Originally Posted by Fezzik
Ok so my wife asked me a question that I had limited answers to. She asked me the people on this forum what makes a good pipe. In other words, she wants to know when you look at a pipe what makes you think it is a pretty or good looking pipe. If you see one online and can't check the measurements on the stem or any of that what catches your attention?
Mine is this. Many of you have different pipes. Pipes of about all sizes shapes and builds. Do you have different pipes for different purposes or do you just kind of rotate?
For hers I think she was trying to figure out how well she chose for me. For mine I am thinking in the future I may want to get a smaller one for portability though I kind of wonder if I would like a small pipe. Also if you tend to have one for the house and one for on the go or something like that.
What makes one narghile better then another is a complicated matter. I will avoid aesthetics as that is too individualized but my bias is clearly towards rigs that at least look traditional. Do too endless bad experiences and my hatred of slavery and communism I am completely opposed to Chinese made rigs. I think itís foolish to try and save money on a rig for the simple reason that youíll spend several hundred a year on coals and moassel so what you want is something well built that will give you years of good service. In terms os substance here are a few things to look out for:
Height - Iíve found that small rigs (under 26" U.S.) Are almost always poorly made as they target the low end of the market. They also burn hotter and harsher then full sized ones so I avoid them as a rule. However, I have also found that cleaning huge rigs (over 40" U.S.) Is a pain to clean and often the draw is tough so I avoid them as well.
Glass - The thicker it is the better but examine the glass carefully for striations, air bubbles and irregularities as those are signs of poor quality control.
Stems - Avoid aluminum as it tends to be used on cheaper Chinese made rigs. Personally, I have found that the more brass a rig uses the better it tends to be in terms of long term service. You also want to examine the welds and joints carefully and test them by assembling the narghile and seeing how good a draw you can get with water in it but without the bowl using your hand as a seal.
As to construction some prefer the spun construction used in Egyptian rigs while other prefer the spun/sleeved or spun/cast methods used by the Syrians. Personally I like the heft of the fully cast Syrians but again that is a personally choice.
Also look for discoloration of the metal and the weight of the stem. The former is always bad and with the latter more is better.
Smoke chamber - Open chambers ( inlet and purge lines go into a single cast piece) are bad as they are made to minimize production costs and donít let the smoke condense and they also donít purge well. My preference is for 4 hole closed common smoke chambers because I think they draw better as well as some other things I donít have time to go into. Still, the truth is that a well built Egyptian or Syrian style smoke chamber will perform very well so itís a personal thing.
Plastic - Any rig adorned with plastic is one to avoid.
Since you canít determine any of these things from a website your best bet is to examine something up close. Still, that often is not an option so I can recommend a few online vendors and products. If interested just ask.
Any questions about terms or some such just ask and Iíll see what I can do .