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Pilot 78G F: Pluses And Minuses


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#1 the oxford comma

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 04:02

I thought I'd add my observations on this already well-reviewed pen. Despite many rave reviews, the 78G isn't perfect--it's not bad for the price, but there are problems that may be deal-breakers for some. Unlike many reviews, this one will cover both good and bad aspects, because I think the bad are as useful to know as the good.

Posted ImageI don't have my own photo, so I took the liberty of borrowing this nice CC-licensed one. (source)

Appearance

The 78G might be the flashiest of the low-end pens; it looks like a cheap pen pretending to be expensive. Whether it succeeds is debatable. I can't say I like the pseudo-bling look, and I wish Pilot had spared us the tacky gold plating. But it could be worse; I've seen some expensive pens that look worse. (It doesn't look half bad in the photo above, but that's not representative of real life.)

It comes in four colors, and includes a big round sticker saying "PILOT -F-", as if you might forget the nib size, which is also marked on the nib itself.

Construction

Seems pretty solid. I've been carrying it around a lot, and dropping it, and I think it will last. It has a screw cap, which might be more secure than a snap-on cap.

Weight & Dimensions

Very light, which is probably good. It's very short without the cap (4 3/4" including nib), but with the cap the length is OK (5 7/8"). The worst thing about this pen is its thickness: the grip section is the thinnest part of this already-skinny pen (about 3/8" at the thinnest point), and I find it uncomfortable to hold when writing for long periods, especially because it's also a bit slippery.

Nib

I wanted a "fine" nib that was really FINE, comparable to an 0.5 mm rollerball or smaller. The 78G's nib is exactly that; it's great for subscripts/superscripts and detailed drawing. The thickness also varies noticeably with pressure, for those who like that kind of thing.

Now for the bad news. When I first got it, the nib was so scratchy that it was barely usable, and the ink flow was terrible--part of the reason it had such a fine line. I gave up on it for a while, but figuring I had nothing to lose, I tried a couple of tricks that I read about here. First, I tried writing on a rough paper bag--I wasn't sure that would work, but after a while it really did seem to help. Second, I used a razor blade to cut along the groove in the feed, hoping to widen the channel for the ink. The 78G is easy to take apart, so this was easier than I thought, and it also seemed to help: when I was done, the pen was usable, though still not very smooth and a bit less fine than it was before.

Filling System

The pen comes with a converter, which is nice; I'm glad that Pilot expects people to use bottled ink. The filling mechanism is a thin rubber tube surrounded on two sides by a metal frame, which you squeeze while immersing the nib in ink. Unfortunately, it takes many squeezes to get a complete fill, which is not even very much--the constant refilling gets old after a while.

Value

This is cheap for what you get, especially since it includes a converter, an essential that doesn't come with other cartridge pens. I'd say it's a decent value, though not an amazing value as some would have you believe.

I'd recommend this pen to anyone who wants a really FINE line--that's probably the #1 reason to get one of these. But I'm not sure there are any other good reasons. It's not great for long writing sessions, due to its small ink capacity and uncomfortable size.

Edited by the oxford comma, 19 December 2011 - 04:09.


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#2 watch_art

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:10

Can be made an eyedropper with some silicone grease on the threads. The medium nib with tines spread and feed hacked a little is a fantastic pen. I didn't keep mine - and won't get another - but they're not too bad. Could be a turn off to a newcomer.

Great review! Please keep em coming!

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#3 myyrkezaan

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 02:58

The nib on mine was smoothish (not scratchy), used paper bag and it became really smooth. Same nib as the Knight, Prera, Plumix and Penmanship except it is gold. I have a Knight and some Preras and while all are not super smooth, none were as you described.


Did you check to see if the tines were aligned, I had one that was off a bit, tweaked it and it made a difference. Have had varying pens with tine issue. First thing I do now is write side to side, flip it, do same, adjust bad tine with finger nail.

