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Tachikawa School G Review (Alternative)


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#1 juanjo

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 19:39

Hi, first of all, let me introduce myself, as I am new to the forum. I am a physicist with an inclination towards other more artistic activities. Due to some unfortunate encounters with fountain pens (not good quality, leaky samples) I disregarded them for some time. However, drawing and design has brought me back to them as a very powerful medium to capture my thoughts and, even now, to also work. What follows is an exceprt of a personal log that I keep to myself, where I will be testing some pens I ordered http://juanjose.garc...drawing-and-fix While I know some reviews here, they were not complete enough for me to make my own mind, which is why I am redoing them from personal experience. I hope this is not a problem.

 

The Tachikawa School G is a relatively inexpensive pen that looks like a disposable rollerball in its plastic design. It comes with one standard size cartridge that contains a waterproof ink which does seem quite thick. The pen is advertised as useful for Manga, which seems like a good start. I ordered via Amazon and got it one week later in a nice package with two extra cartridges, all together under $20 shipped to Spain from Japan by Amazon

school-g.png
Initial fixes The pen looks cheap'o, and indeed it is, but it also feels good on my small hands, which are used to Pilot's and other cheap writing devices. I plugged the cartridge into the nib and started scribbling. The result was thin, straight and consistent lines, very similar in color and precision to those of a 0.2 mechanical pencil. I was astonished by that, but after one page of test strokes and hatching, which seemed too thin and too volatile to be true, the ink stopped running.

Some research revealed some problems: The point was scratching the paper, which was of moderate quality but not problematic for other pens. The scrathing caused threads to enter the nib, mix with the ink (which dries super-fast) and clog it. Dripping the pen in water helped momentarily, revealing what should be the actual linewidth of the pen, but it stopped working again for the same reasons.
 
Fortunately for us the internet is full of solutions. One is this: take a simple grinding paper, very fine one, such as 2000, and cut a small piece. Drip the paper in some water and start writing circles with the pen. Write a couple of circles or eights; go back to a normal paper and test. Again and again, always softly, always keeping the grinding paper soft and trying different angles. This smooths the pen, restoring it to its ideal state, and removing imperfections that were not detected in the fabrication process or quality assurance control (after all it is a very cheap pen). Some people will argue that 2000 is to coarse, but that's all I have and I routinely use it to polish my nails before playing guitar, so it is really not that bad. In any case, if you are worried, you can wear off the paper first by scratching one piece of paper against another until it feels smoother.
 
school-g-nib.png
Finally working Fixing the nib as explained above was not traumatic at all for the pen. The nib itself is very fine and quality controls for such a cheap pen cannot be that good: I just got a bad sample. Once the nib was smoothed, however, I got a very nice working pen that produces the right kind of line for my purposes.

Below I show some line samples of the Tachikawa School G, a rollerbal pen from the inexpensive brand Muji, and my loved Rotring ArtPen EF, which I have been using for the past month. The nib drawing shows the direction of the pen when sketching and the "inverted" sample means that we put the pen upside down and write with the back of the nib to get a finer line.
 
school-g-sample.jpg
As seen in this picture, the line width of the Tachikawa pen seems to vary between 0.8 and something like 0.3, depending on how we press and orient the nib. This is great for drawing, though a bit more flexing would be even more useful.
 
The ultra-fine marks when drawing upside down are as fine as a 0.2 mechanical pencil, and you may even get them finer by pressing less. This is good for fine detail, early sketches and creating softer shadings.
school-g-sample-2.jpg
Apart from the pen, one should pay attention to the ink. The different flow of the ink in the paper creates marked differences between the School-G and the Rotring, which you can seen through the "feathering" of the horizontal lines in this medium-grain paper of the Rotring; not so much feathering in the School G, which looks sharper.
 
DSC_0074.JPG
The School G's ink is waterproof as advertised, provided that you wait enough for it to dry. I have tested it by smudging the paper later on with a pencil and some water. Compare the effect in the Rotring ink (which I love for shading drawings) with that of the School G. The fact that the lines remain sharp and clear is a plus for using this pen in sketches that also involve watercolors.
Conclusion
Overall, I am now happy with this tool and hope to see how it evolves. The finer line is very useful, as I had been currently limited by the Rotring's ArtPen darker tones in what I could draw, even if they are only simple learning exercies for hatching, shading, etc.
 
