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Line variation with no flex nibs



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I bought a Pilot Custom 74 Fine and noticed that even not being a flex nib it has a line variation.

I thought that only flex or stub nibs does line variations. But when writing on different directions C74 has differences on line width.

 

Why this happens? Is that because of it's nib format?

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silverlifter

If the grind is slightly stubbish, you will see someline variation (Lamy 2000 nibs are known for this characteristic). In this case the horizontal would be finer than the vertical. If it is more of an architect, it would be the other way around.

 

Pilot's nibs are generally very consistent, so you could inspect it with a loupe and see if there is any obvious pointers, eg., the shape of the tipping or the alignment of the tines.

Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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The point of a Japanese F nib is so fine that I’d assume there shouldn’t be a discernible line variation unless you use some pressure while writing. If you press hard enough (which, in fact, could be too hard!) almost every nib will show some line variation.

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A Smug Dill
6 hours ago, Leo_Luz said:

I thought that only flex or stub nibs does line variations.

 

Few nibs have tipping that is perfectly round and write exactly as wide with pen strokes in every direction at whatever angle the user holds the pen. Few nibs are so stiff that a downstroke would cause zero elastic deformation of the metal such that the tine gap remains unchanged in the process of putting down ink.

 

I've posted images of hundreds of writing sample sheets done with different pens on FPN, and many will include indications of how many parallel (distinct and not touching each other, as best I could manage) horizontal lines and how many parallel vertical lines I can fit in a 5mm square area, aiming for the maximum. Often I also show how thick a vertical line I can put down when I try. In most cases, the described exercise show that the line widths in different directions from a same nib — even one that is ‘round-tipped’ and as supplied by the manufacturer with being tuned or reground — are not uniform. Sometimes the line width can vary by as much as 30%, when writing or drawing with pen strokes in different directions.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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1 hour ago, A Smug Dill said:

Sometimes the line width can vary by as much as 30%, when writing or drawing with pen strokes in different directions.

 

My experience using the Pilot Custom 74 is exactly the same as this Reddit's user had (image below)

image.jpeg.0f6acb4d06a0d6106f4bba9c1f5470b0.jpeg

My first impressions with fountain pens was with Jinhao X750/450, Pilot Metropolitan, Platinum Preppy, Parker IM and Lamy Safari. None of them has any type of line variations so (being Pilot C74 my first gold nib pen) I firstly thought that having different width on strokes on different directions was a gold nib characteristic.

But observing writing samples of other pens I realized that mostly gold nibs has consistent width in writing (with no pressure variation) as my steel nib FPs.

 

Personally I liked this line variation that C74 has. But being a left hander maybe investing on flex nibs won't be the experience that I'm having with my (now favourite) pen.

So I'm now interested on nibs that will give me that type of width variation when writing on different directions.

Is there a name/term that defines that characteristic of doing line variations with no flex nib? If it doesn't, what pens should I look to find this?

 

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silverlifter

I'd assume misalgined tines if the variation was not consistent.

Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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A Smug Dill
1 hour ago, Leo_Luz said:

Is there a name/term that defines that characteristic of doing line variations with no flex nib? If it doesn't,

 

Not really. Line variation — as a term — is an observed phenomenon on the page, and not an attribute of the pen or nib that produced it. A nib on which the geometry of the tipping is not perfectly round will produce different line widths with pen strokes in different directions. A nib that is softer (and that is not exclusively a characteristic of gold nibs), and more readily allows elastic deformation of the metal (with, or even without, the spreading of the tine gap laterally), is more apt than a stiff ‘nail’ nib to produce line variation. A nib with longer tines is also more likely to allow elastic deformation and thus subtle line variation when writing. Some users describe that writing experience as ‘bouncy’.

 

1 hour ago, Leo_Luz said:

what pens should I look to find this?

 

Pelikan M2xx steel nibs have a reputation of being ‘bouncy’, in spite of not being marketed as soft. You could, of course, specifically look for nibs expressly marked as Soft; Pilot has them as nib options in the Custom and Elabo/Falcon product lines, Platinum has them in the #3776 product line, and I'm sure there are other brands that market some of their nib options as Soft. Santini Italia gold nibs are a bit soft, without stating them to be so. Some users reported that the Bock steel nibs on Leonardo Officina Italiana pens are like that. Even the steel nibs on some cheap Chinese pens are ‘bouncy’/soft; I believe the Hero 395 has one.

