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Choosing first japanese gold nib



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Arcticart

I've been looking to dip into the japanese gold nib pens for a good while. I've done research and looked for reviews but I'm not much wiser when it comes to comparing them. Thankfully my 200€ budget limits me to the "entry" level models of Pilot, Platinum and Sailor, which in theory should make my choice easier.

Platinum 3776: Feels like the "boring" choice. I've heard good things about the "platinum feedback", which I wouldn't mind trying out. I'm indifferent about the appearance of the pen, since it's just a basic cigar shape, and the choice of colors is limited. I feel like this is a pen I'd buy just for the nib.


Sailor 1911 Standand or Promenade: Very much same as the above, sailor nibs are supposed to have a specific feedback as well. Color choice seems to be even more limited on the 1911, and the Promenade seems to be all but gone from the market. A pen to buy just for the nib, unless it's the promenade with a sparkly finish.

 

Sailor Pro Gear Slim: Same nibs as the standard 1911 as far as I understand. More colors and special editions, but also more expensive. Still some special edition colors fall within my budget. I don't mind a smaller pen as I can comfortably write with a pelikan M200.

 

Pilot Custom 74: Slightly larger pen than the ones above. Not fan of the looks. Pilot nibs are supposedly sized closer to european convention and much smoother than either platinum or sailor.

 

Pilot Custom 92: Piston filler, saves me the trouble of dealing with proprietary converters/cartridges.

 

My current gold nib experience is limited to my Santini Libra with a medium flexy nib, which I find wonderful. I'd like a fine or medium-fine nib that isn't overly dry out of the box as I'm not quite brave enough yet to try tuning gold nibs myself. So far I'm undecided between them. At the end of the day I guess I'm looking for a new and different writing experience, so the appearance of the pen "should" be secondary. The optimal choice of course would be to buy one of each and eventually that will probably happen. But which one would be a good place to start? Put on your best sales pitch and you're of course welcome to recommend other models I didn't think of. And I'm sorry if this topic has been discussed to death already.

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I’ve never had to adjust a Sailor for flow.  They have been perfect for me out of the box.  I find them pretty smooth but maybe i don’t use enough pressure to get the feedback.

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You can't go wrong with any of the pens you mentioned. Some of the Sailors have 14K nibs, others have 21K nibs; they are very similar. I carry two Pilot Custom 823s and a Custom 74 with me to work everyday. They are my most-used pens. Platinum makes lots of good pens; I like everything from Preppies to Izumos. I also like Sailor 1911s. There are lots of US-only editions, so there are plenty of colors available. 

 

Proprietary converters are not a big deal. Most of these pens would come with one and it will last for years if maintained. Pens with converters are easier to clean than piston fillers. I usually just use one color of ink per pen, so I only have to rinse them out; I don't have to get every bit of ink residue out. 

 

I wish you well with your search. Japanese pens are among my favorites. 

"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel

I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

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What are your expectations for a gold nib? Have you, maybe even subconsciously, been looking for something in a nib that you haven't been able to find elsewhere? Are you just curious to see if they offer something unique you haven't experienced before? Do you have any specific nib properties that you tend to gravitate towards(softness, wetness, feedback...)?

 

There are many correct answers to the question, but we need to find your answer.

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IlikeInksandIcannotlie
8 hours ago, gyasko said:

I’ve never had to adjust a Sailor for flow.  They have been perfect for me out of the box.  I find them pretty smooth but maybe i don’t use enough pressure to get the feedback.

I don't have a Sailor pen made this century, but I have a similar experience with my ( only) Sailor nib.  Pilots tend to be somewhat dry, but are fairly smooth.

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Frankly speaking, compared to Italian pens, Japanese pens on the whole are very much understated and "boring", especially at the lower price points. In that sense really, IMO, all the Japanese pens are pens that you buy mainly for their nibs, and some just happen to come in different colors. 

 

I've tried a few Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum pens, and I'm currently back to primarily using Platinum #3776 UEF and Music pens as my EDC pens that I use pretty much all the time. I couldn't really sell you on any one of the pens without knowing more of what you want from your pens, but you do say that you want a different experience. I think one of the things you'll have to consider is how much it will matter to you how "boring" the pen body is or not. On the other hand, pens like the #3776 are, I believe, also able to be "transplanted" into new bodies that some other vendors are making, but I can't vouch for this myself. 

