09-23-2015, 04:36 PM
#1
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I'm going to get a Simpson's, probably a Chubby 2. Now, which grade should I get— Manchurian, Super Badger, Best badger, Pure badger? Is there all that much difference in performance and quality? There certainly is in price. Since I don't have very many brushes, this will see regular use, so I want a real good one.

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 09-23-2015, 04:40 PM
#2
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I have a couple of CH2 brushes in Manchurian and they are great brushes.  I guess it depends on your budget also.  

I'll say go for the big boy and get the CH2 in Manchurian  Smile

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 09-23-2015, 04:42 PM
#3
  • jamesrobson5
  • Chubby Chaser... Big Brush is Best!
  • Sherwood Park AB Canada!
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Signs011  You won't be disappointed!

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 09-23-2015, 04:53 PM
#4
  • ddk13
  • Senior Member
  • USA
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My experience with Simpson's

Manchurian-Soft but very scrubby, flow thru not as good as the Super and Best
Super-Soft and somewhat scrubby, not as scrubby as the Manchurian, good flow thru
Best-Actually softer but less dense than Super and has the best flow thru for me
Pure-Only owned one and it was very prickly to say the least.

I love my Ch2 in Best, Super and Synthetic.  Not so much a fan of the Ch2 or Ch3 Manchurian.  Way too dense and way too scrubby.  I like really soft brushes that splay a little bit as I face lather and use circular motions to get started before switching over to painting my lather on.

I do love my Simpsons Duke 3 Manchurian.  Just the right amount of density and a wonderfully soft brush.  If I was going to buy another Simpson it would probably be a M7 Manchurian.

I currently own 8 Simpson brushes.  It's all YMMV though.

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 09-23-2015, 05:06 PM
#5
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(09-23-2015, 04:53 PM)Yddk13 Wrote: My experience with Simpson's

Manchurian-Soft but very scrubby, flow thru not as good as the Super and Best
Super-Soft and somewhat scrubby, not as scrubby as the Manchurian, good flow thru
Best-Actually softer but less dense than Super and has the best flow thru for me
Pure-Only owned one and it was very prickly to say the least.

I love my Ch2 in Best, Super and Synthetic.  Not so much a fan of the Ch2 or Ch3 Manchurian.  Way too dense and way too scrubby.  I like really soft brushes that splay a little bit as I face lather and use circular motions to get started before switching over to painting my lather on.

I do love my Simpsons Duke 3 Manchurian.  Just the right amount of density and a wonderfully soft brush.  If I was going to buy another Simpson it would probably be a M7 Manchurian.

I currently own 8 Simpson brushes.  It's all YMMV though.

Thanks.  Do you order from Simpson's in England?  They appear to have the best selection, but of course there's that shipping charge across the ocean.

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 09-23-2015, 05:10 PM
#6
  • chamm
  • Expert on nothing
  • Central Ohio
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The grades, and prices, of badger hair are generally directly proportional to how much of it there is on a badger. Most of the hair on a badger, (I think I read around 80-85%) is longer and very coarse. It is usually a more uniform sandy-gray in color. This hair gets stuffed into a cheap handle, the tips are trimmed to shape, and usually labeled as "pure badger." This is what you find in the $10 badger brushes.

The next 14-19% or so is much softer, and gets trimmed to shape on the back, before it is stuffed into the handle, so that the tips taper to their natural end. I think it comes from the belly of the animal, and it has more of a banded color than pure badger, although the tips are still darker in color than the next grade. This hair is usually labeled "best badger" and it's what you find in the lower-end Simpsons brushes.

The top 1-2% of the pelt has the softest hairs. I believe they come from areas around the neck of the badger, and it takes multiple pelts to make even a single brush from these hairs. The hair is usually banded, with the tips being much lighter than best badger, and is often divided into many, even more stratified grades. Each manufacturer has their own branding, but this grade is often called "Silvertip," "Finest," or "Super." It is also separated into two-band and three-band hair. Two-band is just longer three-band hair, with the third band either trimmed off the back, or hidden inside the handle. All of the unusual grades like "Manchurian," "High Mountain White," "Blonde Badger," etc. come from this top tier, and are a result of often proprietary sorting techniques which vary by manufacturer. Certainly Plisson High Mountain White is very different from Simpsons Manchurian, but they all come from this top tier of the badger hair, and are only different because they're sorted differently, or maybe they're sourced from slightly variant sub-species of badger, or just from a different region.

