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Bulb shaped vs. fan shaped--which and why?

Do you have a preference for a particular knot shape? As far as I can tell, fan shaped knots have a greater top surface area because the knot is shaped with all hairs extending to the full loft, whereas bulb knots are constructed with the center hairs at the full height and the outer circumference tapering down to a shorter height. Is this correct? What actual difference in performance or feel do they have? Am I right in guessing the fan shaped knot is the older construction method because it requires less time and skill than producing a bulbed knot?
 
Emmett

I prefer the bulb shape. I find that the outer bristles of the fan shaped brushes are made slightly redundant and have less brushing impact on the face. I find the bulb shape to be tighter and they splay less making fuller contact witht the face. For instance, when I use my fan shaped Tulip 2 I feel that I don't get great purchase under the nose area or along the side of the face and that it is only the bristles in the middle that effective.

I'd be interested in what the rest of you guys think.


Paul
 
Your thread is timely. Today I posted this thread about breaking in a new brush and after one exchange, I'm probably reaching the conclusion I like fan shape knots better. Here's the text of my latest post to that thread:

I bought a gently used Rooney 1/2 Super off BST (my first “high density” brush) and it felt soft yet firm the first time I used it. Lather and comfort heaven! I later purchased an unused Chubby 2 Super (from BST again) and it was rather stiff and a little “scritchy” for some time. But after six shaves or so, it started to take on the same feel as the Rooney. Today, it’s ultra soft and one of my favorites. Not an exact comparison, but since most folks consider the two knots to be similar in feel, it’s close enough for me.

But to your point, I recently purchased a new Simpsons 2-Band PJ2, an absolutely fantastic brush with a bulb-shaped knot. But after three shaves with this beauty, I haven’t yet experienced the ultra soft feel many members have raved about and I think the reason has finally hit me. The whitish tips are certainly soft, but the dark base’s backbone is quite stiff. I have one other bulb-shaped brush, a Savile Row 3722. However, the SR is nowhere near as dense or stiff as the Simpsons. A very nice brush for sure, but one of the softest I own. So I’ve gone from a soft bulb knot that splays out under any pressure (the Savile Row) to a soft-tipped but very stiff workhorse in the PJ2 that actually feels pretty rough to my “give me soft” face. And the key "oh duh" point: all that softness and stiffness is concentrated at the top of the knot vs. the broad surface of my fan shaped knots. Quite a transition and I’ll have to see if it calms down or my face adapts.


My likely conclusion: my face likes the broad softness of a fan-shaped knot and doesn't respond as well to the concentration of a a dense bulb. If the bulb is soft like my Savile Row, there isn't much difference to me.
 
It's just a personal preference, but I favor the fan shaped knot. It just seems to work better for face lathering, which is my usual practice.

-- John Gehman
 

beginish

Moderator Emeritus
Fan shaped. Having used both, I like that I can get a very dense knot with a fan shape that still splays and feels great while lathering. Try I with a Rooney Heritage with the super soft tips.
 
I rotate, mainly, between two brushes. One is a bulb shape (Custom Shavemac in Finest), and on is fan shaped (Rooney Super Silvertip 1/1). I only face lather and use soaps. I find that I can put lather where I want it (away from nose and ears) more easily with the bulb shape. Other than that, I don't really notice a difference. I like both.

Get one of each. That way you can give your brushes 48 hours to completely dry out between uses. That's what I tell myself, anyway. :biggrin:

-Andy
 
I face lather and prefer fan shaped as well. Bulbs work fine, but as Texbilly mentioned I find their comfort and performance much more sensitive to the amount of backbone and prickliness they have. That a bulb with lots of backbone concentrates fewer bristles on a narrower spot making it less comfortable on the face unless the bristles are very soft. And causes bristles to splay out further with less control when swirling to build a face lather. But I also find it easier to load soap from a hard puck of soap with a bulb. And to speculate, a bulb shape might build lather a little faster in a bowl due to its shape.
 
I face lather and prefer fan shaped as well. Bulbs work fine, but as Texbilly mentioned I find their comfort and performance much more sensitive to the amount of backbone and prickliness they have. That a bulb with lots of backbone concentrates fewer bristles on a narrower spot making it less comfortable on the face unless the bristles are very soft. And causes bristles to splay out further with less control when swirling to build a face lather. But I also find it easier to load soap from a hard puck of soap with a bulb. And to speculate, a bulb shape might build lather a little faster in a bowl due to its shape.
That's it! Well said. :001_smile
 
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