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Pilot/namiki Falcon Soft Fine Stock Vs Added Flex

customizations pilot falcon flex sketching

29 replies to this topic

#1 Fwdlib

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 06:46

Hello--I'm thinking of buying a Pilot/Namiki Falcon Soft Fine after seeing several artists state their preference for it and seeing how it writes in video reviews. I am planning to use it mostly for sketching on smooth watercolor or mixed media paper, and would like to use it for writing as well if it's smooth enough. I'm debating whether to go for a stock Soft Fine or whether to splurge for added flex.

 

I've tried looking for posts on this pen with added flex, but it looks like most people who get this pen customized go for the Spencerian customization by John Mottishaw with the needlepoint grind and added flex. However, I don't wish to have anything finer than Fine just because I prefer to have more smoothness than an even finer line. Plus, I'm not going to use this for special calligraphy writing.

 

I've read that this pen is not a true semi-flex pen, but just has a bouncy nib with some personality to the line. This is fine, though I would like to vary the line once in awhile while drawing. So I'm also wondering if "flexing" this pen is fairly easy and not too awkward to do while drawing, or if there's too much of a risk of springing the nib if you're not drawing very slowly and carefully.

 

Thanks for your input in advance.



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#2 Ambien

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 07:46

Depends if you've ever written w/a semi-flex nib before? It's certainly different and is a springy nib vs flexible. I don't recommend it if you've not certain because it's a considerable investment into a custom ground FP. It doesn't take a lot of force but it doesn't "flex" easily and it's easy to spring the nib too. 


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#3 Exlaminis

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 07:59

It's a nice pen as long as you know the limits of the nib. Keep in mind that even with added flex, it isn't going to be able to compare to a truly flexible nib. For writing purposes, it's an interesting experience compared to the typical stiff nib, but not every person will like it. The stock version will not flex when writing with light pressure, so it's feasible, but it still feels different.

 

I have this pen in the SF variant and it is able to get a noticeable line variation without modifications. The added flex modification does not increase the amount of line variation as far as I'm aware, but does make the nib a bit easier to flex. It's your choice if you want to go with a modified nib, but the stock version is perfectly fine too.



#4 Fwdlib

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 08:26

Thanks--I think I'll be fine with the stock soft fine nib, and if I want to try the added flex, I can always do that later. 



#5 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 08:36

Look at a true semi-flex like a Pelikan 140, it will do anything a 'soft' nib does and better. Sort of Springy ++.

Tine spread limited to 3 X a light down stroke.

Most 'pure Springy' nibs have tine bend that matches semi-flex but only gives 2 X a light down stroke. Which is why they are in the flex stage 'Springy' instead of true regular flex; which has less tine bend but still 3 X a light down stroke when well mashed.

 

I have read that some of the factory modifications of Japanese pens do take it into semi-flex territory, but I don't know which ones. I seldom or never have seen a comparison like the Japanese pen vs a known semi-flex like the Pelikan 140.


German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

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#6 Kansas Pen

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 16:09

Thanks--I think I'll be fine with the stock soft fine nib, and if I want to try the added flex, I can always do that later. 

Good idea. You can always send it back to Mottishaw (Nibs.com) for the flex job later. I personally recommend you consider buying this pen from his site in the first place. One of his free services is to test your newly ordered pen to make sure the nib is smooth and writes properly before shipment.  If you ever order a "Closet Queen" pen you can ask him to not test it so if remains untouched.

 

I really enjoy the Falcon I bought from him. Smoothest fine I own.

 

He is competitive in pricing.

 

I have ordered several pens from him and glad I did.

 

No association other than pens that write well from the time they are inked.



#7 discopig

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 19:26

I have a Pilot Metal Falcon with two nib units: SEF and SEEF with added flex. The main difference between the two is the second one flexes much easier and a bit wider without springing the nib. It also feels like writing with a needle when unflexed, but that is also true of the SEF.

 

I love both nibs but I find myself using the stock SEF nib more, especially when outside, it's easier to control. I keep the modified nib for correspondance at home, it's very pleasant to use but I'm too afraid of springing or hurting it to take it anywhere.


Edited by discopig, 15 November 2014 - 19:27.


