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Wald A1 Synthetic Brush

@PRobots asked me to share my thoughts about the Wald A1 synthetic brush that I received recently. I’ve used it a good few times now with a variety of soaps so I think I can comment.

First of all, some basic information. The brush is beautifully made and the handle finish is extremely high quality. It comes in a nice quality, soft touch, box with a magnetic flap. The knot is made with extremely fine fibres - I assume nylon - and is very densely packed indeed. The knot diameter is 29mm with a loft of 51mm. Mine is a fan shape but Wald also offer this with a bulb shaped knot. The price is $245 excluding tax, and as I am in the EU the price was $300 including tax, which is obviously a lot for a synthetic brush (though nearly $200 less than Wald’s hand-tied badger brushes and with the same handles). I chose mine with the “Werther’s” colour and with the “Nimbus” handle shape.

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So, to my observations….

Very premium finished handle and a great, comfortable shape and size. In terms of finish quality it’s the best made handle I have. If this matters to you then it is why the brush may be worth the money.

The knot is incredibly soft due to the ultra fine fibres - much, much softer than other synthetics, which are of course already very soft compared to animal hair. Hard to believe there would be such a difference but after using this if I stroke the knots of my other synthetic brushes they feel a lot coarser than the Wald. The Wald A1 knot feel reminds me of the catkins on ***** willow that I used to pick up when I was a kid. If you never used the Wald A1 then you would surely feel your synthetics are as soft feeling as you would ever need, but there is a big difference all the same.

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There is plenty of backbone due to the extremely dense packing, and the lower loft - it has as much backbone as a firm badger brush, and nobody would find this knot lacking for backbone. Due to the extreme density it feels a bit different from other synthetics - sort of like having one very thick, soft fibre when you use painting strokes. But it also splays very easily when lathered up - which surprised me - and does so better than my other synthetic brushes. I can’t comment on whether the bulb splays as easily as the fan, or not. Splay can be an issue with synthetics, and as this knot is extremely densely packed and the fibres are not crimped, I expected it not to splay very well, but it does. No problem at all with splay once the brush is loaded, and you can splay the knot with quite gentle pressure.

The brush creates lather very quickly and easily and I have no difficulty loading enough lather for 3 or 4 passes. The 29mm knot diameter and the very high density makes it feel similar in size to a 26mm badger brush, which I find about ideal for face lathering and having a luxurious feeling and coverage.

So, overall I would say the Wald A1 achieves what it was intended to - extreme softness, strong backbone, easy splay, sized right for the premium artisan brush market. If you like synthetics and you value a super soft feel on your face then this may be a superior brush, but it will feel a bit different from other synthetics due to the softness and the high density. Of course there are very good synthetic brushes for much, much less money, but I think with the quality of finishing on this brush you can’t really say it isn’t priced fairly for what it is. I think you’d have to judge that you like synthetic brushes enough to buy this, though. I don’t think any synthetic brush is anything like badger - they are their own thing entirely - but if you are really into the synthetic thing, and prefer the particular characteristics of nylon fibre brushes, then you would probably feel this is a very high end product. If you are mainly a badger guy and not especially bought into the different feel of synthetic brushes then this is pricey for something that isn’t really your preference. But it does give you great performance, backbone and splay - however it’s extremely, extremely soft and not organic feeling.

It is at least relatively gettable. The last couple of Wald drops had quite a few A1 synthetic brushes and they were available for a few days. I’m sure the market for such a high end synthetic brush is fairly niche, and as far as I know Wald is the only one doing something quite like this.
 
The A1 is the best brush I've bought in the past year or so, natural or synthetic. I have three of them (but I am downsizing, so hopefully only two soon). My first A1 was the brush that finally broke me out of badger snobbery. Very nice review...that brush is a real looker.
 
The A1 is the best brush I've bought in the past year or so, natural or synthetic. I have three of them (but I am downsizing, so hopefully only two soon). My first A1 was the brush that finally broke me out of badger snobbery. Very nice review...that brush is a real looker.
That’s saying something. I’ve seen many of your brushes on Reddit. You have some astonishing gear.

I’ve found that I pick up this Wald A1 for most of my shaves. It surprised me how much I enjoy using it, as I’m not generally a synthetic brush guy. I can imagine some people may not get along with the extreme softness, but I am finding it quite addictive.
 
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Very nice review thank you! I've had a look at the Wald Synthetic a while back, because the fibres intrigued me - but I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the price. Not saying it might be worth it by any means, but certainly puts me on the outside of his targeted customers.
That’s completely reasonable. And doesn’t the increasing adoption of synthetic brushes kinda democratise shaving, normally? Nylon is just nylon - there’s no manchurian nylon, or high mountain white, or silvertip nylon.

I was trying to be careful in my comments to just be factual and not hype the brush or ignore the question of the price. It’s not something anyone needs. I expect most shavers would never consider paying this for a synthetic brush, and I imagine some would even be offended by its existence, and I get that. I thought that, nevertheless, some people might be interested to know what it’s like, without having to buy one to find out.

