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Declaration Grooming Knot/Brush Reviews

I've owned a bunch, borrowed a bunch (older and more recent batches). In the end, I kept 4: B2 Jefferson, B5 Jefferson, B5 Theodore, B6 Jefferson. It's a tossup between the B2 and B5 Jeffos for favorite, but I'd probably go with the B5 at the moment.
 
I have always wanted to ask a question, but it's going sound like a dig. I tried to buy one of these in the past, decided it was another stupid game of having to check at the right time... anyway, I had read about the different knots and the one thing that keeps coming up is people seem to like the older knots, maybe not universally, but it seems the wrong direction. Is he just doing whatever he feels like or is he considering what people who have them say about them? I mean if you are going in the opposite direction of your customer's preference then you are either an artist or bad at business. I get that he is an artist, but don't get how that works as a business? Yet Jannik can't make enough A1 brushes and he isn't changing them every batch.
 
I have always wanted to ask a question, but it's going sound like a dig. I tried to buy one of these in the past, decided it was another stupid game of having to check at the right time... anyway, I had read about the different knots and the one thing that keeps coming up is people seem to like the older knots, maybe not universally, but it seems the wrong direction. Is he just doing whatever he feels like or is he considering what people who have them say about them? I mean if you are going in the opposite direction of your customer's preference then you are either an artist or bad at business. I get that he is an artist, but don't get how that works as a business? Yet Jannik can't make enough A1 brushes and he isn't changing them every batch.
I wouldn’t say that there is a clear preference for the older knots. I’ve seen threads where some knowledgeable people prefer the newer knots.
 
I wouldn’t say that there is a clear preference for the older knots. I’ve seen threads where some knowledgeable people prefer the newer knots.
Thanks. The more I think about it, I guess it's people with many of his brushes are buying the newer ones and then selling them because they are more like one of their older ones which they would rather keep. But there does seem to be a few Unicorn batches that haven't happened in a while. I guess I will go have a look at the newest ones...
 
I have always wanted to ask a question, but it's going sound like a dig. I tried to buy one of these in the past, decided it was another stupid game of having to check at the right time... anyway, I had read about the different knots and the one thing that keeps coming up is people seem to like the older knots, maybe not universally, but it seems the wrong direction. Is he just doing whatever he feels like or is he considering what people who have them say about them? I mean if you are going in the opposite direction of your customer's preference then you are either an artist or bad at business. I get that he is an artist, but don't get how that works as a business? Yet Jannik can't make enough A1 brushes and he isn't changing them every batch.
There are always people in every hobby who insist that nothing is ever as good as old things that you can’t get now. It’s never been true so far.
 
I have always wanted to ask a question, but it's going sound like a dig. I tried to buy one of these in the past, decided it was another stupid game of having to check at the right time... anyway, I had read about the different knots and the one thing that keeps coming up is people seem to like the older knots, maybe not universally, but it seems the wrong direction. Is he just doing whatever he feels like or is he considering what people who have them say about them? I mean if you are going in the opposite direction of your customer's preference then you are either an artist or bad at business. I get that he is an artist, but don't get how that works as a business? Yet Jannik can't make enough A1 brushes and he isn't changing them every batch.
Here’s my personal experience/take on this…I had lots of DG brushes from earlier batches. I kept the ones I liked the most. After B6, I wasn’t too crazy about the hair. Plus, the price kept rising, but the brushes didn’t evolve much, if at all. I don’t care much about the pours/colors (two of my current four DG brushes are unicorn ivory, which is my favorite DG pour, albeit plain). I figured why pay more for a brush that, at best, will pretty much be what I have several of already? And, most likely, wouldn’t be as good since I was around to cherrypick brushes with exceptional knots from exceptional batches. It didn’t really make sense to buy new ones for more money, so I stuck with the old ones. I’m an old customer who eventually lost interest.

I think the Wald comparison is sort of flawed. Wald has sold a fraction of the amount of brushes that DG has. He probably can’t do the same thing, over and over, for the next 6 years and expect to keep selling out. The only way to do that is to constantly have new customers replacing the old ones, which seems to be how DG has been doing it. Product evolution isn‘t so important then. It doesn’t seem sustainable to me though, at least not in the long run. But who knows…?
 
Here’s my personal experience/take on this…I had lots of DG brushes from earlier batches. I kept the ones I liked the most. After B6, I wasn’t too crazy about the hair. Plus, the price kept rising, but the brushes didn’t evolve much, if at all. I don’t care much about the pours/colors (two of my current four DG brushes are unicorn ivory, which is my favorite DG pour, albeit plain). I figured why pay more for a brush that, at best, will pretty much be what I have several of already? And, most likely, wouldn’t be as good since I was around to cherrypick brushes with exceptional knots from exceptional batches. It didn’t really make sense to buy new ones for more money, so I stuck with the old ones. I’m an old customer who eventually lost interest.

