Good And Bad Smokers

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Winnipeger

Part of the Furniture Now
Sep 9, 2022
604
3,706
Winnipeg
There seems to be some disagreement about whether some pipes smoke better than others. I hear some people say such-and-such pipe is a "good smoker" as opposed to others which may tend to gurgle, whistle, or have a restricted draw, etc. On the other hand, some other members have assured me, comparing pipes is like comparing drinking straws. They all do essentially the same thing, which is deliver smoke to the mouth, and the factors which determine whether or not you get a "good smoke", are related more to tobacco moisture, smoking cadence, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, etc. etc. So, which side do you fall on? Are there "good smokers" and "bad smokers" in the world of pipes, and what factors determine which pipes fall on one or the other side of divide?
 

PA Piper Mike

Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 3, 2021
104
339
Southeastern PA
I think a lot might have to do with the type and age of briar the maker uses. I've heard if it's not aged/dried well, it can lead to having mediocre smoking experiences compared to those pipes made from higher quality briar and better standards in drying. Case in point, I have some briar churchwardens that seem to be charring/burning in the bottom of the bowls, both from the same maker, but my Savinellis and Petersons are all fine.

Another thing could be the size and shape of the pipe. I have a few MM cobs and just about all of them smoke great, except my Elf cobbit. I have smoked the same tobacco, at the same moisture level in both that and my MM Country Gents and no matter what, I get gurgling and need to pipe clean the cobbit during my smoke.
 

mso489

Lifer
Feb 21, 2013
39,424
52,189
Like any product, pipes can be excellent, even when they aren't expensive, and some are just poorly designed or not properly crafted. Since they are essentially simple devices, and sales are competitive, a good percentage are just fine -- smoke well, look good, are durable and reliable.

If you buy a few dozen, you will encounter clunkers, and some that are just not a pleasure to smoke because of minor deficiencies. So yes, there are poor, good, better, and best in the pipe department.
 

warren

Lifer
Sep 13, 2013
10,434
11,296
For me there are objective and subjective considerations. In the end a pipe must provide a decent smoking experience. Everything from the feel, eye appeal, draw, comfort in the clench and so forth come together to provide such. If a pipe doesn't provide a satisfying smoke, in the bin it goes. It should go without saying that a few bowls are necessary to determine if a pipes stays or ends up in the landfill. I have no interest in supporting someone elses vice so no swapping, trading or gifting.
 

Bobby Bailey

Starting to Get Obsessed
Aug 8, 2021
196
319
68
Upper Southwest Arkansas, USA
As with all things like this, My perception may not be your perception ;).
Normally when I get a 'new to me' pipe, used or brand new, I gauge it with my favorite base-line tobacco, WCC Rouxgaroux.
I judge the flavor, aroma, and general pleasantness of the smoke. There are differences, and the cost of the pipe doesn't really have much bearing on it.
 
Sep 18, 2015
1,997
22,090
I don’t think it has much to do with the pipe itself, I believe that it’s more on the person smoking the pipe. If you aren’t willing to change something that you’re doing, ie, packing, cadence, moisture levels etc. to accommodate a pipes design then it’s a ‘bad’ pipe.
An experienced smoker can get a good smoke out of any pipe.
( there may be exceptions to this)
 

warren

Lifer
Sep 13, 2013
10,434
11,296
I agree with the above ... to a point. I have had many pipes which provided a reasonable/good experience. That's not what I'm after. If a pipe doesn't fit my fist, eye and teeth it won't provide what I demand. I'm not satisfied with a "good" smoke. A subjective observation to be sure but, it's not what I'm chasing when I purchase a new pipe. I want a very satisfying experience. It's tough to speak to pipes as good or bad because the entire experience is subjective, very personal, which also relies on the smoker's abilities with regard to loading and maintaining a bowl of tobacco while smoking.

Smoking isn't complicated, unless the smoker wishes to make it so. When a new smoker peruses this site I suspect many are overwhelmed because of the often conflicting statements we all sometimes make.
 

chopper

Lifer
Aug 24, 2019
1,477
3,272
One of my pipes, this French made rusticated Billiard, smokes wet regardless of the blend or how dry the baccy is.
french bent $10.45.jpg Although I don't ever concentrate on things like cadence, I smoke this pipe no differently to any other pipe.
It's an attractive pipe but nonetheless, any pipe that smokes wet is a 'bad smoker' as far as I'm concerned.
 

