology, the only difference between them is a greater choice of material options and the price you pay for what you
Written in 1999
How accurately do you have to hit the object ball to make a simple spot shot from the head string on a 4 1/2 x 9 ft. table?
The object ball must be struck no more than 2 1/8 degrees off-line in either direction for a total strike zone of .083 inches (slightly more than 2mm on the surface of the cue ball). In order to hit that target you must not shoot the cue ball more than 1/10 of 1 degree off-line (about 6 minutes of angle).
What if you had to make a reasonably simple combination shot like this to win a match: the 9 ball lays 3 feet from the corner pocket, the 8 ball is only 2 feet from the 9 ball and the cue ball is just 3 feet away from the 8 ball.
In this scenario the 9 ball will have to be struck within .070 inches (a little more than 1/16 of an inch) to allow for the 2 1/4 inches of slop in a 4 1/2 inch wide pocket.
Therefore, the strike zone on the 8 ball is only .0029 inches. This small target is equal to the thickness of a human hair. In order to hit it from only 3 feet away with the cue ball, it will have to be shot so precisely, it is equal to bracing a rifle in ones front hand on a solid rest using only the barrel to aim with (no sights), firing and hitting a bullseye 5 1/4 inches in diameter one mile away!
Simple, huh! Yet, great players actually accomplish this 1 out of 5 times.
Obviously, the less variation the pool weapon you use has, the better. A more consistent cue will allow you to accomplish a myriad of extremely difficult shots you will encounter playing this, the most accurate of all games.
Consider this... Just the variances in the radial consistency within any single shaft can cause a 1-2 inch difference in the flight of the object ball on a simple spot shot.
There is much to be considered when selecting your cue. Deflection can vary the flight of the object ball on a simple spot shot as much as 15 inches from cue brand to cue brand. Also, power is directly affected as well by the spine, taper, flexibility and construction of the cue you choose.
Taking all these things into consideration and testing shot after shot for weeks with our new machine, "The Myth Destroyer," we have found out once again what we already knew to be true from experience; that the Meucci cue with its more "flexible" shaft taper (now copied every day by most cue makers) generates more power with far less deflection than its "stiffer" competitors.
I have put quote marks on "flexible" and "stiffer" to make an obvious point, and that is that young, up-and-coming players who have entered the market in the last 10 or 15 years have been duped by the "stiff shaft boys."
I am here to set the record straight and put my money where my mouth is with my new machine that will back up what I say for anyone who truly cares to know the truth.
Even testing one of the best shaft competitor's products for power and deflection, I have found that, in his segmented shaft, the stiffer the shaft is, the more it deflects. Yes there are variances in the natural spine in the wood of this shaft. Flexibility varies from one shaft to the next, as is the case in all cue brands, including the Meucci.
Considering that the taper of the shaft is nearly a carbon copy of the Meucci taper (within .005 inches) and the fact that it now sports a soft ferrule, it comes as no suprise that our two shafts play very much alike (for power and deflection at least).
Most of the other brands we tested have not yet approached this shaft science. So, for the record, I expect the credit for developing this technology in 1976, over 35 years ago and fully expect that the other cue makers will soon follow.
So, I now restate: "why accept a future copy, when you can have the best now for less money with the original - Meucci." Along with all our future technological advances that we regularly develop to stay ahead of our competition.
Oh, by the way, if you read my recent article on "The Effects of Spine,"
you will understand why we have now added a special addition to the Meucci shaft; a black bullseye
dot just above the shaft joint collar that marks the exact spine of each individual shaft. By
simply making sure that your shaft is positioned with the black bullseye dot straight up, you will
guarantee that your hit is radially consistent every time you strike the cue ball!
Written in 1999
Ever since the 1999 BCA Trade Show, where we introduced the Meucci Red Dot shafts, there has been considerable controversy and misunderstanding, "Just what exactly is it all about?"
The former Meucci Red Dot (now black dot bullseye) shaft does two main things: First, it guarantees you that this is the latest technology, designed as a result of months of research using our new "Myth Destroyer" robot.
We have made quantum leaps in reducing effective cue ball deflection while increasing power.
Secondly, the new Red Dot shaft guarantees you perfect positioning for consistent and predictable results when shooting with high, low, left or right english or any combination thereof.
In fact, we have so reduced effective cue ball deflection, that we can now boldly guarantee that your new Meucci Red Dot Shaft will reduce effective deflection by an average of at least 20% over the best of any competitors standard brand or your money back!
Believe it or not, our testing has proven that most brands cause as much as a whopping 200-300% more effective cue ball deflection than a Meucci 12 3/4mm shaft.
What Do I mean by, "effective cue ball deflection?" I mean the resulting change in the object balls direction caused by the cue ball being deflected off-course after being struck with side english. We must consider all three forces that occur from the cue ball being struck until the object ball hits its target. In other words, the effects that all pool players need to know about when playing this the most accurate of all games. What else would you measure?
When testing with the Myth Destroyer, we take all three forces into consideration that come into play when shooting a cue ball with side spin. First, we consider deflection, then secondly swerve; which is the curve that the cue ball takes in the opposite direction from the deflected angle, while traveling to its target the object ball, therefore, diminishing the effects of deflection some. Thirdly, the throw of the object ball, also adding to the correction or reduction of the effective deflected angle.
It should then be clear, when understanding these three forces, that the more a cue stick spins the cue ball when striking it with side english, the less the effective deflected angle of error will ultimately be.
If we were to test only two forces, deflection and swerve, by merely shooting spots on a board with only the cue ball, we could not aid pool players in improving their game by reducing effective deflection as much as we do. So, it is absolutely critical that we include an object ball in our testing method.
