A short primer on Hadj cues. Hadj cues, is Hadjimar Baldeviso, a thirty-something cuemaker from Makati, Philippines. I first met Hadj about a year ago. My site, bilyar.NET was fairly new, the World Pool Championship was being held here for the first time, and my billiards addiction was stronger than ever. I’ve been wanting to retire my 10-year old Aragon cue, and figured the timing was perfect.
Before I knew Hadj, I knew little about the Philippine cue-making scene. Little did I know that while I was waiting for my Hadj custom cue, I would have gone to almost every cuemaker within Metro Manila, try their cues, buy some of their cues, sell their cues. Yes, all of that happened while I was waiting for my Hadj cue to be completed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.
What I had wanted from Hadj was a simple Efren Reyes inspired cue – plain jane bird’s eye maple with a cocobolo handle. I supplied the bird’s eye. Five years ago I was so into cues that I directly imported the woods which were hard to come by locally. Hadj is very methodical in his craft. See, the difference with Hadj and other local cue brands is that Hadj is actually the one making the cues from start to finish, dealing with the customers, marketing, buying raw materials, etc. I believe this is how American cuemakers do it, other Filipino cue brands on the other hand are usually marketed by a “capitalist,” where sometimes we don’t even get to talk to whoever built the cue. I hate to ruin the cue-making reputation in the Philippines, but some of these capitalists don’t even play pool to begin with.
I realized all of this after I had already given my order to Hadj, and boy was I glad. Hadj has been playing pool all his life. His venture into cuemaking is, to me, like his commitment to his pool passion. He knows every scientific detail there is to cuemaking, the ins and outs, he knows what kind of “hit” he wants his cues to have, and how he can relate to the customer’s needs with a little touch of the “Hadj hit.” When I’m in his shop, we talk pool and cues until the wee hours of the morning.
A year of waiting did not bother me. Take note, a year is not the usual waiting time for Hadj cues, some unfortunate incidents happened while my cue was being made, and, my wood was being made “stable” in the process. I let him design the ringwork and he came up with a bloodwood-bacote-bloodwood all-natural style that compliments the cue very well. It comes with two shafts, one with a WB tip and one with Elk Master (my request). The ferrule is also only 1/2 of an inch, which I think also contributes to the hit.
The hit. Ah, the heart of this review. For me, the cue did what I hoped it would do – retire my 10-year old playing cue. That is telling a lot. I’ve owned a lot of cues, I’ve always resorted back to my old cue. I always see something wrong with a new cue that I’m trying out. The weight, the balance, the hit, the shaft, the stiffness. I said this to Hadj when he asked for comments – “Bro, I haven’t found anything about the hit that I don’t like.” This is one solid hitting cue. Solid but natural. It feels like, well, wood. There’s a hit that is too stiff, usually one where a steel joint is involved, my cue is not like that. There is a hit that is too soft and whippy, my cue is definitely nothing like that. I’m not that technical in describing how a cue feels, all I can say is that this cue is definitely a keeper and a player.