Searock Fan

Lifer
Oct 22, 2021
1,173
3,169
U.S.A.
I'm surprised that a dedicated pipe smoker (who cares enough to be on this forum) would even entertain this debate. I would have thought the answer was clear.

There are few things in this world I'm sure of, and one of those is the fact that the pipe you're smoking can have as great an effect on the smoke you're getting as the tobacco. The difference in the way different pipes smoke is like night and day. I base that on almost 60 years experience and thousands of pipes tried. puffy
 

DanWil84

Lifer
Mar 8, 2021
1,515
10,387
The Netherlands (Europe)
In my quite noobish opinion a pipe smokes well when your tobacco has the right moisture content and your smoking technique is on point. The ability of the pipe to absorb excess moisture when smoking and the airflow of the pipe certainly contribute to the smoking experience, but are for me subpar to the before mentioned. To be frank, I didn't encounter any wet smoking pipes so my previous statement might be a bit bold. I only taste a clear difference in using briar vs meerschaum on certain groups of tobacco, a VaPer tastes better in briar than meerschaum for example.
 

That Guy

Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 8, 2021
510
1,620
Central Florida
I would definitely say there are pipes that just function without any care or thought and then ones you have to be alittle more aware with. Ones that take whatever you throw at them without heating up and ones that get so hot after the first 5 minutes of smoking them you think they are about to catch on fire.

I've been a guitar player for 26 years. I can take any guitar and adjust and make it work or I pick up one of my tried and true ones that plays flawlessly everytime. The same with golf,bowling,shooting, or any of my other hobbies. Doesn't mean everything else is junk. Just means it doesn't match up the best for me.

I have always tried to match my pipes with what type of tobacco fits them best to get the best smoke possible. I have one pipe that has a very small passageway that can give a hot wet smoke if im not slow and easy. I just make sure that's a pipe I smoke at the end of the day with nothing else going on when I can sit down and take all the time I need.
 

Searock Fan

Lifer
Oct 22, 2021
1,173
3,169
U.S.A.
It just depends on how much I like the pipe. I recently got an old no name meerschaum that I would likely take over most pipes I've ever owned.
If a meer is properly drilled and has a good stem it will always (in my experience) be a good smoker. I have several that I smoke regularly. Mostly they are ones I got when I bought someone's collection who was quitting. It seemed that used everyday meers did not bring much money, so I just kept them. Can't remember ever getting a bad one. If there was a problem it was usually that the draft hole was too small and that was an easy fix. puffy
 

Jef

Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 10, 2019
243
417
65
North Carolina
I don’t think it has much to do with the pipe itself, I believe that it’s more on the person smoking the pipe. If you aren’t willing to change something that you’re doing, ie, packing, cadence, moisture levels etc. to accommodate a pipes design then it’s a ‘bad’ pipe.
An experienced smoker can get a good smoke out of any pipe.
( there may be exceptions to this)
I agree. An experienced pipe smoker knows how to adjust to what he is smoking with both pipes and tobacco.
jef
 

krizzose

Lifer
Feb 13, 2013
2,653
13,040
Michigan
I bought a lot of 4 estate pipes on eBay many years ago. One of them (a Big Ben billiard) whistled on the draw, and always, always gurgled when smoked. The other 3 pipes didn’t do that, so I’m willing to assume operator error was not a factor. My sunk cost of ~ $6 didn’t warrant any attempts to repair (even if I knew how), or even any time at all spent thinking about it. I declared it a “Bad Smoker,” put it on a basement shelf and moved on.
 

cigrmaster

Lifer
May 26, 2012
20,255
57,189
65
Sarasota Florida
In my experience I have come across lousy pipes, good pipes and then great pipes. I only have great pipes in my collection as I culled around 60 good pipes. I had no lousy pipes so it wasn't an issue.

I think that any pipe that gurgles, won't pass a pipe cleaner, stem whistles and burns hot is a lousy pipe. A pipe that smokes cool and dry and brings out the flavors of your favorite blends is a great pipe, so long as the stem is comfortable and easy to clench.

Some people are happy with average to lousy pipes and that is certainly their choice. I spend good money on my tobacco and I expect a great smoke every time out. I have learned through experience how to make that happen on a consistent basis. It is a rare thing when I don't get the great smoke that I am expecting.