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 Advice for the new Piper

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Dorchester

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Age : 36
Registration date : 2017-09-12

PostSubject: Advice for the new Piper   Mon Oct 02, 2017 5:03 pm

Howdy, friends.

Just getting into the gentlemanly art of pipe-smoking, here. I ordered one of those Big Ben starter kits off of P&C and picked up a couple MMs from the local head shop. Very quickly moved from pouch to tin, and have been enjoying the charms of Royal Yacht and Frog Morton. Figure I'll try some VaPers next, and in fact I have some Escudo and Haddo's Delight on the way. (Already, I feel the TAD and the PAD.)

What do you fellas recommend for starting a pipe collection? I've enjoyed the tighter draw on the Big Ben, as compared with the cob. Oh, and I impulse-bought a Butz-Choquin Liseuse, which I've thus far only smoked the Frog out of. I feel like I'm losing flavor with the churchwarden, but I'll freely admit I'm too much of a novice to trust my first impression.

Is it worth sampling more budget briars? Is the cob a perfectly fine smoking vessel, in terms of allowing one to enjoy all the flavors of the leaf? Do some tobaccos really taste better in a briar, or a cob, or a meer, or in a different-sized bowl?

Cheers!
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huffelpuff

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Age : 47
Location : Laramie, WY
Registration date : 2011-12-10

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:35 pm

Dorchester, you'll find that the questions you've asked will have as many answers as there are pipe smokers. You unfortunately will have to check things out for yourself as your tastes will differ from those of many others. I myself have many cobs and enjoy them very much. Others will tell you that cobs will rob you of certain flavors. Not been my experience but I can see it happening to some people. Meers have fans as well as haters. Some will tell you it gives you a taste of pure tobacco others say it adds a mineral flavor to blends. You'll have to try it for yourself and see what your opinion is. Can a blend taste better in a brier than a cob.....I believe so. You may not have that experience though. Are high end pipes worth the money? Only you can answer that question. My personal experience has been that you are better served buying a pipe from an artisan maker like several of the brothers here. You'll spend less and get great smoking pipes. You will find most will advise you to stay away from the cheep basket pipes and set a budget of150-250 per pipe. You can buy great factory pipes for that price. Hopefully I've made the subject as clear as mud. Honestly though I hope you enjoy your pipe journey. Be open to trying new things. You will find your way soon enough and you'll find many folks willing to help you along your way.

Jim
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Yarnspinner68

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Location : Franklin County, VA
Registration date : 2017-09-29

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:05 pm

^^^THIS!!!

Hufflepuff nailed it as far as I'm concerned. We could each give you our answers, but these are subjective questions that only have personal answers. My advice is to explore as you are able and find what works for you. That goes for tobaccos, shapes, materials, techniques--everything.

Smoke what you like and like what you smoke. Figuring out what you like is one of the joys of the journey.
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SpeedyPete



Age : 73
Location : Cape Town
Registration date : 2011-01-28

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:23 pm

Please don't make the same mistake I made......don't go for LOTS of pipes (I'm sitting with over 100)

Don't buy cheap pipes.......it will put you off completely....there are NO good, cheap pipes, cobs excluded

Get yourself a couple of artisan carvers' pipes....more expensive but such a joy to own and smoke

Check eBay for older English, Italian and Denmark made pipes.....but you might want to wait a bit until you know what to look for.

Get yourself a couple of cobs....they are EXCELLENT smokers

Enjoy !!
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Brewdude

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Age : 65
Location : Near the Emerald city
Registration date : 2011-05-04

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:36 pm

Not much I can add here to the sage wisdom above. Except perhaps, that you should seriously consider the estate market which is well served by folks like Blue Room Briars, sp.com, Briar Blues, and several others. You can get a helluva nice broken in and restored & sanitized pipe for about half the cost of a new one.

You'll need to discover for yourself what works for you, and that's part of the enjoyment and fun.


