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Simpsons Commodore X3 and Simpsons Duke 3

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At the suggestion of a board member, I am posting this review over here. This is part one of a two-part review. Several of us had noted that the knot sizes of the Duke 3 and the Commodore 3 were almost identical, and of course both came in Simpsons’ remarkable “best” badger hair. But the Commodore is about 25% less expensive, and we had wondered about the reason for this. As it happened, Darjeeling Express has a Duke 3, I have a Commodore 3, and so we coordinated a head-to-head experiment: Darjeeling Express sent me his Duke for two weeks, at the end of which I sent him my Commodore for the same. Since Darjeeling generously let me go first, his review will follow in a few weeks.

First, the appearances. There’s no escaping it: the Duke looks and feels like a higher quality piece than the Commodore. The handle is heftier, the knot feels denser, the printing is better. Maybe it’s just my example, but the “burned-in” printing of the name “Commodore” has a lot of trailing “flashing”, melted resin that hangs over the wording. It just looks cheap. The only area where the Commodore edges the Duke is in the hair appearance, where the Commodore shows three bands, the Duke only two; in terms of hair quality, they are identical in feel and performance.

I say the Duke’s knot feels denser. I’m not sure it is denser. While the knots of the Duke and Commodore are the same diameter and loft, they have very different shapes. The Duke is a tight, emphatic bulb shape; the Commodore is a fan, and it splays out more. The intro photo shows it clearly.

Interestingly, while the Duke’s shape is very different from the Commodore’s, its size and shape is almost exactly the same as the New Forest 2201. And at almost the same moment in time, a New Forest 2211 showed up: Fido’s new brush with the silvertip hair. It's slightly more fan-like than the 2201. At bottom is a side by side by side by side photograph; from left to right: Commodore, Duke, NF2211, NF2201.

[A side note: not only does the Duke knot look a lot like the NF2211, the NF2211 gives a shaving experience much like the Duke’s. I have posted a separate NF2211 review.]

On to density. In appearance, the Commodore seems less dense than the Duke, but I think that’s an artifact of the fan shape; the Commodore splays out more. If you massage the knot to the same diameter as the Duke, the density seems very close. See picture below (Duke on left, Commodore on right). For comparison purposes, I also included a top view of the four musketeers. Clockwise from top right: Commodore, Duke, NF2211, NF2201.

The handle shapes are optimized for different uses. The Commodore is more adapted to a fingertip hold and bowl lathering; the fatter, shorter Duke handle is more adapted to a "palming" grip and face lathering. In fact, with your fingers around the Duke, it can be somewhat hard to get enough action room in the shaving bowl to whip up a good lather.

In use, the Duke still seems more tightly packed. The difference is subtle. But it's enough that it threw off my lather technique for several days. The Duke holds more water, hence needs a better draining before building lather. However, once I discovered the sweet spot it exploded.

The Commodore does a great job beating up lather. In fact, it looks like it beats up more than the Duke. I don’t think it really does, it just shows it more.

In terms of impact on the face, the Commodore feels very smooth indeed, and lathers up the face a little more easily than the Duke. The Duke seems to hold onto its lather more stubbornly, probably because it stays more tightly packed; the splay-fanned Commodore gives up the lather a little better. On the other hand, a face-latherer never has to re-lather the Duke -- just dip it in water and work it over your face again. Three passes, four, five, plus a touch-up, no problem. The Commodore is always soft, not floppy like some of the Vulfixes, but pleasant. It has decent backbone, but isn’t scrubby; soft tips, but it’s a little harder than the Duke to control; I almost always end up with lather in my ears. The Duke, once you get the lather right, better combines backbone for scrubbing (probably due to the greater effective density; the bristles support each other better), and in “painting” it feels like a heavenly road paver is laying down a bed of lather on your jaw. I know, that doesn’t sound like a very pleasant sensation, but trust me, it is. Smooth. As. Silk. Overall, I give a very slight usage edge to the Duke.

My recommendation would be: if you’re a face latherer, get the Duke; if you’re a bowl latherer, either will do just fine. Personally, I think I’ll stick with my Commodore. In terms of overall shaving experience, the Duke is better. But for a bowl latherer like me, the Commodore is slightly easier to use, and to paraphrase My Fair Lady, my face has grown accustomed to it. Both are excellent, neither disappoints, and a shaver with either is a lucky man.
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At the suggestion of a board member, I am posting this review over here. This is part one of a two-part review. Several of us had noted that the knot sizes of the Duke 3 and the Commodore 3 were almost identical, and of course both came in Simpsons’ remarkable “best” badger hair. But the Commodore is about 25% less expensive, and we had wondered about the reason for this. As it happened, Darjeeling Express has a Duke 3, I have a Commodore 3, and so we coordinated a head-to-head experiment: Darjeeling Express sent me his Duke for two weeks, at the end of which I sent him my Commodore for the same. Since Darjeeling generously let me go first, his review will follow in a few weeks.

