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Feedback And Its Nature

feedback sailor pelikan lamy pilot scratchy nib nibs

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#1 R_Bones

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 07:09

Hey all! My first post around here :)

 

I recently received an unexpected windfall from work and decided to try pens from two brands I had not previously tried; one of which was a pen I had been particularly lusting after for quite some time. In this process, I also excluded a pen because its particular brand had a reputation for "scratchy" nibs... and I am now second guessing all this after what I received.

 

So earlier this week I received in the mail a Sailor Pro Gear with rhodium accents and a lovely bicolour 21K nib (broad). I also received, which I was far more excited about, a Pelikan M805 Vibrant Blue, also with a broad nib. Most of what I had read about Pelikan nibs was that they felt like butter writing on glass, and most of what I had read about Sailor nibs was that they had "feedback" but were generally well-adjusted from the box and provided a pleasant writing experience.

 

After inking the Sailor up, I noticed:

 

-it puts ink onto paper with absolutely zero pressure; IE touch the nib to the paper and you can write

-it feels a little like a fine mechanical pencil when I write with it - not at all unpleasant, but very different from my two Lamy 2000's or my Pilot Custom 823, which feel like... what I would imagine a fountain pen to feel like (IE nothing, if the paper is good)

-it is extremely wet, yet somehow lays down a finer line than my Lamy 2000 medium nib :lticaptd: although to be fair, I had expected something like this after reading about Japanese vs western nibs

 

After inking up the Pelikan however...

 

-I have to exert pressure (although to be fair not much) to make it apply ink to paper

-when writing, it does *not* feel like a mechanical pencil like the Sailor... however nor does it feel like my two Lamy nibs (both 2000's, one medium and one extra fine) or my Pilot broad nib - it feels sluggish and although it does feel "smooth", it feels smooth in the same way your nib would feel if it were made of bacon fat writing on wax paper... it's smooth to be sure, but slow at the same time, and sluggish

-it has definite stubbish qualities! Which although neither my Pilot nor Sailor have, both my Lamy nibs do, which leads me to believe Germans grind their nibs rather differently than other people... and I do like it

 

My question is...

 

Is "feedback" what some people equate to as "scratchiness"... because if so, this Sailor nib I just got is in absolutely no way unpleasant to write with. In fact, it is an absolute *joy* to write with - zero pressure required (why I got into fountain pens, I recently started having to take a lot of notes at my work and my hand cramps with ballpoint pens) and it writes beautifully. And it is nice and bouncy if you accidentally have a ballpoint moment and apply a bit of pressure by accident; you just get a fat line and a lot of ink where you had that moment :lol:

 

When I got my Pilot 823 with a broad nib there was something definitely "off" with it, and lo and behold, the tines were not quite aligned right... it would write, but it felt scratchy on the downstroke. I spent a bit of time myself (I am blessed in having not just a loupe, but a Wild Heerburg microscope... which some nibmeisters might be jealous of :P ) and now that the tines are aligned, it will lay down ink with zero pressure (like my two Lamy nibs), and lacks the pencil-like feel that the Sailor nib has (again, like my Lamy nibs).

 

I hemmed and hawed for a long time about the Vibrant Blue M805 and the Aurora 88 Nebulosa... and in the end I opted for the Pelikan a little bit because of ease of cleaning and such, but also the "scratchiness" reputation of Aurora scared me off a bit.

 

But... my favourite two colours are purple and blue (in that order)... so my heart is still with the Nebulosa. And after writing with a Sailor nib that is both renowned for being "smooth" yet "feedbacky"... I wonder what to expect.

 

What nibs do you find "feedbacky"? Or "scratchy"? Now that I have adjusted my Pilot #15 broad it is very smooth and feels like glass on good paper; it also feels pretty smooth on cheapo work paper. My Lamy 2000 XF requires zero pressure on good paper and writes smoothly on those; I have to be careful on cheap copy paper with it but if I am careful, it lays down a proper super fine line for margin comments and such.

 

My favourite of the ones I own however is hands down my Lamy 2000 medium... on a smooth paper like Rhodia it feels like there isn't even paper underneath it; on cheapo paper it doesn't require the care the XF nib does and just writes comfortably, and it is wet, stubby, and easy to write with in a way no ballpoint of rollerball pen ever provided me with. I will probably do a comparison of all these nibs at some point as a result of this :)

 

Anyway... "feedback" and "scratchiness" turned me off of one of my grail pens... and now I doubt it. Thoughts?



