11-13-2012, 02:37 PM
#1
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Since August I have been talking back and forth with Lee (asharperrazor) from Wet Shaving Products. Lee generously sent one of his Stubby model Silvertip brushes on a tour and I got in on it. This brush was the "extra firm" version which had a very high glue bump. While I loved the feel of the hair, especially at the tips, the effective loft due to the glue bump was not to my liking. Lee then allowed me to try his personal Stubby that was the regular firmness (without the higher glue bump and shorter effective loft). I liked this knot much more, but I just wasn't comfortable with the handle. I mentioned this to Lee and he hinted at something in the works that I may like better, but that I must be patient.

Well, that patience has paid off now and I am extremely pleased with the Monarch; an exceptional knot in an amazing handle. This brush gives me just what I've been looking for; luxuriously soft tips with zero scritch while retaining the backbone that I love as an exclusive face latherer. Until now my favorite badger brush has been the Semogue Owner's Club 2-band and you can see my comparison to this brush here. I must say though, that for my preferences I don't see the SOC getting much use now. The Monarch is that good!

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As you can see the brush comes very well packaged. I'm reminded of a Simpson/Vulfix presentation which I feel is superb. I believe many other manufacturers could step up a bit in this category. While I don't have my own set of calipers I will try to measure it as best I can. For now the stock dimensions are as follows:
  • 23mm knot
  • 53mm loft
  • 50mm handle height
  • 103mm total height

I would classify this brush as a medium sized brush and right at the sweet spot for a face latherer. While the loft may seem a bit high, allow me to assure you that it is not. But more on that later.

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The handle, for me, is what makes this brush almost a Goldlilocks brush for me. Since starting traditional shaving I have lusted from afar at the Kent BL/BLK handles. I can't keep track of the numerous times I've had one in a shopping cart based on the handle alone. The reputation of the Kent knot kept me from pulling the trigger. As a face-latherer I value backbone too much to pick up the Kent. The handle, while being simply elegant to look at (I love the curves to this handle and the grain really pops and grabs your attention) is also extremely comfortable to hold. It is made of acrylic resin, which to my understanding is the highest quality handle material of this type. There is a very nice heft to the brush and the weight is balanced quite nicely. It fits in the palm of my hand allowing my fingers to wrap around the bulb in a relaxed yet firm manner making this a very easy brush to maneuver around my face. While I'm not a bowl/scuttle latherer, the neck of this handle will make it very easy and comfortable to use in this manner.

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The Monarch knot is certainly not as dense as brushes like Simpson Chubby or Rooney XL, but neither is it lacking like a Frank Shaving. I would say it's about as dense as the SOC 2-band while maintaining excellent flow through. I also find it to be more dense than a TGN Finest XH.

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Now for the most important aspect of any shave brush, the knot. This is where the magic happens. Soap/cream is turned into a lather and then massaged into our whiskers and skin. While I can't compare this hair to other high-end brands like Teiste can, I will try to expound on this hair as best I can.

When comparing to my other 2-bands (SOC, Frank Shaving, TGN) the Monarch is the only one which I cannot find any dark tip hairs. The SOC has quite a few completely dark strands, as does the Frank and TGN. These dark tipped hairs I believe contribute the scritch which the SOC is lovingly known for, but also what I was wanting to get away from. Every tip of the Monarch is quite white. In fact, the entire knot is noticeably whiter than the aforementioned 2-bands.

These Monarch hairs also seem to be a bit finer than my others, though they are still noticeably thicker than my 3-banded brushes. I believe that this explains the amazing flow through and softness that the brush exhibits. The hairs also seem to have a bit more flex to them but yet don't splay excessively to expose the breach. In it's first use I saw it shed 4 hairs, and just 1 in its second use. I've not seen any other loose hairs since.

Water is also held very well within this knot. I tend to use a drier brush approach when building my lather so I shake a good bit of water out. However, whenever I squeeze the excess lather out at the end of my shave I still notice water escaping. This has had zero negative impact on my lather though. With any other brush that I've noticed this with, the lather has been runny. Every lather I've made with the Monarch has been an extremely dense and well hydrated cream.

On the face this brush feels like a "Padded Wall of Badger". There is absolutely zero scritch and the hairs seem to give just a bit before firming up and producing an amazing massage feeling during face lathering. I've used this brush with both circular motions as well as back-and-forth motions. Both are comfortable on the face and effective at producing a great flowing lather.