 

1 hour ago, silverlifter said:

I'd assume misalgined tines if the variation was not consistent.

 

It's possible; but, given the thinner lines going right-to-left compared to left-to-right, I think Leo may be holding the pen with the nib rotated at 40°–45° from the vertical down the page, and softness of the nib is producing the line variation when the metal is ‘strained’.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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28 minutes ago, A Smug Dill said:

I think Leo may be holding the pen with the nib rotated at 40°–45° from the vertical down the page, and softness of the nib is producing the line variation when the metal is ‘strained’.

It's possible. I have a LH nib from Lamy and the difference of a LH and a M nib from Lamy is that the sweet spot occurs when writing on a slightly rotated (counterclock) nib position.

And I noticed that being a sidewriter left hander the sweet spot of LH work better to me.

 

 

52 minutes ago, A Smug Dill said:

A nib that is softer (and that is not exclusively a characteristic of gold nibs), and more readily allows elastic deformation of the metal (with, or even without, the spreading of the tine gap laterally), is more apt than a stiff ‘nail’ nib to produce line variation. A nib with longer tines is also more likely to allow elastic deformation and thus subtle line variation when writing. Some users describe that writing experience as ‘bouncy’.

I've never seen before an explanation like that being very pragmatic explaining the softness of a nib and the 'bouncy' experience. Thank you so much.

 

Ps: Now I understand when people says that in modern fountain pens a gold nib can be more an aesthetic choice than something that really changes the writing experience. 

 

 

Just confirming my understanding about 'line variations'. As I liked that phenomenon on my writing experience and I would like to have more pens doing it, is that means that I should be looking for soft nibs like a Pilot Custom 74 SF or even flex nibs?

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Christopher Godfrey

<But being a left hander maybe investing on flex nibs won't be the experience that I'm having with my (now favourite) pen>

 

Of course, you could always take up Arabic or Hebrew...  😎

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A Smug Dill
6 hours ago, Leo_Luz said:

But observing writing samples of other pens I realized that mostly gold nibs has consistent width in writing (with no pressure variation) as my steel nib FPs.

 

I think you ought to make a distinction between “no pressure variation” and “without conscious effort”. I tried, and I found it difficult in spite of a lot of conscious effort, to write with absolutely no pressure variation. I can't write the ideogram with a complete absence of hand pressure variation (as well as acceleration and deceleration) and consequent line variation alone each pen stroke; and similarly I can't do that for my cursive majuscule ‘D’ and minuscule ‘s’.

 

3 hours ago, Leo_Luz said:

As I liked that phenomenon on my writing experience and I would like to have more pens doing it, is that means that I should be looking for soft nibs like a Pilot Custom 74 SF or even flex nibs?

 

It really depends on the specific style/pattern of line variation you want to achieve. I like line variation to manifest in my handwriting, but I hated what the Pilot 14K gold #10 FA nib (on a Custom Heritage 912 pen) does, even though it produced ‘line variation’ by the spoonful, so much so that I pulled the nib out and then snapped it in two with my fingers in my extreme frustration. The Pilot Custom 74's #5 SF nib was somewhat better in that regard, but didn't write finely enough for a ‘Japanese Fine’ when writing with next to no pressure, and I was after line variation that went from spidery hairlines to fine ‘shaded’ lines twice the width; if you're only after ‘bounciness’, I suppose it's OK. The Platinum #3776 14K gold SF nib writes finely enough (and finer than the regular F nib of the same make), but the lines it puts down can be quite dry when wielded with minimal hand pressure.

