Whilst the reaction to Frank Shaving brushes has been very favourable indeed and many people are enjoying these high quality badger brushes having paid very low prices for them, there is always ways that things can be improved and Ian Tang, my supplier, is very keen to look after his customers.
One of the main parameters of a shaving brush is how much stiffness is built into the knot (the bundle of hairs), this is the result of a number of factors in the construction of the brush. Some people prefer their brushes floppy so they can paint their faces, usually with shaving cream lather. At the other extreme there are those who like a lot of backbone to attack hard soaps and to massage the face vigorously. So there was demand for Frank Shaving to produce a brush with more backbone.
Now it is not as if the original $9.99 Frank Shaving Finest Badger brush is floppy. Far from it. It compares well with some expensive European brushes and has no problem with hard soaps. But there are other brushes that are stiffer and this is what some people wanted from Frank Shaving too. The Frank Shaving Silvertip is considerably floppier, but then that is the nature of silvertip hair.
On his eBay adverts Ian has always listed the knot dimensions (which differ quite a lot, these are handmade items) so people have been able to select their brush’s backbone to a degree. When he asked me if I thought that he should go to even shorter lofts I sent him the knot dimensions of the Simpson brush range as a reference point. Even a couple of millimetres change in the loft can make a considerable difference to how the brush behaves.
As a result Ian has had some short loft brushes made and sent me two prototypes to sample. One is a Silvertip with a 22mm knot according to my vernier. The other is a 3 band Best Badger, not the 2 band Finest that Frank normally use, with a knot of around 21mm. Both of these brushes have a 50mm loft. This is a full 5mm less than the loft of the original Silvertip and Finest brushes that I bought, a big difference.
Out of the box the softness of the tips is still there, but there is a marked difference between the long and short loft silvertips, the newer brush feeling more luxurious. The long loft Finest and the short loft Best are both less soft than the Silvertips and have the slight pricklyness that you would expect, but they feel exactly the same as each other. Both short loft brushes have more backbone though. I used both of them to work up a lather using a puck of Mitchell’s Wool Fat hard soap which is a stern test. The Silvertip did the job quickly and efficiently the short loft Best even faster, it loaded up the soap as fast as any brush I have used before. So far so good.
Day 1. Used Mitchell’s Wool Fat and the short loft Silvertip on the left of my face with the short loft Best on the right side of my face, face lathering with both which is a very stern test. The Best just romped away, it loaded quick and made a great lather with no effort. The Silvertip was not so happy, it still did the job, but didn’t load or lather so easily. However it was extremely soft and luxurious on the face. So, much as you would expect of a Silvertip.
Day 2. Taylor’s of Old Bond Street (TOBS) Lavender cream. Once again a side of the face each, charged both brushes up and face lathered. Both brushes were excellent at this, honours were even. They held enough charge for four passes with enough left for several more. The difference was that the Best was more prickly whilst the Silvertip was again superbly soft.
Day 3. Proraso cream. This time it was the short lofted silvertip Vs the long lofted silvertip that I bought earlier. The short lofted brush has bloomed much more than the long lofted so may be packed more densely, also when dry the tips are now much softer. I charged both brushes up then face lathered half my face with each through 3 passes. The biggest difference between them was that the short lofted brush was markedly softer and more luxurious at the tips, secondly it released its charge of lather more easily and finally it had a tiny bit more backbone, but you really had to go looking for this.
Day 4 etc I will post in the comments section at the bottom of this article. Plus some conclusions.
Finally, Ian has added another new brush to his listings, this time it is a Silvertip with a massive 28mm knot and a 54mm loft. This is a short loft for such a big brush and it must hold enough lather to shave an entire rugby team. It would certainly be perfect for a lady who wanted to shave her legs.
note: A well known shaving forum has deleted a lot of posts from their members about Frank Shaving brushes. When challenged their moderators came up with reasons that are, at best, spurious and disingenuous. Charges of multiple accounts and shilling are untrue and absurd. You would wonder what their real, ulterior motives were for this action. This same forum has banned many of the key people in today’s traditional shaving renaissance, they have also banned some of the very best suppliers of goods. Once again their stated reasons for doing so are often spurious and disingenuous. They lose relevance and credibility by their actions. It is a great pity that real shaving lacks an unpoliticised, vibrant, well moderated online community, something that is surely holding back the development of the movement.
