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Upgrading from Preppy to Lamy Al-Star, for notetakinng on generic notepads?



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Hi all, some background info first:

I've found fountain pens as a much easier way to quickly take notes in class and such (I can easily go through several pages a day). I'm probably on the more utilitarian end of the scale, with nib smoothness/functionality being first, followed by overall pen structure quality (I'm also still learning the terminology.) I've had the Platinum Preppy for a while and it satisfies the former just fine for me. I believe that I've gotten used to/good at the light "tripod" grip that lets me write fast/smooth on generic spiral-bound notebook paper without pressure.

 

That said, I'm looking to upgrade to something with a similar nib but a heavier metal (aluminum) body. This led me to the Lamy Al-Star, being the right price for me. However, I heard that Lamy pens are usually pretty scratchy (which I realize is very much relative) - and I don't have the budget or time to get anything much better than generic notepad paper (I'm using one by Mead at the time). My question is, how do(es) the Lamy's nib(s) compare to the Preppy's (0.3)? If it's more scratchy then it would defeat my purpose for upgrading. Which nib size would be the best? I prefer fine so that I can write small and on both sides of the page, but like I said, smoothness/ease of writing is priority.

 

Thanks!

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MuddyWaters

If you like the preppy and want something slightly heavier, then I would suggest the Platinum Plaisir. It has the same nibs and same style as the preppy except with an aluminum body.

 

The Lamy nibs aren't as fine as the preppy nibs. You won't get a lamy nib that is fine and precise like your 0.3mm preppy nib.

 

If you want a Lamy style pen with a good fine nib, the Wing Sung 6359 is a better fit... but it will fall apart within two months of your using it.

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1 hour ago, MuddyWaters said:

If you like the preppy and want something slightly heavier, then I would suggest the Platinum Plaisir. It has the same nibs and same style as the preppy except with an aluminum body.

 

The Lamy nibs aren't as fine as the preppy nibs. You won't get a lamy nib that is fine and precise like your 0.3mm preppy nib.

 

If you want a Lamy style pen with a good fine nib, the Wing Sung 6359 is a better fit... but it will fall apart within two months of your using it.

Thanks for the advice. I've heard that the Plaisir has less issues, but I also really like the style of the Lamy, so I'd love to get it to work. What's really confusing me is that there are some people saying that the Safari handles "bad" paper pretty decently, while others say that it's bad even on FP paper - seems to be an opinional issue maybe? Also would you mind explaining what you mean by precision - like, it would make a wider line? I might be fine with a  slightly larger nib if it'll write smoother.

 

Edit - I'm also hearing that Lamy issues are mostly about quality control and that I could  easily fix it by realigning the tines.

Edited by Galaxy55
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MuddyWaters

Most of what you read on forums about quality assurance is actually just people not getting what they expected. Lamy's quality assurance is all done by very precise machines. I wouldn't even consider this as a factor in your decision. 

 

I'm not sure what part of the preppy you want to upgrade. Is it rather that you like the look and feel of the Lamy pen body? If so the nib seems less important in your decision. 

 

Lamy nibs are actually pretty dry out of the box and they are used commonly on cheap paper, so I don't think you would have any issues especially with a dry-ish ink. 

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Checklist
56 minutes ago, Galaxy55 said:

What's really confusing me is that there are some people saying that the Safari handles "bad" paper pretty decently, while others say that it's bad even on FP paper - seems to be an opinional issue maybe?

 

In my experience, that is mostly due to the ink; drier inks will handle bad paper better.  The Preppy, in my experience, is so fine that it doesn't put down enough ink to bleed through even the worst paper.  The Lamy extra-fine will put down more ink and might not work with your notebook.  What paper are you using?

 

If the paper is reasonably fountain pen friendly, I do recommend the Safari with the metallic steel nib, not the black-coated one.  I had a Safari with that coating, with "had" being the operative word; it was just too scratchy for my tastes.  However, I have a Studio, which uses the exact same nib in a nicer body.  Its uncoated nib is the smoothest one I own and a pleasure to write with.  If you get a steel-nibbed Safari or Al-Star, you should get the same experience.

 

(Side note: Lamy's nibs are designed to be easily changed on most of their pens, so, if your nib is too scratchy, you can get a new nib for $15, pull the old one off, and slide the new one on.)

 

However, I agree you will probably not find anything nearly so fine as your Preppy.  As I mentioned, the EF Safari will be noticeably broader.  Check out the Goulets' comparison tool for guidance.  If you are fine with the broader line, you will probably enjoy the Safari or Al-Star.

