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Japanese Vs European Nib Sizes


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I have heard that Japanese fountain pen nibs are generally finer than European nibs. I have done some reading and it seems that a Japanese F should be similar to a European EF, if not finer. However, I compared my Lamy EF to my Pilot F, and the Pilot nib had a much wider line. I'm not sure if this should be the case. My Lamy nib is much more dry and scratchy as well. Is my Pilot writing too wide, or is my Lamy writing too fine, or is this right?

 

Here is an image comparison, please excuse my handwriting. I'm working on improving my cursive. The paper is from a Rhodia Pad No. 18.

 

http://i.imgur.com/FRR9JtJ.jpg

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Could it be the ink's fault?

I have both nibs myself and I can assure you that the Pilot F is an XXXF compared to both Lamy F and EF.

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You mention a possible explanation--your Lamy is perhaps a more dry writer than your Pilot....

 

Moreover, if one were to choose a Japanese Pen Manufacturer whose nib tips were closer to European sizes than any other Japanese brand, it would be Pilot.

 

http://www.nibs.com/TippingSizespage.htm

"Writing is 1/3 nib width & flex, 1/3 paper and 1/3 ink. In that order."Bo Bo Olson

"No one needs to rotate a pen while using an oblique, in fact, that's against the whole concept of an oblique, which is to give you shading without any special effort."Professor Propas, 24 December 2010

 

"IMHO, the only advantage of the 149 is increased girth if needed, increased gold if wanted and increased prestige if perceived. I have three, but hardly ever use them. After all, they hold the same amount of ink as a 146."FredRydr, 12 March 2015

 

"Surely half the pleasure of life is sardonic comment on the passing show."Sir Peter Strawson

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From your responses, it sounds like my Pilot is wider than most. I'm pretty new to fountain pens and the Pilot Petit1 Mini Fountain Pen is the only Japanese pen I have. Does this pen have a different nib size than other Pilot F nibs?

 

Also, my Lamy has a bit of nib creep, but I'm not sure that is because of the nib.

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3 things to consider:

 

Nib

 

Paper

 

Ink

 

All play a part in how a particular line will appear on the page. Generally speaking there will be a little +/- variance within a Manufacturer's nibs. Yes generally speaking a Japanese M for example will be finer than one from a European brand. A full (or more) nib size? Not necessarily. Half a size seems reasonable.

Brad

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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Thank you for bringing up the pen model. I read the first post and was going to complain about how useless it is to just mention a brand without a specific model. The Varsity and Petit1 don't really do fine. Neither does a Platinum Preppy, even when labeled 03 (for the Preppy) or F (for the Petit1).

 

The more general the information, the less useful or reliable it'll be. Always be specific. Brands and countries of origin are not enough.

 

And FWIW I've tweaked my EF Safari to be close to a wet "Japanese F" a la 78G and Custom 74, but it took a little work. Out of the box, most of the Lamy Safari EFs are noticeably wider. All are much much finer than a Petit1.

Edited by XiaoMG

Robert.

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Just to confuse things further when generalizing about Japanese versus European nib widths: in my experience with European, and especially American, vintage pens, the older "medium" nibs are considerably narrower than current production "mediums." Especially noticeable on Montblanc, Pelikan, and 1930s Sheaffers, Parkers, and Wahl-Eversharps. For example, the current production W-E pens come with a "medium-fine" nib that writes wider than the 1940s mediums (still a great pen, though!).

 

All generalizations are wrong, especially this one. :)

 

Will

-----------------

 

Will von Dauster

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There is always variance of tolerance/slop with any pen company's very own standard. And every one of them makes the nibs to what it's customers wants, not some other company's.

A strange thought left over from the one man, one pen days, when pen loyalty mattered....pre ball point pen.

Why should Parker make a Sheaffer nib?

 

Ron Z, has a pinned thread/post where he shows the tolerance numbers at the old US Schaeffer plant just before they closed it down.

What it proves is a skinny M can equal a fat F, in all widths.

Then you have the next company's pens, whose F standard is a bit fatter or M's a bit skinnier.

You are going to have lots of 1/2 sizes.

No need to get AR about it, until Robots make the nibs; not people.

AR cost lots of nib grinding money. That is no fun, wasting money instead of buying two new pens.

 

Just accept some nibs are going to be extra skinny, others only skinny, and that with in the both; the Japanese and the Western nib ranges & or the vintage days too.

