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Plisson 12 HMW x2

Item Description

I am doing this comparison partly because Plissons don't often get reviewed, partly because there has been a lot of discussion about bristle quality variation within a single brush type -- often associated with Simpson's super grade brushes. I don't mean the small differences that are inevitable in a natural/handmade product, but major ones that can completely change the character of a brush. I have two Plisson 12 HMW brushes. One was purchased from Atkinson's of Vancouver about a year ago, the other was recently bought essentially new from a collector who was downsizing his collection. One has a tortoiseshell acrylic handle, the other is natural horn. The differences between these two size 12 HMWs are striking - although nominally the same brushes, they are in fact very different products.

The 12s have a 22 mm knot and a loft of 55-60 mm. This is close to the optimum size in my opinion - large enough to hold plenty of lather but very manageable. The knot is a slightly flattened bulb shape. The horn handle is a few mm taller and larger in diameter and uses a white instead of a gold-colored collar around the knot. The weight and balance of both brushes are essentially the same. Other than the handle materials, the most obvious visual difference is that one brush is filled with "2-band" and one with "3-band" bristle. I have sprinkled in some pictures to illustrate the comparison. My photographic skills and the color balance are not sufficient to show the full splendor of these fine brushes.

Appearance: The 2-band has a very striking appearance with roughly equal width bands of a white (very slight yellow tint) tips and almost solid gloss black where the bristles bunch down into the knot. The bristle looks very similar to Rooney's finest. Similar to Rooneys (if you dig deep into the knot) and 2-band Simpsons that I've seen, near the center of the knot, the "roots" are tan-colored. The 3-band is a tan color on the lower third, followed by a narrow black band and longer silvery-white "luminous" tips. As a side note: it seems likely that ALL bristles are actually 3-band. Very long, thick ones (from cooler climates or maybe older badgers) can be made in brushes that look 2-band and generally cost more. I don't know if the tips are white from old age or bleaching.

Stiffness: There is a major difference here. The 2-band is very stiff and resilient, it snaps back if bent. The black part of the bristle is especially thick and stiff. Most of the flexing occurs in the upper part of the bristle. The 3-band is springy but much more flexible and the bristles are thinner that in the 2-band, they flex along their entire length. The 3-band is packed slightly denser, mainly because of the thinner bristles. It flares out much more than the 2-band in use. Those who like a stiff, scratchy brush might consider it to be very slightly floppy.

Softness: The 2-band is rather scratchy and the tips of the bristles, although NOT barbed, are quite prickly The brush has softened considerably after a wash in conditioner and a few weeks of daily use but it has not approached the softness of the 3-band even fresh out of the box. The 3-band has very soft tips and produces a strong suction effect when lathering on your face as the bristles flare out.

Water capacity: The 2-band has a "waxy" almost bird quill quality to the lower part of the bristles (similar to the Rooney finest that has been said on this forum to "repel water"). This does not wash off - it's natural and not a coating as far as I can tell. The brush has plenty of capacity for both water and lather though. The 3-band can hold ~32 cc of water and a very large amount of lather. The 2-band blooms modestly (it has opened up a lot since new, but is still not extraordinary). The 3-band blooms big - about 85 mm diameter.

Lathering: I mainly use creams (3Ts, Salter's...). The 2-band is a fairly "dry" brush, it tends to produce a very dense creamy lather with fine bubbles. The lather tends to be richer than from most brushes even after adjusting the water/cream mix. The 3-band produces a more fluid, creamy lather with a very fine bubble size. The 3-band tends to draw the lather further into the knot than the 2-band does. While both brushes can handle hard soap, the 2-band is somewhat better due to it stiffness and "focus".

Which to choose? When my 3-band arrived I was quite disappointed by its appearance. This went away as soon as I started using the brush - its softness and luxurious quality made it a strong favorite, even for "if I can only have one brush" status. The 2-band is truly beautiful - a real work of art. The feel of the 2-band on the face is not as luxurious as the 3-band in my opinion but it is a top class brush and a real pleasure to use.

