I am speaking as someone who has banded a few pipes. Bands are added so that the owner may continue enjoying a pipe that would otherwise be thrown away. Now, it depends on what you are looking for in a pipe, as to whether you buy the banded pipe. If you want a pipe for some value in make and model, then avoid it. If you just need a pipe that works and your only other option is to make a pipe out of a potato, sure, buy the banded pipe.
The band bought the pipe owner a little more time to enjoy it, but after that, it's pretty much useless.
UNLESS... the band is decorative. Then it depends on how you feel about the band.
I'm also interested in seeing the responses of some of our forum experts.
I have a 1938 Dunhill where the shank meets the stem that was cracked in three places. The previous owner had it repaired and banded many years ago, and in that case, who ever did it did a great job. I smoke it with confidence.
I've had a couple pipes banded, and while I have a weakness for bands, I don't think they do much unless the crack is a large one. They've smoked well with no problems.
On "new" pipes I actually prefer bands, I think they add something to the pipe. On used pipes, varies on the pipe. If its done well and the crack is not extreme, I'd go for it. I have only had one pipe banded. Nice little apple my son found for me at a antique store. He picked it up and said "daddy here is your pipe" so of course I had to buy it. Sent it out to get totally re-done, and had them throw a band on it for a just in case!!
Like everything else in the world, there are good examples and bad ones.
Repair banding is simple in concept but tricky to do well. Having a good supply of bands (hundreds) is also necessary to achieve a proper fit without chasing (hammering to enlarge) on a mandrel.
As for looks, I often like the dash of barbaric splendor that silver or gold adds to a pipe.
I went to the repair shop of Howard Schulte in Vero Beach, Fl. I brought along a Brebbia RokRoot that I'd knocked off a pipe stand to a wooden floor resulting is a hairline shank crack at the mortise area.
I stood there chatting with Howard about his previous experiences as a teacher and how we both had fathers who were machinists, as he made quick work of the repair. Within 10 minutes he handed me back the pipe, with a nickel band in place like it had grown there.
I asked him what he thought of my pipe.
He said, "well, you know that when you see a rusticated pipe that the maker was typically using a blemished piece of briar. It's nice and light."
Ah, what does HE know? heh heh....So..I've got a Brebbia with a wide open draw, a classic billiard shape and is light weight with a wonderful texture.
He also commented on a personal distaste for working on used pipes, his primary source of employment, because of all the years of gunking up pipes with drool. Howard hasn't smoked in more than 20 years.
He's quite an interesting guy.
I hope to get back to visit with Howard again one day and get some pics of his operation.
As another one who set several bands, I must remark there shouldn't be any difference in smoking qualities, but of course there's a matter of an aestetic preference. On the other hand a properly banded shank won't broke again for sure
I looked through my pipes last night and I have 2 decorative metal bands and ZERO metal repair bands. I have had a few mishaps over the years, most recently with a Brebbia, but have sold or traded all of those after getting them repaired. I guess I am in the "not on my pipe" club. I would like to think that I would buy a pipe with a repair band, as a good repair band shouldn't effect the smoking qualities, but so far my actions don't seem to follow my logic.