#4 ThirdeYe

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 16:27

The 78G was one of my first modern pens I bought (after a Preppy) and I really liked it. I now have 4 of them, and think they're great little pens for the money. Luckily, I didn't have any of the scratchiness or flow issues. I did have a small issue with my medium nib one, but I believe it was either due to the ink or the way I filled the pen.
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#5 Bill C

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 17:08

I thought I'd add my observations on this already well-reviewed pen. Despite many rave reviews, the 78G isn't perfect--it's not bad for the price, but there are problems that may be deal-breakers for some. Unlike many reviews, this one will cover both good and bad aspects, because I think the bad are as useful to know as the good.

Posted ImageI don't have my own photo, so I took the liberty of borrowing this nice CC-licensed one. (source)

Appearance

The 78G might be the flashiest of the low-end pens; it looks like a cheap pen pretending to be expensive. Whether it succeeds is debatable. I can't say I like the pseudo-bling look, and I wish Pilot had spared us the tacky gold plating. But it could be worse; I've seen some expensive pens that look worse. (It doesn't look half bad in the photo above, but that's not representative of real life.)

It comes in four colors, and includes a big round sticker saying "PILOT -F-", as if you might forget the nib size, which is also marked on the nib itself.

Construction

Seems pretty solid. I've been carrying it around a lot, and dropping it, and I think it will last. It has a screw cap, which might be more secure than a snap-on cap.

Weight & Dimensions

Very light, which is probably good. It's very short without the cap (4 3/4" including nib), but with the cap the length is OK (5 7/8"). The worst thing about this pen is its thickness: the grip section is the thinnest part of this already-skinny pen (about 3/8" at the thinnest point), and I find it uncomfortable to hold when writing for long periods, especially because it's also a bit slippery.

Nib

I wanted a "fine" nib that was really FINE, comparable to an 0.5 mm rollerball or smaller. The 78G's nib is exactly that; it's great for subscripts/superscripts and detailed drawing. The thickness also varies noticeably with pressure, for those who like that kind of thing.

Now for the bad news. When I first got it, the nib was so scratchy that it was barely usable, and the ink flow was terrible--part of the reason it had such a fine line. I gave up on it for a while, but figuring I had nothing to lose, I tried a couple of tricks that I read about here. First, I tried writing on a rough paper bag--I wasn't sure that would work, but after a while it really did seem to help. Second, I used a razor blade to cut along the groove in the feed, hoping to widen the channel for the ink. The 78G is easy to take apart, so this was easier than I thought, and it also seemed to help: when I was done, the pen was usable, though still not very smooth and a bit less fine than it was before.

Filling System

The pen comes with a converter, which is nice; I'm glad that Pilot expects people to use bottled ink. The filling mechanism is a thin rubber tube surrounded on two sides by a metal frame, which you squeeze while immersing the nib in ink. Unfortunately, it takes many squeezes to get a complete fill, which is not even very much--the constant refilling gets old after a while.

Value

This is cheap for what you get, especially since it includes a converter, an essential that doesn't come with other cartridge pens. I'd say it's a decent value, though not an amazing value as some would have you believe.

I'd recommend this pen to anyone who wants a really FINE line--that's probably the #1 reason to get one of these. But I'm not sure there are any other good reasons. It's not great for long writing sessions, due to its small ink capacity and uncomfortable size.


I'm always interested to hear about what other's consider a great value. Could you recommend some great value pens for at or under $10 that you have personally written with? Thanks for the review.

#6 AlejoPlay

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 17:13

I have one in Red, Green and Black. The Red is Fine, Green Medium and the Black Broad. All three are amazing writers. I am thinking of getting a Blue in Broad to complete the collection (if anyone has one they want to get rid of . . . ;) )

#7 the oxford comma

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 03:37

I'm always interested to hear about what other's consider a great value. Could you recommend some great value pens for at or under $10 that you have personally written with? Thanks for the review.

Platinum Preppy and Pilot Varsity (disposable, but supposedly refillable) are not bad. The Platinum is less fine, but thicker than the 78G so it's easier to write with, and I thought the Varsity's line was too broad and wet. These are matters of taste. And the pens themselves might vary, so it's a matter of luck whether you get a good one.