#8 legume

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 21:35

If you want an actual flex pen you can use for art, try the Desiderata Flex Pen. I have one and it's excellent.

#9 max dog

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 04:53

I've read that this pen is not a true semi-flex pen, but just has a bouncy nib with some personality to the line. This is fine, though I would like to vary the line once in awhile while drawing. So I'm also wondering if "flexing" this pen is fairly easy and not too awkward to do while drawing, or if there's too much of a risk of springing the nib if you're not drawing very slowly and carefully.

 

 

The stock falcon SF nib is certainly more than just a bouncy springy nib.  There is some flex to be had.  With the stock SF nib, you can get from 0.4mm (no pressure) to 1.2 mm (moderate pressure) which is 3X line width variation.  No regular springy nib will do that. 

 

My suggestion is get the Falcon with SF nib, and also get a cheap flex dip pen at a craft store and practice writing flex with the dip pen first (apply pressure on the down strokes and no pressure on the up/side strokes).  Once you get the hang of flexing with ease with the dip pen, you should be able to make use of the stiffer flex in the Falcon more effectively.  It's all a matter of getting use to that coordination (pressure on the down strokes)

 

I believe if you do customize the stock SF nib for more flex, the trade off is going to be a scratchier nib.  I find the current Pilot Falcon SF nib to be pretty smooth for normal writing, and is a good balance between smoothness and moderate flex.  It certainly won't flex like a true flex pen or vintage flex pens that can open up to over 1.8 mm, but I really like the Pilot Falcon as an every day writer with moderate semi-flex.


Edited by max dog, 16 November 2014 - 04:56.


#10 mhphoto

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 08:06

The cost of the "Spencerian" modifications for the Falcon just seems too high for me. You can get a Pilot with an FA nib from Japan for a lot less money than a new Falcon+added flex. Heck, you'd be better off with an old Waterman 52 from ebay (bought from a trusted seller, of course). I still think the stock Falcons are great, though depending on your sketching style they might not offer enough line variation for you. 


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#11 mhphoto

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 08:24



I seldom or never have seen a comparison like the Japanese pen vs a known semi-flex like the Pelikan 140.

 

sdcoul.jpg


fpn_1451747045__img_1999-2.jpg

 


#12 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 10:38

Thanks Mhphoto,

Great little hammer you hit me with there.

Have to change my opinion....on those Falcons. New info....

 

How much pressure difference is there between the semi-flex 140 and the Japanese pens?


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 16 November 2014 - 21:00.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 


#13 LuckyKate

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 16:52

I'd worry about drawing with an expensive pen. I've used ink and a brush or dip pen (mostly with Higgins eternal ink) to draw in college level drawing classes, open studios, sketching on my own etc.  I'm sure it's just me and my messy ways but my tools always end up wearing down really fast, getting covered with ink, basically turning into ink splattered junk. Sure it's junk in the service of art. But still, I like to use my good pens to write and to keep them looking pretty!

 

I wonder more about how the Falcon holds up to hard use?



#14 Algester

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 17:02

I got the custom heritage 91 with the soft nib in medium however I do not know if the soft nib on the elabo (falcon pen) is different shape asides
And that the heritage 91 is cheaper than the elabo but that meant to be a trip to tokyo, japan and to k ito-ya in ginza else buying a pilot pen is just way to uneconomical for me because my country doesnt have a pilot fp distributor or at least a proper one without smuggling it into the country...

Edited by Algester, 16 November 2014 - 17:06.


#15 mhphoto

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 17:25

Thanks Mhphoto,
Great little hammer you hit me with there.
Have to change my opinion....on those Falcons.
 
How much pressure difference is there between the semi-flex 140 and the Japanese pens?


It was a hammer of brotherly love, BoBo.

The FA nib is the most easily flexed of the bunch, but the margin between it and the 140 isn't great; they're very similar. The two Falcons are more stiff than the other two, but line variation isn't at all a chore to get from them. I've never felt as if I'm over-stressing them when flexing.

It's worth noting that the SF Namiki Falcon is far more broken in from normal use and flexing than the SEF Pilot Falcon. The SF falcon is as loose (i.e., easy to flex) as some of my old Watermans. The compassion between a well-used Falcon and a new model is stark in terms of flexibility.

fpn_1451747045__img_1999-2.jpg

 


#16 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 19:45

I only had two NOS and a couple near mint semi-flex. There was no need to break in the nib.

