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Smoothest Pen Under $50?

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#41 CheesyWalnut

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 15:30

I don't have any means to measure a .5 line, but I just did some doodling with a Metropolitan F and and a F-C XF on different kinds of paper, and they are very close, but I would say the F-C produces just a slightly wider line. But I definitely like fine, clear lines, and I am satisfied with the F-C. It writes very smoothly and is attractive as well. (I have the Basic in Carbon,which I think is great looking, if you don't mind the slightly soft material in the section.)

 

 

Thanks for your reply, I think I will go with the FC loom in fine because I don't really like how the basic posts, and the fine metro is a little too fine for me.


Edited by CheesyWalnut, 23 March 2017 - 00:22.


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#42 Bluey

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 16:27

But, a new company? In a country without a long history of mass-production of precision engineering to high standards of quality control?
Which is also famous for making knock-offs and outright fakes?
It's why I don't trust 'emerging market' companies that I've never heard of.
 

I think that's a rather narrow minded perspective.

 

Your computer and almost all of your electronic devices are probably made there yet you trust them enough to buy them for a reasonably large sum, right?

 

I would much sooner trust the QC of a Jinhao or a Hero than any Pelikan or Visconti.


Edited by Bluey, 22 March 2017 - 16:33.

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#43 corgicoupe

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 16:50

I would much sooner trust the QC of a Jinhao or a Hero than any Pelikan or Visconti.


I'm curious...what is your basis for this statement?

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#44 Bluey

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 16:50

I'm curious...what is your basis for this statement?

Observation.


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#45 Chrissy

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 17:22

 

I've thought about a Lamy safari, but I've heard their nib quality isn't very consistent.

 

I disagree. I think Lamy Safari and Al-Star nibs are quite consistently good. I've never had to tune one and I must have a dozen by now.



#46 sirgilbert357

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 17:44

I think that's a rather narrow minded perspective.
 
Your computer and almost all of your electronic devices are probably made there yet you trust them enough to buy them for a reasonably large sum, right?
 
I would much sooner trust the QC of a Jinhao or a Hero than any Pelikan or Visconti.

I think Bluey makes an interesting point here. When you pay Pelikan/Visconti level money for a pen, it really *should* be perfect right out of the box. There are times these high priced pens don't perform in line with the money you spent. Thankfully, there's usually a warranty in place, but still. Meanwhile, a Pilot Varsity can be had for less than 5 bucks and is almost guaranteed to write great the moment it's uncapped. It's baffling...

I don't think any of us have a large enough sample size of the aforementioned brands to honestly say we have the hard data to prove a specific brand has the greater failure rate, but we can certainly be justified if we say we feel the money is better spent on the cheaper/more expensive pen. This hobby is all about subjective choices and this topic is no different.

Could I get a lifetime of writing out of one 500 dollar pen? Sure.

Could it take me a lifetime to use 500 dollars worth of Jinhaos given their current quality control? Sure.

Edited by sirgilbert357, 22 March 2017 - 17:49.


#47 Ron Z

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 17:59


but we can certainly be justified if we say we feel the money is better spent on the cheaper pen.

 
 ...as long as you are willing to accept that what you are buying is in essence a disposable product.  I don't.    The very reason why they are so popular is that they are so cheap, which extends to the quality of the materials used.  When (not if) they fail, you throw them away because they are not worth the effort or expense to repair them.  They're great pens to carry when you're going into a situation where you want a fountain pen, but don't care if it gets lost or broken.

 

I bought a Jinhao knock off of the Lamy Safari just because I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about.  A fun pen, but I really did have to build up the section threads with shellac so that they wouldn't shift and squeak as I wrote.  I wouldn't say that the quality control was superior to that of major pen Manufacturers.  Rather, the pen lived up to my low expectations.

 

In all fairness though, I have worked on a remarkable number of expensive pens that were poorly designed and one expensive brand that specialized in Expensive LE pens that provided no customer support.  Their reply to a query about what they could do for the customer was "they can always buy another pen."  I don't buy or recommend those brands either.  But to say that one would much rather trust the quality control of Jinhao or Hero makes me think of the line about the Jester carrying the Nun.....   i.e.  "Virgin on the ridiculous."


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#48 pajaro

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 18:09

I think that's a rather narrow minded perspective.

 

Your computer and almost all of your electronic devices are probably made there yet you trust them enough to buy them for a reasonably large sum, right?

 

I would much sooner trust the QC of a Jinhao or a Hero than any Pelikan or Visconti.

