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Are They Worth The Price

Discussion in 'Pipes' started by Gradog, May 9, 2010.

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  1. Gradog

    Gradog Member

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    I have been looking at some of the pipes on the net. You can pay over $500 for one. Can they smoke any better than a $30 pipe or for that matter better than a $4.00 corn cob. Some look good and I wouldn't mind paying somewhat more but HOLEY COW. :thumbsu:
     
  2. Marc

    Marc Active Member

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    :thumbsu:
     
  3. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    After a certain price point, you are paying for how a pipe looks and paying for a brand name.

    Below a certain price point, you aren't dealing with top quality materials in terms of either briar or stems, and the quality of the engineering is quite likely not what you'd find in a handmade.

    Talking about briar pipes, in my experience, hand made pipes do smoke better than el cheapos because the materials are better and the tolerances tighter. Less gurgle, possibly better flavor. Certainly the stem will be more comfortable and will look better after 6 months (or 6 years).

    But in terms of smoking, the average cob smokes perfectly well.

    So the "is it better?" question is answered - no. A 500 dollar pipe won't smoke 10 times better than a 50 dollar pipe. The question is really do you want a top quality, hand made, artisanal pipe, or do you merely want something to smoke tobacco in?

    I am one who enjoys the artisanal side of pipes, but I do not have a 500 dollar pipe and I can't think that I ever will. If I had all kinds of extra money I guess I might buy some real expensive pipes (and cars, and boots, and a pony) but I would be doing it to buy the art, not for the smoke.
     
  4. SBritton

    SBritton Member

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    Well put. But there is a price break. A 50$ pipe will smoke 5xs better than a 10$ pipe and a 150$ pipe will smoke 3x better than a $50 pipe. Cobs excluded. But after 150$ I also think it is branding.
     
  5. Demented

    Demented Member

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    Whether or not they are worth the price is personal and subjective. From my perspective, a 5C Cavicchi is worth the sticker price, a Dunhill of similar price is not.

    Cavicchi pipes are made one at time, by one man, each block carved to maximize the grain to the shape, artisanal pipes of which only 600 are made each year, when Claudio stops making pipes, that’s it, no more.

    Dunhill turns out hundreds of thousands of pipes each year using the cookie cutter approach, the block is assigned to the standard shape which can be cut from it, sure, there will be variations from one group 5 Diplomat to the next, but they lack personality. When a Dunhill carver retires, his work station is assigned to a new carver who will make the exact same shape and style of pipes the old carver made and the line will continue.
     
  6. Falconeer

    Falconeer Active Member

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    Hi All,

    On the technical and smoking front I think Sas has nailed it - yes you can get a basket that against the odds turns into a grand smoker and I've had many, move onto a good mid range pipe or even better a hand made and the smoking qualities improve, but as with anything beyond a certain price point I think you are paying foe aesthetics and "name."

    This really applies to most things we buy - for example for many years watches and collecting watches were my thing. I have had a Rolex for about 15 years now and also an automatic Seiko. Does the Rolex keep better time, does it look better, is it more reliable? The answer honestly is "No" to all three - both lose a minute a fortnight, both are similar in looks and the Rolex requires a £100 service every 13 months exactly or it stops, whereas the Seiko has never ever been serviced.

    I bought a Rolex simply because I wanted one - if expensive pipes are your thing then that's a good reason for having one ( or more if you can afford them ) but beyond a point I don't really believe they will be better smokers any more than I believe a Rolex is a better timekeeper,

    Best to all

    Gerry
     
  7. jpberg

    jpberg Moderator Moderator

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    Good answers all around. I think Gerry is putting a good perspective on it. A BMW is a helluva lot nicer car than a Pinto, but both ultimately serve the same purpose, and Night Train will get you just as drunk as Balvenie.

    It comes down to what you decide you want. I don't think that I will ever buy a 50 dollar pipe again, but that's because after a lotta years I have figured out what I like.
     
  8. Unforgivin

    Unforgivin Active Member

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    I don't think I could ever justify the cost of something $500.00 or more unless I'd just won the lottery with money to burn

    Sure I'd like one, and I LOVE looking at the different ones, but I think it would take away the simple joy of smoking a pipe, for me at least.

    I'd always have thoughts of losing it or doing something to it that couldn't be fixed, or a hundred other worries about it while trying to enjoy it at the same time.
     