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#2 Needhelp

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 08:03


After reading a topic about using glass to smooth out a nib, i was lik nah... thats not going to work but if you think about it......smooth+smooth=more smooth. So i tried it out and guess what? My lamy al star which was feedbacky just turned smoother an less feedbacky! I was shocked. I used my mirror and make sure you empty out your pen or use an easy to wash off ink.

#3 Chrissy

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 08:15

I may be in the minority here but I tend to use the word 'feedback' more to refer to the sound a nib makes while it's writing. I find that gold nibs produce (to my ears at least) a more pleasant sounding feedback than some steel nibs. That's why I tend to use pens with gold nibs as a preference. I prefer their feedback.  :)

 

Scratchiness is different. Any nib can feel scratchy because there is something wrong with one or both tines. A nib could be less well polished than another brand, or one tine is polished less than the other, or one is slightly longer than the other, or there is a slight hook on the inner edge. That to me is scratchiness. It's a less consistent sound.  :)

 

In a nutshell perhaps feedback is normal whereas scratchiness usually means there is something wrong,  :huh:


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#4 R_Bones

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 09:01

It's odd though, the Sailor sounds and feels like nothing else I've ever used... yet it is not in any way unpleasant. It literally just feels like a fine pencil when I write with it (which is not unpleasant at all! Just different).

 

My Lamy 2000 and Pilot #15 B nibs don't feel anything like this; they are just easygoing smooth nibs. I don't dislike this feeling the Sailor Nib gives... just curoius if this is what people describe as "tooth" or "scratchiness". Because if so, it isn't unpleasant at all... just different.



#5 Bluey

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 10:55

I have the same experience with my Sailors and Pelikan. Because Pelikans commonly have babys bottom they require some pressure to write properly at their designated nib width, otherwise they write with a thin strained line, especially on paper with hand oils present. Because of this it can give the impression of writing with stubbish line variation due to softness, but in fact they have no softness at all.

 

My Lamy 2000 writes in a similar way too because that also has babys bottom. It's common with German nibs and I'm slowly becoming allergic to them.

 

Feedback is letting you know the surface you're writing on, so you know whether the paper is smooth or rough or laid or whatever. Feedback is very different to scratchiness. Scratchiness is an uncomfortable feeling which can be caused by misaligned tines or a nib that is far too fine. And to a degree one person's scratchiness is another person's feedback, but they probably normally write with a biro.

I prefer feedback these days, but not too much. I don't go in for smooth anymore.


Edited by Bluey, 28 July 2017 - 11:35.

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#6 Chrissy

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 11:16

I still like smooth though  :wub:


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#7 KellyMcJ

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 11:43

Feedback- a consistent feeling of pen and paper, and sometimes a sound as well. I have one pen, dry pen+dry ink combo (which I love because even though it's dry, it's 100% reliable on all but the worst paper and gives glorious shading) which feels a bit like writing with chalk. I have another, an EF from Edison, that has a more vibratory feedback. I can hear the nib writing on paper. However the ink is easy flowing and consistent, it's never let me down with even the driest ink (although it's complained by way of less pleasant feedback).

 

Scratchy- take a pin and scratch the business end across a piece of paper. A scratchy nib has jagged areas, either because it's misaligned or poorly ground. It will often catch paper and you'll have to pull little tufts of paper out of the nib slit. It's wholly unpleasant, usually.

 

If you're unhappy with the amount or type of feedback (not scratch) try switching inks- it makes a world of difference.



#8 Mech-for-i

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 12:55

Well to me feedback is not a bad thing at all, in fact its a good one; feedback basically tell me where I am pointing my pen as regard to direction and axle angle as well as the pen to paper angle / vector. Over the years I've had some pen giving me very smooth writing but absolutely zero or close to zero feedback. It might be OK for casual writing but not so if I want to correctly lay down a text especially when I am writing oriental Languages like Chinese and Japanese. Even when writing Latin based or Arabic based language its advantageous to know what you are doing with your pen and what its doing on the paper.

 

Smoothness and feedback is not mutually exclusive, scratchiness though just hint that there's something not quite right with the nib. Generally if a nib write without me needing to press on it with any force would be my first condition for the pen. And after that its about how smooth it glide on the paper and how much feedback it gives to me , the person holding the pen , through the fine feeling I sense through the way I handle / grip the pen.

 

And as usual its more a nib/pen, paper and ink combo , if a certain combo just do not feel right or do not come out OK that really does not mean its the pen or the nib, sometime a change of ink can do wonder or change it enough that you will find it working. A change of the paper can have even greater effect 



#9 R_Bones

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 17:09

Feedback- a consistent feeling of pen and paper, and sometimes a sound as well. I have one pen, dry pen+dry ink combo (which I love because even though it's dry, it's 100% reliable on all but the worst paper and gives glorious shading) which feels a bit like writing with chalk. I have another, an EF from Edison, that has a more vibratory feedback. I can hear the nib writing on paper. However the ink is easy flowing and consistent, it's never let me down with even the driest ink (although it's complained by way of less pleasant feedback).