 

Trusting the QC of Jinhao or Hero rather than Pelikan or Visconti is sensible from the standpoint of the expense involved.  With the Jinhao or Hero you might just buy another pen rather than get into the long, involved process of warranty R & R on an expensive Visconti or Pelikan.   You might buy dozens of Jinhaos or Heros for the cost of a Pelikan or a Visconti.  If the Jinhao deteriorates or falls apart, buy another.  I have one that's decent.  I do think that the Oriental pens and the European pens are different enough that some people will not like both.  There are some low end Pelikans, which are still three or four times more costly than Jinhao.  I have one of these low end Pelikans, and it is little better and certainly not cost effective.

 

The vintage Esterbrook and Sheaffer School pens might be bulletproof, and in my experience they are just about that.  They are still vintage, and, if you don't trust vintage, they are not a solution. 


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#49 pajaro

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 18:19

 
 ...as long as you are willing to accept that what you are buying is in essence a disposable product.  I don't.    The very reason why they are so popular is that they are so cheap, which extends to the quality of the materials used.  When (not if) they fail, you throw them away because they are not worth the effort or expense to repair them.  They're great pens to carry when you're going into a situation where you want a fountain pen, but don't care if it gets lost or broken.

 

I bought a Jinhao knock off of the Lamy Safari just because I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about.  A fun pen, but I really did have to build up the section threads with shellac so that they wouldn't shift and squeak as I wrote.  I wouldn't say that the quality control was superior to that of major pen Manufacturers.  Rather, the pen lived up to my low expectations.

 

In all fairness though, I have worked on a remarkable number of expensive pens that were poorly designed and one expensive brand that specialized in Expensive LE pens that provided no customer support.  Their reply to a query about what they could do for the customer was "they can always buy another pen."  I don't buy or recommend those brands either.  But to say that one would much rather trust the quality control of Jinhao or Hero makes me think of the line about the Jester carrying the Nun.....   i.e.  "Virgin on the ridiculous."

 

This is you, and you are in a much more experienced position to judge pens than a new person.  To them the more expensive pens are an unknown commodity.  They will wade into the waters carefully.

 

Personally, I think TWSBI is preferable to a dozen Jinhaos.  The newer user will have a different perspective, though, and they can't be expected to see the matter from the perspective of an experienced user, or from that of someone who has owned and repaired many, many pens.  I prefer to use the higher cost pens I have been foolish enough to buy, even though I know that there are many lower cost pens that are more cost effective.  I am old, though, and probably getting soft in the head.


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#50 Ron Z

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 18:45

This is you, and you are in a much more experienced position to judge pens than a new person. 

 

Yup.  And part of the responsibility of a more experience person is to educate a younger/newer collector.  I've benefited greatly  from  the experience of folks who have taught me over the years.  As one handles the more expensive or better pens, and then vintage,  they come to understand the difference.

 

BTW, if you look at TWSBI and Pelikans closely, you'll see that there are a lot of design elements of some TWSBI pens that are exact duplicates of Pelikan parts, to the point where one could be justified in suggesting that the designs are wholesale copies (dare I say ripoffs?) of Pelikan designs to the point where I wouldn't be surprised if some parts could be interchanged.  I haven't had a chance to try that yet though.


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#51 Mercian

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 18:55

I think that's a rather narrow minded perspective.

Would you feel confident to characterise it as any more narrow-minded than your own?

Particularly your attitude to e.g. Pelikan pens.
Whilst I do not doubt your claim to have bought one (or even two) with which you had initial nib problems, you seem to habitually attempt to extrapolate your own anecdote in to 'objective data' that 'proves' that 'a high proportion' of Pelikan pens are lousy.
Even when people who have never had any problems with their own Pelikans contrast their own anecdotal evidence with yours.

At least I wouldn't dismiss a statement from someone with decades of experience - a person who deals in vintage pens - that in his experience Esties usually last for a couple of decades as "I'm sure the Esterbrook may have lasted for a little while" (emphases here mine).

That choice of phrasing, to me at least, reads more like attempted trolling than reasonable debate.
Or perhaps I am being unreasonably thin-skinned?

Your computer and almost all of your electronic devices are probably made there yet you trust them enough to buy them for a reasonably large sum, right?

Firstly, I do enjoy your use of the term 'probably' in that sentence.

Secondly, I am especially NOT an 'early adopter' of un-tried 'bleeding-edge' technology; the electronic devices that I do buy have all been purchased from manufacturers that have been in operation for decades - such companies may well use sub-contractors in 'emerging markets', but they also all have hard-won reputations to protect, and do have robust quality-control procedures already in place, which they can apply to their sub-contractors.
UNLIKE new companies that have not been making products in that class for more than a couple of years. A bit different, no?
In my opinion, buying from a company with the incentive to protect a hard-won reputation for reliability is far more likely to result in the purchase of a product manufctured with good quality control than 'rolling the dice' to buy something produced at VERY low cost by a company that is a newcomer to its industry.