Cheers,

RR
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DrT999

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Age : 59
Location : Piedmont of North Carolina
Registration date : 2011-08-31

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:48 pm

You might also want to buy a clay pipe or two (but probably not more than that) as you break in your briars and decide where to take the hobby from there. I personally think Va's and VaPer's work well in a clay, but I wouldn't want to rely on them, and you have to be careful not to burn your fingers on the bowl. Shocked
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DrumsAndBeer

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Age : 45
Location : Northern, CA
Registration date : 2012-04-04

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:14 pm

Dorchester,

Regarding your churchwarden, I like a churchwarden for full flavor blends that have a tendency to burn on the warm side, whether due to cut, tobacco type or both. The long stem is good for creating a bit more distance between my palate and the ember. Examples of blends that work well for me in a churchwarden, D&R Three Sails (shag), Manil Le Petit Robin (shaggier shag), and almost any thin ribbon cut bright Virginia blend.

A lot of Englishes burn rather cool and can be quite subtle, so a long churchwarden stem may not be needed with a blend like Frog Morton, but with the right churchwarden FM could taste like a million bucks.

Most important, is that you are already doing the one of the more important things, and that's experimenting with the pipe/blend combinations you have at your disposal. You never know what tobacco is going to absolutely sing in a specific pipe. So try things out and exhaust the combinations that you have before designating/dedicating a pipe as a English blend pipe, or a straight VA, Vaper pipe, etc..  

Cobs. Some folks love them and others don't. I know someone who loathes them. Personally I think they are great pipes for the money, but contrary to some of the information out there, I believe when new, they need to be carefully smoked and there is a definite seasoning period that they go through. That said, I don't think that they are as neutral smoking from the on-set as some suggest but they do break-in quicker than most briar pipes. Usually a dozen smokes and they're good, but they're all different.

As far as acquiring pipes goes, there have been some excellent suggestions here. I prefer quality estate pipes to new, and pipes from artisan makers to those from factories (when I can afford them). You will learn in time that a good smoking pipe is all about the internals. You want an airway from bowl to bit that's free from turbulence. A good artisan maker will give you that, pipes from most factories may or may not. I would highly recommend contacting one of our resident pipe makers here on BoB, Ocelot55 (Jesse Jones), he and his business partner run BlueRoomBriars.com. They have some nice estates for sale as well as a fine selection of artisan pipes including pieces hand made by Jesse. He can definitely point you in the right direction. You will meet a lot of others in this hobby that can as well.

Good luck, and as others have wisely said, this is a very subjective hobby and when it comes to what works for you, your opinion is the only one that counts. However, there is a lot to learn about piping and it ain't always easy..Wink
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Dorchester

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Age : 36
Registration date : 2017-09-12

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:13 pm

Thanks, guys.

I wounded my first cob yesterday. Trying to scrape out the dottle and I punched a hole right through the bottom.

That will teach me to a.) let it dry, and b.) craft a wooden plug.
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KevinM



Age : 74
Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:23 pm

You can find some very nice pipes at reasonable prices in the estate pipe market. And they’re already broken in. (Usually.) Pay attention to bowl size. Keep a pipers diary — just a brief note on pipe, tobak, your impression. It’s a great way to figure out which pipe likes what. Pack light, smoke slow. A good (and somewhat bad) thing about piping is that it is highly individualistic. Don’t believe me? Go to Tobacco Reviews and look at Granger — a legendary OTC blend. Some Granger reviewers give five stars, some zero. Yes, they’re all talking about the same tobak. So be cool, don’t rush, and find your own preferences. Re cobs: most like them ... on some the draft passage is so big it dilutes taste ... a new cob puffed empty will deliver a sweet corn taste ... but this disappears quickly ... nice price, for sure.
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Yarnspinner68

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Location : Franklin County, VA
Registration date : 2017-09-29

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:30 pm

Regarding packing the pipe well and smoking slowly, take the time to learn it and practice it. Slow smoking helped me to learn to identify and appreciate the components of a blend. It is worth the effort.
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Fight'n Hampsters

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Age : 39
Location : Kentucky
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PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:15 pm

I agree that there are no good cheap briars out there. By cheap I mean $25-$30. I have several and the blends I am use to just dont taste right.

