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Gillette Adjustable vs Non-adjustable

Hello,

I have a practical question about vintage Gillette adjustable razors. As I understand it, Gillette developed the adjustable razor as a way of combining the three shave qualities of their black tip, red tip and blue tip razors into one razor. If this is incorrect, or oversimplified please let me know. If it is true, did the adjustable razors from the late 1950's to mid 1960's actually accomplish this task? Does a fat boy or slim adjustable really shave like a blue tip or red tip with just a twist of that dial?

I've never shaved with an adjustable, but I do have a 1957 Superspeed and an earlier black tip. I don't use the black tip because it's just too aggressive for me. The Superspeed is better, but it can be a touch dicey for me, also. If the adjustable Gillettes actually work I may be in the market for one.

One more question totally unrelated, how does the late 1940's to early 1950's Gillette President compare shave wise? Are they considered middle of the road as far as their aggressiveness goes?

Thank you
Cliff
 
I don't know the rationale behind the "invention" of the Gillette adjustable, but if you find the Super Speeds too aggressive, don't even bother with a Fatboy or Slim.
 
Hello,

I have a practical question about vintage Gillette adjustable razors. As I understand it, Gillette developed the adjustable razor as a way of combining the three shave qualities of their black tip, red tip and blue tip razors into one razor. If this is incorrect, or oversimplified please let me know. If it is true, did the adjustable razors from the late 1950's to mid 1960's actually accomplish this task? Does a fat boy or slim adjustable really shave like a blue tip or red tip with just a twist of that dial?

I've never shaved with an adjustable, but I do have a 1957 Superspeed and an earlier black tip. I don't use the black tip because it's just too aggressive for me. The Superspeed is better, but it can be a touch dicey for me, also. If the adjustable Gillettes actually work I may be in the market for one.

One more question totally unrelated, how does the late 1940's to early 1950's Gillette President compare shave wise? Are they considered middle of the road as far as their aggressiveness goes?

Thank you
Cliff
CORRECTION: on part two of my question I meant to say Gillette Arstocrat, rather than President. I can't seem to find an edit icon to fix this.
 
Hello,

I have a practical question about vintage Gillette adjustable razors. As I understand it, Gillette developed the adjustable razor as a way of combining the three shave qualities of their black tip, red tip and blue tip razors into one razor. If this is incorrect, or oversimplified please let me know. If it is true, did the adjustable razors from the late 1950's to mid 1960's actually accomplish this task? Does a fat boy or slim adjustable really shave like a blue tip or red tip with just a twist of that dial?

I've never shaved with an adjustable, but I do have a 1957 Superspeed and an earlier black tip. I don't use the black tip because it's just too aggressive for me. The Superspeed is better, but it can be a touch dicey for me, also. If the adjustable Gillettes actually work I may be in the market for one.

One more question totally unrelated, how does the late 1940's to early 1950's Gillette President compare shave wise? Are they considered middle of the road as far as their aggressiveness goes?

Thank you
Cliff
The adjustable replaced the light-regular-heavy series of the mid 1950s with a single razor that could be made to work for everyone who needed more or less aggressiveness than the standard Super Speed. And, of course, it probably represented a better profit opportunity for Gillette, which could charge more and have fewer problems keeping the various models of non-adjustables in production. A Slim set on 1 is a very mild razor indeed, probably less so than even the aluminum blue tip light razor. Set on 9 it's more aggressive than a red tip. So it's a reasonably broad range.

Personally, I adopted the Slim to take the guesswork out of which razor would provide me with an appropriate level of aggressiveness without buying and trying a bunch of different razors that might not work for me, so in that way it was actually a money saver. I like my three Gillette adjustables very much and use them regularly, though I find Fatboys too short to handle comfortably and the black handled ones a bit problematic with aluminum parts, so the Slim is the most reliable (and cheapest) option IMO.

Of note, I generally get less blood and irritation with a more aggressive razor than a milder one, because it takes fewer passes around my skin to shave. More passes = more irritation, so you want something that will cut efficiently and you won't have to go over the same skin multiple times.
 
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The adjustable replaced the light-regular-heavy series of the mid 1950s with a single razor that could be made to work for everyone who needed more or less aggressiveness than the standard Super Speed. And, of course, it probably represented a better profit opportunity for Gillette, which could charge more and have fewer problems keeping the various models of non-adjustables in production. A Slim set on 1 is a very mild razor indeed, probably less so than even the aluminum blue tip light razor. Set on 9 it's more aggressive than a red tip. So it's a reasonably broad range.

Personally, I adopted the Slim to take the guesswork out of which razor would provide me with an appropriate level of aggressiveness without buying and trying a bunch of different razors that might not work for me, so in that way it was actually a money saver. I like my three Gillette adjustables very much and use them regularly, though I find Fatboys too short to handle comfortably and the black handled ones a bit problematic with aluminum parts, so the Slim is the most reliable (and cheapest) option IMO.

Of note, I generally get less blood and irritation with a more aggressive razor than a milder one, because it takes fewer passes around my skin to shave. More passes = more irritation, so you want something that will cut efficiently and you won't have to go over the same skin multiple times.
Paul, this is really helpful advice. Thank you very much.
Cliff
 
My Red Tip works well for me on a 48-hour beard. In contrast, the one time I tried my Slim opened up to 9, I wound up with some irritation and a nick, and I usually don't go higher than 5-6. So for me, a Red Tip might be more like the Slim's 6-7.
 

ackvil

Moderator
The advertising for the Gillette Adjustable now known as the Fat Boy, was that it was the most modern and advanced shaving system - all for the price of $1.95. The ads as I recall said you could have one razor that a person with any kind of beard could use. Plus, the ads mentioned the TTO feature as a convenience.