Fourthly, as those electronic products do cost what you rightly characterise as "reasonably large sums", the business model under which they are produced is very, very different to the one of mass-producing a product that will be sold for a very low price (like, say, a cheap fountain pen).
Many prospective purchasers of the cheap fountain pen - whose price is only a mere fraction of its competitors' prices - WILL be willing to risk the purchase of several unusable pieces of junk in order to get one that works ok.
A failure-rate of 40% is no problem when the purchaser is only paying a nugatory sum for the product.

Try doing that - having a failure rate of 40%, with multiple different problems occurring - if you are trying to sell your products for several hundred $ per item, like, say, with a computer/smartphone. I doubt that your company would last for very long.

I would much sooner trust the QC of a Jinhao or a Hero than any Pelikan or Visconti.

That is your right, but would your attitude be the same if Jinhao & Hero pens cost as much as Pelikan or Visconti pens do?

My opinion is that many people may be happy to gamble their cash on cheap pens made by new companies because the loss that will be incurred if the cheap pen proves to be junk will only be low - but I am not one of those people.
If I am paying for something, I want it to work.
It is the same reason why I am willing to pay for decent hiking gear - it costs many times more, but I know that it will keep me warm and dry, and not simply disintegrate the first time I take it up a Fell.

Furthermore - and my apologies to all if this last part is deemed to be 'political' - I am NOT willing to fund the process of enabling foreign companies to cut the throats of all the manufacturers in my country. Particularly not while the products they offer for sale have poor quality control.
I see no value in engaging in a crapshoot that may leave me with either an ok pen, or a few pieces of junk, in exchange for which my paying for them to learn how to manufacture to acceptable standards of reliability will mean that I get higher unemployment in my country, and a fall in receipts to HM Treasury too.

Once all their competitors are dead, do you think that these for-profit companies will still be selling their products for next-to-nothing?

Freedom is the freedom to say that two and two make four.


#52 Bluey

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 20:05

Secondly, I am especially NOT an 'early adopter' of un-tried 'bleeding-edge' technology; the electronic devices that I do buy have all been purchased from manufacturers that have been in operation for decades - such companies may well use sub-contractors in 'emerging markets', but they also all have hard-won reputations to protect, and do have robust quality-control procedures already in place, which they can apply to their sub-contractors.
UNLIKE new companies that have not been making products in that class for more than a couple of years. A bit different, no?
In my opinion, buying from a company with the incentive to protect a hard-won reputation for reliability is far more likely to result in the purchase of a product manufctured with good quality control than 'rolling the dice' to buy something produced at VERY low cost by a company that is a newcomer to its industry.

 

Since when has there ever been any correlation between the number of years a company has been going with their QC? Also, I don't know why you think they're new. Hero has been around for nearly 100 years! And Jinhao aren't exactly new either. 

Why debate a point of view when you're just making assumptions?

 

You fail to appreciate the nature of business, especially that of fountain pens. In the Western world fountain pens are no longer seen as essential items. In the East, they are far more so. Pelikan, Parker, Sheaffer and their ilk no longer create pens as great writers. It's not their intention. They are creating them as luxury items. Their customers usually buying as a gift for someone, to sign a few docs, to use on business trips, or as curiosities.

In Japan, they are currently at where the Western world was around the 1940s/1950s. Making great writers. In China they are partly doing the same for their home market but a large percentage is making for the Western market.

 

 

Fourthly, as those electronic products do cost what you rightly characterise as "reasonably large sums", the business model under which they are produced is very, very different to the one of mass-producing a product that will be sold for a very low price (like, say, a cheap fountain pen).
Many prospective purchasers of the cheap fountain pen - whose price is only a mere fraction of its competitors' prices - WILL be willing to risk the purchase of several unusable pieces of junk in order to get one that works ok.
A failure-rate of 40% is no problem when the purchaser is only paying a nugatory sum for the product.

 

Baseless. Again.

I think you'll find that when a company is churning out thousands of low cost pens, the need for upping the QC to the absolute maximum become even more intense.

 

 

 

At least I wouldn't dismiss a statement from someone with decades of experience - a person who deals in vintage pens - that in his experience Esties usually last for a couple of decades as "I'm sure the Esterbrook may have lasted for a little while" (emphases here mine).

 

Why should I blindly accept someone else's point of view? I prefer to think for myself based on what I have seen and what I know.


Edited by Bluey, 22 March 2017 - 20:19.

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#53 Mercian

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 20:30

Since when has there ever been any correlation between the number of years a company has been going with their QC?


Um, since forever. Because when you are churning out junk, you don't last long.

Why debate a point of view when you're just making assumptions?
....
You fail to appreciate the nature of business, especially that of fountain pens.
....
Baseless. Again.