 

Aurora makes a narrow western nib.

Vintage '50s' Sheaffer are close to Japanese width.

 

Paper is more important than ink. You should buy good to better paper that costs a couple cans of Coke or cups of Starbucks coffee more than copy paper. Try to buy some 'better' paper every two-three ink buys.

 

Some search so hard for a good copy paper, that is good with fountain pens.

I have 80g copy paper....and then different better paper...at least some what better and with a bit of work much better than 80 gram paper. Try to buy 90g copy paper, that alone makes it more fountain pen capable if you have a shading ink.

I had Lamy Turquoise, the basis color when Turquoise is talked about. It was nice but blaaaa. Then I saw in Ink Reviews it shaded. They were using 90g paper. I had some and it shaded for me too. :thumbup:

 

Stay away from Ink Jet paper unless you are left handed and need a paper that really absorbs ink fast. I having a laser printer wouldn't touch the stuff. It destroys the shading...can feather and a few other things.

 

How dry your ink is like Pelikan 4001 or what use to be considered wet like Waterman...now thought to be dry by some that use mostly Noodlers makes a huge difference to the line width.

You need two tone shading ink & vivid monotone ink too. You need a wet ink, a dry ink and something in the middle.

That way you don't have to go crazy because a pen is a wet or dry writer and send it in to be adjusted...for the false ink on the false paper.

Doing that limits what inks and papers you can use. Of course you need a dry writer and a wet writer.

Adjusting it at home can be found in the repair section....do buy the loupe...check out your local pawn shop.

There is cheap ones on Ebay...but you get what you pay for with good glass vs cheap junk.

 

 

If you insist on a skinny nib, just buy Japanese...buy the skinniest Japaneses not almost Western Fat.. :P :rolleyes:

 

I got enough pens...and seldom use my Western EF nibs...but I got lots of B,M F(+-) 1/2, or 3/4s or 1/4th nibs with in the same company much less some other..

 

Does it write well? That is the only question that counts.

 

 

It sounds to me like your tines of your Lamy are misaligned.

You 100% need a good glass loupe 10-12X-15X...a magnifying glass does not do the trick.

It is then simple to realign your nib. If you buy 4 pens at once, at least one nib is going to be misaligned.

 

 

Do check that you are holding a fountain pen like a fountain pen behind the big index knuckle and not like a ball point before that knuckle.

 

 

Writing is 1/3 nib width&flex, 1/3 paper, and 1/3 ink, and in that order.

 

Do read my signature please. .

Edited by Bo Bo Olson

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.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

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

 

 

 

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My only Japanese pen is a Pilot Custom 74 in a medium. It's nib is pretty soft with a bit of flex and I have it inked with Noodler's Blue Nosed Bear, which is a pretty wet ink and known to bleed even on Rhodia paper. Taking that into account the medium nib on my Pilot writes more like a European broad.

Parker: Sonnet Flighter, Rialto Red Metallic Laque, IM Chiseled Gunmetal, Latitude Stainless, 45 Black, Duovac Blue Pearl Striped, 51 Standard Black, Vac Jr. Black, 51 Aero Black, 51 Vac Blue Cedar, Duofold Jr. Lapis, 51 Aero Demi Black, 51 Aero Demi Teal, 51 Aero Navy Gray, Duofold Pastel Moire Violet, Vac Major Golden Brown, Vac Deb. Emerald, 51 Vac Dove Gray, Vac Major Azure, Vac Jr. Silver Pearl, 51 Vac Black GF Cap, 51 Forest Green GF cap, Vac Jr. Silver Pearl, Duovac Senior Green & Gold, Duovac Deb. Black, Challenger Black, 51 Aero Midnight, Vac. Emerald Jr., Challenger Gray Pearl, 51 Vac Black, Duofold Int. Black, Duofold Jr. Red.

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I have heard that Japanese fountain pen nibs are generally finer than European nibs. I have done some reading and it seems that a Japanese F should be similar to a European EF, if not finer. However, I compared my Lamy EF to my Pilot F, and the Pilot nib had a much wider line. I'm not sure if this should be the case. My Lamy nib is much more dry and scratchy as well. Is my Pilot writing too wide, or is my Lamy writing too fine, or is this right?

 

Here is an image comparison, please excuse my handwriting. I'm working on improving my cursive. The paper is from a Rhodia Pad No. 18.

 

http://i.imgur.com/FRR9JtJ.jpg

I think the first thing you should try is writing with both pens on the same paper, with the same ink. It could well be the ink is the issue here.

