Today, there are literally hundreds of pool cues on the market. Ranging from budget models to custom high-end cues.
If you’re just starting out and on a budget, then your best bet is to buy an affordable pool cue as your first cue. A cheap pool cue is any pool cue that costs less than $50.
While there are plenty of cues that are made of high-quality materials and have a ton of features, these cues are not generally affordable for the average pool player.
Of course, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good playing cue, as there are some great options in this range.
Here is the list of our 5 Best Pool Cues Under $50
- Viper Graphstrike 58″ 2-Piece Fiberglass Graphite Composite Billiard/Pool Cue
- McDermott Cues Lucky L1
- AB Earth Pool Cue (2nd Generation)
- GSE Games & Sports Expert 58″ 2-Piece Fiberglass Billiard Pool Cue Stick
- Pathline Pool Cue Stick
Fiberglass vs Wood Pool Cues
Before we dive into our review, let’s have a quick look at what materials you should consider when choosing a cue.
Which is better between these two? These two are the most common materials you can usually find in this price range.
The main difference between these two is how they feel while playing.
Wooden cues have a natural feel to them and they are easy to maintain.
Some prefer wooden cues because its lightweight and glide easily to their fingers, thus giving them smoother strokes.
One thing that you should be aware of is they can warp if you leave them inside your car on a hot sunny day.
On the other hand, fiberglass cues don’t warp easily even if you leave them inside your car.
But they do have a distinct feel when playing. They feel sticky, well, some players prefer it or use gloves when playing with a fiberglass cue.
Unfortunately, we can’t have a “real” fiberglass cue at this price range.
They are only used to wrap or coat a wooden core. So basically, don’t get confused when manufacturers say it’s a fiberglass cue.
It isn’t really is. It is actually a wooden core inside, coated with thin fiberglass on the outside.
Real fiberglass or graphite pool cues are much more expensive than the cues you’re going to find in this price range.
All in all, it all boils down to your preference, but we suggest getting a solid maple wood cue as your first cue.
Not only that it is easier to maintain, but also it feels more natural to use.
Are These Pool Cues Good for Starters?
Well of course! These cues can teach you the basics of playing pool. They are decent shooters and they also look good.
Although some of them have thicker shafts therefore it can take you some time to get used to them.
Just don’t expect that they will last longer because they are actually made with decreased durability in mind to let these cues be as affordable as possible.
Read more: Best Pool Cues for the Money
Nevertheless, these pool cues have good enough playability for most players.
They hit consistently, can be used for breaking, and has a 2-piece construction for portability.
If you are really on a budget and wanted to take less risk, go and grab one of these great pool cues.
With that being said, having your own pool cue is much better than any bar cues because it can help you to get familiar with your own cue and be consistent with it.
The most important part is to start playing and upgrade later if deemed necessary.
1. Viper Graphstrike 58″ 2-Piece Fiberglass Billiard/Pool Cue
Our top choice is this attractive pool cue made by Viper.
The Viper Graphstrike is made from “high strength” fiberglass that offers the durability and power needed for every hit. The beauty of having a fiberglass cue is it doesn’t warp easily.
But in this case, Graphstrike actually has a wooden core wrapped in fiberglass skin.
This pool cue is straight as an arrow right off the bat and it comes in two color choices, a black if you want to have a more serious look and a maroon if you want something peculiar.
Whatever color you choose, they both look classy and definitely can be mistaken for higher-end models.
It has a standard weight of 19 oz and its balance is pretty good for its price.
You can expect smooth strokes when using the Graphstike. Its 2-piece construction is another great feature for added portability and customizability.
Another notable feature about this affordable pool cue is its Veltex Wrap. This type of wrap is usually found in higher-end pool cues like Cuetec.
Although, we’re sure the one they used in Graphstike was of lesser quality.
The Graphstrike’s leather tip is glue-on and it is actually flimsy, so we suggest replacing it right away.
There a different tips for specific purposes, you can opt for a soft tip for more “control” or a hard tip if you want more pop to your hits.
Well of course given this price range, we can expect that the shaft is a normal deflection type.
And it is okay if you’re a complete beginner, but as you gain a significant amount of playing time, we suggest upgrading to an intermediate pool cue. Having a low-deflection shaft can help you to aim more precisely.
Basically, all the pool cues in this range are the same in terms of playability and performance.
It all boils down to what color and which design you prefer.
But what makes the Viper Graphstrike stand out among other pool cues at this price range is its affordability and it can improve your game despite the cheaper price tag.
- Great value for money.
- Looks classy.
- It’s not 100% fiberglass.
- Has a 1-year limited warranty.
2. McDermott Cues Lucky L1
This cue has a great brand, great looks, and pretty solid hits.
Actually, this could be our top pick but it’s a little way over $50 (insert sad face here).
We recommend this McDermott Lucky L1 if you can wait and save at least $30 more for a starter cue. Generally, the materials in the cue determine how it plays and how long it will stay straight.
A quality pool cue is one made of solid Hardrock maple. This type of wood is strong and yet light.
Luckily, the Lucky L1 is made of premium Hardrock maple and it will not warp that easily. Depending on your needs, you can choose from 18-21 oz.
This is all a matter of personal preference. The standard weight is 19 oz, but some people prefer 18.
Anything lower is not as common, but still not unheard of. Many people like slightly heavier cues in the 20 or 21 oz. range.
The thinking is that the extra weight helps keep the cue from moving around too much. Additionally, its joints fit nicely tight for added stability.
