Custom Pool Cues

Written by Tadashi Moody
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One of my pet peeves is the abuse of the term "custom." It is a word which is often misapplied in many industries and to many products. In common usage, it seems to be used as a general qualifier to any product which has extra features over another more basic product. Take as an example a popular American truck manufacturer that offers both a base-model truck with no frills, and a "Custom" model, which has more desirable features like a tow package and cruise control. But is the latter truck really "custom?"

By definition, something that is custom is made-to-order. The manufacturer of a product takes specific directions from an individual customer, and produces the product according to the customer's specifications. While it is not uncommon to ask for specific features when buying a new vehicle, most likely the vehicle requested has already been constructed, and it is just a matter of matching that vehicle with the buyer. So it seems that the term is being misapplied, in order to make the consumer feel that they are getting something extra. This is not uncommon in many industries, and the pool cue industry is no exception.

Are Custom Pool Cues Really Custom Made?

Though billiards has been played in this country for over a hundred years, it has never before enjoyed greater popularity here and abroad. Accordingly, there are many cue manufacturers striving to meet public demand. For those who play pool more than occasionally, owning your own pool cue adds a level of enjoyment and performance to the game. These companies are diverse, ranging from small, one or two person artisan outfits who create maybe twenty or twenty five handcrafted cues per year, to large scale, high volume mass production. Regardless of the size of the manufacturer, many call their product a "custom pool cue," although they are not made to order.

To be sure, there are many high quality cue makers in the US and abroad that do indeed take custom orders for pool cues. These are typically much more expensive than production cues, due to the intensive labor and care that goes into their unique construction. There are other cue makers who provide for a certain level of customization by allowing customers to mix and match different designs and features already made. I would say that this qualifies as custom as well. But in my opinion, if a cue is made first, then chosen by a customer, it should not be called a custom pool cue, regardless of the level of craftsmanship dedicated to it.

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