The way I think about it is that it’s a $200+ handle with an ultra-fine nylon fibre knot in it. I think with a lot of artisan brushes it is the handle work you are really paying for. That said, the A1 knot is an interesting development for synthetics and I guess this type of knot could be offered by other manufacturers quite inexpensively if it’s what people want. Maybe we will see that happen.
 
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The A1 is the best brush I've bought in the past year or so, natural or synthetic. I have three of them (but I am downsizing, so hopefully only two soon). My first A1 was the brush that finally broke me out of badger snobbery. Very nice review...that brush is a real looker.
Very nice review. Thanks for sharing.
 
How would you compare this knot to G5A & G5C ?
And also the Muhle silvertip fibre.
I don’t have a G5 but I do have the Mühle. It is just as I said in my review - the Wald has much thinner fibres and is a lot softer and a lot more densely packed, with more backbone as a result. I would assume a similar difference versus the G5 and any other current synthetic brush on the market. The Wald definitely splays more easily than the Mühle as well.

My Mühle STF knot has a tendency to want to doughnut if I am not very careful with it. I don’t know if you find the same with yours.

The Wald A1 is definitely a different knot than other synthetics. Whether you prefer the extra softness and density is a matter of personal preference.
 
And any preferences about the handle ?
I’m not certain I understand what you are asking. The Wald handle is shaped and polished to perfection. I personally like the look of the newer Nimbus shape better than the Stratos. It is a very comfortable size and shape to hold. I don’t have a Stratos handle yet but because of the taper it looks like it would also be excellent to hold.

All the colour options are very beautiful, and there are no duds - the solid colours are like deep liquid pools because of the uniformity and polish, the two-tone colour schemes with the jagged join look very special and are very much a Wald trademark, and the swirly vintage blue and vintage pink colours are stunningly executed and tastefully distinctive. Even just the plain black (I would call it “none more” black) looks really striking to me, especially with the synthetic knot.

You’d have to look at the Wald Shaving instagram channel to see photos of all the handle colours, and even then you have to look for the first picture of a particular colour to read in the text what he calls it. I don’t see anywhere on his website where he lists them all. Would be good if he could add that - or if it is in there maybe someone can post a link.

Is any of that covering what you were asking about?
 
I don’t have a G5 but I do have the Mühle. It is just as I said in my review - the Wald has much thinner fibres and is a lot softer and a lot more densely packed, with more backbone as a result. I would assume a similar difference versus the G5 and any other current synthetic brush on the market. The Wald definitely splays more easily than the Mühle as well.

My Mühle STF knot has a tendency to want to doughnut if I am not very careful with it. I don’t know if you find the same with yours.

The Wald A1 is definitely a different knot than other synthetics. Whether you prefer the extra softness and density is a matter of personal preference.

Which STF do you have?
I've never had the doughnut effect on any of my 23 or 25mm versions (I've had around a dozen over the years).

I could tell just by setting the pic of the wald that it's the finest fibre I've ever seen.
It must be like a dense cotton ball.

I don't agree with the pricing and find the handle...let's just say, "not very pretty".
But the fibre has intrigued me for sure!
 
Which STF do you have?
I've never had the doughnut effect on any of my 23 or 25mm versions (I've had around a dozen over the years).

I could tell just by setting the pic of the wald that it's the finest fibre I've ever seen.
It must be like a dense cotton ball.

I don't agree with the pricing and find the handle...let's just say, "not very pretty".
But the fibre has intrigued me for sure!
I have a 21mm Mühle STF brush - the one with the birch. Maybe it’s just mine.
 
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FWIW, as an update, I find I am using this brush all the time now and I haven’t used any other brush since I got it. It just functions perfectly - every bit as well as my favourite badger brushes in terms of splay, ability to hold plenty of lather, and even its ability to scrub. All while feeling much softer than any other brush and whipping up a lather more conveniently and faster than a badger.

It takes a lot longer to dry than other synthetics, due to the ultra high density, but I shave every other day so that’s fine.

I like it so much that I ordered another and, even though I was quick enough on the last Wald drop to have got a J3 badger, I chose another A1 synthetic instead.
 
Wow. That’s high praise for a synthetic from a badger lover. Do you actually prefer it to your badgers?
 
Wow. That’s high praise for a synthetic from a badger lover. Do you actually prefer it to your badgers?
Hard to say, and I’m not ready to make so absolute a statement yet. It’s a completely different thing. I’d say it matches all of the practical attributes of my favourite badgers, and is more convenient and much softer. So, yes, I prefer it when I feel I want the soft face feel - and that seems to be all the time lately.

Badgers have a more organic face feel, and I think I will always enjoy that. I bet there are people who just hate the soft and uniform face feel of synthetics, though I was never one - I always liked having both badgers and synthetics. But all the other things that I preferred about badgers - predictable water retention, ability to hold plenty of lather for four passes, easy splay and scrub - the Wald A1 doesn’t have any drawbacks in these areas. Other synthetic brushes were weak for me in all those things.

So my view is that you end up feeling the Wald has some advantages, no disadvantages, and the rest of the equation is just feel and personal preference. Yeah, I think it’s high praise.
 
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