Does A Pipe Shape Influence The Smoking Experience?

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor


Jan 14, 2016
I just recently got a bulldog pipe, and I'm really loving it. I like the way it sits in my hand, and the thickness of it as well.
But as you can guess from the topic title, I was wanting to know if certain pipe shapes go better with certain types of tobaccos. My thought is that it does, much like alcohol does with particular drink ware, such as a champagne glass, or a tulip glass for whisky.



Preferred Member
May 5, 2014
I think that is you like the feel, touch, look of the pipe, you will generally enjoy the smokes out of it more than pipes that are less appealing tactile and visually.
With some exceptions, everyone has heard of the mythical magic pipe that smokes everything like heaven, but looks like junk and they found in a basket for $5.

Mar 16, 2014
It does, but not in the same way a pipe's engineering does. The pipe's shape alone is an aesthetic influence on the experience (which of course is relative to a person's likes and dislikes), but when you start to bend, twist, stretch, etc... the materials into various shapes beyond the straight pipe; the chances the shape influences the smoking experience increase relative to the makers level of skill and care for a pipe's engineering. Long story short, it can but shouldn't if the pipe has been made by someone who knows what they're doing. Otherwise, it's just a personal preference thing.



Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
United States
I was wanting to know if certain pipe shapes go better with certain types of tobaccos. My thought is that it does, much like alcohol does with particular drink ware, such as a champagne glass, or a tulip glass for whisky.
The answer is yes. For example, when you are smoking a flake, a smaller pipe ( group 4-5) works better in my experience. In terms of shape, Dublins, Rhodesians, Apples, Brandy's,Billiards work nicely for me. For English blends larger pipes( group 6-ODA work better as the multiple components that are ribbon and other cuts besides flakes in them have space and time to develop as you are smoking them. Pipes with 7/8 to 1" inside bowl diameters worked best for me when I smoked English blends. I also like bigger pipes for Aromatics., shape doesn't really matter to me.



Oct 2, 2015
Holy crap. If a group 4 or 5 is small, what is a group 1 or 2?
Very small pipes like that seem to get their fair share of love from forum members. There have been a few times recently where I've wished I had a nice small pipe for a quick 20 min smoke. This was a pretty interesting thread from a little while ago all about the usefulness of small pipes. Lots of picture, too!



Preferred Member
Jun 1, 2013
Group 1&2 sized pipes are for woman, no self respecting male would be caught dead smoking one.
Ouch... I guess us guys who like smaller pipes are confident enough to not have to compensate :nana:



Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
I don't think the shape of the bowl influences the smoking experience so much as the shape, width, and depth of the chamber. Don't get me wrong, I think the bowl shape has some influence. I just think it's the chamber that makes the bigger difference.



Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
I don't think it is the particular shape that pairs with a blend or type of leaf. I think it is more the dimensions. Perhaps also the shape of the chamber, cylindrical or conical. I can't rattle off what dimensions and shape chambers do best with which kind of leaf. However, I think a wider chamber often does better with complex blends, four or more tobaccos, to let them burn simultaneously and give a more complex flavor. I find average to narrow chambers that are pretty deep best for burley like Semois, a burley variant. Virginias and Va/Per seem to come up really well in medium or smaller pipes and sometimes in conical bowls. But there are not hard and fast rules. Like Harrison, I used to think small pipes were some kind of toys or souvenirs, but then fishnbanjo put me onto them, and I tried one. You can get a good long smoke out of flake/cube/twist in a small pipe. They are great for sampling, short smokes, and getting the range on full-strength leaf before you plunge in with a big bowl (I've done that too, exhilarating but sometimes ill advised). I think foggymountain has gone with some smaller Dunhills, notable princes, in recent years. I like a variety of sizes. Plenty of medium size, some good giants, and a few small ones including small cobs. Finally, you do this by trial and error. Some pipes that you wouldn't pair with, say, an English blend turn out to be great for that. So it's mostly knowing your own pipes and trying different blends.



Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
In this order or I wouldn't smoke it, much less own it. A pipe has to fit my eye, then my fist, then pass the fit and finish exam. Lastly is how it smokes. If it is an acceptable smoke I keep it. If not it disappears. So yes, shape is critical. If it never catches my eye; I will never smoke it.