  9. Rider

    Rider Member

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    if i bought a $500 pipe then it better come with $300 worth of free tobacco :0laugh:
     
  10. Ivycap

    Ivycap Member

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    My Stanwell HCA II cost me $120 dollars. It's a beautiful pipe and is one of my favorite smokers. It's a good deal considering it came with two bits (churchwarden and regular) however I don't see myself ever paying more than that for a pipe. In fact, I don't see myself even spending that much on a pipe again in a long time. My cheaper pipes smoke just fine.
     
  11. Gradog

    Gradog Member

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    Thanks guys,
    After seeing the first reply I guess I am not the first one that has asked this question.
    So if I was to spend say $50 to $100 on a pipe it would not only look better but smoke better. Now being a machinist I locked onto the part about tolerances. To a green horn you put a hole in some brier jam a stem in it and you have a pipe. Now I have to learn what to look for in a $50 - $100 pipe. Don't be afraid to assume I am ignorant about this. Any thing you toss in the pot will make good soup. :lolu:
     
  12. dubhdarra

    dubhdarra Active Member

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    generally with the better pipes you'll notice the smoke hole is drilled straighter, which is important cause the bends where the bit walked cause more condensation, the smoke hole comes out at the exact bottom and center of the bowl, which means a more even draw, the shank and stem fit tighter and you dont have space between the end of the stem that goes in and the end of the socket it fits into, which means theres no eddying effect and less moisture. they also tend to be centered in the block better, they're better about hand sanding out the grind lines, and the briar is generally better quality. these aren't assurances though, you can buy some pretty nasty pipes for approaching 100 bucks, its just the things to look for because if you're not getting all that for 100 bucks you're getting ripped off. you're a machinist so you can probably eyeball everything, and make sure to try to pass a pipe cleaner through the piece when its assembled to make sure you can. sometimes when things don't match up thats a great way to catch it.
    anything more than that and you'll have to ask one of our resident pipe makers. i recommend sas, as people buy from him even though he's canadian, so he must be good. i guess. ;)
     
  13. Marc

    Marc Active Member

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    Gradog, when shopping for a pipe, here's the basics, down and dirty. Check fit and finish, the tenon on the end of the stem should flush to the mortise face inside the shank, the more space between the tenon and the mortise face the more area for condensation to collect and end up in the bowl and it should be drilled center bottom of the bowl, if drilled a little off center or a tad up from the bottom of the bowl it will not hurt the smoking quality of the pipe. The so called pass a pipe cleaner test in my opinion is irrelevant and would not stop me from buying a machine made bent pipe as long as the stem and mortise is drilled center.
     
  14. Whalehead King

    Whalehead King Balaenius Rex!!

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    When I think about an expensive pipe I really look for a stand out shape and fancy-pants-ery. A cob is as good to smoke but I may want something that will be my signature pipe, like if I left it somewhere someone would be ashamed to pinch it because everyone will know it originally belonged to me. Fat chance, I know, but that's how I look at it.

    As it is, I think I'm happier forgetting a $6 cob and not worrying if it ever shows up again. I'm absent minded but I haven't really left a pipe behind before, just planning ahead. I've been tempted many times to plunk down serious money for a fancy pipe but never took the plunge. Smoke what you've got and enjoy it has been my motto. Enough people are getting by without artisanal pipes and they are content. I am tempted to give Sasquatch some business but....see above. Sorry Sas. Someday. I still daydream about that Green Goblin you made.
     
  15. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    Gradog, a highly respected member of the community made a post about how to assure yourself of a good pipe, without regard to cost. :0laugh:

    My link
     
  16. Marc

    Marc Active Member

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    Good write up Sas!
     
  17. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    Took twenty years of collecting pipes and a year of making 'em to put together what seems like a pretty damn simple explanation. :0laugh:
     
  18. Marc

    Marc Active Member

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    You done good! Experience comes with trial and error and most importantly, time!
     
  19. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    Thank you.

    One of the biggest issues for delving into what makes a pipe good is that it is really hard to control one variable at a time. It's not useful to compare a large bent pipe to a small straight pipe and say "I prefer x" because chances are x had nothing to do with what you actually liked. I can't even say that the Peterson system pipes are a good design, because I have 3 and all three have totally different tenons inside... there is no single design! It's real hard for a newer smoker to open up a pipe and figure out if it's likely to be a piece of crap or a wonder smoker.
     
  20. Marc

    Marc Active Member

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    Ain't that the truth!
     
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