Choosing which brush is best for you can be a bit of a mine field, this guide is for newbies also for those more experienced. Please note that all my observations are personal and may differ between hair batches and individuals. I like to approach any analysis similar to a basic scientific experiment. So before I start lets have a look at the line up, all being Shavemacs and all custom made. The only brush types I am yet to own from Shavemac's line up is the pure badger and flat top. For the following observations we can consider the brush to the far left to be number 1 and so on. Definitions- (mainly from Shavemac) Pure: Pure badger hair has a colour pattern of dark grey and is very sturdy. It already combines the distinctive lathering features of all badger hair bristles and the ability to retain plenty of water. Due to the hair´s sturdiness, pure badger hair brushes are ideal for people who favour a good massage. At the same time, they offer a reasonably prized opportunity to start with a premium quality shaving brush. Shavemac uses only the best quality of pure badger hair. The hair of our shaving brush has always its natural tips, which - still intact -add to a longer durability. The hair tips are not trimmed. Finest: (brush number five) The quality of fine badger hair is nearly as good as that of the silvertip badger hair. Not only does fine badger hair give a soft and comfortable shave, this grade is priced very reasonably as well. The hand made heads of this quality are very soft and display the manufacturing expertise. Silvertip: Silvertip badger hair is extremely soft. It also features its distinctive and unique colour pattern: a slightly silver shimmering colour with a dark band. Not only is the perceptible high quality a hallmark of silvertip shaving brushes, they are also unique because of their high durability. Shavemac uses nothing but the finest silvertip badger hair for the manufacturing of these premium quality shaving brushes. Silvertips can be further split into 2 band and 3 band. 2 band silvertip brushes as expected present as two distinct bands, whereas the 3 bands obviously display 3. Below you can clearly see a 2 banded silvertip badger. Construction of these knots is simply how much of the overall knot is above the top of the handle. It is not different hair or hair from differing parts of the badger. I find 2 band silvertip knots to have slightly more backbone at the same loft as the 3 band silvertips. I also find 2 bands to be more aesthetically pleasing having a more distinct colour variation from dark shaft to light tips. Silvertip D01: This silvertip shaving brush is made of extra robust hair and is densely packed. Thus the form of the brush stays very compact and keeps in shape. These shaving brushes have a “backbone” and massage very softly yet firmly your face. Below is an example of this brush: Silvertip D01 2-band: In contrast to the usually 3-band hair, consisting of light-dark-light sections, the 2-band shaving brush has only silver shimmering tips and a long dark section down to the handle. To achieve this effect, you need specially long badger hair as only these do have the appropriate long sections. These long hair are in addition very dense and firm creating a uniquely sturdy shaving brush. As most of the badger hair parts are lost - the end of the badger hair and not the tip is trimmed to its final length - more weight in hair is needed.Therefore this brush is more expensive. Furthermore, these long hair are very rare and are not always available. Distinctive features are: - different appearance - perceptively stronger hair Below is an example of a DO1-2 band badger Fan: with respect to the knot shape. It has a flatter portion at the peak of the knot and generally splays or spreads out more when compared to a bulb. Bulb: bulbous shaped knot with a longer 'white tipped' portion than a fan. Usually provides a more controlled lather placement (fan is still well controlled) and has more of a 'plush backbone' on the face. The difference between the two can be seen below: Aim with respect to knot alone: To find the best brush for you. This is highly personal and where things become difficult. Different hair batches can have an impact on face feel regardless of knot type. However, with my many Shavemac purchases, I am yet to find a huge difference in hair quality and often confirming with the maker (Bernd) can avoid disappointment. So in my case, I prefer greater backbone. That being when applying more force, the brush's knot is less likely to splay or collapse. Furthermore, this strong backbone has to be balanced with super soft tips. In more detail, this excludes the presence of scratch/scritch or a spikey sensation. Hypothesis: Looking at it purely scientifically, the longer the hair and the thinner the profile of hair, the more likely it is to have less backbone. However, the more packed or dense the knot, the more likely it is to have greater backbone. That said it would be suffice to predict a shorter lofted brush set as a D01 2-band is likely to exhibit the most backbone. Being a silvertip brush it would also be reasonable to assume that the tips are very soft. Methodology: Each brush has been used at least 50 times. For each use the following procedure is completed: 1. Brush is soaked in luke warm water for a minimum of 5 minutes. 2. Brush is loaded from a soap puck for a minimum of 30 seconds. 3. Lather is built on the face or in a bowl to ascertain the merits of each brush respectively. Results: As a general perception with regards to backbone. The original hypothesis is correct. D01 2-band brushes exhibit the most backbone, with respect to given loft. D01 (3 band) also exhibit more backbone than the normal 2 band or 3 band silvertip knots. I find the 2 band silvertip and finest knot to have similar backbone, with the silvertip expressing a slightly higher level. In terms of face feel, the D01 2- band has very stiff backbone and very high density. For my skin prior to 30/40 uses this comes across as unpleasant. It is more akin to a boar brush than a silvertip again IMO and YMMV. Once broken in or fully bloomed (found to be beyond 40 uses) the tips and backbone balance is superb and well worth owning. I find the D01 (3 band) to be very good when loading but slightly spikey on the face when new and not as free, when releasing lather. The brush in question is 26/54. Once broken in again it a joy to use and similar to the D01 2-band, it requires around 30 uses. My ideal brush in terms of backbone to tip softness, would be the 2 band silvertip. In particular measurements of 26/50 or 26/48. This being super soft on the face whilst providing a thick wall of badger that doesn't buckle easily. Furthermore I prefer a bulb shaped knot to have the higher loft (50mm) and the fan to be set at 48mm. I find the finest to be excellent value for money, better than most other brand's best badger. Again after approximately 15-20 uses it behaves akin to that of a silvertip badger, perhaps just slightly more rough on the face. Conclusions: Having now owned, used and sold many Shavemac brushes I finally have reached what I believe is my ideal brush. That is good scrub, no scritch and little splay. The best brush IMO to accommodate these features is a bulb shaped 2 band silvertip knot set at 26/48. I much prefer knots in the region of 23-26mm when considering width. I have tried the 30mm width knots (2 band silvertip) but found it to be excessive likewise anything less than 23mm to be insufficient with respect to face feel. When considering loft, IMO anything between 46-52mm is ideal. When choosing a fan I usually choose a higher loft and a bulb slightly lower. This is predominantly a result of the bulb knots having a longer portion of 'white tips' than the fan knots. Hopefully this is of help when considering Shavemac brushes in the future any questions please don't hesitate to ask. Apologies for not numbering brushes, as I sit waiting in the airport at Paris (9 hour stop off!) I am using pictures from the past so have no Shavemacs to hand Incase any members are considering my sanity, I place brushes in the same league as wines and aftershaves. I love to analyse and critique all three.