"Nothing is new under the sun!  Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us." Ecclesiastes
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A Smug Dill
5 hours ago, MuddyWaters said:

Most of what you read on forums about quality assurance is actually just people not getting what they expected. Lamy's quality assurance is all done by very precise machines.

 

In my first-hand experience, I have found Lamy Z50 steel EF nibs — which are the ones factory-fitted on the Al-Star, among other pen models — are particularly apt to be scratchy out-of-the-box for one reason or another. I have several of those, as well as at least one of each of Lamy's other (EF) nib models, and the Z50 nibs are the only ones that are so bad or at least inconsistent.

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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For between platinum preppy and lamy safari/ Al-star as upgrade there is not much to worry. As pointed out quality control is not something that needs much care in lamy case, all machine and no human from what I know about safari making, its as precise as it gets, Preppy has always been a hit or miss for me though.

 

Is nib having consistent issue with lamy?...well as said above there is some issue but in all my experiences the nibs had eventually turned less feedbacky. I have not seen any special difference in black nibs, in fact I use a safari with black nib in it and its great. I don't think though that it will cause a problem that will not resolve with time. Lamy do run bit drier, this makes feedback visible easily on them. On other hand I have faced more duds with preppy over any other pen, requiring me to work on them when issue arises (Thanks smug for help in disassembly info).

 

Will it work poor on bad paper? NO, this factor is more ink dependent as pointed by above.

 

As for fineness of nib....well on same nib I don't think its actually enough that it will cause a issue. I generally feel that while preppy is finer by line, select a wet ink vs a balanced or tending to wet ink in lamy and good luck in finding any appreciable difference (at least for me).

 

A screenshot to show the difference, No colour correction or such is done here. The inks A balanced ink which tends to wet, very close to being full wet ink in Safari (black nib version) vs a wet KWZ IG ink in preppy.

872884879_IMG_20210119_171057ED.jpg.98f12fd56644ec6d65c53844952f6505.jpg

 

Lamy is a good pen no doubt but if outright feel of nib matters and you want it to be same as preppy then go with Plasier as said above by muddywaters, if body matters and you are willing to take some new feeling then go for Al-star(I know safari and such can easily be big budget for pens, they are for me, hence hesitation). Its a feedbaky pen n many case. For nibs itself I prefer pilot metropolitan here or my collection of ebonites for same budget for body feel.

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Monophoto

A few months ago, on a whim, I bought a Preppy.   It didn't last - the body started cracking a few weeks into its life.  This is a 'known issue' with Preppy.  But I did like the way the Preppy wrote, so I bought a Plaisir, but rather than just inking it up, I swapped the Plaisir section for the Preppy section (they are completely interchangeable).  So now I have a Platinum pen that writes and that has a body that won't crack.

 

But I also have an Al Star.  It's also a good pen.  Comparing the two:

1.  While both are advertised as M, the Platinum lays down a slightly broader line of ink.  My son has a Preppy in F that is rather fine.  Understand that there is little standardization around M and F, and you might find your preference changing if you change pen brands.

2.  The overall fit/feel of the Al Star suggests better quality; however, the Platinum is clearly better than most cheap Chinese pens.

3.  Both write very smoothly.  However, the Al Star dries out faster than the Platinum if my daily-carry rotation moves to other pens.  Platinum has a sliding inner cap arrangement that prevents it from drying out as quickly as the Al Star.  I would say that if you have one pen and use it regularly, the difference is not consequential.

4.  Both use proprietary cartridges, which also means that their converters are proprietary which translates into more expensive and harder to find than 'standard international'.  I use bottled ink in the Al Star, but I've stayed with cartridges in the Platinum because I bought a supply when I first bought the Preppy, and want to use them up before moving to a converter.   That said, I really like the Platinum Blue-Black ink - it's an iron-gall formulation that seems to behave very nicely.

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Arkanabar

Not everyone gets on well with Lamy's Safari/ Vista/ Al-Star/ LX/ Joy section (like me, for one, and my wife, for another).  It's a fair bit narrower in the grip than the Preppy/ Plaisir, and the facets make it even more so.  But a great many others clearly love it, because it is one of the most often recommended pens around.  If you dislike narrow sections in general, you may find the Al-Star not to your taste.

 

I've bought Preppies for the express purpose of putting the section into one of my Plaisirs, after dropping the latter onto its point.  eta:  I refill Platinum cartridges with an ordinary disposable 3ml bulb pipette.  The cartridge is large, sturdy, and has both a sizable ball bearing and internal ribs to ensure flow to the point, while Platinum's converters have a reputation for early failure.

