In my limited knowledge, only three companies produce nowadays music nibs: Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor. Some sources say that the German company Bock can make them, but I know of no company implementing them.
Of the above mentioned companies, Sailor’s music nib has only two tines and lacks, in my opinion, the visual appeal and the extra flow of the second slit. Sailor’s is more of a smooth stub than a real music nib.
The two nibs under analysis.
Pilot, on its side, makes two versions in sizes 5 and 10 for its Custom 74 and 742 respectively. The pen chosen for this review is the bigger of them.
Platinum, in principle, has only one model for its 3776 pen. Its cousin company Nakaya also has a music nib that I suspect is the same as this one albeit with a different engraving. That Nakaya nib has the possibility of becoming flexible by cutting its sides, according to the Nakaya website on August 2010. The pen chosen for this review is, needless to say, the Platinum 3776.
Both pens were filled with the same ink –Sailor Red Brown— using their converters: the CON-70 provided with the Pilot pen, and the standard Platinum piston filler.
1. Appearance and design. (Pilot: 7.5/10; Platinum: 7.0/10)
Both pens are black torpedos with golden accents. And these are the only possibilities for those nibs—exciting nibs in boring costumes.
Pilot’s pen is bigger and seems more substantial. The plastic looks of better quality that its Platinum rival. This is the reason for the difference in the grades in this department.
The rest, clips and ornamental rings, do not make any real difference.
2. Construction and quality. (Pilot: 9.0/10; Platinum: 9.0/10)
Both pens seem to be solidly made. Caps screw in the barrel. When posted, the attachment between cap and barrel is firm in both cases.
These pens might be boring, but they are not cheap in quality.
3. Weight and dimensions. (Pilot: 7.5/10; Platinum: 7.75/10)
Pilot's is bigger and slightly heavier. It is comfortable and well balanced when unposted. Posted, it certainly feels a bit heavy on the back.
Pilot Custom 742 dimensions:
Diameter: 15 mm
Length capped: 146 mm
Length uncapped: 129 mm
Length posted: 158 mm
Weight: 25 g
The Platinum pen is lighter and shorter, and is easier on the hand. It is well balanced if unposted, and less so posted. Both caps weight 9 grams. The difference in the balance when posted –in favor of Platinum— is therefore related to the actual length of the pen.
Platinum 3776 dimensions:
Diameter: 14 mm
Length capped: 137 mm
Length uncapped: 118 mm
Length posted: 151 mm
Weight: 23 g
All in all, the Platinum pen is slightly better than the Pilot in this department.
4. Nib and writing performance. (Pilot: 7.5/10; Platinum: 9.5/10)
La madre del cordero. In boring-looking pens like these, nibs are their basic argument. and more so when these nibs cannot be obtained in any other model.
Both nibs are made on 14 K gold, and have three tines and two slits. Both are enjoyable and fun to use. However…
Pilot’s size 10 nib is a wet writer, slightly flexible—springy. Reasonably smooth, but with some feedback. Occasionally, one of the slits might run out of ink, leaving a thinner line. The reason for this problem might lie in the structure of the feeder—this has only one groove leading to the tip.
The tips of the nibs are very different--square and flat that of the Pilot on the lower side. Platinum's tip is smaller and thinner.
The difference between the horizontal and the vertical lines is very clear: 0.40 mm on the horizontal, and 1.10 mm in the vertical. In my normal writing, the effect of this change becomes more evident pen and writing line are at an angle of 45 degrees.
Platinum’s nib is buttery smooth, and very stiff—a nail. Wet writer with a perfectly controlled flow. Its feed, as can be seen on the picture, has two grooves—one for each slit. And it is significantly longer than that in the Pilot pen.
Feeders of the Platinum, on the left, and of the Pilot on the right. The twin grooves of the Platinum are clearly visible.
The line difference is also very clear: 0.50 mm on the horizontal, 1.20 mm on the vertical.
5. Filling system and maintenance. (Pilot: 7.5/10; Platinum: 7.0/10)
Both pens use proprietary cartridges and converters. Pilot has some advantages, however, because of its extensive range of converters. And one of them, the CON-70 provided with the pen, really holds a lot of ink—about 1.4 ml.
On its side, Platinum converter is a much smaller piston filler—0.5 ml. It did not come with the pen and had to be bought separately, which is simply cheap on the side of the company.
Maintenance wise, both pens are similar. The nib and the feed can easily be extracted from the section by pulling if a deep cleaning was required.
In conclusion, Pilot scores a bit higher in this department due to the good performance of its CON-70 converter.
6. Cost and value. (Pilot: 7.0/10; Platinum: 9.0/10)
Both pens offer nowadays unique nibs. Therefore, it is difficult to compare them to anything else in the market.
Comparing them face to face, Pilot is more expensive than Platinum –JPY 20000 and JPY 15000, plus taxes. An alternative could be the less expensive Pilot Custom 74 with a size 5 music nib at a cost of JPY 12000.
Therefore, given the writing qualities of the Platinum, this pen is a better deal than the Pilot.
7. Conclusion. (Pilot: 46/60=77/100; Platinum: 49.25/60=82/100)
The overall score favors Platinum, but the difference is small. Pilot pen wins in appearance and in the use of a good converter. On the other side, Platinum’s wins hands down in nib performance.
My preferences go for the Platinum pen. I tend to value the nib of any pen a lot more than any other issue. But both pens are fun to use.
More pictures, in my blog.
Edited by Iosepus, 14 August 2010 - 05:20.