Sure, you want to impress your buddies when playing pool by unveiling an awesome cue, but you know what won’t impress them? When you cue breaks after one game because you prioritized looks over functionality. You need a pool cue that combines both, which has narrowed down your choices to wood or fiberglass. Which cue material is superior?
Wood pool cues might have a slight edge over fiberglass cues, especially when it comes to the feel of playing pool. If you’re prone to getting a bit sweaty when playing, you’d need to chalk your dominant hand when using a fiberglass cue, which is not an issue with a wood cue.
In this guide, we’ll compare wood and fiberglass pool cues in much more detail. After putting the two cue materials head to head, you’ll know the advantages and disadvantages of both so you can choose the one that matches your budget, skill level, and playstyle.
Let’s get started!
Wooden Pool Cues Overview
Few cue materials are more beloved than the standard wooden pool stick. When you hear of the cues the pros use to win championship pool games, their picks are far more often wood cues than any other material.
Not all wooden pool cues are created equally, and that’s an important distinction to make. Wood comes in all sorts of different grains and price points. Some wood cues have a spiral or circular grain, others an interlocking or straight grain, and more still a grain that’s only interlocked. Depending on the grain and the strength of the wood, some of these cues are easier to work with than others.
Here’s a complete list of the types of wood that are used to make pool cues as well as their grain, price range, and how easy they are to use:
- Pau ferro – straight grain, moderately easy to use
- Black ash – straight grain, easy to use
- Ebony – interlocked or straight grain, hard to use, tropical hardwood that’s expensive
- Padauk – straight grain, moderately easy to use, tropical hardwood
- Spalted maple – easy to use
- African blackwood – straight grain, hard to use, tropical hardwood that’s expensive
- Purpleheart – interlocked or straight grain, hard to use, tropical hardwood
- Brazilian lacewood – straight grain, easy to use
- East Indian rosewood – interlocked grain, hard to use, tropical hardwood that’s expensive
- Bloodwood – straight grain, hard to use
- Black maple – straight grain, easy to use
- Katalox – interlocked or straight grain, hard to use, tropical hardwood
- Cumaru – interlocked grain, hard to use
- Birdseye – interlocked grain, easy to use
- Kingwood – interlocked or straight grain, hard to use, tropical hardwood that’s expensive
- Bubinga – interlocked or straight grain, moderately easy to use, tropical hardwood
- Ramin – straight grain, easy to use, considered endangered
- Bocote – interlocked grain, moderately easy to use, tropical hardwood that’s expensive
- Tulipwood – straight grain, hard to use, tropical hardwood that’s expensive
- Curly maple – interlocked grain, moderately easy to use
- Snakewood – straight grain, hard to use, tropical hardwood that’s expensive
- Ironwood – straight grain, hard to use
- Boxwood – straight grain, moderately easy to use, expensive
- Rengas – straight grain, moderately easy to use
- Black cherrywood – straight grain, moderately easy to use
- Hard maple – straight grain, moderately easy to use
- Cocobolo – interlocked or straight grain, moderately easy to use, tropical hardwood that’s expensive
- Zebrawood – interlocked grain, moderately easy to use, tropical hardwood that’s expensive
- Holly – interlocked grain, moderately easy to use
Wooden pool cues are known for their durability, although they are prone to warping. Should you nick or dent your wooden cue, you can get it fixed by a pro so it looks as good as new again. The feel of a wood pool cue is by far its biggest attractant. The cue moves through your bridge hand with such ease that it’s like it was always meant to be there.
When you strike a ball with a wooden cue, it sounds and feels different than playing with a fiberglass cue.
Fiberglass Pool Cues Overview
That brings us to fiberglass pool cues. Fiberglass has become the material of choice for more and more everyday applications, from building swimming pools to storage tanks, cooling towers, marinas and docks, and of course, pool cues.
Fiberglass consists of glass fibers and reinforced plastic. The material comes in five types, A glass, C glass, E glass, AE glass, or S glass. Some fiberglass is better at insulating electricity, such as C glass, while others can resist chemicals like A glass. S glass is beloved for its structural soundness.
No matter the type, fiberglass has several properties that make it an adept material choice for manufacturing pool cues. It never rots, which the same cannot be said for wet wood. If you combine other materials like mineral matrices or synthetic resins with fiberglass, it can integrate effortlessly with these materials.