 

My personal opinion is that I like the Platinum's the most, with Sailor a very close second, and Pilot a somewhat distant third. However, I don't tend to use the "typical" nibs in any of the pens. Normal nibs don't fit my style, so I tend to use either big fat nibs or flex nibs, or other very specific nibs for specific purposes. You already have a Medium Flex nib, so, if you want something different, to me, you have to ask yourself whether you just want this as a specialty nib or if you want to make this an everyday nib for yourself. 

 

I'd also say that I would expect most Japanese pens to, as a family, tend to write drier than most of the European pens that I've seen from Pelikan, MB, Waterman, Lamy, and so on. That's not to say that they are so exceptionally dry that you'll have problems with flow, but it is my impression that European inks tend to be drier and Japanese inks tend to be wetter, and so the tunings of their pens tend to take this into account. A Sailor pen that I have with Sailor's standard ink line feels plenty wet when using it, even though the pen itself might be a little drier than the Lamy 2000 that I have.

 

Pilot makes a FA nib which would be similar to the flexy medium of your Santini, but probably not as wet given that Santini flex nibs appear to have ebonite feeds? Pilot also makes a WA and SU nib, both of which are unique an interesting takes on the "medium" width nib. The WA is a Waverly nib, which is designed to be a pleasant, easy to use nib that is very forgiving since the nib is upturned to enable you to write very smoothly even on rougher paper. The SU nib is a small stub nib, and it's cut very sharply, so if you want to play with a sharp stub nib but were too afraid of the writing being too big, then this could be a nice one. 

 

For their size, I find the PIlot nibs to be fairly soft, but not as soft as the oversized Sailor 21k KOP nibs. My impression is that the Sailor and Platinum nibs (especially Platinum) are distinctly harder.

 

Personally, for me, Pilot wins the "flexy Japanese nib" contest because they have the widest selection of interesting and well done flexible nibs. However, outside of this niche, for me, I don't like them much, as I find them overpolished and the type of feedback you get from them feels more gritty to me and less attenuated. Pilot also wins the "novelty" nib category for me, because they have a range of interesting, but still relatively affordable nibs. Sailor makes some truly beautiful nibs, but they are also generally inaccessible an they also tend to be highly specialist nibs that are all oriented to various types of Japanese or Asian writing with line variation. They are hard to get and very expensive. On the other hand, Pilot offers a range of normal line width and line character nibs that are all shaped in interesting ways that give you a different experience with the pen and paper but that ultimately produce lines that are similar to a normal pen. This makes them more novelties, but they are very functional novelties and have real applications.

 

Pilot also has the CON-70 converter, which, IMO, easily puts it into the running against piston filler pens, especially given the easier cleanup that the CON-70 provides relative to a piston pen (I don't really believe in disassembling my pens for normal maintenance).

 

Sailor pens wins in terms of sheer color variety, but they also have a very nice selection of meticulously ground nibs. Given the more foot/triangular style tipping that they put on their nibs, the nibs have a very unique character that I have not felt on other nibs. This makes them probably one of the more unique experiences if you are looking for something that is in the middle of the road hardness with "typical" nib widths like Fine, Medium, and Broad. On the other hand, as long as you hit the sweet spot on the nib, IMO, they aren't particularly "engaging" on the road, as it were. They're more feathery in the way that they communicate to the user. For me, the big draw for Sailor is that they have an absolutely gorgeous oversized 21k nib in their KOP line, but unfortunately, I find the limitation of Fine, Medium, and Broad to ultimately result in me feeling like there isn't enough there to give me the kind of line that I want on the page. Sailor also has some very nice accessories, such as their empty, reinforced refillable cartridges that let's you have quite a bit of ink (~1ml) in the cartridge/converter system, without the same sort of reliability hassle that can come with reusing cartridges. They also have a terrific assortment of typical dye-based inks and some of the best pigment inks on the market. Their standard ink line is very well done and is very wet, making almost any pen feel more "feathery". The combination of Sailor ink with their nib grind is a very well-tuned combination. 

 

Ultimately, what does Sailor in for me, though, is that many of their more "unique inks" are pretty expensive for someone who uses as much ink as I do, and their emphasis on architect style grinds for their specialty nibs and limited availability of those specialty nibs means that I really don't get to play around with the most interesting aspects of Sailor pens because they don't really speak to what I want from a writing experience. The range of nibs that might work for me are very limited, and the others just aren't as well suited for my use case. Their EF and Stub nibs are what I would likely look at, but, IMO, they aren't as interesting as what Platinum has on offer for that same lineup. Now, if I thought that maybe their Zoom nib or the Naginata Togi nib would work well for me, then that might be a different story.