Preferred Member
Dec 28, 2011
Topeka, KS
I'm on the fence when it comes to pots.
They're not terribly attractive yet I've got two that I refuse to give away: a Jobey and an Irwin's, a GBD 2nd. I smoke Lats in all of my pipes but the tobacco seems to really blossom in these two. There might be a good scientific explanation for that phenomenon or maybe it's just my overly active imagination.
I have a nice collection of smaller pipes that I once used for shorter smokes. But these days, if I want a 20 minute smoke of a few more puffs before bed, I just load a smaller amount of tobacco in my larger pipes. (They're the ones I enjoy the most.)
"Group 1&2 sized pipes are for woman, no self respecting male would be caught dead smoking one."
Harris, you're one of the very few people here who could make a statement like that and not be crucified upside down.

Jun 5, 2015
Yes and no, it really depends on which part of the "Smoking Experience" you are talking about. Some shapes feel more confortable in your hand; some are better at insulating or dispersing heat; some may simply look more appealing whilst you are smoking it. All these things can affect how you perceive the experience. As for whether the shape of the bowl really affects the taste of the tobacco, I'm a little doubtful; the shape of the chamber might, but even that is improbable.
You cannot compare pipe shapes to liquor glassware, because these two things work in totally difference ways. A beverage's aroma travels upwards, so a glass with a narrower top will concentrate that smell; however all tobacco smoke passes from the pipe chambers through a narrow tube that's about 3mm wide into your mouth, so in theory the shape shouldn't matter. But that's just my opinion, others might find subtle differences be they physical or psychological.



Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2015
I have two small Stanwells that are the perfect kake / plug pipes. I find these tobaccos smoke much better in these than in larger pipes. I also have several KS pipes that are perfect for flakes. Size matters more than shape for me. Shape, in my own humble opinion, is a matter of visual preference and don't really change the taste or performance of a tobacco.



Preferred Member
May 29, 2011
Logically, the shape of the pipe should have little influence, but it may reveal some of the basic engineering, as the more bend a given pipe has, the more difficult it may be to pass a cleaner, and that effects the flow of the smoke, condensation, and subsequently the quality of the experience. But all this is academic. Different ratios of bowl width and depth will result in different burn rates, and that seems to effect the experience with regards to certain types of blends. Generally, I have read that tall, narrow bowls are better for singular tobacco blends,such as straight Virginia, whereas more complex blends benefit from a wider bowl so that a larger variety of leaf can be lit all at once. In practice, I haven't found it always to be the case. The briar, the airway length and diameter, and even the feel of the bit in the mouth have bearing as well, for me.

This is as subjective as glassware, in most cases. i like to try different tobaccos in different pipes, and then decide which is better for that particular blend. My tastes are bound to be different that someone else's.



Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2012
In my experience, the pipe length gives me a different experience. The longer the pipe is, the cooler the smoke. I tend to clench my pipes a lot because I am generally doing things while smoking, so I usually don't smoke my shorter pipes while clenching. Just because sometimes the short stubby pipes can irritate me a little bit if the smoke is just staying around my nose. I can say that corn cobs and burley tobacco go great together. As for a shape and a certain tobacco, I personally don't notice a huge difference but maybe some of the other guys do.



Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2014
Edit: lost 2/3 of my post because I used a "less than" symbol just reposting the "bits".
Yeah, totally. Bowl dimensions do alter the presentation but not the character of a blend. I was curious about this too so I bought pipes in a range of diameters from 16-24mm and compared tasting notes with a few blends I knew really well. The take away for me was blends at 19mm or narrower highlighted the high notes (citrus, etc) while down playing the deeper note (bread, malt, nuts), whereas the opposite occurs in bowls 21mm and above. This becomes slightly more perceptible the further you progress from 20mm.



Preferred Member
Aug 14, 2012
The pipes with more briar soak up more stain in the finishing process. These tend to take longer to break in because it takes longer to neutralize the taste.



Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
Monterey Peninsula
In my experience, the pipe length gives me a different experience. The longer the pipe is, the cooler the smoke.
Your experience is your experience, and is pretty much all that counts! However, the amount of cooling a longer stem—even a churchwarden—provides is barely measurable by scientific equipment.