Bottom line - these two brushes are black and white (no pun intended). I originally planned to sell my 3-band when I got the 2-band. Since the brushes are so different, I have decided to keep them both in my rotation. It may be redundant to say this but if you are planning to buy a Plisson HMW (or any other higher end brush for that matter) be sure to check out the options carefully before you pull the trigger. Obviously, if you can visit a vendor who has a large inventory and pick out the right one, this is best. If you buy both a 2- and a 3-band Plisson 12 HMW, you will be well set up for almost any shaving situation and could theoretically sell your other brushes, except perhaps a small traveller. IMO the 2-band is, although rather different, neck and neck with a Rooney's finest. Perhaps surprisingly, the "less desirable" 3-band has a small but significant "quality of experience" edge over both the 2-band Plisson of the same size and the (usually less expensive) competition that I have used. Is the small performance edge worth the extra cost compared to a Savile Row, Shavemac, Simpson, etc.? Only you can decide.

Pictures below sho both brushes side by side, dry and bloomed and a comparison of the 2-band with a small Rooney's finest.

I can't get the system to accept 2 seprate review by me, so here are my scores:


...........................3-band..............2-band
Price.........................8......................8
Quality.....................10....................10
Density.....................10....................10
Stiffness of tips...........9....................10
Softness of tips.........10......................7
Ergonomics...............10.....................10
Latherability..............10......................9
.............................96%................91%


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Latest reviews

Great review! I finally took the plunge and ordered a Plisson 12 HMW myself. I will provide some feedback once I start to use it.
Price
3.00 star(s)
Density
5.00 star(s)
Quality
5.00 star(s)
Ergonomic
4.00 star(s)
Latherability
5.00 star(s)
Softness of Tips
4.00 star(s)
Stiffness of Tips
4.00 star(s)
Just wanted to express my appreciation for this superb, comprehensive review and to note that my experience agrees with yours absolutely. I also have kept my Plisson 12 three-band and regard it as the finest brush I have ever used. Brilliant review and best,

s
I am doing this comparison partly because Plissons don't often get reviewed, partly because there has been a lot of discussion about bristle quality variation within a single brush type -- often associated with Simpson's super grade brushes. I don't mean the small differences that are inevitable in a natural/handmade product, but major ones that can completely change the character of a brush. I have two Plisson 12 HMW brushes. One was purchased from Atkinson's of Vancouver about a year ago, the other was recently bought essentially new from a collector who was downsizing his collection. One has a tortoiseshell acrylic handle, the other is natural horn. The differences between these two size 12 HMWs are striking - although nominally the same brushes, they are in fact very different products.

The 12s have a 22 mm knot and a loft of 55-60 mm. This is close to the optimum size in my opinion - large enough to hold plenty of lather but very manageable. The knot is a slightly flattened bulb shape. The horn handle is a few mm taller and larger in diameter and uses a white instead of a gold-colored collar around the knot. The weight and balance of both brushes are essentially the same. Other than the handle materials, the most obvious visual difference is that one brush is filled with "2-band" and one with "3-band" bristle. I have sprinkled in some pictures to illustrate the comparison. My photographic skills and the color balance are not sufficient to show the full splendor of these fine brushes.

Appearance: The 2-band has a very striking appearance with roughly equal width bands of a white (very slight yellow tint) tips and almost solid gloss black where the bristles bunch down into the knot. The bristle looks very similar to Rooney's finest. Similar to Rooneys (if you dig deep into the knot) and 2-band Simpsons that I've seen, near the center of the knot, the "roots" are tan-colored. The 3-band is a tan color on the lower third, followed by a narrow black band and longer silvery-white "luminous" tips. As a side note: it seems likely that ALL bristles are actually 3-band. Very long, thick ones (from cooler climates or maybe older badgers) can be made in brushes that look 2-band and generally cost more. I don't know if the tips are white from old age or bleaching.

