What is different about a massé cue, and can it make the shots easier?
Massé cues are typically shorter, heavier, and stiffer, and typically have a larger shaft diameter and tip. The shorter length is to improve handling and reduce overhead clearance problems. The extra strength and stiffness are for durability and better action. The extra weight can also help you get more action with less effort. Some people prefer a softer tip, but it won’t hold up to abuse as well as a harder tip. But with a harder tip, you need to make sure it is well chalked (as with any tip) and that it is holding the chalk well to provide good contact with the ball. A medium-hard tip offers the good compromise of durability and chalk-holding reliability.
from Bob Jewett:
The cue that the artistic billiards players typically use is short, heavy and has a 14-16mm tip. Maybe 50 inches and 24 ounces. If you’re going to be playing these shots in matches, you have to decide which cue you’re going to be using for them. Also, the tip is typically soft, which means that your break cue is probably not appropriate. I think the soft tip helps keep the ball on the table.
Be prepared to change tips.
Wax the cue ball to get action more like on new cloth. If your cloth is old, there are two problems. The cue ball will tend to stick to the cloth as it’s driven into it, which tends to kill the action and/or rip the cloth. The spin will take quickly, which doesn’t get you the big arcs you’re looking for.
Most jump cues will have a phenolic tip. Massé cues will use a leather tip because you still need grip to impart all that spin. A lot of massé cues will have a larger tip (14 mm). Some jump cues will, but most stay around 13 mm. I like a lighter massé cue, between 19-21 oz. I’ll use a heavier one (24 oz) on certain shots. But some guys have them up to 30 oz or more. Jump cues tend to stay between 6-10 oz. Massé cues will also tend to be a little longer than jump cues. Most jump cues stay around 40 inches, I think primarily because of the weight issue. Massé cues are usually between 46-52 inches (don’t take these numbers as hard stops though).