I have used it on the gamut of software. From hard to soft I've used: TABAC, Mike's Natural, RazoRock La Famiglia, & RazoRock S.Maria. There is plenty of backbone to pick up soap from a hard puck like TABAC, yet it also flows well enough to work superbly with a cream. Other than my synthetic brushes I don't have anything that produces a creamy UltraLather as quickly and easily as the Monarch 2-band Super Badger.

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One reason that I prefer a 2-band brush is the controlled bloom. As a face latherer I don't like excessive bloom as it decreases the precision of my lathering. As expected there is what I consider to be the perfect amount of bloom on this knot. While the loft may seem a bit high for a face latherer, you can see that it doesn't over-bloom. Also, I don't notice any kind of glue bump or anything else that would alter the effective loft in anyway.

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Yes, Wet Shaving Product may be a new player in the shave brush field which is dominated by the heavy hitters (and rightfully so) like Plisson, Rooney, Simpson, & Kent. However, quality is quality and this brush delivers it from the moment you start unboxing. I can't say how it compares to brushes in the $150+ range as I've not used any of them, but I will say that it completely blows away all of my other brushes that are in the $50-100 range. At $74.99 I would not say this is necessarily an entry level brush. However, it is certainly a huge value for the money and I feel that the Monarch will confidently sit in your Nook alongside the likes of Plisson, Rooney, Simpson, & Kent.

mon-arch [mon-erk, -ahrk]
noun
1. a hereditary sovereign, as a king, queen, or emperor
2. a sole and absolute ruler of a state or nation
3. a person or thing that holds a dominant position


The Monarch has just seized control of my brush Nook and my face couldn't be happier!



To compare this brush with the rest of the Wet Shaving Products range just look here.

[Image: WSPRange.jpg]

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 11-13-2012, 03:00 PM
#2
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
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Brian , great review , sir ! Thank you for contributing to this forum with great info like this.

You have written exactly my thoughts regarding this brush and how it behaves/feels.Since I tried this brush prototype I knew how good it was going to be , and yes , it seems its not disappointing anybody who is trying it.

And yes , plays on the league of certain brands , like Vie Long , for example , which 2 band brushes are also excellent.

Thanks again , glad to know that I wasn't that crazy when I though this brush was going to be a hit.

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 11-13-2012, 09:07 PM
#3
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Brian, wow, what an amazing review! Thank you for sharing.
Boy, it just keeps getting harder and harder to resist this brush!

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 11-14-2012, 01:02 AM
#4
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Stellar review Brian. The Monarch shines again!

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 11-19-2012, 04:12 PM
#5
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Brush arrived today. First impression: very positive! Nice packaging, handle looks nice and ergonomic, fleck handle gives it a nicer touch. Loft around 52mm, knot around 23mm. Knot feels good dry. Did a test lather in my palm with Speick. The feel of the hair is very soft. Softer than TGN or M&F. About on par with current Simpson 2 band and Rooney Heritage. Tomorrow I will face lather and then provide a more detailed review... So far so (very) good....

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 11-19-2012, 04:14 PM
#6
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(11-19-2012, 04:12 PM)German Wrote: Brush arrived today. First impression: very positive! Nice packaging, handle looks nice and ergonomic, fleck handle gives it a nicer touch. Loft around 52mm, knot around 23mm. Knot feels good dry. Did a test lather in my palm with Speick. The feel of the hair is very soft. Softer than TGN or M&F. About on par with current Simpson 2 band and Rooney Heritage. Tomorrow I will face lather and then provide a more detailed review... So far so (very) good....

That's wonderful German. I'm very excited to hear your thoughts and comparisons to this brush. I just received a package from Lee today and I'm fortunate enough to try each of his brushes from this run.

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 11-19-2012, 04:44 PM
#7
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
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Well looks like it's time to sell some stuff to buy one of these brushes. I was hoping to avoid another brush purchase.

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 11-19-2012, 07:53 PM
#8
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
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(11-19-2012, 04:12 PM)German Wrote: Brush arrived today. First impression: very positive! Nice packaging, handle looks nice and ergonomic, fleck handle gives it a nicer touch. Loft around 52mm, knot around 23mm. Knot feels good dry. Did a test lather in my palm with Speick. The feel of the hair is very soft. Softer than TGN or M&F. About on par with current Simpson 2 band and Rooney Heritage. Tomorrow I will face lather and then provide a more detailed review... So far so (very) good....

Looking forward to read your impressions about it , German.

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 11-20-2012, 04:43 AM
#9
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So I did use the brush this morning with Razorock King Louis soap.

