I’ve recently just had a small 10 day vacation from work and during those days I only played pool a few times.  The most recent day was just Saturday evening.  As it turned out, it was a very good night to go.

Although we didn’t get our usual table, I was able to meet another player and get a number of excellent tips regarding break styles and stroke-tips in general.  In my opinion, the most important part of the night was being able to try a new cue and a new shaft.

Gene is a serious student of the game, as he confessed to me: when he’s not playing, he’s watching pool – if he’s not watching, he’s thinking about pool.  He plays every day, anywhere from 4-7 hours, at a number of halls, playing a number of games, including 9-ball, 10-ball, 14.1, one-pocket, snooker and 3-cushion.  He had a variety of cues in his case, but was playing with his Schon attached to a Predator Z2 shaft.  He let me hit a few balls with it, after a brief discussion on how harder tips are most likely to further exposure stroking flaws (a pure stroke is required to apply best english).

First off, the Predator Z2 is a 11.75mm diameter shaft – a full mm thinner than my traditional shaft; which I have to say is a HUGE difference.  At first it looked odd, but after just a few hits, I immediately saw the benefit: PRECISE application of english.  If you’re used to thinking in terms of applying spin in a multiple of tip-widths, a smaller tip will expand your range.  With my current shaft, I generally think in terms of 1, 1.5 and 2 tips for ‘a bit’, ‘average’ and ‘extreme’ amounts of english; using that shaft, I can more exactly apply anywhere (on the half-tip scale) from 0 to 3 tips of english anywhere in the 4 quadrants of the ball.  I also noticed a pretty sizable decrease in deflection.

Now, I had been thinking about trying an OB-1 shaft somehow, but after seeing the benefits of the thinner shaft, I might be looking for an OB-2 shaft.  As it turns out Gene has one; but he doesn’t like the tip on it, so he’s getting rid of it.  He likes the harder tips; for me, so far, I like the soft/medium tips – but am more open to a harder tip now than before.  I hope to run into him again and if so, I will ask to try his OB-2 shaft. I expect I will, since we frequently compete for ‘the good table’ at the weekend pool hall.

Now, here’s the real question:  Can I justify spending more on a new shaft (considerably more) than I paid for the entire cue?  A new Z2 shaft that will fit my cue (uni-loc joint) is $300.  Thanks to a deal I got on my cue, I paid right around half of that for my Lucasi E-7.  OTOH, the OB-2 shaft that fits my cue is almost $70 cheaper, according to their respective websites.

Also, I had been wanting to try out the Schon cues as a great next step for me.  The problem is that I’m not sure *why* I want to upgrade, other than I like buying things.  I would suggest to myself that getting a shaft is a) cheaper and b) a better choice because it’s applicable to the next cue.  However, since almost no “serious” cue maker uses the Uni-Loc joint, any shaft I buy will have to stay with the Lucasi.  Which, does mean that when it’s time to sell it, I can get more for the combo.  *sigh*  The other thing is, I really, really like the look of this cue.  It’s silly, but I do.  And I can’t possibly justify spending $1400 on a cue made from elephant ivory – then having to put another $300 shaft on it.  I have no dreams of touring and I don’t have the cash-flow for such frivolities, so… I think I’ve talked myself into just a new shaft this year.

Although, if something comes through the local hall that has a nice dark/smokey look to it that hits like a Southwest, I might seriously consider working something out. heh.