Opinion Sought: What Makes a "Good Smoker"?

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gmwolford

Preferred Member
Jul 26, 2012
1,355
0
WV, USA
I know that much of our hobby is very individual and speculative. But the question of what makes a pipe a good smoker to you has been really rattling around in my head of late. So, what is it that makes a pipe a good smoker to you? Doesn't gurgle, stays cool, smokes to the heel, some other quality/qualities?
Personally, I want it to smoke cool, both in my hand and the smoke itself, and with minimal gurgling, while still leaving little dottle. How it feels in my hand and mouth make a difference to me as well; if it's not comfortable it seems like it doesn't smoke as we'll, IMHO.

 

4dotsasieni

Preferred Member
Jan 6, 2013
756
1
Boy, that's a tough one, and I'll bet you get a zillion different answers.
To me, a pipe that smokes dry, gives a flavourful smoke, and is pleasant to look at and hold in the mouth & hand --that's a good pipe. :puffy:

 

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numbersix

Preferred Member
Jul 27, 2012
5,451
6
Doesn't gurgle, stays cool, smokes to the heel
That about sums it up for me. I might add "flavor". My better briars impart a subtle sweetness to the smoke.

 

pruss

Preferred Member
Feb 6, 2013
3,452
48
Mytown
While I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment of wanting a pipe that smokes dry, cool, without gurgle, etc.
I have to say that for me, those results are as much a function of my skills in prepping, packing and smoking as they are good engineering. So for me, the answer about what makes a pipe a good smoker comes down to materials and engineering.
My best smokers are uniformly...

- Pipes made from old briar, or are old pipes. I'm too green to say that this is about if/how the briar was cured, the impact of age on moisture content in the briar... But there is something about seasoning here.

- Pipes that are well drilled. Draft hole placement, mortise and tenon fit, cleaner-pass with little to no gap to trap moisture/dottle, a well cut button, a well bored chamber... all these pieces fit here for me.

- High quality stem material. I have some pipes with stems cut from lower quality ebonite; it's soft, it oxidizes quickly and it holds ghosts. Likewise, I have some stems which are cut from high quality ebonite and these problems are minimized greatly, leaving regular care to remove them altogether. I have had very limited exposure to acrylic stems.
As a user, well I can f$%& up a perfectly good burner by rushing prep or a smoke. So when a pipe gurgles, smokes wet, or hot, the first thing I look to is what I'm doing wrong. I've recently started keeping a journal of my smokes so I can tell, over time, which pipes regularly offer a great smoke, and which don't.
Cheers,
-- Pat

 

darthcider

Preferred Member
Jan 24, 2014
718
1
Wales
As my total experience with pipes is one month and two days, just getting the basics right on a consistent basis makes my pipe a good smoker lol.

 

goldsm

Senior Member
Dec 10, 2013
431
0
Basically got to have PAD/TAD and cleaning pipes everyday.

Plus sloooow smoke with a monk mind and nice coffee or hot tea.

Finally a nice weather.....!

 

puffdoggie

Senior Member
Dec 14, 2013
399
0
Greg, I agree with all of your "criteria" but wish to add it is all done as ubiquitous as possible. A pipe that comes to hand comfortably and seems to pack itself perfectly, then smokes coolly & perfectly right on down to ash without a thought, allowing the smoker to engage in contemplation or participation without calling attention to itself other than enjoyment of the blend. :puffpipe:
Whew, I need to take a break. 8O

 

winton

Preferred Member
Oct 20, 2010
2,152
171
Unless I enjoy the appearance of the pipe, I don't care if it burns tobacco well. It hast to pass that hurdle before it has a chance with me.
Winton

 

ravkesef

Preferred Member
Aug 10, 2010
2,550
322
Cheshire, CT
Appearance counts, because I wouldn't have bought the pipe if it didn't look good to me in the first place. That being said, I expect it to be well engineered – to have a good draw, and to be able to pass a pipe cleaner easily. When I sit back, I want to be able to say: "Ahhh!" Cool burning, sweet tasting, burns comfortably all the way down. One that I love to smoke, and think about during the day. Highly subjective? Sure. But that's what pipe smoking is all about.

