Qualities of a Good Beginner Pipe

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Jul 19, 2018
So what would be the qualities for a good beginner pipe? I ask because I had a person ask me. From what I understand, a pipe with a little thicker walls would be better than thinner walls. Having a bent shank is more comfortable, but really that comes down to preference (from what I understand). A good draw is a necessity. The only thing I couldn't answer was the size of the chamber. Would a larger or smaller chamber be better for a beginner? Or does the chamber size even matter? The pipe he is looking at is an estate pipe, and does have a light layer of cake in the chamber. So any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, John
EDIT: Topic / Subject fixed for proper capitalization. - Kevin



Senior Member
Jun 22, 2015
I think you got most of it right in terms of characteristics. I think any estate pipe would probably work well, because the pipe will not need to build up any cake first. This will protect the pipe a bit from smoking too hot and too fast at first.
You will probably get a lot of recommendations for a combination of a corn cob pipe and Carter Hall tobacco for a beginner pipe smoker.



Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
Smaller chamber. Beginners tend to experience tongue bite, thus, a larger chamber means wasted tobacco and/or worse tongue bite/burn that will turn them away from piping.


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Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
Well, your friend has the first box checked by liking it. Finding a pipe aesthetically pleasing is sometimes the difference between a smoker and a drawer filler. Thick walls are good, but you can heat up any pipe if it's smoked fast. Provided its in a restorable condition without cracks or broken, it should serve well after being cleaned up. From there it's more technique than equipment.



Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
Beginners tend to experience tongue bite, thus, a larger chamber means wasted tobacco and/or worse tongue bite/burn that will turn them away from piping.
With improper cadence, you'll get that with any pipe. Practice makes all the difference regardless of pipe size. A smaller chamber is also easier to pack too tightly with little space to manage the ember. Too tight equals a hot pipe and a burned tongue too.



Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
I don't really have too much to add (I never really do it seems), but the perfect starter pipe is one that you like looking at, is comfortable for you to hold, and one you can afford. There are so many variables when packing, lighting, and breathing, that it helps if you form at least some connection to your pipe.
You can have the smallest, thickest walled, lightest pipe in the world and still have issues starting out.



Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
Anything cheap enough to not worry about breaking it but good enough to not worry about performance. At the bottom end is Missouri Meerschaum, practice on those all you like and most people wouldn’t feel too bad even throwing one away if it doesn’t work out for you (and if you’re worried about the durability of the Cobs I can say the MM Hardwoods are also a good option).

That said I don’t think I’ve ever come across a non-functional Briar pipe at any price either. As long as it’s actually Briar it seems anyone going to the trouble to get traditional pipe wood is at least creating a functional pipe as well.



Dec 16, 2014
Northern Virginia
I’d suggest a Missouri Meerschaum cob or a Morgan Bones pipe to start, both will be good smokers out of the box, plus the price is right. Carter Hall is a good tobacco to start on.



Preferred Member
Jul 10, 2015
Dalzell, South Carolina
How about a Falcon pipe. Their pretty much indestructible and you can even buy a corn cob bowl for the stem. There's plenty of estate Falcons on Ebay and you could probably find the corn cob bowl on Ebay also. So far as a first tobacco, I'd go along with Carter Hall or Prince Albert if you want more of a nicotine hit and their pretty much available anywhere. If your friend wants to stay in the Burley area and doesn't mind ordering over the internet, I'd recommend C&D's Pegasus. It's a step up from CH & PA with more flavor and a bit more nicotine. If he'd like to venture into Virginias C&D offers Yorktown, a straight Virginia with a little more nicotine then Pegasus.



Mar 6, 2019
A pipe that's comfortable in the hand. A well drilled draft hole, one a pipe cleaner goes through easily. In prefer a light pipe to clench. Hope that helps, Schick is checked all those items on my first pipes



Preferred Member
Dec 6, 2012
Robinson, TX.
For whatever it is worth, this is what I tell beginner pipe smokers (after learning first whether they've ever smoked, smoked cigarettes or cigars) -
1. Purchase the best pipe you can afford to enhance the potential for it being a good smoker. I do recommend starting with a straight pipe as they are the easiest to smoke for beginners.
2. Those who have never smoked tend to do better with mild Burley/Virginia combinations. Those coming off cigarettes tend to do better with stronger Burley/Virginia combinations. Those who smoke cigars tend to enjoy both of the above as well as Latakia
3. Whatever tobacco is purchased, make sure it is more dry than moist before smoking it. The drier the tobacco, the more forgiving it will be until the new smoker - through trial and error - discovers his/her best smoking techniques.
4. Study how to load a pipe properly - more loosely than tightly packed
5. Use matches or a butane lighter made for pipes - no torch lighters
6. Use pipe cleaners to keep the chamber/shank/stem dry while smoking
7. Join pipesmagazine.com and read the smoking tips and feel free to post questions. It' a great way to learn.



Preferred Member
Nov 26, 2018
I think Embers and Pipestud hit it on the head. One good thing about a well used (not abused) estate is that you know going in, is that it smoked well for someone. I also am a big fan of cobs. Break in is very short, they have all smoked well for me and the cost can't be beat. I have 5 or 6 in my collection that get smoked regularly.



Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
Estates for newbies I would only suggest with suggestions on sourcing. I wouldn't recommend ebay nor even random online retailers. The problem is, if a newbie inherits bad reaming, poorly done repairs, or just deeply needed restoration they don't know how to do, the purchase is wasted. Since it's in a sense my department on Forums, I would probably steer a newbie toward a new pipe in a well-known brand (a list of which I'd supply). The suggestion about buying "the best pipe you can afford" sounds off kilter or wrong to me. Many newbies are young, and some others are not sensible about money either. I don't think because some newbie on payday can afford a $500 pipe that that is a good idea, for starters. For a first briar, one hundred bucks should get everything you need to start out in a pipe, and with some careful shopping, forty or fifty will do just fine. Remember, about one out of two, or two out of three newbies try smoking for a few days or weeks and never do it again. And yes, I have some Scottish blood. There's plenty of time to go for a commission with a name artisan ... in two or three years when a pipe smoker knows what he or she is doing. If I were a pipe shop owner, however, and sensed a newbie had cash burning holes in pockets, I would definitely sing the siren song about my exquisite (just in!) Castello marked down, just for him, to $485, today only.



Preferred Member
Mar 13, 2018
SC Piedmont
Good caveat there, Tom. A decent reasonably priced pipe is probably the best guidance to layer on the other advice. A good estate is a good choice, but usually only viable if the beginner has a mentor knowledgeable in that area .


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