 

Scratchy- take a pin and scratch the business end across a piece of paper. A scratchy nib has jagged areas, either because it's misaligned or poorly ground. It will often catch paper and you'll have to pull little tufts of paper out of the nib slit. It's wholly unpleasant, usually.

 

If you're unhappy with the amount or type of feedback (not scratch) try switching inks- it makes a world of difference.

With the Sailor, I'm not unhappy at all with the feedback; it's just a different feel I've not had before with my Lamy's and I find it quite interesting. The mechanical pencil feel was there with the black cartridge that came with it, which I assume is just Sailor Jentle Black, and also when I inked it up with Asa-Gao using the converter, which I find to be a wet and nicely lubricated ink.

 

My two Lamy nibs feel like the Pelikan except not as "sluggish"; they also don't require any pressure to apply ink to paper - by this point I'm assuming my Pelikan has baby's bottom, so I might send it off to one of the nibmeisters soon to take care of that.

 

I still wonder if what people describe with the Aurora nibs is similar to what my Sailor nib exhibits, because they're often described as "feedbacky" or "toothy". The Sailor doesn't catch paper or anything and it's extremely pleasant to write with, it just feels quite unlike any previous fountain pen I've ever used.



#10 rwilsonedn

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 20:05

I think you have hit on one of the best descriptions of Sailor nibs: like writing with an excellent pencil, but without pressure. They seem to be very consistent about that, and some people seek out that feeling. And yes, it does sound like your Pelikan has a bit of baby-bottom. Not uncommon, apparently. I have heard it suggested that the European nib makers are putting it in intentionally because they assume modern users will press down on the pen, and with a bit of baby-bottom, the inside edges of the slit will not dig into the paper under pressure--hence, a nib that won't get scratchy when you press down on it, but will barely write at all when you use it properly.

The whole discussion of smooth/feedback/scratchy is probably unresolvable because there are so many variables, including the detailed shape of the nib tips (as you no doubt observed--they aren't necessarily perfect hemispheres), the porosity of the tipping material, viscosity of the ink, shaping of the slit, angle and pressure the writer uses, and paper surface. Even within a brand you can never be quite sure what you are going to get.

ron



#11 Driften

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 22:26

I prefer the Sailor type of feedback over a nib that is too smooth. When too smooth the nib can feel out of control sliding around smooth paper. I like my Sailor MF nib but expect at some point I will move to a wider nib.



#12 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 23:51

It's odd though, the Sailor sounds and feels like nothing else I've ever used... yet it is not in any way unpleasant. It literally just feels like a fine pencil when I write with it (which is not unpleasant at all! Just different).
 
My Lamy 2000 and Pilot #15 B nibs don't feel anything like this; they are just easygoing smooth nibs. I don't dislike this feeling the Sailor Nib gives... just curoius if this is what people describe as "tooth" or "scratchiness". Because if so, it isn't unpleasant at all... just different.


Ah, yes...the famous Song of the Sailor nib. :)

#13 TassoBarbasso

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 05:07

Personally, I think that feedback is the gold standard of nibs: making a smooth nib is easy, you just have to align the tines, and smoothen the tip until it's round. The problem with smooth nibs is that you don't feel anything when writing. Many people believe that this is what a FP should fee like. That's not correct: it's a misconception that derives from the fact that most of us started their writing experiences on ballpoint pens or rollerballs, and we grew accustomed to the idea that a pen should roll on a page like a ball. The quest for "buttery smoothness" is killing the uniqueness of FP. We need to claim it back :)

If you try vintage nibs, you will see that most of them are feedbacky. Like writing with a sharp pencil. This is what nibs are *supposed* to do: feedback means more control, as the nib doesn't glide on the paper: your handwriting will dramatically improve with a feedbacky nib. Also, feedback makes you feel the difference in the paper, and makes you appreciate smoothness, roughness, texture, diversity on the paper. It's an incomparably better experience IMHO. After all, what's the point in having thousands of different types of paper, if you can't feel the difference? :)

Making a pleasantly feedbacky nib is hard though: it has to be at the right point of equilibrium between smoothness and scratchiness. In my experience, Aurora, Sailor and Pilot have mastered this art. Though sometimes they might be a little bit too feedbacky (something you can easily solve with a bit of micromeshing). All other manufacturers just go for smooth. Boooooring! :) Lamy and Pelikan go waaay too far and make nibs I find almost unpleasant to use. They feel like writing with a rollerball on waxed paper :(

#14 Pen_Ingeneer

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:41

Feedback =? a sensible, noticeable response to a variation of action?  How does this sound?

