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First Pen- A Noodler's Ahab? Also Beginner Calligraphy Help?


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I've been researching Noodler's Ahab Flex for a while, and I really really like it. Particularly the flexiness. I've been interested in fountain pens for a couple years, and my actual firsts were a pack of pilot varsities, which turned me off from fountain pens because of their weird scratchiness (which may or may not have been my fault; I was younger and dumber) I know the ahab can't compare it to a true flex pen, but I'm a poor high school student, so 20 bucks is a lot to me. It totally seems worth it from what I've seen, even though a lot of what I've seen tell me (beginner) to stay away from it till I've amassed some experience. I've also looked at "flexy" fpr dillies that have a similarly affordable price that seem to have a rep for being pretty safe (or safer than an ahab at least), but I don't really like their appearance, and the ahabs seem to have more line variation and flexibility, which is what I'm totally in love with.

I also really like the ahab because I am equally obsessed with calligraphy, and would like to learn it myself, so I was thinking about buying the speedball calligraphy kit on amazon, but I'm not sure if I should go with the type with an oblique holder or a straight one. I'd like to try Ornamental/Spencerian/Engraver's type calligrapby rather than gothic. One of the reasons I want the Ahab despite obvious drawbacks (like my newbity and tinkering) so much is because of the beautiful works I've seen done with the pen, which I'd also like to be able to do someday. Does anyone know if this is a decent book to staft with? (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0486409511/ref=ox_sc_act_image_6?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER) I have looked into a lot of other types of pens that probably would have been way better as a first pen for me like lamys and pilots or preppies and jinhaos and the like, but I also feel like I couldn't survive without the Ahab.

Should I just give up on the Ahab and go for something more dependable (like a workhorse lamy or a cheaper and safer dilly)? Like I said, I'm a really poor hs student with only like 50~70 dollars to burn on a fountain pen, both calligraphy and fountain pen ink, a calligraphy set, and a calligraphy book.

Sorry for the trouble, and thanks for the help :)

Edited by corina
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You could probably get a straight dip pen holder, some nibs for calligraphy and a decent fountain pen for everyday use with 50-70!


I've tried both the ahab and konrad, as well as vintage flex and i always return to just playing with the dip pen for calligraphy or when i want to experience some flex! :D


Also, lamy might be a good choice for you since they have affordable nibs that swap out easily. Also the 1.5 or 1.9 stubs should be good for some blackletter and other types of calligraphy.

Edited by dgreenwood116



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Hi Corina

Hello and welcome to FPN. It sounds as though you've possibly already made the decision with regard to getting an Ahab :) I know there are plenty of folks on the forums who have lots of Noodler's pens. I have an Ahab and a Konrad and have been very pleased with both and they are both used as daily writers at work and at home. I would say though that the 'flex' of the Ahab is not really useable in an everyday kind of way as the nibs require a considerable amount of effort to flex for line variation.That being said I find it is perfectly good for note taking as it is a fine point nib.

What I have done, however, is to buy some of the Goulet pens number 6 replacement nibs; a 1.1 italic nib and a standard broad nib. These can be popped in to the replace the nib that comes with the Ahab (the italic is currently in my Konrad) and they provide a nicer writing experience than the Noodler's nib in my opinion.

Below is a writing sample with each of the nibs - Goulet Pens Broad on top and Goulet Pens 1.1mm Italic below. The italic provides crisper line variation with no pressure required on the pen.


below are both pens side by side.

Of course the good thing with Noodler's pens is that they can be quickly and easily stripped down and put back together again, you do need to be a bit of a tinkerer though with some of them, though I have been lucky with both mine and, beyond cleaning them out thoroughly with some lukewarm soapy water to begin with as per Noodler's instructions, they have both written without needing any real adjustments.