I am very budget conscious, so spending $150 + on a pipe is not possible. The best alternative I have found is spending $60 to $80 on a Savinelli. I have several and have not ever been disappointed.

Cobs, as mentioned above, are the exception to the rule. They are great, especially for burley blends.
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Lonecoyote

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Location : The Seventh Planet From The Sun...Uranus
Registration date : 2016-10-15

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:46 pm

You won't go wrong purchasing a Savinelli 320KS Trevi pipe for $80.00 or less. Won't be your last 320 either, they're that good.

Cobs are a good cheap alternative pipe if your smoking a blend you know will severely ghost one of your good briars. YES....THEY DO HAVE A BREAK IN PERIOD and once you take the time ( between 8 and 12 smokes ) you will purchase a few for your Latakia blends as well. I HIGHLY recommend the MM Country Gentleman or Diplomat pipe with a straight or bent stem. Both have a piece of hard wood on the bottom and once broken in properly they last for years. I purchased mine on Amazon for under $11.00 each delivered.
I trick and protect my Cobs before my first smoke. I make my own pipe mud and put a thin coat on the walls and a bit thicker on the bottom. They break in super fast properly, just my honest opinion from experience.
The ONLY Cobs I've ever had and issue where the walls had a burn thru in under 20 uses is this MM Cobs costing under $5.00!!
It's all about relaxing and enjoying, no worries!!


KEEP ON PUFFING!!!
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Stick

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Age : 47
Location : 'Blighty'
Registration date : 2014-02-19

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:31 pm

Dorchester wrote:
Thanks, guys.

I wounded my first cob yesterday. Trying to scrape out the dottle and I punched a hole right through the bottom.

That will teach me to a.) let it dry, and b.) craft a wooden plug.

Mmm, shouldn't take anymore than a light tickle with a pipe tool to remove any dottle from the bottom of a bowl. I usually use the spike on a Czech tool to break up any crispy bits (the weight of the tool is more than is required), gently tease them out, give the pipe a good blast of air down the spout and then use a pipe cleaner to remove any stuck bits before running the cleaner through the stem. A quick wipe with a cloth, leave to air for day and you're good to go.
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Zeno Marx

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Registration date : 2010-06-26

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:47 pm

In today's climate of instant gratification and 200MPH multi-tasking, try to avoid the idea that you will know, or need to know, everything in the first month or two. Ultimately, you can know as little, or as much, as you want. Pipe smoking is an idiosyncratic, life-long pursuit (if you allow it to be). It's a leisurely, relaxing pastime, and the acquisition of knowledge and preferences should be, in my opinion, approached with that speed and long-game in mind. We are the tortoise.

And absolutely, buy a nice pipe and an overpriced tin or two. Start high on the mark and with a fine instrument. You can smoke out of a potato, if you really want to, but I contest you would be selling the possibilities short.
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Brewdude

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Age : 65
Location : Near the Emerald city
Registration date : 2011-05-04

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:29 pm

Zeno Marx wrote:
In today's climate of instant gratification and 200MPH multi-tasking, try to avoid the idea that you will know, or need to know, everything in the first month or two.  Ultimately, you can know as little, or as much, as you want.  Pipe smoking is an idiosyncratic, life-long pursuit (if you allow it to be).  It's a leisurely, relaxing pastime, and the acquisition of knowledge and preferences should be, in my opinion, approached with that speed and long-game in mind.  We are the tortoise.

And absolutely, buy a nice pipe and an overpriced tin or two.  Start high on the mark and with a fine instrument.  You can smoke out of a potato, if you really want to, but I contest you would be selling the possibilities short.

Now that right there is sage advice and wisdom if ever I heard it. Have to admit I was overwhelmed at first and had some misguided idea the pipe would be like cigars. Boy howdy was that a big mistake!

It takes time, time, time, patience, and practice to acquire the skills. These are not learned overnight, or even from a youtube vid. They can only be mastered and subjugated through endless hours of trial and error. Think in terms of years. And I, like virtually all of us here are still learning.