One perspective is that any non-disposable fountain pen is an OK value at $10 if it beats a 12-pack of disposable rollerballs like Pilot Precise or Uni-ball Deluxe, which costs about $20. You can spend the extra $10 on ink to last you at least as long as all those disposable pens, and when it's done you'll still have a pen that works. However, if I'm going to be using the same pen every day for a long time, I think I might want to spend a little more to get one I completely like.

#8 someonesdad

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 17:42

I bought one for myself recently with a broad 1.1 mm nib (a stub) and it writes well. It's an OK value, but nothing to write home about. It has a mass of about 13 g and has a 10 mm diameter barrel; it's nearly identical in size to a Montblanc 144.

If you want a reasonably fine point pen, get a pen like a Hero 616 or a Hero 332 -- they can be found for around a buck or two (I paid 83 cents for the 332). Of all my pens, a black 616 is probably my favorite writer; I keep it filled with Heart of Darkness. It's perfect for the things I do (lab notebook, sketches, calculations). My 616s write a line about 0.4 mm to 0.5 mm wide (depends on the ink and paper).

#9 Spector

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 07:57

I found the fine nib to be way too scratchy and dry to use well. I abandoned it for my Lamy Safari.
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#10 dadoody

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 13:46

I found the fine nib to be way too scratchy and dry to use well. I abandoned it for my Lamy Safari.


lol, I'm abandoning my Lamy Safari for a Pilot 78G and Cross Solo due to scratchiness and dryness.

#11 adallak

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 05:08

I have many 78Gs in different colors and nibs. GREAT inexpensive pen which never lets you down. Writes any time you pick it up after sitting for weeks. The best feature of the pen IMHO is that it is great in stop-and-go mode. Put it on the table uncapped for 30 minutes and it will write again with very little or no effort.
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#12 VillersCotterets

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 15:41

I'd recommend this pen to anyone who wants a really FINE line--that's probably the #1 reason to get one of these.


The B nib is the most affordable ITALIC. For me, that's the #1 reason to buy a 78G.

There are many good fine and extra fine budget pens.

#13 dadoody

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 16:50

I read somewhere that the Pilot 78G was discontinued years ago and that most of the pens in the market now are Chinese knock offs.

#14 VillersCotterets

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 22:10

Not true. However, the rumour is that Pilot doesn't make enough profit out of it and will discontinue it soon. Maybe what we are seen on eBay now are the last batches.

#15 adallak

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 22:32

I read somewhere that the Pilot 78G was discontinued years ago and that most of the pens in the market now are Chinese knock offs.

I believe it is just a rumor. Pilot probably made lots of them. Despite a have many (most are uninked), I'll buy even more. Love them! :)
“Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down.” Jimmy Durante quotes (American Comedian, Pianist and Singer, 1893-1980)

#16 fiberdrunk

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 22:55

I can add a "plus" to this pen. I'm able to use my homemade iron gall ink(traditional recipes) in the Pilot 78G (as well as the Pilot Parallel... which makes me want to look at other Pilot pens that may work). So this naturally endears me to the pen. Not only does it work well, but I can set the pen down for weeks at a time, and my ink still flows without a hitch.
Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

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#17 M@rtin

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 16:53

Great pen!!!

#18 GreenVelvet

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 20:09

I am wildly, madly devoted to Pilot 78Gs. I've got F and M, and I'm waiting on some Bs. I've never had a problem with nib scratchiness or ink flow.

I am glad to hear the rumor that they are discontinued is untrue - I'd heard it too, and had gotten very worried.

#19 atonce

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 20:49

This is my first great pen since I fall in love with fountain pen. My 78G is very scratchy during the first line of writing, but now , it is smooth out a lot, and the width of the writing is fine enough for my daily needs. This is certainly a great value pen.

#20 Houston

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 15:23

Does anyone know where I might find a step-by-step guide (or a video) to taking the 78G apart? I'm keen to hack the feed a bit to increase the flow to my 78G's broad nib.

Thanks, in advance!






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