Just get a Ginga? The ultimate one-size fits all newbie recommendation?

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Jovidah

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I don't know if this is controversial in any way... but lately there've been a bunch of 'first good knife' threads, and I can't help but feel like... just reply to all with 'get a ginga' would almost be the safest bet in all cases. Why?

-It comes in all flavors; carbon, stainless, wa, western, there's something for everyone.
-It's soft enough to not be overly delicate or chippy.
-Both steel hardness and profile lend itself to rockchopping if one desires to do so.
-It's thin enough (especially behind the edge) that it's guaranteed to give people who haven't used J-knives before that jawdropping 'wow' feeling.
-It's affordable enough to be at least somewhat accessible financially.
-It performs well enough within its class (lasers) that it remains relevant even as one expands his or her collection later on.
-Fairly easy to sharpen, doesn't require a strong investment in learning how to deal with asymmetry.
-They seem really consistent; you're not really buying into a lottery where you run the risk of getting a knife with issues.

Even though you see people selling Gingas every now and then, I think it's fairly hard to really 'hate' a Ginga... The only real strike against them IMO is that the 210 runs quite low, but the solution to that is to just recommend a 240 to everyone.. ;)

So... opinions? Do people agree or disagree? What else would you choose as a 'one size fits all first J-knife recommendation'?
 
Wouldn't know why asymmetry would be such a challenge, unless someone is used to perform strokes continuously switching sides. By first sharpening one bevel before starting with the other one only when the very edge been reached you may very well splendidly ignore angles and proportions.
 
The problem is that it confuses and scares normies and newbies. So for a first J-knife purchase it's just another extra layer of complexity (even when it's not that complex).
 
well indeed the 210 is like...43 high at heel. but for the 240, I think its not too bad, 48-50 high. but the grind is the things that makes ginga special. well for the edge, its easy to sharpen. but for thinning, it would be very very difficult to thin a ginga if you are looking to maintain the original grind.
 
If technique is... less than perfect I would have some concerns about torque induced chipping. Even if that's not a valid concern... you could see how newbies might have the concern all the same (and whether it's true or not the rockchopping is recommended against a lot for that reason).
So it's largely about giving someone a 'worry-free' option. You can find plenty of people who chipped a Yoshikane or microchipping on the factory edge of a Takamura. But how many people... ever chipped a Ginga?

As to profile...well... something like a Yoshikane is IMO really annoying to rockchop with.
 
I've recommended stainless gingas to people as first j-knives, and so far no one has had any issues or complaints. Their santokus seem like particularly good home knives with sufficient heel height for people who don't want something longer like a 240. And the petties are a good price for a nice gift for friends and family.
 
I've never owned a Ginga but they of course do have a very good reputation. And as pointed out, there's a good bit of variety to choose from as well.

The two main issues I see with them for a first-timer is cost and availability. They're chronically out of stock and $200+ is the norm. Granted, that's not a lot by our standards but can seem like a big number to someone new, especially if they've been used to sub-$50 knives.

I surely won't argue against them as a recommendation but my blanket or baseline brand for new folks is Tsunehisa. Still a lot of variety, good quality, widely available and tick down in price.
 
I don't know if this is controversial in any way... but lately there've been a bunch of 'first good knife' threads, and I can't help but feel like... just reply to all with 'get a ginga' would almost be the safest bet in all cases. Why?

-It comes in all flavors; carbon, stainless, wa, western, there's something for everyone.
-It's soft enough to not be overly delicate or chippy.
-Both steel hardness and profile lend itself to rockchopping if one desires to do so.
-It's thin enough (especially behind the edge) that it's guaranteed to give people who haven't used J-knives before that jawdropping 'wow' feeling.
-It's affordable enough to be at least somewhat accessible financially.
-It performs well enough within its class (lasers) that it remains relevant even as one expands his or her collection later on.
-Fairly easy to sharpen, doesn't require a strong investment in learning how to deal with asymmetry.
-They seem really consistent; you're not really buying into a lottery where you run the risk of getting a knife with issues.

Even though you see people selling Gingas every now and then, I think it's fairly hard to really 'hate' a Ginga... The only real strike against them IMO is that the 210 runs quite low, but the solution to that is to just recommend a 240 to everyone.. ;)

So... opinions? Do people agree or disagree? What else would you choose as a 'one size fits all first J-knife recommendation'?
Ginga is one that I’ve wanted, but never got my hands on—my knife journey seems incomplete with trying a Ginga. Although I’m lefty, asymmetry doesn’t bother me a great deal.
 
I sort of think along the lines of humble. If I'm talking to someone and they have no idea what they want, but they want dip their toes in the knifeworld waters, I go for the Gesshin Stainless 210 or 240 every time. Best bang for the buck intro knife imo
 
My rule of thumb with gear acquisition is “try to buy the gear where you won’t pine for anything else.” It’s more often not the most expensive option, just the one I really like and need. If my first knife was a Gesshin Ginga 240, it would have saved me a lot of subsequent purchases for sure.
 
I sort of think along the lines of humble. If I'm talking to someone and they have no idea what they want, but they want dip their toes in the knifeworld waters, I go for the Gesshin Stainless 210 or 240 every time. Best bang for the buck intro knife imo
That’s a solid recommendation. Personally I’ve often recommended Yoshimi Echizen as a first J-knife newbies that know how to use a knife—well made, reasonably priced, good steel, good contrast to German knives.
 