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MuddyWaters
33 minutes ago, Arkanabar said:

Not everyone gets on well with Lamy's Safari/ Vista/ Al-Star/ LX/ Joy section (like me, for one, and my wife, for another).  It's a fair bit narrower in the grip than the Preppy/ Plaisir, and the facets make it even more so.  But a great many others clearly love it, because it is one of the most often recommended pens around.  If you dislike narrow sections in general, you may find the Al-Star not to your taste.

 

I've bought Preppies for the express purpose of putting the section into one of my Plaisirs, after dropping the latter onto its point.  eta:  I refill Platinum cartridges with an ordinary disposable 3ml bulb pipette.  The cartridge is large, sturdy, and has both a sizable ball bearing and internal ribs to ensure flow to the point, while Platinum's converters have a reputation for early failure.

 

Your posts praising the Platinum Plaisir have always made an impression on me, Arkanabar. I resisted for a long time due to having a Preppy with a nib that I like, but I finally ordered one after reading this thread. Looking forward to feeling the difference in the hand.

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19 hours ago, Galaxy55 said:

I'm looking to upgrade to something with a similar nib

You want a Plaisir

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A Smug Dill
10 hours ago, Dimy said:

I have not seen any special difference in black nibs,

 

The Z50 steel nibs come in both silver and black; I'm not sure one type has better QC, or consistency, or smoothness than the other. On the other hand, in my experience the Z52 (always black) and Z53 (always silver) EF nibs do write differently and better out-of-the-box than the Z50 nibs.

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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inkstainedruth

I'm gonna be a naysayer here.  I got a Plaisir early on and it was one of the ones with the nibs color matching the barrel and cap.  While I have not found any of my Safaris/al-Stars/LXs to be dry writers, that Plaisir certainly is....  Additionally, I found the cap band to be really kinda cheesy looking (glad I didn't spend more on the pen than I did); but more importantly (and the reason I think that Platinum discontinued that on the model) is that eventually the coating on the nib started to flake off :(.  It's why I hesitated in getting a Safari with a black nib at first -- which was the default on the Dark Lilac SE/LE from a few years ago (it also had a black clip).  I have seen no difference in how the black nibs vs. the regular steel nibs write -- it's just cosmetic.  On the Dark Lilac it looks sharp; on my Vibrant Pink al-Star it would probably just look silly.

I didn't think I could get used to Lamy's triangular grip, until someone gave me a Jinhao 599A, which is a knock off of the Safari/al-Star (probably more the al-Star because it's a metal body pen.  It's an okay pen but clearly a knockoff.  But because it did teach me that the triangular grip was comfortable for me, I was willing to upgrade.  Now, unless the OP really doesn't think that the grip will be comfortable (and the only way to know for sure is to try and borrow someone's to use for a week or two), my vote would be (since the preference would be for a metal pen) the al-Star.  More expensive than what I paid for the Plaisir (but I don't know what the prices are like on those these days).  Admittedly I ended up paying LESS than the cost of a Safari for both the al-Star and the LX because I got them on clearance/closeout.  

As for the Safari/al-Star nibs in general?  Mine are NOT scratchy, but I don't have anything narrower than an F; I did try an EF nib on someone's table at the Ohio Pen Show a few years ago, and that nib WAS scratchy (not a good sign for a tester pen).  And they're dead easy to swap out between the models -- just stick a little piece of masking tape on the flat part of the nib and pull straight out from the section (without twisting the nib).  Then slide the new nib on over the feed the same way....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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mizgeorge

What about the Prefounte? A bit more grown up than the the Preppy costs less than the Plaisir, but a nicer looking, more contemporary pen and still with the interchangeable nibs. Easy to eyedropper as well if you want extra ink capacity (just add an o ring and some silicone grease).

 

I find the Lamy F nibs very far from fine. But I'm not a Lamy fan in general.

 

 

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On 1/18/2021 at 5:56 PM, Galaxy55 said:

like I said, smoothness/ease of writing is priority.

I like to write fast to the point of scribbling while not as bad as MD chicken scratch, my wife has a hard time reading my handwriting. I need EDC performance pens optimized for speed: so no heavies, but yet durable. 

 

I've had good luck with all of the following steel nibbed pens:

 

Lamy Safaris, Platinum Preppy, Prefounte, Pilot Kakuno and Explorer, all good.

 

The only pen occupying the Lochby Pocket Journal is the Platinum Plaisir, a consistent smooth 0.3 Fine writer with a black Platinum dye ink cartridge. As others have mentioned and I wholeheartedly agree with, the slip and seal cap works, the metal body less crack prone than the cheap thin plastic of the Preppy and Prefounte and the fugly cap band is very detracting. Nevertheless, the Safaris can sometimes be scratchy or a hit or miss on the nib QC department whereas I have not had that experience with Preppy nib steel. Factor in nib replacement/exchange and it is a toss up since Lamy offers a wider variety of grinds should your needs expand in the future vs 2-3x cheaper advantage to Platinum. Safaris are way way too long posted for me and slightly back weighted, but I have used them for EDC for years.