Meanwhile the members of the offending forum are being deprived of knowledge of one of the great bargains of modern traditional shaving, the Frank Shaving brush. That you can buy such high quality, luxurious items at far lower prices than the competition is something we should all be shouting about. And it is the only reason that I have championed these products.
further note: The other two great bargains of traditional shaving are the Lord L6 razor and the European Palmolive tallow shaving stick.
Day 4. Another shootout this time between the original Frank Shaving finest that I bought and the short loft Best that Ian sent me. The sternest test I could find was an old bowl of very hard Trumper’s Violet shaving soap and to be quite frank both brushes just lapped up the challenge. Yes the Best has more backbone and yes it loaded the hard soap a little easier. Both brushes lathered up about equally and both released their charge about evenly. If anything it just served to remind me just how good my $9.99 Finest is.
The big difference between the brushes is that the Best is quite a bit more prickly, which is good when you want to massage your face. But it is the exact opposite of the short lofted Silvertip that I used yesterday.
Day 5. Neither of the short lofts. This time it is the two long lofted Finests that I bought against each other using Nanny’s Silly Soap Company “The Herby One”. These brushes should be identical, except for one has a faux ebony handle and the other has a faux ivory handle. The knot size is the same and so is the loft, they are both made of similar looking 2 band hair. They both have the same bulb shaped knot.
But they are not the same. They are both excellent brushes but the black handled one has bloomed noticeably less and it has slightly more backbone. This is as it should be, these are individually hand crafted items and I have seen similar reports about Simpson’s brushes, which are the best in the world.
Conclusion. If you want a brush with a lot of backbone then Frank Shaving still does not provide it. However their long lofted Finest has enough backbone to be an excellent all round brush. If you want a bit more backbone then the short lofted Best provides it. If you want more then a couple of O rings slipped over the bottom of the knot will have the desired effect.
The short lofted Silvertip was remarkable for just how luxurious it is. I don’t see how a brush could have softer tips, this is a fantastic brush for creams that will still handle hard soaps.
All 5 of the brushes are very well made, very well finished and nicely presented. I have no shedding problems and as you can see in the photographs they stand up extremely well against expensive Western brand name brushes.
But the crux of the matter is that you can have your cake and eat it. These brushes are just silly money cheap because you are getting them direct from China. They must be the best value shaving brushes that it is possible to buy. As for the differences between the different models, these brushes are so cheap that it is criminal not to buy a few, so why not choose to sample the differences yourself?
Day 6. Frank Shaving short lofted Silvertip Vs Plisson European Grey Badger. The Plisson has a 20mm knot and a 53mm loft.
Used Godrej Menthol Mist shaving cream.
The Plisson is vastly more expensive and is beautifully made, as if each hair was individually positioned by a master craftsman.
But the Frank Shaving brush has more backbone and softer tips. It feels much more luxurious on the face.
Bruce, are you saying that you haven’t received the Frank Shaving brushes you’ve reviewed for free? My understanding is not just that there was shilling and multiple accounts, but that real members in the community were offered some sort of compensation or free product in exchange for their favorable reviews. So you’ve paid for your FS brushes and your experience with Ian Tang and Frank Shaving would be comparable to my own (paid with my own money?)
I have stated very clearly that I paid for my first 3 Frank Shaving brushes. Then Ian sent me two more to sample. I certainly have done no shilling, the idea is preposterous, $20 worth of brushes does not buy very much of my time!
All I have done is to bring these amazing bargains to the attention of other shavers.
