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bersekero

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 29, 2023
118
234
Greece
I always start cheap. That is common logic. I need to see if a new hobby, sport, interest, experience is right for me.

Then I associate with experienced people and become a member of a nice forum and here we go. Forums are a real disaster. They drain your pocket.

Quality aka expensive equipment works better. That is true with all my other activities and in general. Road bikes, road running shoes, mountain running shoes, trekking shoes or boots, fishing rods, airguns, bows, r/c airplanes.

When I started pipe smoking 25 years ago, I bought some basket pipes. I quit shortly maybe because I never had someone to teach me how to smoke.

Now I found this place and, in a few weeks, I bought a MM cob, a Chacom, a Savinelli, a Dunhill, a Radice and a Castello. In that order. I still have the old Fe.ro.

Long story short I almost always reach for the expensive pipes. As a newbie I am not in the position to appreciate and tell which smokes the best but I certainly like the pricey ones much more.

So, do expensive pipes really smoke better?
 

warren

Lifer
Sep 13, 2013
11,812
16,588
Foothills of the Chugach Range, AK
Not as a rule. No. More costly pipes maybe better made, have precious metal attachments, feel better in the fist, fit one's eye and such. Certain brands have "wide open" draws. That's a plus to some. Others are drawn by workman ship, detail, tighter draw, and so forth. Some prefer a thin, well cut bit. Others simply stick the pipe in their maw, clench it and enjoy. You've asked a question which is unanswerable. It's a personal choice, to buy a pipe. You'll discover what you seek in a pipe as you gain experience.
 

burleybreath

Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 29, 2019
985
3,427
Finger Lakes area, New York, USA
So, do expensive pipes really smoke better?
Not necessarily. In my experience there's just less likelihood of them smoking terrible. Factor in the finishing details, especially the handmade stem and fitting, and it becomes difficult to resist their seduction. When I reach for a high-end piece, it's usually in anticipation of their feel, balance, and looks more than an expectation of a better smoke, at least as far as taste goes. Some are better engineered than the lower priced marques, better draft, less gurgling, etc. Wish I had bought fewer mediocre pipes and more of the expensive ones--for the same money, in total. Make sense? Maybe.
 

Winnipeger

Lifer
Sep 9, 2022
1,288
9,673
Winnipeg
So, do expensive pipes really smoke better?
One would hope if you pay hundreds of dollars for a pipe, you're less likely to get a dud, but the short answer, in my opinion, is no. Expensive pipes don't smoke any better as a general rule; but they may look nicer, have more carefully shaped hand-cut stems, with comfortable bits and buttons. Aesthetics can go a long way towards enjoyment, but you can get some excellent smokers, especially on the estate market, for not very much money. This Ropp was about $30.00 on Ebay and it's a great pipe with some nice interesting grain and a super-comfortable, vulcanite stem.
IMG_3641.jpg
 

OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
5,951
31,900
71
Sydney, Australia
The saying “you get what you pay for” is not strictly accurate
While quality increases as you go up the price scale above basic, after a certain point, quality increases in decreasing increments (decreasing marginal returns)
While price increases exponentially

A $250 Peterson or Savinelli or Stanwell will smoke better than a $30 basket pipe or Chinese made “ebony wood” pipe from Amazon

But will a $750 Dunhill or Castello smoke 3 times better than that $250 pipe ?

And how much better will a $2000 Eltang or $5000 Sixten Ivarsson or Jess Chonowitsch be compared to the Dunhill or Castello ?
Let alone a $15,000 Bo Nordh

I have only been back smoking pipes for a few years but have been drinking wine since my University days in the 1970s
In that time I have seen the price of a bottle of Ch Petrus increase from $150 to over $6000 today.
And a bottle of DRC Romanee Conti go from $150 to $15,000 in the same time
While viticultural practices and winemaking have advanced in those decades, the quality has improved but not by leaps and bounds.
Rather the price rises are due to limited supply and vastly increased world-wide demand

And no, I have not bought Ch Petrus or DRC Romanee Conti in decades
Nor do I own an Ivarsson or Nordh 😁
 

bersekero

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 29, 2023
118
234
Greece
Thank you for all the responses.

Maybe my question is more philosophical than practical.

Is a Harley better than a half-priced Honda chopper? The Honda is probably better engineered and faster but everybody wants a Harley. Maybe no one turns the head to admire a Honda.