I have 26 (27 on it's way) semi-flex, all but a couple clump together "in the middle".

 

So there is some 20/21 that were used enough to be 'broken' in, and most show quite close to the same flex.

 

Got to grumble and nit pick at something now don't I..... :P

 

 

AH HA!!!!!!!! You Falcon users got to get one of the 'flexi'/maxi-semi-flex nibs. :rolleyes: 

Osmia Supra is 100% sure nib for that.

The rest are luck.

 

Just figure re-corking as part of the cost of the pen. From tiny to fat medium-large. Grumble....now I'll not be able to afford them. grumble, grumble. :unsure:


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 16 November 2014 - 19:54.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 


#17 Mauricio

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 20:17

Fwdlib,

Regardless of being a stock nib or one for "added flex" what lots of folks do not realize is that Pilot pens were designed and manufactured for Kanji script, which uses very short traces to form Japanese characters. They were made with what I consider light to modest line variation, and only for very short-trace purposes. In fact, the Pilot company calls them "soft", and for a reason: They are not flexible nibs. They were not designed or manufactured for any form of Western calligraphy with flex, which use long and uninterrupted traces to make a full word, including some scripts that may require massive line variation, massive responsivess, and lots of flexibility. This is why a lot of folks have issues keeping adequate ink flow with Pilot Namiki pens/nibs when using them for western styles of calligraphy. If your drawing work requires lines that are significantly longer than the short traces in Kanji script you might experience the same ink flow issues experienced for calligraphy purposes.

I have owned and used both, stock and modified nibs. While the modified nibs can offer much thinner lines and become even softer than the factory ones, they still do not compare in terms of writing smoothness, flexibility, and durability to vintage 14k gold flexible nibs. Ink flow (an element of performance) is also an issue. Furthermore, the adding flex procedure cuts and reduces the geometry of the nib, which in my opinion, compromises the nib from an structural and durability stand point. A lot of those nibs easily become scratchy, the tines go everywhere, they are hard to control, are very prone to be sprung, they require a very light hand and writing at a very slow speed, they seem to have lost most of their elasticity (which was low from the factory to start with), have lost a lot of their metal memory, etc. A lot of those nibs are not your "every day" flexible writing nibs anymore. Some nib meisters offering these customized nibs disclose the limitations as to the required use with a light hand and with modest pressure applied.
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#18 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 20:36

Mauricio +20.

:notworthy1:

Just saved me from disappointment.

Very well written.

 

The steel Supra nibs are as good as the gold Supra nib of the Osmia or Osmia-Faber-Castell.  I missed some very nice Osmia pens because then, I was a gold snob, with out enough Supra nibs in steel to know better. At first in my ignorance I'd bought Osmia models in steel in I'd not not had that model.

 

The semi-flex nibs of Osmia have a Diamond on it with mostly a number of it's size 3 or 3 for example (have seen a picture here on the com of an Osmia nib with the diamond and no number). They are very good semi-flex nibs, again gold and steel are IMO equal. I'm happy with either.


German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 


#19 max dog

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 21:52

I think though the issue with ink flow or lack thereof leading to early railroading is prevalent in most modern semi-flex/flex pens, ie noodlers, Serwex, Stipula, etc, and not just the Falcon.  I don't think the feed on modern flex pens are designed like the vintage flex pens like the Waterman's Ideal or Mabie Todd's.



#20 redisburning

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 22:05

Fwdlib,

Regardless of being a stock nib or one for "added flex" what lots of folks do not realize is that Pilot pens were designed and manufactured for Kanji script, which uses very short traces to form Japanese characters. 

 

you can believe that if you want, but personally I don't buy it. just like how I don't buy that "Japanese are more tolerant of rustic/poor finish". that was just an excuse from Takeda to explain away people being unhappy with getting hilariously underground knives.

 

unsurprisingly, people who like takedas repeat this at every junction, and those who don't like it laugh. I can't say I have a negative opinion of Pilot or Takeda, but this is a natural human reaction to "it doesn't work" and IME 9/10 times it just doesn't work.


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