I think the Wald comparison is sort of flawed. Wald has sold a fraction of the amount of brushes that DG has. He probably can’t do the same thing, over and over, for the next 6 years and expect to keep selling out. The only way to do that is to constantly have new customers replacing the old ones, which seems to be how DG has been doing it. Product evolution isn‘t so important then. It doesn’t seem sustainable to me though, at least not in the long run. But who knows…?
Thank you for sharing your perspective, I really appreciate it. It sounds like I was more on the right track with my second post, some people buying them to see if they like them better. But your point of view as an early customer, and your perspective on the market for these, is really interesting to me. It kind of reminds me how I almost bought a Sailor, but in early 22' when they had all the features I wanted, I couldn't spend the money. Now the prices are up quite a bit, same with some of these brushes. I think one of the similarities is that I just wanted to try one of these high end brushes and see what I liked and didn't, but when the price is high enough, indecision sets in. You can't decide what might suite you and can't bring yourself to just buy something and hope I guess. I will probably end up with another RV or Shavemac because of the options to customise.
 
I will probably end up with another RV or Shavemac because of the options to customise.
Don't sleep on a custom-made handle (like Rudy Vey) and then just use GD's knotting service. Dogwood Handcrafts and DG have an existing relationship. I think if you get a custom by DH, you can get a discount on a GD knot. Also, if you are in no rush, DG usually offers a discount on the knotting service as a Black Friday sale. You get all the customization you want and the superior badger. Just offering my two cents.
 
I have always wanted to ask a question, but it's going sound like a dig. I tried to buy one of these in the past, decided it was another stupid game of having to check at the right time... anyway, I had read about the different knots and the one thing that keeps coming up is people seem to like the older knots, maybe not universally, but it seems the wrong direction. Is he just doing whatever he feels like or is he considering what people who have them say about them? I mean if you are going in the opposite direction of your customer's preference then you are either an artist or bad at business. I get that he is an artist, but don't get how that works as a business? Yet Jannik can't make enough A1 brushes and he isn't changing them every batch.
Like pork mentions it's all about the hair. Early batches seemed to have stellar hair that is why B2,B5, and B6 are pretty legendary amongst DG batches. I have never tired anything before B8, and I must say I am very impressed with my B8!!! Newer batches that will be legendary as time goes on to me are B13, B14 though I would throw B15 right there with B14. Yet I also love B11 and B9A+. Don't forget this is all different hair he gets and does what he can with it. He can't recreate B5 with every bundle of hair he gets because it's not the same hair. Also B16 is sounding pretty promising and I'm seeing people compare it to some of the legendary older batches.

I think this is pretty much normal and going to happen. Older badger hair was better than today's hair in many ways in my humble opinion and I would bet that goes for all brush makers. Not saying todays badger hair is not good but as time goes on quality in China will go down with over harvesting of hair. No one can control the quality of the hair that everyone get's these days.

I will say it seems sales are not as crazy as I have seen. What I will say is I think buying a batch you think you might like on the used market is a great way to go about it!

I actually used my Blood of Kings B9A+ tonight.
B9A+ has medium backbone enough to get a good scrub of the whiskers but not overly bearing. It splays with medium effort and has great flow threw. There is noticeable gel presence but it's on my borderline of not overly gelled.
332135289_1800387977013591_560060403225738121_n.jpg
 
Thank you for sharing your perspective, I really appreciate it. It sounds like I was more on the right track with my second post, some people buying them to see if they like them better. But your point of view as an early customer, and your perspective on the market for these, is really interesting to me. It kind of reminds me how I almost bought a Sailor, but in early 22' when they had all the features I wanted, I couldn't spend the money. Now the prices are up quite a bit, same with some of these brushes. I think one of the similarities is that I just wanted to try one of these high end brushes and see what I liked and didn't, but when the price is high enough, indecision sets in. You can't decide what might suite you and can't bring yourself to just buy something and hope I guess. I will probably end up with another RV or Shavemac because of the options to customise.

