What happened to Schon Cues and what can I buy that hits like an old Schon today?
What happened to Schon Cues and what can I buy that hits like an old Schon today? This has to be the million-dollar question for many players. Especially if you played serious pool during the early 1990s. However, lets dive deeper into what made Schon cues the best on the market from the 1980s-1990s. Schon cues was founded by Terry Romine Sr. and Bob Runde in 1981. Terry was a perfectionist by trait in anything he did. He found Bob Runde to be the best at what he did. Together they designed what would become the best hitting cue of its era. After a few years of showing Schon cues to player sand competitors alike Schon was a hit. In 1985 they had to expand their shop size. This also meant brining in more master craftsmen to handle the workload.
When making pool cues it is a still to this day a very manual process. I myself am a machinist and know what it takes to dial in a lathe to .0001 of an inch accuracy on a cut. You have to have great equipment and steady hands on that dial. Additionally, a person has to be good at math calculations to ensure everything is made to fit within that .0001 of an inch accuracy. As an example, a hair is .0005 of an inch in size. Thus we really are splitting hairs here when building pool cues. A butt end of a cue is actually 3 main parts. The butt cap, handle, and forearm which are glued together to make it all one piece. Then the join pin has to be drilled, threaded, and installed exactly on dead center so it will marry up to the shaft without a wobble. You can see by saying all this not just anyone can make a high quality rare pool cue like a Schon. Different methods gives you different outcomes in the feel of the hit. Different woods used to pin types, and where you put the weight bolts. Then the accuracy of the parts fitting together plays a part. Runde had this down to an art and was able to get others to repeat his work.
Runde went with sharp points were takes a greater skill to assemble but sure does look very professional. Even when tried by CNC lathes of today you have to manually fit those parts together and glue them in tight. Otherwise the work is lost and you start over. Another tell sign of a Runde made Schon was the radial pins. Today everyone is about the quick release pins. However, that does affect the feel of the hit and thus the whole shot entirely. After many years Runde left Schon Cues and was replaced by Evan Clarke whom stayed with the company until he retired in 2015. It is safe to say the process changes during the Clarke years did not go as well. In our opinion it would have been best to continue on the same path with the processes Runde had in place. However, that was not the case. Clarke made Schon’s still had respect from players but it was not the same cue Runde made Schon cues were. More changes were made One of those changes was to use highly figured Maple forearms. The selection of which timber to use was carefully done and showed when a cue was finished. The cues did look much better and this helped in the asking price for a Schon cue.
One thing I’d say is many serious players will tell you it does not matter how it looks. It is how it hits. As a serious player myself I have to agree. The vanity in me will say however why can’t I have both hit and feel. I’d say the best thing Schon could do is go back to the Runde construction methods and use the Clarke era looks. This way you get the best of both worlds. Minus that you might ask, “ok where do I get a cue today that hits like a Runde Schon and looks like a modern pool cue?” Namely a cue that can have a lot of complexity in point and inlay design that most likely got made on a CNC lathe. Well I personally try to hit with every cue made that I can get my hands on. I’d say I found Predators Cues to be very similar to an older Clarke Schon and the Viking Two Feather series to be much closer to the Runde Schon hit. I would say Viking Cues is far better at the looks department than Predator. The price range for the Two Feather series of Viking Cues is high but consider what you are buying. I personally use the Viking Two Feather TF-ANZ pool cue. I find it very comfortable in my hands with the premium leather wrap. The looks are simply amazing that I get complements all the time. The most import part is the hit. It truly hits very close to the Runde era Schon cues.
Keeping in mind everyone has their preferences and my thoughts on hit and feel are mine. They will differ player to player. However, if you enjoyed the old school Schon Cues I think you will enjoy the Viking Two Feather series pool cues. This is where you get both hit and feel in one cue. A merger of Runde and Clarke in my opinion. If you prefer a medium hit versus the old firm hit that Schon had then a McDermott Cues is best for you in my opinion. If you prefer a soft hit then a Jerry Oliver or Meucci Cues will fit the bill. Jerry is out of Houston, TX and does great work. While I don’t sell cues for Jerry I do highly recommend his work. I have shot with his cues before in competition. Well Meucci Cues has been around for a long time. They have a softer hit and look great. If you want a one of one unique rare pool cue I’d call Jerry.