By: Paul Potier
One of the most common questions pool players ask me is what kind of tip I use and why. Until my first experience with layered tips, I didn’t like any tip that I had used in the previous 30 years of shooting pool. I only had experience with pressed leather tips like Elkmaster, French, and Blue Diamond. My first experience with layered tips was in the early 90’s, 1993 I think. I don’t remember who put it on my cue but I had a soft Moori tip and after just a few minutes of hitting balls with it I fell in love. I felt totally connected to it. I loved the soft hit and how the cue ball reacted to any english or draw exactly how I wanted it to.
I used a soft Moori tip on all my playing cues for the next few years before trying anything else. However after much experimentation with tips for my break cue and jump cue, I concluded that I needed exactly the opposite hit for them.
Both the break cue and jump cue had better results when using a very hard tip. It appears that the cue ball explodes forward with more energy when using a hard tip than a soft tip. It also jumps off the cloth easier, which makes it great as a jump cue tip. The only draw-backs when using a hard tip is that it deflects the cue ball more than a soft tip and a miscue is more likely to happen using a hard tip. Another concern when breaking with a hard tip is that it will make the cue ball jump off the cloth if struck downward with force. This could and sometimes does result in the cue ball jumping off the table. So I recommend a hard tip for the break cue and the jump cue. Many people use a phenolic tip on their jump cue and some even use it on their break cue. I don’t like phenolic tips because they feel and sound terrible. They are also illegal in some tournaments and organizations. I use a very hard Water Buffalo tip on my break cue and a linen based phenolic tip on my jump cue. Unfortunately no leather based product can make the cue ball jump as good as a plastic/phenolic composition so I am forced to use it on my jump cue.
Pressed tips vs Layered tips
It has been explained to me that pressed tips come in either of two types. One type is like the leather version of particle board. Made by shredding leather up then combining portions of that with a binding/glueing potion, then pressing it into a mold to form a tip. The other type is made by pressing a tool, much like a cylinder like cookie cutter, into a flattened piece of leather, then forming that plug of leather into a tip. A layered tip is made by stacking many thin layers of the same leather, usually pigskin, on top of one another then laminating or glueing them together to form a tip. Pressed tips are less expensive than layered tips but are not as consistent and are lower quality in general. Pressed tips are prone to mushroom out a lot and need much attention, i.e. shaping and sanding. Whenever I have a new Moori tip put on my shaft I use it for a couple of weeks until it mushrooms out a little then I have a tip expert reshape it on a lathe and harden the sides. After that I hardly ever have to do anything to it except chalk it.
I must admit that I don’t really know much about how tips are made, but I do know whether I like the hit or not. Since the 1990’s I have tried a number of other layered tips and still come back to the original soft Moori for my playing cue. I was lucky enough to purchase many soft Moori’s during my many trips to Japan and have enough for my own personal use for a few more years. Unfortunately Moori doesn’t make tips anymore. Moori tips are still available but I understand that they are not made in Japan anymore and I have been told that the quality is not as good as when they were made by Moori san himself. However the good news is that there are a few other Japanese tip makers who also make a layered pigskin tip offering different grades of hardness. Some of these companies are: Kamui, G2, Morakami, and Kamori.
In closing I highly recommend experimenting with the different hardness of a few layered tips to find the one that suits you. Enjoy the Process!