 

I suggest you try a Pelikan M2xx with a steel nib (but not a M4xx of the same shape and form factor with a 14K gold nib); and a gold-nibbed Pilot Elabo (aka Falcon), which is available with both resin and metal bodies. I love the Pilot Justus 95 with user-adjustable softness, but that pen does not come cheap for a pen with a monotone black resin barrel. An FPR Himalaya with a steel Flex nib (which thankfully isn't that flexy!), perhaps? I think they write OK, but I just can't stand how ineffective the cap on it is at preventing ink evaporation when the pen lies unused for a while. Santini Italia offers lots of options for its (always) gold nibs, including different levels of flex; I find its regular EF nib to be soft enough for my tastes.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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From my (limited) experience:

 

There are many factors to consider.

 

Speed in writing: slower strokes will lay more ink, usually upwards strokes are drawn faster.

 

Nib orientation: simply changing the angle or the orientation may change the contact surface of the slit with paper, many people tend to rotate nibs and complain of inconsistent ink flow

 

Line thickness: it is easier to spot a 0.2mm variation on a 0.2mm F line than on a 0.5mm M

 

Nib width: F and EF nibs have very thin tines at the tip. This usually makes them less firm and makes them have some (limited) flexibility. I've noticed that the Delike Alpha F nib can produce line variation (when looked close up, see previous point) on tiny writing that can only be described as "flex" (but a very tiny one).

 

Nib thickness and geometry: there are many nibs that are responsive, with some springyness, and can produce a minimal variation (not 2x as in flex, but most nibs can produce 1-1.25x or 1-1.5x variation with normal pressure).

 

Even some "hard nails" will display line variation with normal writing. It is -as said- easier to spot on F or EF nibs.

 

And of course the tip may not be a perfect ball, and have some stubbish-ness, or some architecture-ness due to their shape. Or the tines be misaligned, but then it should be scratchy.

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Bo Bo Olson

Japanese 'soft' nibs are the once regular flex, still to be found on the Pelikan 200's grand steel nib, which has the true size and proper nib geometry.

 

Either can be mashed to 3X wider than a light down stroke. One can't write at 3X, one can write at 2X.

So If you are not always heavy handed to demand 2 X all the time the portions of the letters where you are lighter will be 1X; giving you the line variation.

 

Most folks are heavy handed coming in from ball points, your Hand will lighten up eventually.....and eventually is long unless one works at it. I use the lighter forefinger up grip over the heavy pressure tripod.

I too was once Ham Fisted.......now bacon fisted.;)

I have to sweat to get EEF out of a superflex nib, think to get EF and scribble merrily along in F.

 

Paper and ink have lots to do with line variation.....100-50% cotton swallows line variation. Slick papers give you more, then there are supersaturated inks that don't. There are shading inks that are good in M and F, that gives you something similar to line variation, but is ink variation.  On good to better paper 90g or better, the ink sits on top of the paper longer, drying at different rates.

 

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

I suggest getting a good to better paper be it box or ream, for every three inks you buy; then very soon you will have  a nice paper assortment.

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.

 

 

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My favourite nibs for genuine line variation are all vintage German B nibs or even wider. Those nibs were ground to a chisel like tip similar to modern CI or stub nibs. Most of them come with nice flexibility as well. Osmias, Kawecos, and Pelikans from the 1930s through 1960s are among the best in this respect and often not even expensive. Only be aware that oblique nibs like OB were very popular but might be problematic for left hand writing.

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Without going into very expensive pens and nibs, I agree with ASD that a good starting point could be an M200 with a "bouncy" F nib (but do note that in M200 nibs even M and B nibs are bouncy, which is rare to find in a steel nib), alternatively, as Omassimo suggests, looking for a vintage pen with a gold semi-flex nib might set you the same cost approx for similar results, but with some additional risks tied to buying vintage (condition of the pen, etc.).

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Bo Bo Olson
On 1/15/2021 at 11:39 PM, sansenri said:

Without going into very expensive pens and nibs, I agree with ASD that a good starting point could be an M200 with a "bouncy" F nib (but do note that in M200 nibs even M and B nibs are bouncy, which is rare to find in a steel nib), alternatively, as Omassimo suggests, looking for a vintage pen with a gold semi-flex nib might set you the same cost approx for similar results, but with some additional risks tied to buying vintage (condition of the pen, etc.).

Is what I call 'regular flex', and the 200 is a nice and springy regular flex.....soft as the Japanese call it....comfortable ride when writing. (Once was regular normal issue for many pens.)