But I have also written 3 articles about Simpson brushes without them giving me anything.
I had no multiple accounts. Really this is ridiculous, I have far better things to do with my life.
I did not offer anyone anything. Yet another stupid idea.
You have to look at why forums tell you lies. What is their hidden agenda. They are businesses trying to make money, so presumably they favour traders who pay them and ban traders who don’t. Certainly many very good traders get banned from forums with no good reason.
Because of my blog I get offered samples of shaving kit all the time. This is normal in journalism and marketing. Unless I am very interested in the product I turn them down. If I accept then I will always say that it was a sample that I didn’t pay for.
However I know of others who have praised products on forums that they have received for free without saying that this was the case. Just imagine how much free stuff I would get if I ran the biggest forum in shaving!
With my blog I am looking after the interests of my readers. Just look how many times I have mentioned Palmolive shaving sticks and Lord razors, for instance. Amazing top quality products that many ignore.
Thanks for answering my question Bruce. I certainly didn’t mean to accuse you of shilling. And while it’s possible that Ian Tang is innocent of the accusation, I’m not convinced that the forums (more than one have removed threads) are wrong either. The one I’m active on hasn’t banned the vendor or reviews, just one large thread they claimed had been pumped full of dishonest activity. I can’t speak for the other forums. I’m new to the community but I’m unwilling to believe that the moderators would be so petty as to delete a thread because they didn’t stand to benefit.
There is absolutely no way that Ian Tang was posting to any forum. I have regular email correspondence with him and know just how good his English is. Certainly everyone in any Frank Shaving forum that I have ever seen has a far better grasp of the language than he has.
When a forum is blatantly taking payments from some traders you have to wonder how impartial their treatment is of traders who haven’t paid.
If I were you I would treat anything that a forum moderator says with some circumspection.
I have several FS brushes and am very pleased with them. All else being equal, how would you compare their 3-band best with their 2-band finest? And have you tried their black badger?
The comparison you want is in Day 4 of the comments above.
I haven’t tried the black badger.
Bruce, no offense, but you have little information on this. “Frank Shaving Brushes” has been posting on forums long before you ever showed up. Get your facts straight.
I also know you think one forum is worse than the others with banning bad vendors. What you fail to mention is most of the other forums end up doing the same thing once they figure out the first one was right. Just look at the history.
Ian Tang, the Frank Shaving vendor, has little English and was on no forum thread that I saw. Let alone having multiple accounts. But some management on some forums are making outrageous claims about him.
Likewise I have never had multiple accounts on any shaving forum.
I think paranoid management on certain forums mistook the genuine enthusiasm of the members for shilling. And they are still sticking to this fairly stupid position.
Read this for more: https://www.bruceonshaving.com/2010/10/06/freebies/
The thing is that nobody has any motive to shill about Frank Shaving brushes.
Maybe you couldn’t find reference because his threads have been removed. I’ve seen him post on all the major forums for years. Each time he’s posted in the wrong place with a sales pitch. Each time he’s asked to stop and the thread is removed. Ignore the mods enough times and you’re going to get banned.
You may not have multiple accounts, but you have zero proof other shills did not.
It’s easy for outsiders to come to terrible conclusions when they only have 5% of the facts.
Ian Tang has not posted to any forum. I asked him if he had and this was his reply:
Not yet.I only view my clients talking and opinion via forum.But do not enjoy them.
I believe owners of forum do not welcome a seller promote his product via it.And in a potential buyer’s position,He will prefer a user’s advice than a seller’s advertising.
Over the big recent censorship row where a forum was deleting posts and threads and banning people, this was sheer stupidity on their part. There was zero shilling. Just happy customers of the brush enthusiastically evangelising their purchase. This is a significant thing for traditional shaving, cutting out the middleman and getting a luxury badger brush for a fraction of the price, so you can understand people wanting to shout from the hilltops.
I am sure that other members (not shills) did open new accounts when they were wrongly banned. They must have been mightily aggrieved.