 

virginiacob

Senior Member
Dec 30, 2013
451
0
I also prefer dry, cool smoking, and an open draw. It doesn't have to be an expensive pipe, but it should be pleasing to the eye and fit well in the hand. Doesn't matter about the exterior texture as I am just as comfortable handling a natural cob as I am handling a smooth briar. I tend to like to hold the bowl in my hand when I smoke just about as much as I clinch it in my teeth, so the bowl can't get hot (don't mind a little warmth as long as it doesn't make it uncomfortable to hold). I also prefer unfiltered.

 

bigvan

Preferred Member
Mar 22, 2011
2,193
1
This is an EXCELLENT question! Personally I think aspects like gurgling, keeping cool, and staying dry is as much due to the smoker as it is to the pipe. If you can pack properly and you can keep a proper cadence, most of these things will take care of themselves.
So what makes a good pipe? I think it starts with good materials including properly cured briar and quality ebonite (my personal preference). Next is engineering. It should be properly drilled, the end of the tenon should meet the bottom of the mortice with virtually no gap, the draw should be open and the button should be comfortable.
Finally it should be cut and finished by an artisan who allows the shape to follow and compliment the grain.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
19,955
5,541
Outer Space
another +1 for numbersix. Aroma is a big one. I love the aroma of a well aged briar. I could almost just survive on that alone.

And personally, I would add that I prefer light pipes that clench well. I don't like holding my pipe in my hand. I have a few wardens for movie nights, but even then, I do it because my girlfriend gave me the pipe. It is a very nice one, but I wouldn't have chosen one like that.

 

spartan

Preferred Member
Aug 14, 2011
2,964
1
Half of the things mentioned here have nothing to do with how well a pipe smokes.

 

lostandfound

Preferred Member
Sep 30, 2011
908
1
Of course we can load our pipes in haste, and smoke them the same way, and ruin what should be a good smoke, but that doesn't mean there aren't some truly shameful ass pipes out there. I have several Dr. Grabow's for example. Four to be exact. Out of those four, I would call one a "good smoker". The other three, leak profusely where the stem meets the stummel. The good one just leaks considerably less. The "other three" just don't "smoke" like the good one. The smoke is less dense, the flavor muted, and no matter what, none of the "other three" stay lit as well as the good.
I think Spartan makes a good (half) a point. There are good pipes, but a "good smoker" is something else. A good smoker has all the properties of a good pipe (drilled well, looks good, comfortable, no bad tastes, etc.), but good SMOKERS have an extra property that makes them exactly that. They produce more smoke, more often, usually on a regular basis. The term "smokes itself" is a term that should be applied exclusively to "good smokers". Hodirty talks about a Jess Chonowitsch pipe staying lit for five minutes while not being smoked, in his "A Real Eye Opening Experience" thread. That's a "good smoker".

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
10,825
4,648
For me, a good pipe smokes dry and cool, has an easy draw, whether wide open as in some contemporary pipes, or a little less open, as with some of the vintage pipes. A good pipe doesn't impart any unwanted flavor to the tobacco but is one where the tobacco opens up. A good pipe has a comfortable bit and is comfortable to hold. Last, it's a plus if the pipe is visually interesting. But some of my favorites are pretty plain.

 

swampmouth

Member
Oct 4, 2013
125
0
YOU make the pipe a good smoker. I've had some real peices of crap that were my best smokers. Probably just everything coming together at the same time. I am so fortunate to be there now.

 

peter70

Member
May 24, 2013
175
0
I agree, that a pipe, which does not gurgle, stays cool and compliments the tobacco taste, is a good smoker. All my pipes fall in that category, because I get rid of pipes, which do not accomplish the points above. Of course, you need some experience to distinguish between bad smoking habits and a bad pipe.

But then there are pipes, which are great, or exceptional smokers. They offer a sublime smoking experience every time. Maybe 10-15% of my pipes fall into that category and they come from all different price points and manufacturers.

 

mrfus

Junior Member
Jun 6, 2013
55
0
I don't think that there is a simple answer to this subject...
Personally I think a good pipe it's the one that catch your eye (finish, shape, color, stem inserts), feels right on your hand (size, weight, temperature), Present good quality and engineering (Vulcanite or Acrylic stem, how good it's the airflow?, quality of the Briar/Meerschaum, filtered or unfiltered) and finally all of this characteristics need to adjust fine to the smoking behavior of the person who is going to use it (I usually draw 2 or 3 short puffs and then wait a couple of seconds before exhale, a few seconds of wait and start again).

 
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