Well, a fiberglass pool cue like the Viper Graphstrike is no slouch as well. The main difference is their feel. Of course, wood cues have a more natural feel whereas fiberglass can feel pretty sticky to play with.
Now back to the McDermott Lucky L1, its finishing is excellent and its shaft feels glass-smooth.
This great cue doesn’t have a wrap but it is not slippery. You can hold it confidently knowing that it will not slip out of your hand.
We can definitely say that this cue will inspire you to play a lot of games.
In addition, the Lucky L1 comes with a hard tip, so you can expect that it will last longer than soft tips.
We know some players who already have their own shooting cue or advanced pool cues, use the Lucky L1 as a break cue because of its hard tip and its conical taper which will flex less during breaking.
The only disadvantage we can think of is, that some players reported that it came with broken joints.
So, you have to buy from a reputable store. Fortunately, unlike the Viper Graphstrike, this one comes with a 3-year warranty.
So all in all, the McDermott Lucky L1 is a great starter cue that has excellent playability. If you can save up a little, get this cue and it will serve you well.
- A solid starter cue that can also be used for breaking.
- Premium-looking design.
- Some players prefer a cue that comes with a wrap.
3. AB Earth Pool Cue (2nd Generation)
The first-generation AB Earth Pool Cue is one of the best-selling cues out there. It is known for its beautiful and sleek design with an amazing price point.
Unfortunately, they decided to increase its pricing from $40 to more than $60 (as of the time of writing), which was expected, given how popular their cues have become.
So we didn’t include it in this list. But the good news is, this 2nd Generation of AB Earth is actually below $50 and has the same playability.
It doesn’t have the unique shape and ergonomic grip of the AB Earth Ergonomic Grip Cues but what it has is a faux leather wrap that has an anti-slip function.
What it does is, absorbs sweat better and give you an outstanding grip.
There are plenty of sleek designs to choose from and the handmade painting design really stands out.
Actually, that alone makes this AB Earth Pool Cue worth your money. It is also made from maple so we can expect some sturdiness in there.
The balance is on point and the whole cue is straight. Its joints are secure enough to hold the cues together as well.
Even though the AB Earth Pool Cue is pretty cheap, we can safely say that it is miles above any bar house cues.
Of course, it is not a perfect product, one thing to note is the rubber base can fall off easily and the tip needs to replace after a few sessions.
Also, sooner or later you will be aware that this cue is lacking in some departments, particularly in aiming and spin, and will find yourself looking for an upgrade.
Nevertheless, their target market is aimed at complete beginners that are looking for their first shooting cue without spending too much. And they absolutely succeeded in that regard.
- Great, unique design.
- Playability is actually decent.
- Needs to re-tip sooner than expected
4. GSE Games & Sports Expert 2-Piece Fiberglass Billiard Pool Cue Stick
There is another fiberglass pool cue on our list and that is the GSE Games & Sports Fiberglass Pool Cue Stick.
Like the Viper Graphstrike, this pool cue has a wooden core coated in fiberglass.
It is not 100% fiberglass therefore we can expect that although it can last for a while, the GSE Games & Sports Pool Cue can warp over time. The tip of this cue is softer than others and that is actually good for added spin.
Although I said earlier that fiberglass cues are also great for breaking, this particular pool cue has a softer tip and for that reason, it transfers energy much slower than hard tips.
Breaking with this cue would be not as clean and solid if we compare it with a harder tip.
The matte green color has a nice vibe to it and can actually turn some heads. It also has the Veltex wrap that you can find in the Graphstrike and Cuetec pool cues.
Its stainless steel joint is tight and strong enough to avoid any vibrations while playing.
Thanks to its balance and straightness, you can expect that it has solid and consistent hits. Again, at this price point, we can expect that it has a stiff shaft therefore it has more deflection than the higher-end models.
Despite its shortcomings, the GSE Games & Sports Fiberglass Pool Cue is a great choice as your first cue. It has a solid hit, plays really well and is affordable.
- Straight as an arrow
- The joint fits tight
- We are not certain about its durability
5. Pathline Pool Cue Stick
Just a little over $50, the Pathline Pool Cue Stick has an eye-catching style that can motivate you to use it every time you play.
It is straight out of the box therefore you can use it right away.
Shots with the Pathline Pool Cue come out as solid and consistent as well.
This pool cue is made of Canadian maple with a beautiful overlay.
Like the GSE & Games Pool Cue, this pool cue also comes with a dome-shaped textured soft tip that holds chalk better and allows the players to gain more control of the cue ball.
The butt has a high gloss epoxy paint finish and it does look really cool. Not only that but it also a multiple layers of varnish to protect it against warpage and minor dents.
Its balance is pretty good thus providing the players to have smoother strokes.
Like most cues with 2-piece construction, the Pathline Pool Cue has a solid stainless joint that helps stabilize the cue giving your more solid shots.
Again, as with other cues in this price point, the tip comes off easily after a few games. The shaft is also on the thick side and it can cause discomfort to other players.
Nevertheless, this is a decent shooter that can teach you the basics of playing pool before upgrading to a higher-model cue.
- Great balance
- Has a thick shaft
Mike Woodward is the Founder & CEO of Minibar Online. He has played pool and billiards for almost two decades. He also tests the latest pool cues, pool balls and other gear from Cuetec, Predator, Lucasi and other pool/billiards brands. He currently lives in San Diego, California where he plays a lot of competitive matches.