On the other hand, to be fair, while the pen is fine, both in the literal and in the figurative sense, somehow the ink does not cooperate well with it, which is the biggest annoyance. I keep it in my drawing kit and I am combining it with the Rotring, but I have to always remember to test the pen in a separate paper to see whether it needs to be restarted, either dipping the nib in some water and initial sketches in trash paper.


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#2 juanjo

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Posted 25 April 2015 - 20:40

Within my limited drawing capabilities, a one minute sketch with this pen shows the amazing lines that it is capable of. I wonder whether there are more durable nibs that can achieve similar effects: it is really like working with a pencil

 

sketch.jpg



#3 juanjo

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Posted 26 April 2015 - 18:50

And yet another example of the fun that I am having with this. Once more, a very smal paper size (1/2 B5), which is only possible because of the fine nib.

 

sketch-tachikawa-school-g.jpg


Edited by juanjo, 26 April 2015 - 18:51.


#4 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 26 April 2015 - 19:11

Thanks for the review. I think I have a similar pen from an earlier era, The Tachikawa Manga Pen. At least, that's what it reads on the barrel.

Very accurate picture of the pen and its strengths and weaknesses, and nice drawings, too!

#5 juanjo

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Posted 26 April 2015 - 19:27

Thanks for the translation and the compliments! This pen seems to have a lot of subtitles, at least when I search via Amazon, and I am always unsure they showed me what I wanted :-)  To add to the confusion there seem to be two Manga pens, one the School G and the other one the School, which in jetpens they advertise as "extra fine". I chose randomly the School G and I am very happy with it; given how it performs, I really wonder what the other one looks like.



#6 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 26 April 2015 - 21:26

Thanks for the translation and the compliments! This pen seems to have a lot of subtitles, at least when I search via Amazon, and I am always unsure they showed me what I wanted :-)  To add to the confusion there seem to be two Manga pens, one the School G and the other one the School, which in jetpens they advertise as "extra fine". I chose randomly the School G and I am very happy with it; given how it performs, I really wonder what the other one looks like.



It looks similar, except that the section has a little bit of ribbing, making it less comfortable to grip, and does not say 'school' anywhere. It's an older model, so I'm having trouble finding pictures.

#7 rudyhou

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Posted 30 April 2015 - 11:48

nice sketches, juanjo  :thumbup:


-rudy-

#8 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 17 May 2015 - 17:25

Update:

My Tachikawa has not been cleaned in ten years. For most of that time, I've had a mix of the original black and some Noodler's Nahavo Turquoise sitting in it.

Last week I started soaking and flushing. Yesterday, some ink was still floating out into the water, but I said, 'Enough,' and took it out.

Now to see if it still works after reloading. If so, pics to come!

#9 F_Salmon

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 17:10

Oh my! Thank you very much for this. I happen to encounter a clogging problem with my Tachikawa School G. I did try to wash and flush it several times but it didn't work. I'll try your method next!



#10 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 17:37

Oh my! Thank you very much for this. I happen to encounter a clogging problem with my Tachikawa School G. I did try to wash and flush it several times but it didn't work. I'll try your method next!


Glad to help. Since then, I have discovered Rapido-Eze, a pen-cleaning fluid available at art/craft supply stores and Amazon. It would have greatly speeded up the process. I may even put the section in an ultrasonic cleaner next time.

#11 thiagojp

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 16:25

Hello Juan, nice review, and beautiful drawings!
Why don't you try a Platinum preppy or Pilot metropolitan? They are cheaper than this one, and outstanding value for money. They have fine and medium nibs.

#12 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 16:31

Preppys also come in an extra-fine version that MAY match the needlepoint fineness of the Tachikawa.

#13 Apotheosis

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 02:02

Awesomesause.

Love school FPs and this one looks great too !


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"Oey !! Gimme back my pen !"

#14 F_Salmon

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Posted 28 March 2017 - 03:44

Preppys also come in an extra-fine version that MAY match the needlepoint fineness of the Tachikawa.

From my personal experience as I have both Tachikawa School and 0.2 Platinum Preppy, nope, Tachikawa still wins. I don't own many pens but so far, Tachikawa has the finest nib (even finer than Pilot's extra fine).








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