 

So despite aesthetics, the Plaisir still is tops as an EDC pen rightfully earning its carry journal spot. Plus it's their 10th anniversary!🎂 The ugly duckling has longevity! If you get the Amabie version, spiritual protection is a bonus👻

 

Another pen not mentioned but I highly recommend at this price range is the Wing Sung 601 (not pictured) a modern incarnation of the Parker 51 also in this affordable price range.

 

Write on!

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7 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

 

The Z50 steel nibs come in both silver and black; I'm not sure one type has better QC, or consistency, or smoothness than the other. On the other hand, in my experience the Z52 (always black) and Z53 (always silver) EF nibs do write differently and better out-of-the-box than the Z50 nibs.

I agree with you completely. My experience is with Z50 only and out of all I have tried, haven't seen any difference in QC either for black or steel. I lack any experience with Z53, but I think they will have better experience to start of as stated.

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Lots of great input above!

 

But you asked a specific question about how a Lamy Al-Star would relate to your Preppy at .3. Pens manufactured outside of Japan tend to write with a broader line. In other words, an EF Lamy does not write at the same width as an EF Platinum. A rule of thumb is a non-Japanese nib will write one size larger (F to M, etc) than its Japanese counterpart. This doesn't hold true in all cases, but it's a good rule of thumb that my experience with both German and Japanese nibs hold true.

 

For your case, finding a Lamy EF that writes as finely as your .3 will challenging.

 

You haven't mentioned ink in your discussion. Just as important as the amount of ink laid down by that nib is the characteristics of the ink. If you start with a super-wet ink, then you'll run into problems with the inconsistencies and wide variance of most cheaper paper. If you want a larger nib, then you'll need a drier ink to write on the same paper. No guaranteed results, but getting a few samplers from your favorite pen dealer is a great way to see if your nib plus your ink matches the results you expect on paper.

 

I've had good results with most Japanese ink (Iroshizuku, Pilot, Platinum). I don't use iron-gall and document inks, but others have had good results with this type of ink.

 

Finally, you must consider the increased weight of your pen. Your Preppy is light and agile, and you take numerous pages of notes with your writing tool. Jumping up to a heavier pen is a significant decision. Some people prefer beefier pens as they lay down a line of ink. Others can't stand wider grips or heavier pens. I gravitate to certain pens because their nib does the work well but the pen "fits" in my hand.

 

Tough choice to make this commitment, but you are looking at a very different pen than the one you enjoy. Good luck!

 

Buzz

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Wow, that's a lot of input... thank you for the very detailed answers. Ironically, I'm still unsure between taking the safe route, getting the Plaisir, and dealing with the cheesy design, or risking the Al-Star (nonetheless I have a better idea of what I'm up against now). I think that I'll be trying the Al-Star first, and in the worst case that it's really unusable for me, I could return it. I'll try to get back and tell my experience for future readers. To clarify some of the questions asked:

 

As for the Al-Star's grip, it's a bit thinner than the Preppy but I think that it'd actually make writing more loose and easy. I actually think I'd enjoy the tripod grip because it had made writing much easier after switching from the "death grip."

 

I also think that I'd prefer the heavier feel - I tried my brother's off-brand FP that had an all-aluminum body, and though the tip was unbearably feedback-y (wick made me hesitate in the first place), I felt like I had more control over it's heavier weight.

 

Unfortunately I don't know of any pen stores near me where I could test them.

 

And to clarify my priorities, asked by a few; first is unconditionally the nib, and how it writes - it has to be the same if not better than the Preppy (with "better" being relative). Second is the body (barrel?), which I'm looking to upgrade to something that feels more sturdy in the hand.

 

 

Oh also - I'm assuming that I should go with the medium nib? I'm okay with a slightly broader line. Or will fine be just as smooth?

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A Smug Dill
33 minutes ago, Galaxy55 said:

I also think that I'd prefer the heavier feel

 

The Lamy Al-Star, sans ink (cartridge or converter), is 19g; I just weighed a brand new one I have here, with the manufacturer's sticker still on the cap. The Platinum Plaisir sans ink (except for a tiny bit inside the gripping section, which I suppose balances out the weight of the sticker on the Al-Star) is 16g. They're both lightweight pens. The Lamy Studio Lx All Black, which is more slender than either of those models, weighs 26g sans ink.

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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