All of this provides pretty good justification as to why there is such a huge disparity in price between the grades. The most in-demand hair types also have the lowest supply, by a large margin. And since each manufacturer has their own way of sorting and classifying this hair, there is quite a bit of variation between manufacturers. Because the supply of hair and the sorting technique changes over time, there is sometimes even quite a bit of variation within even the same vendor. Simpsons Best from 2010 could be very different from their latest batch, so getting very hung-up on a specific label can be misleading. On the other hand, usually brushes are purchased without the benefit of feeling their qualities before purchasing, so we unfortunately have to rely somewhat on the crude and completely self-regulated grading system that's in place now. On the plus side, it is in a vendor's best interest to do a good job of self-regulating. If a particular vendor starts slipping lower-quality hair into its premium grade knots, it usually takes around ten minutes before someone brings it up on the forums, so any smart brush vendor would do this at their own peril. The wet-shaving community is pretty talkative, (see: this post) so an unusually low-quality batch of brushes gets noticed quickly, and can hurt a high-end vendor's reputation quickly and badly.

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 09-23-2015, 05:16 PM
#7
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That was extremely interesting and helpful.  Much appreciated.

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 09-23-2015, 05:19 PM
#8
  • chamm
  • Expert on nothing
  • Central Ohio
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Thanks! Smile

All of that is compiled from memory, so there's an extremely good chance some of the details like the exact percentages are a little off, but the overall concept is sound, from what I've gathered on the forums over the years.

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 09-23-2015, 05:29 PM
#9
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Simpsons Silvertip 2-band, different, and a worthy rival to their Manchurian in every way. Then it went away. Sometimes my darkest thoughts tell me that rather than there being a scarcity of silvertip hair, it was a marketing decision to push Manchurian over everything else. Certainly Thater and Shavemac have come up with some great hair in its absence, with many similarities to the Simpsons.

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 09-23-2015, 05:29 PM
#10
  • ddk13
  • Senior Member
  • USA
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(09-23-2015, 05:06 PM)David Wrote:
(09-23-2015, 04:53 PM)Yddk13 Wrote: My experience with Simpson's

Thanks.  Do you order from Simpson's in England?  They appear to have the best selection, but of course there's that shipping charge across the ocean.

If you're buying Manchurian then you'll need to order directly from Simpson's.  Most other brushes you can get state side.  I would recommend buying from a reputable vendor like Bullgoose or Maggards. As opposed to trying to find the absolute best price online to save 5 or 10 dollars but not getting the customer service you should have on a high end piece of shaving gear.

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 09-23-2015, 05:36 PM
#11
  • chamm
  • Expert on nothing
  • Central Ohio
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Here is one more interesting tidbit, then I will have exhausted my knowledge of badger brushes. Smile
All badger modern hair comes from China. Although they are not endangered in the U.S. or in Europe, it is illegal to hunt or trap them for harvesting. I believe in many places, they're classified as a nuisance animal, so you can kill them on your property, but you can't "farm" them. (I could be wrong, but I think it has something to do with rabies.)

In China, however, badger harvesting is a thriving industry. They are trapped, and I've read they're even bred and farmed, but it's primarily for their meat. Apparently the Chinese eat a fair amount of badger meat. The pelts are a secondary product, so at least you don't have to feel too guilty when looking over your 50-brush collection. (That's a normal number, right guys?) Wink

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 09-23-2015, 05:43 PM
#12
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(09-23-2015, 05:36 PM)chamm Wrote: Here is one more interesting tidbit, then I will have exhausted my knowledge of badger brushes. Smile
All badger modern hair comes from China. Although they are not endangered in the U.S. or in Europe, it is illegal to hunt or trap them for harvesting. I believe in many places, they're classified as a nuisance animal, so you can kill them on your property, but you can't "farm" them. (I could be wrong, but I think it has something to do with rabies.)

In China, however, badger harvesting is a thriving industry. They are trapped, and I've read they're even bred and farmed, but it's primarily for their meat. Apparently the Chinese eat a fair amount of badger meat. The pelts are a secondary product, so at least you don't have to feel too guilty when looking over your 50-brush collection. (That's a normal number, right guys?) Wink

You're off by about 48...but I'm just getting started.