So I suggest that it is you that is not in command of the facts.
That goes back to 2009. Unfortunately I can’t remember any other usernames.
But I suppose you still choose to believe Ian.
Nothing says either of those are Ian Tang. Both have zero posts.
The first might be someone at the Frank Shaving factory. But Ian doesn’t work there, he is an independent trader who buys from the factory.
The second could be anyone.
So you have proved nothing.
Correct. The posts were deleted. Is that a surprise?
On B&B no. Deletion is a badge of honour there.
And I believe this Chinaman, who I don’t know, ahead of any B&B forum moderator. Especially when I have seen some of those moderator’s pronouncements.
Nice try on the deflection there. You don’t believe he posted. But you also believe the posts were deleted.
You seem to keep forgetting (or ignoring) other forums have treated Frank Shaving the same way. There were many threads that someone from Frank Shaving started on SMF. All gone. I don’t know this particular person from China, but I do know someone has been trying to spam Frank Shaving for years. Us members considered it like whack-a-mole whenever he popped up. “Hey, it’s Frank Shaving again!” while pressing the report button. I’ve received actual spam emails from Frank Shaving through the contact through email function on the forums. If Ian is independent, he picked the wrong company to work with. Frank Shaving is considered a spammer.
And use the contact by email on the username Frank. See who writes back. I will give you one guess. Come on, try a little.
I was a B&B member who participated in the now-infamous deleted thread, and I was banned. It was the only account I’ve ever had there, and I wasn’t a shill, I genuinely like my Frank brushes. Curiosity about such sensitivity to positive comments about a brush prompted me to do a little research, and it became clear that the management there is flat out lying to the members about this issue. I’m with Esther in that I initially found it difficult to believe that adults would behave in such a petty, small-minded manner over so trivial a thing, and yet there it is.
I got banned from badger and blade by using the name: “Badger & Blade” which when I signed up, was allowed. Well, I was permanently banned within 24 hours. Whack. Also I got a Frank Shaving longer loft silvertip with an ivory handle. It is the nicest shaving brush I have used so far of several, the handle has a very nice heft, but the logo printed on could be a bit nicer. Brush is very soft and feels great on the face. It is packed nicely but not overly so. Bloomed nicely too. Its a shame that certain forums care so much about such silly things.
I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. I have had bad experiences with forum nazis. I think badger and blade like most forums needs to allow people to know these great brushes but then they would lose those under the table payments.
Just got my 2nd Frank Shaving Brush, a “Richmond Large Knot” 28MM.
Awesome brush! I think these are very comparable to the Simpsons and Rooneys of the world without the high price tag.
I’ve been pretty upfront on B&B about my enthusiasm for these brushes; and I can tell that there are many “Rooney/Simpson/etc.” snobs that dismiss them out of hand.
I wanted a silver tip brush to see what the difference between pure badger might be. I went with the Richmond faux ebony. The brush arrived in about a week, which was a nice surprise. The brush is very nice. I used it with Crabtree & Evelyn Nomad shaving cream. One thing I noticed right away was the way the brush lathered so quickly. The bristles were soft yet supple and it did an excellent job. Although there seems to be some controversy about this brand, I feel that I got a good product at an excellent price. Thanks for the recommendation, Bruce.
I too purchased a Frank Shaving brush and I love it. It is a 24 mm fine with a butterscotch handle. The quality is exceptional. I use it with my homemade tallow based shaving soap. It makes a nice creamy lather. I am a new convert to wet shaving. I purchased a double edge Gillette Gold Tech on eBay. I also purchased 100 stainless steel Zorrik blades on ebay for about 10 dollars. I actually enjoy my morning shave. Thanks Bruce for your recommendations.
My next batch of shaving soap I am planning to add menthol and lime. I can’t wait.
Bruce, I think I asked this before on another post, but would it be possible to get Ian’s email from someone here? I am an expat living in China and want to see if he will ship here.
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