So, take it slow and enjoy the journey. It's all about pleasure and enjoyment after all!

sunny



Cheers,

RR
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ontariopiper

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Location : Kitchener, Ontario CANADA
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PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:22 am

Dorchester -

I'd say you're already miles ahead of the average pipe novice. You're sampling different blends, different pipes and figuring out what works for you. As others have said, pipe smoking is not an instant hobby. All of us suffered through rough bowls, tongue bite, hundreds of relights and smoking poor quality blends before we knew any better! Very Happy

Take your time, enjoy the journey and let us know how things go - that's the great value of a forum like BoB.

Regarding pipe choices, I see it as similar to buying a musical instrument. You can learn to play on a $50 plywood guitar, or you can learn t o play - and ENJOY playing - a more expensive but infinitely better crafted instrument. Don't cheap out if you can save up for a good pipe. That said there are lots of great estate pipes out there for very reasonable prices. I'm currently smoking a Stanwell Buffalo I picked up for about $30CAD. Great pipe!
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DrT999

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Age : 59
Location : Piedmont of North Carolina
Registration date : 2011-08-31

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:42 am

RE: pipe choices

I am going to be slightly contrarian on the issue of basket briars and other inexpensive pipes.  I think they should be considered if you have the chance to look them over.  On the one hand, I probably looked over 30-40 basket briars that were shapes I would have considered smoking in the first few years I came back to the pipe.  Probably at least 1/2 of them I would only recommend as a stage prop.  Half of the remaining were between only slightly better to ok.  Of the remaining, I bought 5, so total cost about $180 inc. tax, about the price range being recommended.

Granted, I knew that one pipe had a fatal flaw, but I bought it to try the shape, so I wouldn't have bought it at a higher price.  A second had a hidden one as well, but I still got about 30 bowls out of each before they burned out.  One is a decent smoker, a second is very good, but not a shape I use much now.  The final pipe is the best smoker I have.  Granted, the other briar pipes I buy via mail order are more in the $60-100 range, but I really think the proportion of duds/mediocre to good-or-better pipes is about the same.  So I got 2 excellent pipes and a decent one for the price of one artisan pipe.

In short, I would of course agree that the odds of getting a good pipe increases up as the price goes from $30 to $200.  However, you can easily get a dud from any maker at any price, and you can get a very good to even great smoker with some diligence (and luck) as a bargain.
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Dorchester

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Age : 36
Registration date : 2017-09-12

PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:36 am

Zeno Marx wrote:
In today's climate of instant gratification and 200MPH multi-tasking, try to avoid the idea that you will know, or need to know, everything in the first month or two.  Ultimately, you can know as little, or as much, as you want.  Pipe smoking is an idiosyncratic, life-long pursuit (if you allow it to be).  It's a leisurely, relaxing pastime, and the acquisition of knowledge and preferences should be, in my opinion, approached with that speed and long-game in mind.  We are the tortoise.

And absolutely, buy a nice pipe and an overpriced tin or two.  Start high on the mark and with a fine instrument.  You can smoke out of a potato, if you really want to, but I contest you would be selling the possibilities short.

This has been one of the most rewarding parts of the hobby. It almost forces you to slow down and be "mindful," as the buzzword goes. Modern life does throw us all into that river of Instant Gratification. It takes conscious effort to step out and relax, but it's well worth it, IMO.

I snagged a Pete on eBay for about half the retail price. Hasn't arrived yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Not a system, but given the brand's history in the hobby, I figure well worth trying. Have to go Sav next (320, Mr. Coyote?) when the stars and finances align.
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Fight'n Hampsters

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:46 am

Zeno Marx wrote:
In today's climate of instant gratification and 200MPH multi-tasking, try to avoid the idea that you will know, or need to know, everything in the first month or two.  Ultimately, you can know as little, or as much, as you want.  Pipe smoking is an idiosyncratic, life-long pursuit (if you allow it to be).  It's a leisurely, relaxing pastime, and the acquisition of knowledge and preferences should be, in my opinion, approached with that speed and long-game in mind.  We are the tortoise.

