I just received (less than 2 hours later) a phone call from 'George' who owns Royal/Langnickel who apologized for the inconsistency in the brushes, and promised he will see what he can do to introduce better consistency, check the cement inside the ferrules, etc. -- I dunno. But he did say to send them any brushes I am dissatisfied with and they will replace them.
Please, if you read all this and agree, leave comments to this blog post below, and also write to Langnickel yourself. If they are doing their job right, they will be searching the web to find out what people think of their product. Be kind and be to the point. Be encouraging. Let them know how you as a painter would prefer their brushes could be improved. Everyone is having a harder-than-usual time of things these days.
Following George's call to send them any of my brushes which have been poorly manufactured, I mailed 3 of my brushes which had either become poorly shaped because of loose hairs/fiber or brushes the ferrule of which I had to crimp with a pliers.
(I mailed them by sandwiching them in a folded piece of corrugated cardboard 1.5" loner at each end than the brushes; included a letter explaining that the fibers were coming out too easily; sealed it, addressed it, stamped it.)
Within a reasonable amount of time, I was shipped free replacement brushes, along with a letter explaining that they understood the handle/series confusion, and explained that they are aware of an issue with the glue or cement they are using, and are switching over to a newer one. Some of the brushes previously manufactured with the older cement are still in "circulation" in various inventories, so they cannot guarantee that won't happen again in the short term, but the letter reiterated that "Langnickel stands behind all its brushes. You may return any that are unsatisfactory and we will replace them."
Below is my original letter to Langnickel:
Contact Addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
Royal Brush Manufacturing
Merrillville, Indiana 46410
Please deliver to the President/CEO of Royal Brush Manufacturing
I don't know if you guys realize what a gold mine you are sitting on, and how you are squandering the value of it through manufacturing inconsistencies (handle length, handle color, unavailability, etc.) and quality inconsistencies.
Admittedly, I don't know if the market for your Royal Sable (series 55xx) is currently big enough to reorganize your manufacturing processes, but I do know that virtually every major portrait artist and influential oil painter I know who uses Langnickel brushes is actively looking for a suitable alternative, citing the same things I experience on a regular basis.
First of all, let me tell you that everyone I know, who I have convinced to give your Royal Sable long-haired, long-handled filberts a try LOVES them. It's an absolutely BRILLIANT concept... The shape is flawless and the fiber length is unmatched. The springiness is superb, and the strength of the hairs is wonderful. I paint better because of these brushes.
Just a few of the names of influential artists I know who use your brushes: Morgan Weistling, Richard Schmid, Jeremy Lipking, Dan Gerhartz, Casey Baugh and many, many others, including myself. I personally have a live broadcast venue, (Dave the Painting Guy) that reaches over 500 interested viewers (and rapidly growing), many of whom always want to know what brand/series of brushes I use.
I always tell them the brand name and series, but I always add, "You will come to love and hate Langnickel Royal Sable brushes. You will love them because they feel right. They apply paint just right. But you will hate them because you never know what you're going to get with them, and they do not manufacture enough for the market -- they are very difficult to find."
I tell them plainly that I can receive in the same batch purchased a brush that lasts for months, even years, and a brush that loses half or even all it's hairs immediately when I pinch out the oil into a rag. Many of my Royal Sables have become useless in an hour or two because of so many lost hairs that the remainder do not stay on the ferrule any more. (Can't you embed the hairs in an epoxy or glue to keep them inside?)
These brushes shed like no other brush I have owned. This is one of the only frustrating outside influences I experience when painting, interrupting the flow of the usual problem-solving that is the joy of painting.
One of my favorite brushes is virtually always out of stock, everywhere I look: the 5520 #8, blue handle.
By the way, what's with blue handles and red handles in the same series number? It is my belief that the filberts, 5520-blue have longer hairs than the 5520-red -- why don't you have a different series number if they are going to be that different? If they are not supposed to be different, please note that they are extremely different, and these inconsistencies are hurting your popularity.
And if you're going to have long-handled brushes or short-handled brushes, PLEASE make them a different series number. When ordering by phone (the only way I will order Langnickel brushes) I always request that the sales person get hold of the brushes personally so I can ask about the length of the hairs, the length of the handles, the color of the handles, etc., BECAUSE there is no consistency.)
Look, some of the most popular in influential artists in the US use Langnickel bushes, and virtually every artist who likes their work always wants to know what kind of brushes the artist uses. You cannot buy honest word-of-mouth advertising, and there is no such advertising more believable, therefore important.
Is there anything you can do to improve the quality, consistency, series numbering and availability of Your Royal Sables in the 5520, 5525, 5590 series and others?
I sincerely want to promote your brushes with no "buts"...
David R. Darrow
<address and phone number omitted here>