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Thanks for answering my question. I know paper and ink can affect the smoothness and wetness of a nib. I have tried a few different papers, and Rhodia is pretty smooth. I do need to try some wetter inks, though.

 

I didn't know there was such a huge variance in nib sizes. If this is the case, why don't pen companies just list the exact size rather than a general size (i.e. ~0.35mm instead of F)?

 

Also, I apologize for not listing the pen models in my initial post.

 

It sounds to me like your tines of your Lamy are misaligned.

You 100% need a good glass loupe 10-12X-15X...a magnifying glass does not do the trick.

It is then simple to realign your nib. If you buy 4 pens at once, at least one nib is going to be misaligned.

Thanks for your post! I will definitely get a loupe.

 

Thank you for bringing up the pen model. I read the first post and was going to complain about how useless it is to just mention a brand without a specific model. The Varsity and Petit1 don't really do fine. Neither does a Platinum Preppy, even when labeled 03 (for the Preppy) or F (for the Petit1).

 

The more general the information, the less useful or reliable it'll be. Always be specific. Brands and countries of origin are not enough.

Thanks. I'll be more specific in future posts.

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Thanks for answering my question. I know paper and ink can affect the smoothness and wetness of a nib. I have tried a few different papers, and Rhodia is pretty smooth. I do need to try some wetter inks, though.

 

I didn't know there was such a huge variance in nib sizes. If this is the case, why don't pen companies just list the exact size rather than a general size (i.e. ~0.35mm instead of F)?

Because there is no standard nib width even between pens from the same manufacturer. Each width will have nibs that fall within a range and often the ranges for fine or medium or broad will overlap.

 

My Website

 

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My only F Pilot nib is a Binderized VP one - and it's a *lot* finer than that. My understanding is that the Japanese preference for a very fine nib (correct me if I'm wrong, someone!) comes from the need for very fine detail in some Kanji; I sampled some EF nibs in Japan and settled on an F from Richard because EF was just mad-scratchy in most of the ones I tried, and *so* fine that I found my writing shrinking to compensate.

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It is all about economics! Taka a nib of let's say a width of 0,5 mm, tolerance 0,1 mm, there will be a fall out of 1 %. When you set the tolerance at 0,01 mm the fall out will be 10 %. As a result of that the price will go up. Same procedure goes for every part of the pen.

P.S. These aren't the exact numbers, they are only used to explain the principle.

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As others have noted, Pilot's other nibs have a much finer tip than the Petite line. John Mottishaw's site has a tipping size comparison chart that is somewhat useful:

http://www.nibs.com/TippingSizespage.htm.

I say "somewhat useful" because a finer tip can sometimes produce a broader line if the flow is sufficient. Flow has a lot to do with how the pen writes. Nevertheless, I think the chart is a good starting point.

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Eastern pens generally are a size down from Western. Petit1 is wider than other Pilots, and Varsity only comes in medium (one of my gripes about that line).

 

Both my Minuet and 78G are XF equivalent of my Lamy.

Tes rires retroussés comme à son bord la rose,


Effacent mon dépit de ta métamorphose;


Tu t'éveilles, alors le rêve est oublié.



-Jean Cocteau, from Plaint-Chant, 1923

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"""didn't know there was such a huge variance in nib sizes. If this is the case, why don't pen companies just list the exact size rather than a general size (i.e. ~0.35mm instead of F)?"""

Humans make them. Wait ten-fifteen year, when robots make them.

 

As I said, each company many years ago, when one bought a pen every 3-5-10 years because it was way back in the when of brand loyalty and the time of many, on every other corner a pen shop pen shops.

 

The companies found out from the stores what their customer and only their customers wanted in a nib width for their pen company and not for some other pen company.A market survey.

 

They were making a Parker nib for Parker customers, not for skinny Sheaffer, or then never heard of Pelikan or any other company.

 

Why should Parker make skinny nibs like Sheaffer, when the customers want a thicker nib?

 

Yep, for every pen company in the whole world...they did a nib survey to what their and no other customers wanted.

This was in the day of one man, one pen; and the wife got the old pen...pre' woman's lib...they could buy an Esterbrook.

 

Nib size was determine by a man with only one pen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That he used 8 hours a day.

Not for 32 1/4th minutes a month today.

 

Bottom bonus line today means no new size survey...for lots of folks that buy other company's pens.