 

Mech-for-i made a good suggestion: the pen goes scratchy if you don't hold it correctly... which can be considered a good thing because it educates the writer.  The feedback is... if you don't hold it properly => the feeling sensation of vibration.

 

Someone suggested that the incorrect positioning causing scratching making a sound (very bad scratching, indeed!) => audible feedback.

 

Since some fountain pen writers come from the ball pen quarters fountain pen producers made nibs more insensitive, through making them harder or even preload the tines.  Then, the tines do not misalign under writing pressure and the tip does not go scratchy.  Scratchiness can partially be counteracted by polishing the inner edge where the tip is slitted.

 

My opinion for feedback (without knocking back the other suggestions): increase of writing pressure results in a wider line.  The pen provides a visual feedback, and when there is a good correlation, then I would call this good feedback or well adjusted feedback.

 

 

 

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#15 Honeybadgers

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 04:47

I'd equate feedback and tooth to a sensation more similar to a pencil, and scratchiness to be the nib catches and scratches the paper.

 

The most perfectly designed nib from a feedback perspective that I've ever used is the faber castell Loom's M nib. I adore that thing. It's in a league of its own compared to any of my pilots, platinums, lamys, anything.

 

Things like my lamy 2000 EF is very toothy but not scratchy, my Greg minusken eversharp needlepoint is scratchy because it's a frickin' needle.

 

Personally the only nibs I really like to be as smooth as hot buttered glass are oblique broad/double broads like Knox's #5 and #6 offerings, and stubs. But even then, a stub with a bit of feedback can be nice. I very much prefer a toothier nib that drags along the texture of the paper a tiny bit without ever catching on a fiber.


Edited by Honeybadgers, 09 August 2017 - 04:47.


#16 stephanos

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 20:47

"it feels smooth in the same way your nib would feel if it were made of bacon fat writing on wax paper"

That is a beautiful description.

 

Anyway, I agree with those describing feedback as being like writing with a pencil, but without pressure. I used to be in the smoother-is-better camp, but over the years have come to really appreciate the Aurora and Sailor experience. Boring as it sounds, although I do still appreciate lovely smooth nibs, a well-tuned Sailor medium is now close to my version of perfect for everyday writing.



#17 farmkiti

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 12:03

It's odd though, the Sailor sounds and feels like nothing else I've ever used... yet it is not in any way unpleasant. It literally just feels like a fine pencil when I write with it (which is not unpleasant at all! Just different).

 

My Lamy 2000 and Pilot #15 B nibs don't feel anything like this; they are just easygoing smooth nibs. I don't dislike this feeling the Sailor Nib gives... just curoius if this is what people describe as "tooth" or "scratchiness". Because if so, it isn't unpleasant at all... just different.

 

I have only recently learned what I think is the difference between feedback and scratchiness.  They are both very subjective and can be difficult to describe, but I'll try to give you my perception of it.

 

Scratchy is downright unpleasant.  It just doesn't feel good.  It literally scratches on the paper.  I don't know any other way to say that.  After some experience, when you feel it, you know it.  It really sucks.

 

Feedback, to me, is the (hopefully pleasant) way a pen feels when you write with it.  It's the feeling of the nib moving across the paper.  Every pen has its own feedback.  I think of it kind of like fingerprints, except that you can't really define the differences in feedback between pens.  They just feel different.  

 

And on top of that, feedback is also affected by what ink is in the pen and what paper you're writing on.  This doesn't actually change the feedback that a particular nib puts out; it does, however, affect the total feedback experience you have while you're writing under those specific conditions.

 

Example:  I like to write with stubs and very wet ink in very wet pens.  On Tomoe River paper with one particular pen of mine, a Pelikan M600 that has been reground into a stub, I get a particularly sweet feedback when I write.  I don't really know how to describe it except to say that it feels GREAT moving across the paper.  Not completely smooth as glass; I now find that boring and undesirable.  However, when I write with that same pen and ink on extremely smooth paper, like an Apica Premium C.D. notebook, the stub seems to drag a little, making the feedback feel sluggish.  Now, the different paper hasn't changed the feedback that the pen "puts out;" but it does change my experience of the feedback on that pen under those conditions.  I think the utter smoothness of the paper in contact with the relatively smooth stub results in a little drag; more friction due to more of the paper in contact with the nib.  Tomoe River paper is more "bumpy," so there's less paper in contact with the stub, resulting in less drag, and a "sweet" feedback.  

