Are cheap sticks worth it?

Hi all…new to the forum, and new to ‘serious’ fighting game playing in general.

I play on PC, and when I first started getting into SSF4 properly I used an Xbox 360 controller - needless to say it became obvious very quickly that I needed something better. Not ready to dump a bunch of money on a fightstick, I found a couple of MadCatz fightpads for cheap and I’ve been playing on one of those for the last month or so. I really like the feel - very responsive, and my execution has improved hugely as a result. (This is the pad I mean)

However, part of the reason I went for a fightpad over a stick was that I was under the impression that you couldn’t get a stick for less than like £150 - £200, and that was just way too much of an investment for me so early on. I’ve now discovered that you can get sticks much cheaper, e.g. This one or this one for £30-40 each.
My worry is - is a stick that cheap just a bunch of junk, or is it a good intermediate stage before taking the plunge on a proper, full price stick? Will it actually be more responsive/useful than my existing fightpad? Or is it just a waste of money, money that you might as well put aside for when you can put it toward a better stick?

(To take this out of the equation - I have no preference conceptually for either. I never played fighting games on old school consoles, and I never played them at arcades, so at this point I’m basically equally inexperienced with pads or sticks, give or take a couple of months of pad play, and I certainly don’t have any nostalgia or fondness for either)

tl;dr - I guess what I’m asking is; are you better off with a high quality pad, or a low quality stick?

It depends on what your goals are, if you just want to enjoy the game on a casual level, you don’t really need to buy a high quality products, however if you want to actually compete in your local scene and possibly internationally, then having the best products is advisable, since they will be more responsive and more durable, and in the end give you that extra edge you will have over someone who uses inferior products.

So in your case, I’d probably just keep the high quality pad over the low quality stick, until you’re willing to dish out some more money for the more expensive ones. I’ve played on a few of the cheaper ones before and the difference is very noticeable, the guy I borrowed the stick from even had a small tool kit with him, in case it would break again or something would come loose, which actually happened a bit later that day.

There’s one reason you can buy the cheaper stick though, and that’s when you really want to learn how to play on a stick, because you want to play at your local arcade or something or you just prefer having the ability to play on one. In that case you could buy the cheaper one and practice at home then go to your arcade and if you enter a tourney you could just borrow someone else’s stick or something. But even then I’d probably still save up for the more expensive one because they tend to be more durable, which will save you money in the long run.

I would go with a high quality pad over a low quality stick. However, I’m sure you wouldn’t enjoy it at all when inputs get dropped, so I wouldn’t sacrifice a potentially enjoyable experience just to save $70. The difference in quality will make its money (and worth) the more you play imo.

I agree with both of the people who responded already, but I believe that you are better off catching a sale on a quality arcade stick.
There have been moments where “top of the line” products sell at cheap rates.

The truth is, neither the expensive pad, nor the cheap stick will have any longevity. Both will last you for a while, but they wear down incredibly fast comparatively speaking.

Thanks for the advice guys, that’s really helped me out a lot in making a decision! Going to stick with the MadCatz pad for now and leave thinking about arcade sticks for the future…

The other thing you can do is find a cheap madcatz stick used and just buy the sanwa parts online. It’s what I ended up doing, and it’s worked out well. The 8 buttons + stick run you about 50$, and a used non TE stick shouldn’t be much more then 30-40$, so for about 80$ you could get something decent.

^ Depending how cheap you can find a used stick, it might even be cheaper to use other materials to make your encasing such as using a tupperware, tote or even a shoebox as some people have made here. It’ll be useful if you had at least a drill with a spade drill bit as well as a handsaw if yo’re dealing with wooden boards which is more than good enough for a stable playing surface.

A cheap stick may actually perform some moves more directly than a high quality stick.
This is both good and bad.

Good because it can make you perform moves better and faster. Eg on a cheap stick I use for portability with the laptop, shoryuken moves are much easier and faster to do than the Hori I have at home.

Bad because if you want more control for more complex and longer moves or combos where every detail counts, you’ll have some difficulties.

Still, I havent used the Hori to its full abilities but prefer it over the cheaper one, even though it is much harder to control (sensitivity mainly).

Still, for beginner to low-intermediate, a cheap stick is a good choice. depends what level you want to reach.