The Slim ads were similar but talked about it being the "most maneuverable" razor. Plus, they said it was lighter, slimmer, and longer. Again the price was only $1.95.
 
Given the preference for milder razors indicated in the original post, either adjustable would work nicely on it's lower settings - with the Fatboy in my experience just a tad more aggressive than the Slim at the same settings. I've used a Gillette Adjustable off and on since the 60's, used a Fatboy on a recent trip (my travel razor). I have mine set at 8 these days, which I feel is more than a Red Tip.

On the other note, the Black Tip is my birth year razor, I've both steel & aluminum versions, and find them pretty mild
 
Given the preference for milder razors indicated in the original post, either adjustable would work nicely on it's lower settings - with the Fatboy in my experience just a tad more aggressive than the Slim at the same settings. I've used a Gillette Adjustable off and on since the 60's, used a Fatboy on a recent trip (my travel razor). I have mine set at 8 these days, which I feel is more than a Red Tip.

On the other note, the Black Tip is my birth year razor, I've both steel & aluminum versions, and find them pretty mild
I agree. I find my steel handle Black tip to be the most mild razor I have tried.
 
Both the fatboy and the slim are considerably heavier than the superspeed. I prefer either of them to any of the superspeeds.
 

BigJ

Ambassador
The adjustable replaced the light-regular-heavy series of the mid 1950s with a single razor that could be made to work for everyone who needed more or less aggressiveness than the standard Super Speed. And, of course, it probably represented a better profit opportunity for Gillette, which could charge more and have fewer problems keeping the various models of non-adjustables in production. A Slim set on 1 is a very mild razor indeed, probably less so than even the aluminum blue tip light razor. Set on 9 it's more aggressive than a red tip. So it's a reasonably broad range.

Personally, I adopted the Slim to take the guesswork out of which razor would provide me with an appropriate level of aggressiveness without buying and trying a bunch of different razors that might not work for me, so in that way it was actually a money saver. I like my three Gillette adjustables very much and use them regularly, though I find Fatboys too short to handle comfortably and the black handled ones a bit problematic with aluminum parts, so the Slim is the most reliable (and cheapest) option IMO.

Of note, I generally get less blood and irritation with a more aggressive razor than a milder one, because it takes fewer passes around my skin to shave. More passes = more irritation, so you want something that will cut efficiently and you won't have to go over the same skin multiple times.
Great summary!

Turns out that once I found ’my setting’ with an adjustable, I stuck with that. So for me an adjustable was a great way to figure out my preferences. Once I figured that out, I moved on to 3-piece razors.

YMMV for sure!
 
I own both the Slim and a newer black handled Super Adjustable, I like the Slim better because of the shorter handle, but otherwise they shave almost identically (even the later plastic blade stop Supers), that is to say a 1 on the adjustable is milder than the blue tip Flare or black handle Flare and 6 is definitely more aggressive than the red tip Flare. All of the pre-Flare Super Speeds I have used are harsher/more demanding of perfect angle than the Flares or adjustables, despite being similar as far as efficiency.
 

gearchow

Moderator Emeritus
Great summary!

Turns out that once I found ’my setting’ with an adjustable, I stuck with that. So for me an adjustable was a great way to figure out my preferences. Once I figured that out, I moved on to 3-piece razors.

YMMV for sure!
I agree, I think with an adjustable, you can pretty easily discover how aggressive a shave you can tolerate each and every day. Then when you try different razors - such as 3 piece, single edge, etc. - you will already know what you like and don't like in a shave.

For me, on a slim, I like the shave at 5'ish. Doesn't matter what the exposure or blade angle or any other (highly interesting!) analysis reveals, that's the shave I want in any other razor. That means I don't like the shave of an Old Type or a Blue tip, but a 40s Tech I like.

Likewise, I picked up a toggle for a few bucks - the adjustor is broken, but the shave I get from it is right in the sweet spot that I like, so I don't care to have it repaired. It's basically a really fancy Super Speed.

Of course, despite all of our opinions of this razor is like that razor, you need to try them for yourself, because YMMV.

-jim

PS. I've always thought the YMMV should be Your Mileage Will Vary
 
Wow, some really great advice here, thank you all very much. I think I'm going to start looking for a slim adjustable. I'm tempted to look hard at the Razor Emporium's refurbished razors, but I'm not sure I want to part with that much money when a regular vintage slim would cost a lot less (although I'm sure they're worth it). I realize not all razors are created equal and that's what makes collecting and using them so interesting, they're like old bamboo fly rods or upland bird guns in that respect. The adjustable just makes sense. I'll still enjoy shaving with my Super Speed and Ever-Ready SE, but it will be fun to be able to "dial in" the shave that feels best to me. Thanks again for all the great advice.

Cliff
Seattle
 

gearchow

Moderator Emeritus
With a bit of polish and a rag, you can refurbish a slim too. ebay solds suggests don't spend more then $25 on a nice user grade.

-jim
 
With a bit of polish and a rag, you can refurbish a slim too. ebay solds suggests don't spend more then $25 on a nice user grade.

-jim
This is excellent advice - RE charges an extremely hefty fee for their service, and their reputation bears examination on the various shaving boards ..
 
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