Is a pretty woman better in bed than a plain woman? Most probably not necessarily but everyone wants to go with the pretty one.

I am not sure if a pipe is a piece of gear, a tool or something else. Maybe it is mainly an object for satisfaction and enjoyment and has nothing to do with a screwdriver and that is the reason the pricey are more appealing. Because design, quality and aesthetics is a big part of the enjoyment package.

Smoking in general doesn’t have to be an addiction. I certainly don’t see it as a hobby. It is an enjoyment. Of course, we are addicted and we satisfy our addiction. Pleasure comes with many ways and we get it with our mouth and tongue, nose, eyes, hands, ears. Smoking, especially pipe smoking, satisfies almost all senses. So, I think pricey pipes “work” better even if they do not smoke better.
 

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
43,636
110,432
It's a dunhill, it must be good.
Again, careful what you buy. I've not had much luck with their drilling.

20220409_014324.jpg

But even those can be easily had if sellers make mistakes.

Remini20220309174646694.jpg

The actual stamped Dunhills haven't been produced since 2011 and have been relegated to "Alfred Dunhill's White Spot". Their pricing is definitely about their branding.
 

bersekero

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 29, 2023
118
234
Greece
I bought my two expensive pipes, the dunhill and the castello, from the smokingpipes estates so there must be some kind of confidence about the quality. Anyway few hundred euros is by no means a fortune.
 
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OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
5,951
31,900
71
Sydney, Australia
Pleasure comes with many ways and we get it with our mouth and tongue, nose, eyes, hands, ears. Smoking, especially pipe smoking, satisfies almost all senses. So, I think pricey pipes “work” better even if they do not smoke better.
I only buy pipes if I like their look.
No matter the reputation of the pipe maker I would not buy a pipe if it was not pleasing to my eye.

Having said that, I have pipes costing less than $100, which while they don’t have the looks of a Tsuge Ikebana by Asami Kikuchi, smoke every bit as good.
But having an Asami Kikuchi in hand is like walking down main street hand in hand with Claudia Schiffer 😁

As I smoke in the privacy of my home mostly, that matters little, as I’m the only one who gets that ;)
 

sardonicus87

Lifer
Jun 28, 2022
1,135
11,865
37
Lower Alabama
One could argue that buying "good enough" or decent would be better, $2,000+ is a lot to drop on a pipe for many people regardless of experience, but the less money you have overall, the more those price tags sting.

Yes, it looks great, enjoyable to look at, but it was $2,000+... What if I accidentally drop it? What if it gets worn out from use? It's my favorite, I want it to last, so only special occasions maybe? What if, what if, what if...

For some, that's not enjoyable, or detracts from the enjoyment. Practical is better in these minds because it still works just as well, but it's less of a monetary loss if it gets broken or damaged, so they can focus on enjoyment, rather than being extra careful.

You don't need to justify to anyone else why you like the expensive ones. If you need or are trying to justify it to yourself, that speaks to a personal problem, because if it is that good, why do you have to convince yourself of it?

With pipes, most of the expensive stuff isn't more expensive because it works better, it's because it's prettier, has more precious unimportant materials (trim pieces made of silver instead of nickel for example), or the brand name itself carries a heavy "prestige tax".
 
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Sigmund

Lifer
Sep 17, 2023
1,712
15,023
France
Ive had really good luck buying well respected pipes. A lot were estates. Ive no pipe that gurgles. Ive owned one pipe that smoked a bit hot. Most my pipes ended up around the 160 mark. I buy pipes I like. Its a hobby and for me collecting is part of it. More the look and feel than the name. I do tend to like certain makers designs and stems.
 

bersekero

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 29, 2023
118
234
Greece
I smoke in the privacy of my home mostly, that matters little, as I’m the only one who gets that ;)
I think that at our age we don't give a damn for what others say, think or get. If we like it is all that matters.
I do not expose the sea rock with the silver ring. It is a real eye catcher. I smoke it when alone.
 

Sigmund

Lifer
Sep 17, 2023
1,712
15,023
France
Thats how most of us are. It is one reason the ways thread is fun. You get to show off your pipes. Its not so much bragging as it is sharing your weird obsession that most people dont share.

I dont have castello popes mostly because they dont turn my crank. I do enjoy seeing others though. Perhaps my tastes will change over time.