Pens are peanuts...what's our oil wells doing today....two minutes of oil, = a day and a half of pen selling.

 

Pen companies are the small twigs today, not the tree from yesterday.

You are not loyal.

You don't count.

Why should I make a Sheaffer size, when I am Parker.?

 

You want a Sheaffer, buy one. You want a Parker, buy one....that there is no pen shop to check that out....not our problem.

You want an nib exactly XXX wide, go to a nibmeister and he will make you a nib exactly as wide as you want to your very own standard.

 

When you see the bill you will easily understand why a pen company can not afford to grind a nib exact...a nibmeister will gladly grind a nib exactly.$$$$$$$ 0.32, 0.33, 0.34, 0,35,,,,yep, and he'd not expensive for the minutes he worked.

A guy in a pen factory ain't got a 15-40 minutes to see a nib is ground to exact 0.342527.

 

Why when the standard size is made for the customers of the pen. company...not this modern exact size from gel pens which as a good poster showed is not so.

 

You want a Parker size order a Parker. A Sheaffer size as different as a Pelikan or a Conway Stewart. With in the tolerance of that and no other company.

 

Exact size is a myth from gel pen users. That was shattered by a posters, who measured many Gel pens.

Too bad I'm too old to link.

A most wonderful post.indeed. :D

 

You have people grinding many, many nibs a day, some are broad, double or triple or Fine or Ef.

The nib size of width is set.

 

Some one welds a ball of 'iridium on that width of nib...Call it M, a man takes the nib, places it on a grinder...forms the nib ball to a certain geometry, that is very. very important, with in the width of the ball on the nib.

 

Is the nib marked M before hand or is it marked M after...more than likely after a man has taken the nib to a grinding wheel.

He must grind it to the geometry first and the width second; as I understand it.

It is done by hand, and he don't got all day to do it...he has a 'quota' pf how many nibs he has to grind per day.

 

He grinds a nib to it's geometry...very important to if you hold the nib/pen high, medium or low and the side pass too the form of the nib,

The geometry of the nib form...is vastly important to being able write with the nib as you should.

Width is of secondary importance. That is taken by how many nibs are needed of that width....some right on the border are going to be thorn in a Fat or a Narrow Box.

 

He takes the finished nib, sticks it in a human eye gage, that shows with in the tolerance of the company. He tosses it in an M box, and it will be stamped M.

Skinny M, medium skinny M, M, slightly fat M or fat M, it is with in the tolerance of M, in that company.

Another company WILL have a different tolerance to what they have as a standard.

 

It is only with in the last couple-three years that gel pen users are expecting a absolute pure marking of nib width. That they don't in reality have but believe their gel pen's maker has marked on it's tube. .. :wacko: False as a good poster proved.

 

A good poster tested gel pen widths, and :yikes: :yikes: gel pens were no closer marked as fountain pens.

 

You want exact o.35 send it to a nib meister he has 8-10 12 minutes to make it exactly so. he can take the time to measure every minute of his work...he's not experted to make a nib perfect every two minute or less; like a pen company...Two minutes**..is he a Noobie or what.

Fire the lazy SOB....he's not making quota.

 

**More than likely 30 seconds. They showed guys in India grinding on in that time or less.

 

Grind a Geomerty on it, toss it on it's guage box and done.

Skinny, medium skinny, medium, medium broad...all with in once size.

 

If you got the money there are many who will make your AR wish true.

If not.

Welcom to the world of half and quarter sizes if you own more than one pen company's pen.

Welcome to Chaos. :)

Chaos is fun, you can make a nib skinnier by paper and ink, or fatter.. Ain't that fun. :D

Whoops not for the AR.

 

Wait ten- fifteen years robots ill make a nib exact...of course the first two year your pen will cost three times as much because of the new machinery. Advertising might even come back for fountain pens...for a couple months...buy an exact ground an robot stamped nib.

Bottom line the price will not come down because fountain pens are peanuts and not needed to lower prices much...will be a cartel.

Edited by Bo Bo Olson

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.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

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

 

 

 

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The Petit1 apparently uses the same quasi-miraculous feed that the Varsity uses, and it has the same chubby line that belies the marking on the nib. I don't know why or how, but they're outliers in the Pilot line and don't reflect the nib sizes of other Pilot FPs, which are in fact quite consistent. Your perception is correct; a Pilot F nib can be expected to be finer than a Lamy EF. Except the one you tried!

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