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 09-23-2015, 05:48 PM
#13
  • chamm
  • Expert on nothing
  • Central Ohio
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(09-23-2015, 05:29 PM)rsp1202 Wrote: I would put in a plug for the Simpsons Silvertip 2-band. Hard to come by these days, which is sad. Thater and Shavemac's 2-band have taken over that grade spot.

Simpsons SiLVERTiP (2-band) is great, but soooooooo expensive! The "big three" German brushes (Shavemac-Thäter-Wiborg) are currently similar-to-superior performance, at around 50-60% of the price.

I know that Mark doesn't currently have too much trouble selling his "limited edition" brushes at those prices, and they really are premium brushes, but I think there will come a point where people stop paying such an extreme price for the Simpsons name alone. I think there is a justifiable premium attached to that name, but for me, I'm not sure it's a 100% premium.

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 09-23-2015, 05:57 PM
#14
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I updated the post you quoted.

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 09-23-2015, 09:07 PM
#15
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Prefer the best hair if you able to get a 'good' one.
The best hair grade is more value for money.

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 09-24-2015, 12:52 AM
#16
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(09-23-2015, 05:48 PM)chamm Wrote: Simpsons SiLVERTiP (2-band) is great, but soooooooo expensive! The "big three" German brushes (Shavemac-Thäter-Wiborg) are currently similar-to-superior performance, at around 50-60% of the price.

I must research those ones for my 4th, 5th, and 6th acquisitions.

I had heard great things about Rooney, but apparently they aren't in business anymore.

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 09-24-2015, 05:16 AM
#17
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I have all three grades in several Simpsons brushes, and I would suggest that you start with Best.  It is a very, very good knot, at an excellent price.   The description by DDK13 is very accurate.   All three grades, in my  opinion, are a great pleasure to use.  

Stanley

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 09-24-2015, 06:49 AM
#18
  • chamm
  • Expert on nothing
  • Central Ohio
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(09-24-2015, 12:52 AM)David Wrote:
(09-23-2015, 05:48 PM)chamm Wrote: Simpsons SiLVERTiP (2-band) is great, but soooooooo expensive! The "big three" German brushes (Shavemac-Thäter-Wiborg) are currently similar-to-superior performance, at around 50-60% of the price.

I must research those ones for my 4th, 5th, and 6th acquisitions.

I had heard great things about Rooney, but apparently they aren't in business anymore.

Rooney is still in business, possibly under new management and/or new direction. (They maintain an air of secrecy.) They still make good brushes. However, their brushes used to be great. Arguably some of the best brushes ever made. (And priced accordingly.) They are still good brushes to own and use, and their price is commensurate with their quality. But they are not the Rooney they were a decade ago.

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 09-24-2015, 06:56 AM
#19
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The part I'm always curious about is at what stage the "high-end" badger brush makers get their knots. Do they source loose badger hair and have it shipped loose to them, where they take over and tie the knots in-house? Do they have access to higher-quality knot tying in China, so they get better quality than the typical Ace Shaving, Frank Shaving, etc.?

Given that all* badger hair is sourced from China, the difference in quality from the Plisson, M&F, Shavemac tier vs. the TGN, FS, Whipped Dog tier must be in the assemblage of the knots right?

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 09-24-2015, 07:04 AM
#20
  • chamm
  • Expert on nothing
  • Central Ohio
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I am fairly sure that most "high end" manufacturers tie their own knots, at the least. I think that is where the artistry comes in. The pre-tied knots that are sorted and glued in China are commodity items. That doesn't mean they're all terrible, it just means that they can be had much more cheaply, and from my observation, they are less consistent than the artisan-tied knots.

Sorting, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery to me. The hairs in a Simpsons Manchurian are very different from the hairs in a Wiborg White Badger. I don't know if that's because specific vendors maintain a specific source for pre-sorted hair, or if they get a "bushel o' badger hair," dump it out on a table, and start going to town with a pair of tweezers. (Officially the worst job in the history of mankind...)

I imagine that the truth is a mix of the two extremes, with some vendors participating closely in the hair sorting and selection, and others buying it pre-sorted from a supplier. And putting their own "personal touch" on it.

I would be thrilled if someone with more first-hand knowledge could chime in here. Speculating is fun, but I would really love to know how it's done first-hand.

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