If technique is... less than perfect I would have some concerns about torque induced chipping. Even if that's not a valid concern... you could see how newbies might have the concern all the same (and whether it's true or not the rockchopping is recommended against a lot for that reason).
So it's largely about giving someone a 'worry-free' option. You can find plenty of people who chipped a Yoshikane or microchipping on the factory edge of a Takamura. But how many people... ever chipped a Ginga?

As to profile...well... something like a Yoshikane is IMO really annoying to rockchop with.

If your concern is about torque it is about thinness behind the edge, not the hardness of the steel.

I've rock chopped a Shibata R2 bunka at 62 - that requires technique as it's thin as heck at and behind the edge. I've also rocked my MCX Spåre Apex Ultra at 65. You can pound away all day on that one. Which would I hand to someone in my kitchen randomly? The MCX as it is beefier.
 
I don't think there's a one size fits all knife. Two of the big factors are knife skills and price.

I'm not going to recommend a Ginga to someone new to cooking. It's unnecessary. They won't get the best use out of it and they are more likely to damage it. Grab an 8" Victorinox or Mercer and a mid grit King or Shapton whetstone and let them build the skills first.

Second one is price. 240 Gingas are somewhere around $250 these days from BluewayJapan (the only seller I've seen that has them reliably in stock). Not everyone can afford that as a beginner. Tsunehisa, Shiro Kamo, Gesshin Stainless, or a Takamura 210 are much more affordable.
 
but for thinning, it would be very very difficult to thin a ginga if you are looking to maintain the original grind.
I never handled a Ginga, but the only knives I know where in the long run thinning may become problematic is with S-grinds. What about the Ginga grinding that is likely to cause problems with thinning?
 
I don't see why it should be a problem other than that they are monosteel. If you sharpen above the edge as you go, it takes care of itself. They are wonderful knives.
 
I never handled a Ginga, but the only knives I know where in the long run thinning may become problematic is with S-grinds. What about the Ginga grinding that is likely to cause problems with thinning?
the blade is so thin so it would be difficult to create the original hamaguri grind, the bevel is not 100% flat, it has a curve
 
I have a Ginga and I guess it could be a good beginners knife, but I have not used it in a loooong while.
Hence, personally, I would not recommend it. Kono HD2 is a better option if laser mono is what one is looking for.
 
Hard to say a 'one size fits all recommendation' but for someone that is working in kitchens and does a lot of prep/has decent workspace, a 270mm Ginga gyuto is a perfect knife IMO. 260mmish actual length, 50mm+ heel height, doesn't feel overly fragile, and the Wa version at least has a great forward balance. It's a prep machine and I would never sell mine (and I've had co-workers try to buy it off me...). I think I bought mine from JKI for $275 in 2013 and the listed $335 today isn't bad considering how the price of some knives have ballooned in the last ten years.

A 210mm Ginga petty was the most eye-opening or light-bulb moment I've had to date with a knife. I'd owned a Shun, MAC Pro, & Hiromoto AS and I was blown away by how it cut. I remember passing it around at work and having people cut onions with it. Great knife, especially for line cooking, although you need to be careful not to over sharpen them.

All that is to say that I agree a laser (Ginga, Suisin, Kono HD, Takamura) is a great starting point for someone getting into knives or starting to work in kitchens and build their kit :)
 
I’ve got a couple of stainless Gingas. My wife loves them. It’s hard not to like them. Great all round package, good heat treat, fine grained steel takes a nice edge.
I do also recommend them for anyone as their first J knife as it’s a safe bet (specifically the JKI Gesshin Ginga, as the service from Jon and the team at JKI is just great).
I do note the comments about no “one size fits all” knife. But when I reflect back on how much I’ve learnt since starting this hobby, I didn’t really know enough when I was starting out to know really what I wanted…..
 
My rule of thumb with gear acquisition is “try to buy the gear where you won’t pine for anything else.” It’s more often not the most expensive option, just the one I really like and need. If my first knife was a Gesshin Ginga 240, it would have saved me a lot of subsequent purchases for sure.
Exactly this. It's entirely possible to start a lot cheaper (and for some this might sense), but the Ginga feels like something that's good enough to 'remain relevant' even as people dive deeper into the rabbit hole.

I agree, if you want to spend as little as possible there's cheaper options... but I think it's the safest bet for people who come in with the usual 'I have big budget but 0 clue what to buy because all I used was costco junk and Wüsthof' problem.

Availability is a bit of a problem but I think it's an overstated problem for people in the US since there's at least a selection of retailers that carry them. It's more of a problem in the EU - where you almost automatically end up buying from BWJ because shipping from US is cost prohibitive and the only European retailer is in non-EU Switzerland...
 
I'm not going to recommend a Ginga to someone new to cooking. It's unnecessary. They won't get the best use out of it and they are more likely to damage it. Grab an 8" Victorinox or Mercer and a mid grit King or Shapton whetstone and let them build the skills first.
New to cooking? Sure, I agree. New to Japanese knives, after 8 years of cooking with a knife set that came with a block? Prime territory for this recommendation. I suspect that "newbies" who wander in here are more likely to be in the second category than the first.
 
Thin "laser" knives are the ultimate gateway drug for knives, especially for someone coming from only western knives. That first cut is guaranteed to be revelatory. My taste has evolved to prefer more mid weight, but I'm not sure I would have gotten there without my laser phase. I fully endorse recommending Gingas as a first "good" knife. I recommend them all the time.
 
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