Like I said before, to me your refusal to engage with any points raised against you, coupled with your use of inflammatory language, seems to indicate that your intention is trolling, and not actual debate.

Why should I blindly accept someone else's point of view? I prefer to think for myself based on what I have seen and what I know.


Whereas you expect everybody else to blindly accept the claims that you make, and refuse to back up with objective evidence?
Yeah, right.

I shall cease this discussion with you know, as to do otherwise would go against my DNFTT policy.

Good evening.

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#54 Bluey

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 20:40

Whereas you expect everybody else to blindly accept the claims that you make, and refuse to back up with objective evidence?
Yeah, right.

 

You don't have to, but you'll find out that I'm right after you've done your research. And from what you've said there, you're not the right person to speak of using any hard evidence.

 

And good evening to you.


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#55 Ron Z

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 20:41

Why should I blindly accept someone else's point of view? I prefer to think for myself based on what I have seen and what I know.

 

Blindly?  No.  But then again, they might have a more informed and longer perspective because of their experience, and maybe, just maybe it would be worth considering their input.  You might learn something.

 

If you're at a car dealership looking at a car,  the guy to talk to about what problems pop up isn't the salesman, but the guy in the service department, or better yet, the guy behind the parts counter.  Fascinating what you learn.


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#56 pajaro

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 21:31

You don't have to, but you'll find out that I'm right after you've done your research. And from what you've said there, you're not the right person to speak of using any hard evidence.

 

And good evening to you.

Deo gratias.


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#57 Margana

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 22:48

It seems some people are very enamored with their own opinions and think they are superior to the opinions of others. My BS meter hits the red zone when I see that in any thread. Not that there aren't a few really knowledgeable pen people on FPN whose opinions are based on a wealth of experience and to them, I listen. Ron Z is one of them. His experience does not mirror my own on the pens mentioned, but even mass-manufactured low-end pens can vary. My Metropolitans and Lamys are proof of that. I am in the camp that expects a pen to write well out of the box, but it just doesn't always happen.

 

My collection of pens exceeds a hundred and I've sold at least twenty-five over the nearly 15 years since I returned to using fountain pens. With the exception of the Faber-Castell models, I own all of the other pens mentioned and multiples of quite a few. In the under $50 category, the Metropolitans and Plaisirs get the most time in rotation. The Metro might have a slightly more narrow line, but mine are mediums so I cannot comment on the fine nibs.

 

Ten or so Esties have come and gone over the years. The 9xxx nibs are good, but the pens are a little small for my hand. If you buy from a reputable seller with a newly installed sac, the pen should last many years.

 

My TWSBI Eco is stingy and needs just the right ink to flow well. With a light touch it is smooth enough, but I have only the one Eco so it might not be representative. 

 

I have nine Lamy Safari, AL-Star and Vista pens. None of the EFs have been anything less than smooth. Only the grip keeps them out of my rotation. 

 

In order to make comparisons, I have purchased a few Chinese pens. Build quality has been mixed. Some of the nibs have been smooth while others have not. Since my opinion would be based on a single example of a model, it could be very different from what others have experienced. Consequently, I won't name names.

 

After years of buying pens, my opinion is that it's a (bleep)-shoot and there are no guarantees. Hopefully, you will enjoy whatever you buy. If not, return, sell, trade or give it away. Or keep it and perhaps fall in love with it in the future. That has happened to me many times resulting in very few purchases that I now regret. 


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#58 Ron Z

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 23:02

I am in the camp that expects a pen to write well out of the box, but it just doesn't always happen.

 

Don't feel bad. There isn't a new pen from any manufacturer that I've bought hasn't had some adjustment made to the nib.  But then again, I'm fussy.  ;)


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#59 cattar

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 23:20


If you're at a car dealership looking at a car,  the guy to talk to about what problems pop up isn't the salesman, but the guy in the service department, or better yet, the guy behind the parts counter.  Fascinating what you learn.

 

^this. Don't know why people use the car analogies so much here, but it works. Repair people get the repeating problems, as long as people are willing to pay for the repair.

 

I like both vintage and modern pens, many are reliable. I regularly use pens that are less than a year to more than 100 years old.

People tend to pull out the PIlot vpen when they want to talk about a pen that just writes. And it does.

And yet when people buy some other pen, just writing isn't enough. Suddenly there are expectations of smoothness and wetness and line variation and ink adaption and balance.

When folks bemoan a new to them pen not writing well here, it's often--

expectation v. reality of line variation,

personal preference for a wetter line or the smoothest nib,

or a writing habit like pressure or write rolling that keep a pen from writing well.



#60 Flippy

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 00:56

 

I've thought about a Lamy safari, but I've heard their nib quality isn't very consistent.

Actually, it is.  And even if the nib breaks or becomes unusable, replacing one is dirt cheap.


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