 

I have the most number of Platinum products out of all of the above, and I'm gradually coming to be more and more confident that Platinum is "where it is at" for me. For one thing, their nibs are among the most pretty and nicest to look at, to me, in the grinds that I want, compared to all the other comparable options from Pilot and Sailor. Pilot's specialty nibs are downright anemic. Sailor's nibs are a little too stuffy in the smaller size that sports their stub grind, and their KOP nib isn't available with a stub. Platinum, on the other hand, has a very distinct, ultra-flat nib that is very thick, has broad shoulders, and very clean lines on it that makes it feel very sophisticated and refined to me. Platinum pens also have terrific balance in the hand because they are lightweight, and their caps are not overly heavy, so they are balanced whether you post them or not, whereas I have found that Sailors tend to be a little less evenly balanced between their unposted and posted selves. I think of them as very nimble and agile pens that also don't look too dainty.

 

Platinum pens have an emphasis on very luminescent colors that interact with the light through transparency, rather than Sailor's tendency to rely on glitter (not really my thing), and Pilot's...aversion to emotion of any kind? 🙂 Their colors are more limited than Sailor, but IMO, I like more of their colors than I do those of Sailor. I also like how Platinum is playing with body texture and faceting more than the other two. IMO, Platinum is more willing to play with the form of their pens, and not just the color. Take for instance the Curidas, Procyon, Preppy, and the #3776 limited editions. Sailor tends to mix and match colors a lot more, but sticks with a very few, similar body styles with a couple of exceptions recently. At any rate, to my eye, the Platinum take on form is more interesting to me than the Sailor take on color, not withstanding the beautiful colors of Sailor inks. 

 

But where Platinum really takes the cake for me is that the have a true UEF nib which is a needle point, and a true, traditional, two slit, three tine music nib. Not only do these two grinds look fantastic in the Platinum nib style, but they are exceptionally well done. Now, I have Flex nibs for when I want flex, but Platinum's nibs are probably the hardest nibs I have tried anywhere, and they also have some of the highest levels of intentional feedback (versus just careless lack of attention to detail). Since I write with a light hand, this combination means that I get very reliable, precisely writing pens. I get a sense of control and precision that I don't get from other nibs and pens. With the UEF nib, because the nib is so fine, and so stiff, I don't have to worry about the tines coming out of alignment when doing fine detail work (like I might with a flex nib) and I get absolute control. I use this nib for writing in a Japanese planner that let's me track lots of little details in a small space. IMO, I've not yet seen another stock nib rival this UEF nib for its task. It is also going to be very feedback heavy.

 

With the Music nib, I get a reliable writing nib that puts down a lot of ink. It has a pretty controlled flow, but the combination of two slits and the wide nib means that I'm putting down a lot of ink, even though I'm not leaving pools of ink everywhere. And I love that fact. It probably consumes ink at the fastest rate or nearly the fastest rate of any of my EDC-class pens. It functions much like a cursive italic 1.1 - 1.2mm stub might work. Because the nib is stiff, I can fly through writing easily with this pen and keep a good nib angle, which lets me get the most from writing in an Italic style. 

 

Platinum nibs have more feedback than others, and to me, while this comes with a very nice tactile sensation to go along with it, it also comes with another bonus. I have found that Platinum nibs write more distinctly reliably across the board than any of my other nibs. That is, they are eminently forgiving. Whereas the Sailors and Pilots that I have are all a little more finicky and sensitive, the Platinum's are pens that almost seem to read your mind and just do what you want. On ultra smooth or ultra rough paper, they just write. I've had nibs that were smoother than the Platinums, and they would have a tendency to exhibit less good performance on smoother papers, giving an inconsistent writing experience depending on the level of surface texture on the paper. On the other hand, Platinum gives a writing consistency that I don't get from any of the other pens that I have. I believe this is at least partly down to the way that they grind the tips to have that higher feedback, which I think has an effect here. Even with the very wide Music nib, it's much more reliable than my other stubs. I also find that the Platinum nibs are consistently more likely to provide good glide over the page on the widest range of papers compared to Sailor or Pilot, which tend to feel either very slick on some papers and sometimes muddy on others.