And absolutely, buy a nice pipe and an overpriced tin or two.  Start high on the mark and with a fine instrument.  You can smoke out of a potato, if you really want to, but I contest you would be selling the possibilities short.

+1!
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monbla256

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Fri Oct 06, 2017 4:51 pm

A piece of advice I was given years ago : "... buy the BEST you can afford, ALWAYS." And another piece of advice I was given was to learn a blend. A few pipe fulls won't do this. DON'T jump around bowl full to bowl full from blend to blend. Pick two blends and smoke AT LEAST 1 whole tin of each (2 would be better) only before trying another. Remember, this is a LIFE LONG endevore so you've got plenty of time. Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
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huffelpuff

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:35 am

Dorchester, don't throw out that cob you damaged! Let it dry out for a week or two and then drill out the bottom of the bowl so you can insert a half inch hardwood dowel.  Glue it in place with Elmer's glue and you're good to go. If you aren't comfortable doing it yourself box it up and send it to me I will gladly do it for you.

Jim
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SpeedyPete



Age : 73
Location : Cape Town
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PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Sat Oct 07, 2017 6:36 am

monbla256 wrote:
A piece of advice I was given years ago : "... buy the BEST you can afford, ALWAYS."  And another piece of advice I was given was to learn a blend. A few pipe fulls won't do this. DON'T jump around bowl full to bowl full from blend to blend. Pick two blends and smoke AT LEAST 1 whole tin of each (2 would be better) only before trying another. Remember, this is a LIFE LONG endevore  so you've got plenty of time. Twisted Evil Twisted Evil

Very good advice, indeed.....
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SpeedyPete



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PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Sat Oct 07, 2017 6:37 am

huffelpuff wrote:
Dorchester, don't throw out that cob you damaged! Let it dry out for a week or two and then drill out the bottom of the bowl so you can insert a half inch hardwood dowel.  Glue it in place with Elmer's glue and you're good to go. If you aren't comfortable doing it yourself box it up and send it to me I will gladly do it for you.

Jim

It happened to me as well with my very first cob, 8 years ago.....I'm still smoking it today Laughing
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Oxman

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PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:43 am

monbla256 wrote:
A piece of advice I was given years ago : "... buy the BEST you can afford, ALWAYS." And another piece of advice I was given was to learn a blend. A few pipe fulls won't do this. DON'T jump around bowl full to bowl full from blend to blend. Pick two blends and smoke AT LEAST 1 whole tin of each (2 would be better) only before trying another. Remember, this is a LIFE LONG endevore so you've got plenty of time. Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
+2!

Totally agree. I made the mistake of trying everything and getting confused about whatvi liked and in what pipe! Keep a little diary of each combination.
You will find that so many things affect the smoke, not just the pipe, but what you are drinking,the time of day, your mood, even the weather.

It's a beautiful pastime, but it needs a whole lot of time to figure what you like. Sometimes even figuring what you don't really like is difficult.

And then there is age .... after a few years smoking, I have noticed many changes in what I like and don't like, it's like opening a present every day, will I like this combination today Smile
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Richard Burley

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Location : North Coast NY
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PostSubject: Re: Advice for the new Piper   Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:58 am

monbla256 wrote:
A piece of advice I was given years ago : "... buy the BEST you can afford, ALWAYS."  And another piece of advice I was given was to learn a blend. A few pipe fulls won't do this. DON'T jump around bowl full to bowl full from blend to blend. Pick two blends and smoke AT LEAST 1 whole tin of each (2 would be better) only before trying another. Remember, this is a LIFE LONG endevore  so you've got plenty of time. Twisted Evil Twisted Evil

+3 Yes, bouncing from one blend to another all the time seems to confuse my brain. We can't all be Jim Inks. I recently popped a tin of Dunhill Royal Yacht and couldn't believe how much I detested the taste. I persevered though, found a pipe it did well in (a smallish Castello billiard), and now I can't get enough of the stuff. I actually crave it. Had I been flitting about with other blends, I do believe I would have written it off as a "never again" blend. A new pipe smoker should be wary of first impressions, in other words. They may be false. Just my two centavos.
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