Temperature changes won’t affect fiberglass, and it’s incombustible. That means fiberglass can’t burn, which is great for peace of mind. It also has such mechanical strength that fiberglass has been proven in some applications to be stronger than steel. That’s saying something!
The Differences Between Wood and Fiberglass Pool Cues
Now that you’re more familiar with both wood and fiberglass pool cues, let’s delve into the differences between the two materials. This section will also act as a pros and cons list as obvious upsides and downsides between the pool cue types will emerge.
Fiberglass Won’t Warp
One of the most unfortunate issues if not the most unfortunate is when your wooden pool cue warps. We wrote a whole post on straightening a warped cue, but if you missed that, let’s recap the information here.
Wooden pool cues can warp if you put too much pressure on them, typically through misuse. It’s a good idea to have a dedicated storage case for your cues that you put them in when not playing. In between rounds of pool, don’t rest on your pool cue, and certainly don’t use it as a lightsaber against your buddies. Even if you don’t warp your cue, that’s a really good way to snap it!
Temperature changes can also make wooden cues warp. As you’ll recall from the section above, temperature extremes don’t affect fiberglass, which is why a cue made of fiberglass will never bend out of shape.
That said, wooden pool cues don’t have to warp. If you take care of yours, then it shouldn’t become bent except from many rounds of playing pool. Besides, it’s not like a warped pool cue has to be thrown away and replaced. You can straighten your cue by suspending it, but this method takes several weeks.
Sweating Is Okay When Playing with a Wooden Cue
Pool is a fun game when it’s with your buddies, but what if you get into competitive pool? Then the pressure is on. You might be a little sweaty playing a really intense game, and who can blame you for that?
The problem with playing pool with a fiberglass cue is that you’re punished for sweating. If your hands are slick with sweat, the fiberglass will get sticky on your hand. When you try to move the cue to strike the ball, the cue will remain in place. Then you could scratch.
This issue is preventable, but you’ll need to have foresight. With a bit of chalk powder on your bridge hand, the fiberglass pool cue moves in your palm almost as smoothly as a wooden cue does. Even still, it can be a bit embarrassing to have to chalk your hands, as then your competitor will know you’re nervous.
On top of that, you’ll need plenty of chalk, as you should expect to have to reapply the powder a few times throughout the game.
By the way, wood cues don’t stick if you’re sweaty, but they can get slick if your cue has a glossy finish.
Wood Cues Have a Preferable Feel for Many
The snap of the pool cue tip as it collides with the cue ball is one of the best feelings in the world, not to mention it’s a fantastic sound. You live for that moment, as it always reminds you why you play pool.
Now imagine when your pool cue tip strikes the cue ball that you don’t get that snap nor do you hear the distinct noise of cue and ball meeting. With a fiberglass cue, that’s a very likely possibility. Players have reported that the sound of fiberglass striking the cue ball doesn’t sound natural or appealing to them.
The feel is also something we have to talk about. Although wooden pool cues certainly have their faults, their feel is why pool players tend to gravitate towards them. Fiberglass cues might stick when you cue, and that never feels natural.
Fiberglass Cues Are Often Less Expensive
We have to talk about price, but we do want to point out that the price of a pool cue is not solely dependent on materials, but also on the brand, features, and other aspects of the cue’s construction.
That said, fiberglass pool cues may be cheaper, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t dirt-cheap wooden cues out there, as there absolutely are.
Which Pool Cue Is Better: Wood or Fiberglass?
Now it’s decision-making time. In our opinion as well as the opinions of many pool players, wood cues are the superior choice. Pro players tend to feel the same way, as how many professionals do you see on the pool circuit playing with a fiberglass cue? Not many.
The sticking of fiberglass is by far its biggest downside. Sure, wooden pool cues warp, but it would take a severely warped cue to impact your playing. A stuck fiberglass cue immediately changes how you play because your handling of the cue is different.
Above all, whether you’re more interested in a wood or fiberglass pool cue, make sure that you choose a cue with a weight limit that’s appropriate for you. If you buy a wood cue but it’s too heavy, you won’t get the kind of feel these cues are so renowned for.