I use a dip pen a lot at home as a desk pen and, while I have no real calligraphic aspirations, I enjoy playing with the line variation to write letters and journal entries. A general purpose dip pen is cheap to buy along with a box of 140 vintage flexible nibs cost around the same as an Ahab (mine came from http://www.dippennibs.co.uk).


Good luck with your choice, let us know what you go for.




Edited by domnortheast
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IMHO, forget the Ahab. As I understand, they require tinkering to get them working well, and that could lead you to frustration. Better to get a more reliable pen to start with, then later you can come back to an Ahab. And yeah you can do good work with it, but that requires a LOT of practice. So I would not bother with it as a starter pen.


A few good general writer starter FPs that I can think of:

  • Pilot Metropolitan $15 (probably the best $ buy)
  • Pilot 78G, $15-25 (the B nib is a 1.1mm stub italic nib)

As for calligraphy, and for keeping the cost down, I also recommend a dip pen.

  • Straight holder for italic and gothic
  • Oblique holder for Copperplate and Spencerian (yes you can also use a straight holder for these)

I would get the $13 Peerless Oblique holder rather than the Speedball Oblique holder. The brass flange on the Peerless is more adaptable to different nibs and adjustments. This is one of the holder that I use.


It might be nice to have a straight holder, but I hardly use straight holders, so I can't recommend any. Mine are old eBay purchases. If you get a straight holder, you want one with a metal clutch that can fit different size nibs. The Speedball holder only fits ONE size of nibs, and thus will limit you.


As for nibs, I would start out with a few Nikko G nibs at $1.55 each



Ink = Higgins Eternal for $3.80



As for books, I would leave it up to the calligraphers to recommend some.

For FREE stuff check out the IAMPETH web site.


San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California


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i like my Ahab, but i do still see it as the "teach me to tinker on fountain pens" pen kit that i bought it for being. yes, it writes, but it's nowhere near my best writer and not what i wanted it for. it doesn't do much in the way of flexing; one of these days i'll break out my dremel tool and do that "ease my flex" mod on it, see how that changes the nib. right now it's a broad nibbed semi-nail --- my attempts at learning how to smooth a scratchy nib broadened it considerably, and still didn't get all the scratchiness out. (anyone know a good seller for replacement semi-flex nibs of the type that come standard with the Ahab?)


for a first pen, look for something reliable and foolproof, something that's likely to just work right out of the box and need no real maintenance. look to Pilot or Lamy, for two randomly picked examples. if flex writing is what you really want, then a dip pen is probably the easiest, cheapest and most accessible way to get it quickly. good flex writing in a fountain pen is a bit harder to achieve, most likely needing vintage nibs.

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No one seems to have mentioned them, but the Sheaffer pens are nice to start with and don't cost a lot. You can get them at any Staples for 5 or 6 dollars each.

Iampeth is an excellent resource.

As for ink, Higgins Eternal black or Sepia are nice to start with.

Edited by Zookie
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I am not a tinkerer, but I thought the Ahabs were pretty and I got 2. I tried to "heat set" the feed and nib of one and burnt the feed to a crisp. The other one I left alone and I love it.

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I have a Konrad, and it was probably my 4th or 5th pen purchase (2nd or 3rd after coming here). And although it wrote fairly well out of the box, when I tried doing flex with it it caused a lot of frustration - railroading all kinds of stuff. It didn't get much use. I put a Goulet #6 Broad and now I use it a lot.


I was doing some ink testing on some pre-production inks, and decided to put the flex nib to the test again, then went back and getting it right flow wise was frustrating. Both directions.


I would recommend it for something other than a first pen. Get used to using a pen. Maybe a Lamy Safari or Al Star with an italic nib. (1.1 mm best for everyday but 1.5 mm and 1.9 mm are also available for about $15 each.) A dip pen is probably your best best for calligraphy/spencerian type writing. An italic will provide line variation in a fountain pen. We have some members that use something like a 1.1.italic (stub, Cursive Italic or sharp italic) almost exclusively as an everyday pen.


"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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