By now surely we all know, that the swerve is caused by an elevated cue. The more you raise the back of the cue, the closer it approaches a masse. The more level you can keep the back of your cue, the less swerve it will cause.
The Myth Destroyer has been designed to barely clear the table rail by one half of an inch, about as level as you can get a cue without scraping. So, our testing has been performed with a minimum amount of swerve. To test with the cue any more level, we would have to take the rail off the table; of course, this would be of no interest to a pool player who must play with the rails on.
"Perfect Radial Consistency?"
Sorry, it just aint so!
Not only did the new Meucci Spine gauge clearly prove that there is no such thing as perfect radial consistency; it revealed that the one piece shafts used by most cue makers have less variation than the segmented or graphite shafts we tested.
As a plus, the one piece shafts had predictable spine positioning.
The reason being that they had a more flexible side, precisely opposite to the stiffest side (or spine as referred to in my article, "The Effects of Spine"), and the one piece shafts were equally flexible on either side between the spine side and the most flexible side.
Thus, the second reason for the new Red Dot is to line up the spine of the shaft precisely perpendicular to the tables surface every single time you shoot. Just keep your Dot up and your results will be extremely consistent from now on!
After much discussion, the consensus was that we should place the dot just a 1/2 inch below the shaft joint collar for the benefit of most players. The top players recommended that we place the red dot just four inches below the ferrule, because, as pros, they would be looking at the object ball and not the shaft when pulling the trigger. The first five hundred or so Red Dot shafts that left our factory had the dot placed four inches below the ferrule as recommended by the pros. Of course, these cues will now be collectors items.
Needless-to-say, we expect the other cue makers to copy us with a dot or a line or something else, so, therefore we want to document that, once again, another revolutionary first has been created by Meucci - "the standard of the industry."
Oh, by the way, our fantastic, new shafts are now available
for almost every other major cue brand to improve their performance. So, you, the players,
are the real winners. We also make them to match all the Chinese manufactured cues that are being
sold as aledged American made brands.
Written in 1999
Over the years there has been much conjecture over the importance of cue power for breaking balls or applying english, etc.. Some players have thought that a heavy cue would make them break better. Thank goodness, most players have finally been educated to the reality that a lighter cue is more powerful. A fact that has been repeatedly proven by the Meucci Staff and other players in breaking contests over the years - ever since I first introduced the use of a radar gun at tournaments in the early 90s.
The simple fact is that a human, male or female, has limited strength and can only move a certain amount of weight so fast; the heavier the weight, the slower the swing. Conversely, the lighter the weight, the faster the swing.
It is the speed of the cue, not its mass (weight), that causes the acceleration of the cue ball because of the cues compression at the moment of impact as it first tries to overcome the cue balls inertia to remain at rest.
The optimum cue weight to accomplish maximum speed and compression before the cue snaps back and sends the cue ball forward is about 18 to 18 3/4 oz. for most men and about 17 to 17 3/4 oz. for most women.
What do I mean when I say compression? I mean that at the moment of impact, with sufficient speed, before the cue ball moves, the first thing that happens is the shaft bends away from its spine creating an "S" shaped wave that travels through the cue as the cue is fore-shortened by its compression, thus loading energy into the cue.
As the inertia to remain at rest is overcome, the cue ball is projected forward by the power of the players arm and swing speed plus an additional kick from the pre-loaded cue, thus equaling cue power.
The more we can compress the shaft from the moment in which the cue ball is impacted until it leaves the tip, the more power you will develop (assuming your shaft has sufficient spine).
Youve seen the same kind of dynamics in the sport of pole vaulting, tennis and others. It is also applied in golf. Before the extra-whippy fiberglass pole was introduced in pole vaulting, when athletes just used a stiff wooden pole, the world record was just slightly over 15 feet high. Within one year of the introduction of the fiberglass pole, the world record was increased a whopping 20% to 18+ feet. The rest is history.
So then, the question is... how much compression/flexibility should a cue have? If you were to take a solid steel bar with no compression and put a tip on it, you would have a hard time striking the ball with enough force to bank 3 rails. I know this without question, I tested it myself.
On the other hand, when does a cue get so flexible that it over-compresses and does not return to shape until the cue ball is long gone, therefore losing power? With the use of the Myth Destroyer, our new testing robot, we have found that optimum point of compression and we now build it into every Meucci shaft with 10% additional stiffness to allow for dimensional reduction through years of play. End Result: The most powerful cue in the world with the absolute least amount of effective cue ball deflection!
However, this important feat can not be accomplished by only considering the technology of shaft taper and flexibility. You must also consider joint material, joint style (flat face or piloted), joint size, forearm taper, shallow inlays (as opposed to true spliced points) and solid or 2-piece butts. All these factors must be optimized to obtain maximum cue power.
Now then, how do you use this power?
First, when breaking the balls, increased power equals increased forward motion velocity.
Secondly, when striking the cue ball off-center, there is a combination of forward motion and english velocity (speed of side spin). Therefore, you will be able to reach the cue ball position desired when playing 9 ball, 8 ball, or other demanding pool games without having to over-stroke the ball and thus lose accuracy.
Some have said that too much power or spin equals less control. This of course would be true for an amateur or weaker player to some degree, but, if they use a low-power cue, they surely will not have the power when they need it for that 3-rail draw or follow shot.
The mistake they make is not understanding the technology of
All truly great players break up a draw or follow shot into as many as 12 different tip positions in each area; above, below and left or right of center. They generally strike the cue ball about the same speed whenever possible and let tip position complete the job. If you master this same technique, it will enhance your game tremendously.
Remember, if your cue has limited power... so will you. So, get rid of
that heavy cue - lighten up - and play better with your high tech, American made Meucci cue!