The question that comes up is if you need a special cue stick. For the most part, you don’t and that’s a good thing because special cue sticks cost more money. Eventually though, if you want to try some of the more difficult shots, you will want to upgrade your equipment.
You don’t need any special equipment to start
I use a regular 19 oz. McDermott M43D pool cue stick for most of my shots. You do have to make sure your cue is in good condition though, especially the tip since that’s the only part of the cue that actually contacts the cue ball. Make sure it’s well shaped (not mushroomed or flat), that it’s holding chalk, and that you provide it chalk. Also splurge on high quality chalk (Master and Silver Cup come to mind). A box of 12 will only set you back a few bucks and, if you treat them right, will last practically forever.
One of the more common special sticks, even in standard pool games, is the jump cue. Jump cues are shorter and lighter than normal playing cues. These cues obviously help you jump over obstructing balls. Jump cue tips are usually made out of phenolic resin (similar to what pool balls are made out of). They are harder and are generally shaped flatter than what you normally play with. There are also dual-purpose jump/break cues that have three sections which are more useful if you play games where a hard break is important. There are many jump cues on the market. Since most are made similar to each other, they’ll all work, but you may need to adjust your stroke more to one than another. Check out my jump cue article for more information on types of jump cues.
Masse cues are shorter, heavier, and stiffer than regular cues
Special cues are also available for masse shots. The masse cue is more difficult to find as few, if any, are mass produced. Mine comes from Crown Cues, a custom cue maker. Masse cues are shorter than normal playing cues as well, but not as short as jump cues usually. What makes them different is that they are heavier and stiffer than regular cues, often weighing around 24 or 25 oz. While a masse cue won’t automatically masse for you (you still need to develop a good masse stroke), it does make it easier and can increase the fanciness of your shots. If you want to learn a little bit more, read my masse cue article.