Regular flex is more a nib for two toned shading inks.....in it's a tad dryer than the easier to tine spread therefore wetter semi-flex. And the despised M, that one learns to disrespect on this com, is a very good nib width for shading inks....a bit better than F, and works better on classic rough laid and linen effect papers. 

 

The 200 is such a great pen....as long as one is staying with in just ONE companies standard, you can get EF, F, M, B and BB.............and the best news is a 200 takes semi-flex nibs which cost a hell of a lot more than the great steel nibs on the 200.

You can get four of those 200's nibs for the cost of a vintage 400 with just one nib.

 

A '82-97 gold nib is not better than the 200's steel nib; both are very fine regular flex nibs that write with a nice clean line....something only the 200 does on modern, post'97 nibs.

The 200 will take the '50-65 400's semi-flex nibs.

Regular flex  = soft, Semi-flex = soft ++, maxi-semi-flex = soft +++. (superflex in another spotted cat)

I started off as a semi-flex snob...:unsure:...Then a pal needed me to trans-ship some 200's nibs to England, in some refused to ship out of Germany.....I have a few 400's so didn't need a 200. Got a 215 instead.....5-6 200's later.....I stopped being a gold snob quite a wile back. with Osmia, Geha in semi-flex and Pelikan in regular flex.

 

 

Omassimiso, likes the vintage pre-70 German factory stubbed semi-flex (flair nibs) , as do I....for pure line variation is better than regular flex. A well mashed #X a light down stroke in regular flex can not be written with maxed.

Ham Fisted (like I once was) can....but one does try to become less heavy handed.....in when maxed one is not getting line variation....one is getting only a fat line.

Stub&CI, are 100% line variation always. Semi-flex is line variation On Demand. One's had has to be light enough ...to demand more of a  non-maxed nib. With a fairly light Hand, one gets letters that start out narrow and then get fat where more normal writing pressure is added. Then at the end of a paragraph, one can put an elegant decender that has 1 X, 2X and slips int the fat #x part of the loop.*** 

 

In oblique, only German semi/maxi-flex nibs give you anywhere near your money worth......:wallbash: been banking my head against a brick wall every since I discovered that and have been preaching only semi-flex oblique gives you line variation in oblique.....nail, regular flex obliques are a waste of money.

 

Normal non-oblique nibs that give good line variation are the pre'70 German semi/maxi-semi-flex nibs...You are not going to see much in EF....unless you have very sharp eyes and are Ham Fisted.

F&M are good.

 

..B is real nice....I do have a Shaffer Snorkel factory stub, BB in semi-flex made in Australia (They had to have more flexible nibs than offered much in the States, in Swan was English and part of the tax reduced.)Commonwealth. Parker also made semi-flex pens in England for the English market, because then Swan with it's vast range of nib flexes was still a major English company that Shaffer and Parker had to give a semblance of matching. )

 

In I chase two toned shading inks.....and semi-flex nibs write wet....I have to find a dry shading  ink and a slick paper to get the noted line variation & the two toned shading.:notworthy1:

 

 

*** I had often wondered why folks were saying they couldn't use a semi-flex nib in normal writing....it was too slow.

Then I found out they were practicing nib abuse, forcing the nib over it's max of 3X...:yikes:Forcing semi-flex nibs all the way out to 5X of superflex.:headsmack:................ps don't buy any of those nibs on Youtube & ebay  with superflex writing examples (for a semi-flex)  with such proud examples of attempts to pre-spring the nib for your convenience.:crybaby:

 

Do read Richard Binder's fine article on metal fatigue...........and don't force the semi-flex nib. Don't try to 'Make it do something.' It does it on it's own.

With normal medium-light to light writing give you the old fashioned fountain pen flair, with out you having to do anything.........Where a letter normally gets a tad bit more pressure; there you will have a natural line variation, the nib gives you as it is...................with out jack hammering it.

 

If you want super fancy lettering to stiff Italic or superflex nibs............don't abuse semi-flex. Which outside of Pilot haveing to factory modify it's regular flex nib with little half moons ground out of the sides....to reach semi-flex.

 

 

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.

 

 

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