 

Clear as mud?  I don't even know if what I'm saying is correct or accurate; all I can do is describe my perception of my experience.  Like I said, VERY subjective.  I'm gonna stop now before I start confusing myself.  I hope this helps some.  



#18 MuddyWaters

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 02:12

Bump, feedback is not enough discussed on these boards imo. There are some great posts in this thread.

 

Out of my pens, the Loom writes the best in this regard. Part of this may be because it is sort of dry and does not lubricate the nib, but it is really pleasant due to this. I love the sound it makes (also my smooth Lamy 2000 makes a nice sound) and the way the writing is slowed down because of the friction.

 

I think a big difference between scratchiness and feedback is that scratchy nibs are '(bleep)' nibs, ie, they scratch and don't even write, whereas a feedbacky nib puts down the ink like nobody's business. 


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#19 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 13:46

Toothy is like writing with a pencil.....and it sounds like the Pelikan has baby bottom....a common fault...to late now to send the nib back in.

If your Pelikan has butter smooth baby bottom (having to press to get it to write or taking half a letter to get started), send it back in with in 4 weeks to get it fixed.

Baby Bottom is much more common with the modern fatter nib tipping, because of over polishing.


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#20 KLscribbler

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 15:41

Overall, I tend to think of it it this way:

 

"Feedback" is the feeling of a normally-functioning nib moving over paper. The nature and magnitude of the sensation varies a lot from brand to brand and pen to pen. It has a lot to do with the different approaches and philosophies adopted by penmakers with regards to how they feel their nibs ought to write.

 

"Scratchiness", on the other hand, is the feeling of a large amount of friction and/or physical damage of the paper surface by the nib, which arises when there is either - [1] some mechanical defect in the nib (e.g. poor finishing of nib tipping, misaligned tines) or [2] some sort of user error (e.g. user of crisp italic nib unintentionally rotates pen around its axis; user of flex nib applies asymmetrical pressure on cross-strokes resulting in inner edge of tines catching on paper), or [3] some combination of pen problems and user error (e.g. tines of stub nib slightly misaligned, user feels 'something is wrong' and tries to compensate by rotating the nib in the opposite direction to the misalignment, which only causes one edge of the nib to scratch the paper, failing to resolve the root cause of the problem).

 

Or, in short - when pen function is not compromised and differences in writing feel still fall within the realm of differing tastes/preferences, then it could be considered "feedback". When pen function is compromised to a significant degree, then it should be considered "scratchiness". (Of course pen function can also be compromised in the opposite direction with overly-smooth nibs, in which case we would consider that "over-polishing" or "baby's bottom".)

 

Now, on the subject of individual pen brands, I do agree that nibs of Japanese pens, especially Sailor and Platinum, tend to have unique kinds of feedback. The "like a pencil, but without pressure" description is really apt - both Sailor and Platinum gold nibs are kind of like that, by design, with Sailors perhaps feeling more like harder grades of pencil (say, a 1H or HB pencil) and Platinum like a somewhat softer, more velvety pencil (say, somewhere in the 2B ~ 4B range). That's what they feel like to me at least.

 

I find Pilot to be an outlier in the feedback department - their gold nibs tend to incline more towards the buttery smooth category. This is especially true if you get nibs in Medium or broader (in most models of Pilot gold nibs, there is a substantial size jump between Fine and Medium, such that the Fines are typical narrow Japanese Fines, but the mediums are almost as broad as Western/European Mediums). Since broader nibs tend to have less feedback, Pilot gold nibs in Medium and above tend towards great smoothness, and seldom have much of a pencilly feel.

 

I have heard it said that some Italian brands, like Aurora, likewise have this "pencil-like" feedback to their nibs, but I have not personally owned any such pens before, so I have yet to learn first-hand whether that is true or not.

 

That said, I've gradually learned that there really isn't a more efficient way of finding out whether one would like the writing feel of a pen other than by trying out the pen in person. Expectations are easily confounded - I used to think I'd hate "pencil-like feedback" but after I got to use a Platinum 3776 Century for a while I totally changed my mind! Then, just when I started thinking "since I like Platinum nibs I might like Sailor too", I got to try a Sapporo and learned - nope. And at the end of it all...... I end up finding myself a Pilot man.  :lticaptd:  (Not, however, because of the smoothness of the nibs, but because of the particular kind of springiness in the Soft nibs of the Custom series.)

 

So - test away! Hopefully your journey will prove to not be too extensive (read: expensive). Good luck ;)





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