It’s interesting that you bring up the the customization thing. I didn’t mention this in my last post for fear of being reprimanded for going off topic, but it’s not totally unrelated to the subject. When brushes such as DG and Wald crossed the $400 mark, to me, they were no longer worth buying. For less money, I can get a knot that’s as good from Voigt & Cop and the handle will be a serious piece of craftsmanship, made from much more interesting materials than resin. For close to $500, I can get a Varlet custom which, in my opinion, is the finest knot made today. Varlets have way more options than any of the others mentioned in my post here…more size, density and knot shape options. They cost more than a DG (or Wald badger), but I can get exactly what I want.

As mentioned by merovirginian above, the DG knotting service is a much better value than buying a full DG brush. That option doesn’t exist with Varlet, Wald, etc. In that sense, DG does provide a an option the others do not (as long as you have a handle to send in for knotting).

I feel lucky to have been able to try all of these brands when prices were more reasonable. I don‘t think I’d “Goldilocks” brushes if I was just getting my feet wet now, at least not to the extent I did several years ago. It‘s prohibitively expensive to churn through a bunch of brushes in 2023, especially given how hard it is to sell on the secondary market (compared to how it was a few years ago).

The Shavemac option is solid if you know you like Shavemac knots.
 
It’s interesting that you bring up the the customization thing. I didn’t mention this in my last post for fear of being reprimanded for going off topic, but it’s not totally unrelated to the subject. When brushes such as DG and Wald crossed the $400 mark, to me, they were no longer worth buying. For less money, I can get a knot that’s as good from Voigt & Cop and the handle will be a serious piece of craftsmanship, made from much more interesting materials than resin. For close to $500, I can get a Varlet custom which, in my opinion, is the finest knot made today. Varlets have way more options than any of the others mentioned in my post here…more size, density and knot shape options. They cost more than a DG (or Wald badger), but I can get exactly what I want.

As mentioned by merovirginian above, the DG knotting service is a much better value than buying a full DG brush. That option doesn’t exist with Varlet, Wald, etc. In that sense, DG does provide a an option the others do not (as long as you have a handle to send in for knotting).

I feel lucky to have been able to try all of these brands when prices were more reasonable. I don‘t think I’d “Goldilocks” brushes if I was just getting my feet wet now, at least not to the extent I did several years ago. It‘s prohibitively expensive to churn through a bunch of brushes in 2023, especially given how hard it is to sell on the secondary market (compared to how it was a few years ago).

The Shavemac option is solid if you know you like Shavemac knots.
I agree with this, I'll add that I only bought one DG brush new at $400 because it was a pour I really wanted. Having tired most higher end brushes out there I do feel American brush makers give a little less for a higher cost. Voight & Cop and Leonidam both make some stellar offerings at a lower price point. Though I don't own any Leo's I own two V&C brushes and the quality of his work is exceptional.

I do think my Varlet's have better quality control compared to my DG's. I find the Varlet knots are more symmetrical and I don't find black hairs in them. I have been grateful to be able to have so many great brushes in my den to choose from. My next new brush is gong to be a TNS brush. After that the only other new brush I see myself getting is a custom Varlet.
 
@merovirginian
@NomadicDave
@pork

Thank you for taking the time to really fill in a lot of detail that I hadn't thought about! It just seems, from the outside, like these guys release brushes and everybody lines up to get one. And they either like what they got or they don't, but that never really satisfied my curiosity about the high end brush market. And that is one of the current concerns, there really isn't much of a market right now to resale, but I have seen some that have been for sale for some time so I just need to weight these different options and jump in. I also forgot completely about the supply of hair, I do have a smaller brush with some really hyped 2016 2 band hair. I can't say that it's better than anything else, but I certainly like it! I admit that some of the handles being turned out, turn me off, they aren't ergonomically functional for my hands.
 
My favourite so far is the B13 (but I only have B13 to B16). I like softer knots generally and the B13 has a bit less backbone and nice, soft tips after breaking in. All the ones I have are very good, though, and my new B16 is promising. I find you do need to break them in before judging them, as any slight early scritch tends to go away.

I wouldn’t agree that B14 is heavily gelled - there is some gelling with it and the others too, to varying degrees, but it is rather light compared to some of the slimy feeling knots you can get - the Chisel & Hound knots I have are very much more gelled, for example.

I love the Washington handle shape and all my DGs have it. Unicorn Ivory and Blood Of Kings are the colours I like most.
Hi Can you or anyone please compare and contrast the b13 vs b16? Any aspect including scritch/softness and splay. Thanks!
 
Just my observations:
B4 is very solid all around and runs a bit softer without gel. My 2nd favorite brush right now.
B6 is very soft and a fairly gelled, sometimes moppy experience.
B8 has great backbone and softish tips with a more natural feel. Lather machine.
B13 is exceptional with good backbone and super soft tips. If you see one floating around buy it.
 
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