 

And of course, Platinum has Platinum Blue Black ink that is still Iron Gall and comes with a little filling cup that perfectly suits the #3776. It may be my current favorite ink, and maybe in the running for my favorite all time ink. These are larger 60ml bottles that are easy to fill from. While this is a tiny thing, I've found that the shape of the nib in the Platinum pen and the viscosity of the Blue Black ink and the design of the Platinum bottle makes for the most quick and enjoyable filling with the least relative wasted ink compared to the others. Again, as with the writing reliability, there's an effortless quality to the whole process that isn't there with Pilot or Sailor. Platinum Blue Black ink is among my favorite inks. I very much like Platinum cartridges and I've had good luck with their converters. The cartridges have a steel agitator ball in them and they seem to be very well designed. For me, that's an added convenience factor to be able to use the same ink in bottle and cartridge form that is an ink I like. Platinum also makes a converter that allows you to use International cartridges with their pens, I think. 

 

(ETA: Platinum also has some of the most interesting inks among the Japanese makers, IMO. Their whole IG Classic line is quite neat, and I have enjoyed all of those inks that I have tried. They have the renowned Carbon Black ink, and even their basic dye-stuff inks are very well done. Their Mixable line is also very neat, and provides a lot of freedom at a pretty decent cost. They also have a good range of other pigmented ink colors in large bottles, unlike Sailor, who is using smaller bottles.)

 

So, in the end, for me, Platinum represents that level of effortless pleasure in writing that I just can't quite find anywhere else. Sailor I think seems a touch more...refined? But I don't find myself wanting to write with a Sailor as much. Pilot just isn't a good fit for me, but they are almost the opposite of what I'm looking for.

 

Now, a few caveats. Almost all the nibs that I have are specialty nibs, and I almost never write with normal Fine or Medium nibs. Even the 21k KOP B nib is, in some sense, a soft Broad nib, making it a bit of a specialty nib by today's standards as well. If someone today came to me and said that they wanted an easy to use, reliable, nice, gold-nibbed fountain pen that wrote in the standard fine - medium-fine range and that would be extremely practical, and I wasn't sure that they would enjoy the more quirky characteristics of Platinum or Sailor, I'd send them to a WA nib Pilot 912 with Con-70 converter in a heartbeat. 

 

 

 

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A Smug Dill
11 hours ago, Arcticart said:

Platinum 3776: Feels like the "boring" choice. I've heard good things about the "platinum feedback", which I wouldn't mind trying out. I'm indifferent about the appearance of the pen, since it's just a basic cigar shape, and the choice of colors is limited. I feel like this is a pen I'd buy just for the nib.

 

There are 34 variants in the regular production line, not counting limited editions such as Fuji Five Lakes and Shinkei series, stationery retail store/chain exclusives (e.g. the Censke made for Nagasawa Stationery Center), Star Wars series, etc. Even if you limit yourself to the ones with MSRP of ¥20,000 or less (ex tax), there are 15 variants.

 

11 hours ago, Arcticart said:

Sailor 1911 Standand or Promenade:   …‹snip›…

Sailor Pro Gear Slim: Same nibs as the standard 1911 as far as I understand.

 

Many other pens also use the same ‘medium-sized’ 14K gold Sailor nibs with the 1911 imprint. For example, the Kabazaiku and (two) Koshu-Inden models.

 

11 hours ago, Arcticart said:

At the end of the day I guess I'm looking for a new and different writing experience, so the appearance of the pen "should" be secondary.

 

The feel-in-hand as well as the ergonomics matter. I absolutely cannot stand the Pilot Custom 74's shape in use, even though its body is made of (what I feel, subjectively, is) a better plastic than the translucent AS resin on the cheapest Platinum #3776 Century models. On the other hand, the Pilot Custom Heritage 91 — which uses the same resin — is a lot more tolerable as a writing instrument I have to wield; the form factor, shape/geometry, and weight distribution along the pen's body make a very significant difference to the writing experience. Therefore, I'd recommend against only paying attention to (differences in) the nib, unless you want to make a formal survey/study of the various nibs.

 

11 hours ago, Arcticart said:

But which one would be a good place to start? Put on your best sales pitch

 

Absolutely not, when there is no benefit to me personally whichever you choose, so any effort in making a sales pitch is not warranted.

 

Personally I'd say the Sailor medium-sized 14K gold MF nib is a good place to start, and there are so many colourways from which you can choose under the €200 mark any way you cut it, so you may as well also get a pen in a colourway you particular like. The nib will most likely be satisfactory; and even if you later discover you prefer a different Japanese nib, at least you still have a perfectly competent writing instrument whose looks are particularly pleasing to you. (To make it explicit, it means I'm not recommending you spend as little as possible to get as accurate, or broad, a feel for the nibs in the market as possible.)

