Choosing Wisely

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carlomarx

Member
Oct 29, 2011
298
281
State College,PA
Hello,

If this is a foolish question, I apologize in advance. But,is there any way to determine if a pipe will smoke well before you buy it?

Most of my pipes are Dr. Grabows and they all smoke well but there is a difference among them. Over the years I've had different degrees of luck when choosing basket pipes;some hits,and some misses. Any suggestions?

I've never owned a high end pipe like a Peterson, Savinelli or Dunhill, maybe I just answered my question. Is price and brand name enough to be confident of picking a "winner"?

Thanks

 

hobie1dog

Preferred Member
Jun 5, 2010
6,890
218
65
Cornelius, NC
NO way to know in advance about smoking qualities. If you were blindfolded, and didn't know the name of the pipe you were smoking, all the horse shit with prestige and product status would be eliminated, and a Grabow would likely be preferred over a Dunhill, etc. But you won't find anyone willing to do that, as the Sheeple love to be brainwashed into the price=quality=just better mentality.

 

philip

Preferred Member
Oct 13, 2011
1,705
2
Puget Sound
I don't have enough experience to answer your question. I only have a few pipes, all in the 50-100 dollar range. They all smoke well, but they all smoke differently.

 

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pipeinhand

Preferred Member
Sep 23, 2011
1,198
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Virginia
One of the cheapest pipes I own is my go to one most of the time. I have had it a long time and now that I can afford 'better' pipes, I have noticed it smokes as well as my $$$ ones. I think, and this is my I statement, a pipe will smoke better if it has a good tooth feel, hand feel and looks good on your face. If it appeals to YOU, it doesn't matter what the price was or the name one it. Some may argue this but owning $300+ down to $20 doesn't MAKE it smoke better or worse. Sure there are crap cheap pipes that smoke like the ass of a monkey, (I have that too) but 'I' think if you follow the 3 rules above, you get a good smoking pipe.
My 2P

 

dylan793

Member
Oct 12, 2011
281
0
Buchanan, GA
My personal collection is quite limited but, between my 3 cobs, basket italian briar and my Peterson 408, I have to say I enjoy the way my Peterson smokes the best. Pipes seem to be very much a YMMV type of thing. Im sure the more experienced pipers here can make an educated guess on how a pipe will smoke due to shape and chamber geometry, but it would still be a guess. I just roll the dice and hope for the best!

 

rigmedic1

Preferred Member
May 29, 2011
3,894
28
One of my favorites is a basket pipe, a second that was relegated to the basket because it had a lot of fills. And I have a very expensive pipe that smokes very poorly. The best advice is to buy something that appeals to you, that way if is smokes badly, you can at least enjoy looking at it while you smoke something else, lol.

 

bigvan

Preferred Member
Mar 22, 2011
2,192
4
The blindfold test is an interesting hypothesis. You're right, one can't smoke "prestige". But I'd think that, for example, a hand-cut stem would be more comfortable than a factory stem (what pipeinhand calls "toothfeel"). A sandblasted bowl by, say Bruce Weaver or Brian Ruthenberg, would probably give a noticeable "handfeel".
And isn't assuming that a Grabow would win the blindfold test being just as "brainwashed" as assuming the opposite?
Anyway I'm still looking for my first drugstore Grabow and give it an honest assessment. I checked the local CVS but they didn't have any. Walgreens is next. So I'm going to try to be objective. How about you, hobie? Can you do the same to appease us "sheeple"?

 

olderthandirt

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2011
2,011
1
Pacific Northwest USA
Is price and brand name enough to be confident of picking a "winner"?

rigmedic has it about right.

Being able to know if a pipe is going to smoke well before purchase, don't think it can be done.

Name brands would increase your odds some, higher end more still.

Then again, my cobs deliver some of the best smokes I've had so in the end, it's a crap shoot eh?