Stiffness: There is a major difference here. The 2-band is very stiff and resilient, it snaps back if bent. The black part of the bristle is especially thick and stiff. Most of the flexing occurs in the upper part of the bristle. The 3-band is springy but much more flexible and the bristles are thinner that in the 2-band, they flex along their entire length. The 3-band is packed slightly denser, mainly because of the thinner bristles. It flares out much more than the 2-band in use. Those who like a stiff, scratchy brush might consider it to be very slightly floppy.

Softness: The 2-band is rather scratchy and the tips of the bristles, although NOT barbed, are quite prickly The brush has softened considerably after a wash in conditioner and a few weeks of daily use but it has not approached the softness of the 3-band even fresh out of the box. The 3-band has very soft tips and produces a strong suction effect when lathering on your face as the bristles flare out.

Water capacity: The 2-band has a "waxy" almost bird quill quality to the lower part of the bristles (similar to the Rooney finest that has been said on this forum to "repel water"). This does not wash off - it's natural and not a coating as far as I can tell. The brush has plenty of capacity for both water and lather though. The 3-band can hold ~32 cc of water and a very large amount of lather. The 2-band blooms modestly (it has opened up a lot since new, but is still not extraordinary). The 3-band blooms big - about 85 mm diameter.

Lathering: I mainly use creams (3Ts, Salter's...). The 2-band is a fairly "dry" brush, it tends to produce a very dense creamy lather with fine bubbles. The lather tends to be richer than from most brushes even after adjusting the water/cream mix. The 3-band produces a more fluid, creamy lather with a very fine bubble size. The 3-band tends to draw the lather further into the knot than the 2-band does. While both brushes can handle hard soap, the 2-band is somewhat better due to it stiffness and "focus".

Which to choose? When my 3-band arrived I was quite disappointed by its appearance. This went away as soon as I started using the brush - its softness and luxurious quality made it a strong favorite, even for "if I can only have one brush" status. The 2-band is truly beautiful - a real work of art. The feel of the 2-band on the face is not as luxurious as the 3-band in my opinion but it is a top class brush and a real pleasure to use.

Bottom line - these two brushes are black and white (no pun intended). I originally planned to sell my 3-band when I got the 2-band. Since the brushes are so different, I have decided to keep them both in my rotation. It may be redundant to say this but if you are planning to buy a Plisson HMW (or any other higher end brush for that matter) be sure to check out the options carefully before you pull the trigger. Obviously, if you can visit a vendor who has a large inventory and pick out the right one, this is best. If you buy both a 2- and a 3-band Plisson 12 HMW, you will be well set up for almost any shaving situation and could theoretically sell your other brushes, except perhaps a small traveller. IMO the 2-band is, although rather different, neck and neck with a Rooney's finest. Perhaps surprisingly, the "less desirable" 3-band has a small but significant "quality of experience" edge over both the 2-band Plisson of the same size and the (usually less expensive) competition that I have used. Is the small performance edge worth the extra cost compared to a Savile Row, Shavemac, Simpson, etc.? Only you can decide.

Pictures below sho both brushes side by side, dry and bloomed and a comparison of the 2-band with a small Rooney's finest.

I can't get the system to accept 2 seprate review by me, so here are my scores:


...........................3-band..............2-band
Price.........................8......................8
Quality.....................10....................10
Density.....................10....................10
Stiffness of tips...........9....................10
Softness of tips.........10......................7
Ergonomics...............10.....................10
Latherability..............10......................9
.............................96%................91%


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Price
4.00 star(s)
Density
5.00 star(s)
Quality
5.00 star(s)
Ergonomic
5.00 star(s)
Latherability
5.00 star(s)
Softness of Tips
5.00 star(s)
Stiffness of Tips
4.00 star(s)

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