First, the appearances. There’s no escaping it: the Duke looks and feels like a higher quality piece than the Commodore. The handle is heftier, the knot feels denser, the printing is better. Maybe it’s just my example, but the “burned-in” printing of the name “Commodore” has a lot of trailing “flashing”, melted resin that hangs over the wording. It just looks cheap. The only area where the Commodore edges the Duke is in the hair appearance, where the Commodore shows three bands, the Duke only two; in terms of hair quality, they are identical in feel and performance.

I say the Duke’s knot feels denser. I’m not sure it is denser. While the knots of the Duke and Commodore are the same diameter and loft, they have very different shapes. The Duke is a tight, emphatic bulb shape; the Commodore is a fan, and it splays out more. The intro photo shows it clearly.

Interestingly, while the Duke’s shape is very different from the Commodore’s, its size and shape is almost exactly the same as the New Forest 2201. And at almost the same moment in time, a New Forest 2211 showed up: Fido’s new brush with the silvertip hair. It's slightly more fan-like than the 2201. At bottom is a side by side by side by side photograph; from left to right: Commodore, Duke, NF2211, NF2201.

[A side note: not only does the Duke knot look a lot like the NF2211, the NF2211 gives a shaving experience much like the Duke’s. I have posted a separate NF2211 review.]

On to density. In appearance, the Commodore seems less dense than the Duke, but I think that’s an artifact of the fan shape; the Commodore splays out more. If you massage the knot to the same diameter as the Duke, the density seems very close. See picture below (Duke on left, Commodore on right). For comparison purposes, I also included a top view of the four musketeers. Clockwise from top right: Commodore, Duke, NF2211, NF2201.

The handle shapes are optimized for different uses. The Commodore is more adapted to a fingertip hold and bowl lathering; the fatter, shorter Duke handle is more adapted to a "palming" grip and face lathering. In fact, with your fingers around the Duke, it can be somewhat hard to get enough action room in the shaving bowl to whip up a good lather.

In use, the Duke still seems more tightly packed. The difference is subtle. But it's enough that it threw off my lather technique for several days. The Duke holds more water, hence needs a better draining before building lather. However, once I discovered the sweet spot it exploded.

The Commodore does a great job beating up lather. In fact, it looks like it beats up more than the Duke. I don’t think it really does, it just shows it more.

In terms of impact on the face, the Commodore feels very smooth indeed, and lathers up the face a little more easily than the Duke. The Duke seems to hold onto its lather more stubbornly, probably because it stays more tightly packed; the splay-fanned Commodore gives up the lather a little better. On the other hand, a face-latherer never has to re-lather the Duke -- just dip it in water and work it over your face again. Three passes, four, five, plus a touch-up, no problem. The Commodore is always soft, not floppy like some of the Vulfixes, but pleasant. It has decent backbone, but isn’t scrubby; soft tips, but it’s a little harder than the Duke to control; I almost always end up with lather in my ears. The Duke, once you get the lather right, better combines backbone for scrubbing (probably due to the greater effective density; the bristles support each other better), and in “painting” it feels like a heavenly road paver is laying down a bed of lather on your jaw. I know, that doesn’t sound like a very pleasant sensation, but trust me, it is. Smooth. As. Silk. Overall, I give a very slight usage edge to the Duke.

My recommendation would be: if you’re a face latherer, get the Duke; if you’re a bowl latherer, either will do just fine. Personally, I think I’ll stick with my Commodore. In terms of overall shaving experience, the Duke is better. But for a bowl latherer like me, the Commodore is slightly easier to use, and to paraphrase My Fair Lady, my face has grown accustomed to it. Both are excellent, neither disappoints, and a shaver with either is a lucky man.
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Price
3.00 star(s)
Density
4.00 star(s)
Quality
4.00 star(s)
Ergonomic
3.00 star(s)
Latherability
5.00 star(s)
Softness of Tips
4.00 star(s)
Stiffness of Tips
4.00 star(s)

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