Brandon Jacoby – Meet The Cuemaker With Michelle Hughes – Columns

Brandon Jacoby

Wise words from one Jacoby to another, “It’s a whole lot easier to make a living from pool, not at pool.” Words from his father that Brandon lived by. This month’s “Meet the Cue Maker” we hear from Brandon Jacoby of Jacoby Custom Cues.

Brandon Jacoby, 48, resides in Nekoosa, Wisconsin with his wife and four children. Growing up, playing pool was a family activity for as long as he can remember. Everyone was involved, from his grandfather to aunts, uncles, cousins and most influential, his dad. With the Jacoby name being a family brand, it would be difficult to lead into Brandon’s cue making career without first touching on his dad’s. Dave Jacoby, Brandon’s father, shared in the same love of the game. He was an avid pool player and often went on the road traveling for tournaments. Brandon recalls being young and tagging along for a few but at the time, he was more interested in the swimming pool at the hotel than joining his dad in the tournament rooms. After growing a strong love of the game, Dave developed a curiosity about the equipment and started with simple cue repair. He purchased his first lathe in 1983 from future Viking Cues founder, Gordy Hart. When Dave wasn’t at his primary job at the papermill, he spent much of his free time doing cue repair in his garage. He learned mostly by trial and error and cutting bar cues in half. Brandon states however, that his father also attributes learning a fair amount from cue makers Jerry Olivier, Keith Josey and founder of the American Cuemakers Association (ACA), Leonard Bludworth. Dave later stepped into the role of cue maker and even joined the ACA when it was formed in 1992. He went on to lead an active role in the ACA including positions on the board, vice president and even president. Presently, Dave has mostly stepped back from his various roles in cue building and will soon be retired.

While his father was beginning his pursuit in cue building, Brandon’s interest in the game heightened. By age 16, Brandon was spending all his free time playing pool and he even aspired to make a career of it. It was at that time his father shared with him some important wisdom. He advised, “It’s a whole lot easier to make a living from pool, not at pool.” Unlike most children that age, Brandon listened to his dad’s advice. When he became of age, he switched gears and enlisted in the military with the intent to become a police officer. However, when he completed basic training and it was time to continue his education, his dad convinced him to go to school locally. By doing this, Brandon was able to work in his dad’s shop part-time and they both quickly realized they made a great team. In 1996, Dave ended his employment at the papermill and teamed up with his 22-year-old son to establish Jacoby Custom Cues. They’ve been working together building cues full-time ever since.

Brandon has spent the last 28 years working side by side with his dad and learning all his techniques. Although he has many awards under his belt, he states to this day the highlight of his career has been being able to work alongside his father for so long. With his father now mostly retired, Brandon looks forward to the day his own children can join in. His son welcomes this tradition and happily told him he can’t wait until he can join at the shop so they can “drive each other crazy” working together. Even still, there is plenty of room at the shop allowing space when needed. The Jacoby shop is open to the public and consists of 25,000 sq ft with a 1,500 sq ft showroom in front featuring cues on display. Customers come from all over to visit and often receive a tour of the shop as well. A large range to choose from, Jacoby Custom Cues include about 60% custom designs with around 40% made of small production batches. When choosing a build, he divides his cues into four categories: Freestyle, custom, heritage series or short-line, and custom inspired. Freestyle allows Brandon to choose all aspects of the design and build. Custom brings together a collaboration between him and the customer for the design and build. Heritage series or short line typically includes a batch of five that consists of matching inlays that pair together. Lastly, custom inspired involves a customer choosing a design from a prior custom cue but tailoring it to match their needs. With Jacoby cues, all components are built in house except for the bumper, the tip, and the occasional pin. Cues can be full splice or short splice, whichever the customer chooses. Once completed, you’ll find Brandon’s signature and date between the points and the logo at the butt of the cue. Brandon states what sets his cues apart are his material and color choices. He enjoys pairing wood with materials that aren’t often seen together such as buffalo turquoise or malachite. While many cue makers focus on fine detail you can only see up close, Brandon does the opposite focusing on bold choices allowing you to see the design from across the room. With such eye-catching designs, it’s no wonder he’s created cues for such high-profile names as Corey Duel and Jeannette Lee. He’s even made a cue for pro football player Payton Manning. Although he’s enjoyed making cues for some memorable names, what he really enjoys are the cues he submits each year for the ACA challenges.

Each year, the ACA holds competitions in which cue makers get to submit their work to be voted on. One of the largest events is the yearly Super Billiards Expo. Jacoby has submitted cues for this event since 2008. Obviously, a fan favorite, 14 out of the last 15 years they’ve taken either 1st or 2nd place in the ACA’s People’s Choice award. One such cue that Brandon is particularly proud of is the “Shah Jahan”, named after the man who commissioned India’s Taj Mahal. The cue is inspired by what very few have seen, which is the interior of the Taj Mahal. This cue design highlights the symmetry and beauty of the mausoleum. All within the inlay of the cue you will find blue lapis, oyster, angel wing shell, box elder burl and ebony. It required over 300 hours to build with the work of 10 team members and sold for $25,000. Although their award-winning cues often carry a large price tag, Jacoby cues are typically affordable to most players with average prices ranging from $340 to $3,000. Their yearly production sits at around 2,000 playing cues per year. However, you can double that number if you include their break and jump cues. 

To get your own Jacoby Custom cue, you can check current stock with various dealers listed by state on their website at Alternatively, if you’d like to start the process of having your own custom built, just fill out a request form which can also found on their website. Staff will then work with the customer on design and build. The current waitlist is 12 months with each cue then taking about 9 to 12 months to complete. He credits this quick turnaround to his three key shop assistants: Tony Reimer, Shane Walker and Tim Kobza whom all play a substantial role in the process. Having his team allows Brandon to complete cues faster along with the flexibility to travel to more events. Attending on average 40 events per year, Brandon travels more than most cue makers. He says his favorite part about being a cue maker is the interaction with customers which also keeps him relevant and up to date on what’s going on in the industry. You can find him at most Wisconsin state events as well as APA team events and the Derby City Classic. You’ll also see him every year at the Super Billiards Expo. Next year will be no different. So, make sure you stop by, say hello and see what the next potential award winner may be