The "Good": Very soft tips, no scritch whatsoever. Hair is indeed comparable in softness to new Simpson 2 Band or Heritage Rooney. Medium density that allows for good flow through. Holds a lot of water (more than I thought). Handle is very nice to hold (the only thing I like about regular Kent brushes is that handle).

The "Bad": Splays too much for a 2 band, hair is not that resilient or needs a denser knot or lower loft. Compared to a PJ2, for example, that has a similar knot but a bit shorter loft, the Monarch allows less control. On top it is a fan while the PJ has a bulb shape knot.

Conclusion: For $75 probably the softest 2 band brush you can get. Good workmanship, solid handle, well sorted hair. The knot reminded me a lot of a Emillion knot. The appearance of the Monarch 2 band is very much in line with the Rooney Heritage line (less dense though).

I have just ordered the Prince 2 Band to see, if that knot/loft ratio and hair type is more to my liking. I am afraid my sweet spot could be in-between.

For the Monarch, I would prefer the loft set at 50mm instead of 53mm. That should provide the additional control needed. The hair is excellent and does not need to hide behind the big names (Thäter, Rooney, Simpson).

I will report back when I have received the Prince...

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 11-20-2012, 09:16 AM
#10
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German, great review and I agree on each point. A 50mm loft would be better, and I would personally prefer this over increasing the density.

Give the Prince two-band a couple lathers to open up. It could very well be what you are looking for, but I see what you are saying about finding the Goldilocks in between the two.

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 11-20-2012, 09:51 AM
#11
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Thanks for your thoughts German. I initially thought, too, that I'd want it at a shorter loft. However, the more I use it the more I appreciate it where it is. Yes it does splay more than my SOC 2-band, but I actually prefer it because of this. If it splayed so much as to expose the breach then I'd be unhappy but it doesn't do this either. My Frank Shaving 2-band splays too much for my taste and can loose too much water because of this.

I will be playing around with the Prince 2-band soon so I will post and comment in other threads about it too.

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 11-20-2012, 09:52 AM
#12
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
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(11-20-2012, 04:43 AM)German Wrote: So I did use the brush this morning with Razorock King Louis soap.

The "Good": Very soft tips, no scritch whatsoever. Hair is indeed comparable in softness to new Simpson 2 Band or Heritage Rooney. Medium density that allows for good flow through. Holds a lot of water (more than I thought). Handle is very nice to hold (the only thing I like about regular Kent brushes is that handle).

The "Bad": Splays too much for a 2 band, hair is not that resilient or needs a denser knot or lower loft. Compared to a PJ2, for example, that has a similar knot but a bit shorter loft, the Monarch allows less control. On top it is a fan while the PJ has a bulb shape knot.

Conclusion: For $75 probably the softest 2 band brush you can get. Good workmanship, solid handle, well sorted hair. The knot reminded me a lot of a Emillion knot. The appearance of the Monarch 2 band is very much in line with the Rooney Heritage line (less dense though).

I have just ordered the Prince 2 Band to see, if that knot/loft ratio and hair type is more to my liking. I am afraid my sweet spot could be in-between.

For the Monarch, I would prefer the loft set at 50mm instead of 53mm. That should provide the additional control needed. The hair is excellent and does not need to hide behind the big names (Thäter, Rooney, Simpson).

I will report back when I have received the Prince...

Thank you , German.I think that due to your taste , you're going to like The Prince in 2 band.

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 08-19-2014, 10:07 AM
#13
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(11-20-2012, 09:51 AM)SharpSpine Wrote: Thanks for your thoughts German. I initially thought, too, that I'd want it at a shorter loft. However, the more I use it the more I appreciate it where it is. Yes it does splay more than my SOC 2-band, but I actually prefer it because of this. If it splayed so much as to expose the breach then I'd be unhappy but it doesn't do this either. My Frank Shaving 2-band splays too much for my taste and can loose too much water because of this.

I will be playing around with the Prince 2-band soon so I will post and comment in other threads about it too.

hi Brian ! i went with your recommendation of buying TGCo synth and now i am eying this WSP Monarch superfine 2 band brush. i know it's been almost 2 years but want to know how do you feel about this brush now. i am a face latherer and use mostly soaps and croaps. most of my brushes have good backbone and now i am interested to buy a badger brush with luxurious face feel and good flow through but it should be under $100. thanx in advance !

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 08-19-2014, 05:02 PM
#14
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While I don't use badger brushes anymore I will say that the SuperFine 2-band from WSP was one of my favorites. The tips are very soft and the larger 2-band hair along with not being too dense gives it great flow through. I'd imagine that this knot would be quite to your liking.

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