 

daveinlax

Preferred Member
May 5, 2009
1,408
859
WISCONSIN
Here we go again... the never ending debate in pipe forums

Yeah, and 99% of the time it starts like this.

all the horse shit with prestige and product status would be eliminated, and a Grabow would likely be preferred over a Dunhill, etc. But you won't find anyone willing to do that, as the Sheeple love to be brainwashed into the price=quality=just better mentality.

Very sad. Collectors are so often wrongly blamed for being elitist but I've never read a post from a collector like this "horseshit"! 8O

 

daveinlax

Preferred Member
May 5, 2009
1,408
859
WISCONSIN
I've seen comments like this from both sides of the fence over the years and I don't pay any of them any mind.

I haven't and I read most of the boards pretty much every day. Like I said 99% of the time it starts as "snob" bashing. 8O

 

ohin3

Preferred Member
Jun 2, 2010
2,453
1
I, like others here, have found that there are some expensive pipes of good pedigree that smoke average to below average and some cheap no name pipes that smoke exceptionally well. I do, however, tend to think that those are exceptions to the odds. I tend to lean towards pipes that have a reputation for being well engineered. I do have a few no name pipes that smoke quite nicely, but the most reliably problem free high quality smokers are the more expensive pipes of good pedigree and reputation.

 

pipeinhand

Preferred Member
Sep 23, 2011
1,198
0
Virginia
So carlomarx, what do you think so far? Have we gotten you off to a good start or are you even more confused than before? :?

 

olderthandirt

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2011
2,011
1
Pacific Northwest USA
but the most reliably problem free high quality smokers are the more expensive pipes of good pedigree and reputation.

I'd venture to say that "pedigree and reputation" would be sufficient.

Price, to my mind, isn't near the indicator of a good smoker that a positive track record is.

Higher price ranges can act as a hedge to your bet, but when you look at such as the Pete System Standards, one example only!, there you have the track record at modest pricing.
Any way...
Kudos for sure to ohin for demonstrating that this particular discussion can be had without the venom that tends to creep in!

Kudos as well to cortez for including the link to the Hanna article. I've read it a few times in the past and it offers up a gently grounding effect to this discussion.

 

juni

Preferred Member
Mar 9, 2010
1,184
7
I have a limited experience too, but I can say this.
I have never been disappointed with a Stanwell. All of mine have a constant good quality and good smokability, from the cheaper ones to the special, limited edition ones.
So, that is a brand I trust.

 

chopz

Senior Member
Oct 14, 2011
352
0
i have a 25 dollar angelo that smokes fine but it's not easy to clean - the bit end of the stem is too narrow to get a pipecleaner through. and my other cheap briar, the grabow duke, smokes ok but the thin walls make it hot to the touch. not overly so and i'm willing to put up with it because the light weight makes it good for clenching.
so what i'm saying is, all my briars smoke fine to me. there are other factors besides smokeability that come into play at higher prices, maybe? not even touching upon aesthetic qualities like design and finish. at a certain price point the really nice pipes (800 - 1500) seem to command a higher price because they become more like artistic sculptures.

 

pstlpkr

Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2009
9,712
19
Birmingham, AL
I tend to lean towards pipes that have a reputation for being well engineered. I do have a few no name pipes that smoke quite nicely, but the most reliably problem free high quality smokers are the more expensive pipes of good pedigree and reputation.
I have to agree with Phil on this one.

If the pipe is drilled well, and passes the cleaner test then more than likely it will smoke well.

However; if isn't comfortable in your hand, or it doesn't meet with your aesthetic approval, you will never be happy with it.

 

judcole

Preferred Member
Sep 14, 2011
5,787
11,771
Detroit
I have never been disappointed with a Stanwell. All of mine have a constant good quality and good smokability, from the cheaper ones to the special, limited edition ones.
+1

Stanwells have a rep for being high quality pipes at a moderate price. I have seen many very experienced pipers recommend a good Stan estate as a starter pipe. I have two in my small collection, and they are two of my three favorite pipes - the third being a Comoy from the late 70s/ early 80s. I always smile when these pipes come up in my rotation.

 
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