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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Chimera01

I've been raving about the Cross Peerless 125 fountain pens which come with a Sailor 18K gold nib. I don't know if the 18K Sailor nib is found elsewhere or if it is proprietary to Cross, but the writing experience is just heaven (for me, anyway). I carry three of these around with me as daily writers, in M and F. I think they were a limited production but you might still be able to find a few around. This also solves the 'cheaper plastic' feel of some of the pens suggested above (for me, anyway). Can't recommend highly enough (and this from someone who binned a MB 149!). Happy hunting!

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Arcticart
5 hours ago, Harold said:

What are your expectations for a gold nib? Have you, maybe even subconsciously, been looking for something in a nib that you haven't been able to find elsewhere? Are you just curious to see if they offer something unique you haven't experienced before? Do you have any specific nib properties that you tend to gravitate towards(softness, wetness, feedback...)?

 

A big part of it is curiosity. I'm still at the stage of this hobby that my experience on different brands/nibs is limited. And as such I might not even know what I'm looking for until I find it. One such revelation was a humble Hong Dian 920 with EF nib, which has an almost magical pencil like feedback. I've found myself to like my nibs on the wet side. I don't have a strong preference to either end of the feedback scale, sometimes I want absolute smoothness, sometimes I prefer feedback for the extra control it provides. I don't mind a stiff nib as long as it isn't an absolute nail.

 

2 hours ago, arcfide said:

I'd also say that I would expect most Japanese pens to, as a family, tend to write drier than most of the European pens that I've seen from Pelikan, MB, Waterman, Lamy, and so on. That's not to say that they are so exceptionally dry that you'll have problems with flow, but it is my impression that European inks tend to be drier and Japanese inks tend to be wetter, and so the tunings of their pens tend to take this into account. A Sailor pen that I have with Sailor's standard ink line feels plenty wet when using it, even though the pen itself might be a little drier than the Lamy 2000 that I have.

 

This is good insight I didn't think about when I was looking into the potential wetness/tuning of the nibs. Then I would be better off picking some japanese ink to go with the pen as well.

 

3 hours ago, arcfide said:

Platinum nibs have more feedback than others, and to me, while this comes with a very nice tactile sensation to go along with it, it also comes with another bonus. I have found that Platinum nibs write more distinctly reliably across the board than any of my other nibs. That is, they are eminently forgiving. Whereas the Sailors and Pilots that I have are all a little more finicky and sensitive, the Platinum's are pens that almost seem to read your mind and just do what you want. On ultra smooth or ultra rough paper, they just write. I've had nibs that were smoother than the Platinums, and they would have a tendency to exhibit less good performance on smoother papers, giving an inconsistent writing experience depending on the level of surface texture on the paper. On the other hand, Platinum gives a writing consistency that I don't get from any of the other pens that I have. I believe this is at least partly down to the way that they grind the tips to have that higher feedback, which I think has an effect here. Even with the very wide Music nib, it's much more reliable than my other stubs. I also find that the Platinum nibs are consistently more likely to provide good glide over the page on the widest range of papers compared to Sailor or Pilot, which tend to feel either very slick on some papers and sometimes muddy on others.

 

Thank you very much on the in depth write up on the properties of the different nibs in comparison to each other. This is extremely valuable and I appreciate very much that you took the time. The variety of nibs Platinum offers within my budget is nice.

 

 

2 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

There are 34 variants in the regular production line, not counting limited editions such as Fuji Five Lakes and Shinkei series, stationery retail store/chain exclusives (e.g. the Censke made for Nagasawa Stationery Center), Star Wars series, etc. Even if you limit yourself to the ones with MSRP of ¥20,000 or less (ex tax), there are 15 variants.

 

My bad. I was looking through the listings of european retailers and they don't offer everything that's out there. I'd prefer to shop "locally" so I don't have to deal with customs, and possible return/warranty issues would be easier to handle if something goes south.

 

2 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

The feel-in-hand as well as the ergonomics matter. I absolutely cannot stand the Pilot Custom 74's shape in use, even though its body is made of (what I feel, subjectively, is) a better plastic than the translucent AS resin on the cheapest Platinum #3776 Century models. On the other hand, the Pilot Custom Heritage 91 — which uses the same resin — is a lot more tolerable as a writing instrument I have to wield; the form factor, shape/geometry, and weight distribution along the pen's body make a very significant difference to the writing experience. Therefore, I'd recommend against only paying attention to (differences in) the nib, unless you want to make a formal survey/study of the various nibs.

 

I will pay more attention to the ergonomics then. Platinum #3776 feeling cheap makes sense to me considering it is a cheap pen. Comparing the sizes without getting hands on on any of them is challenging. Best thing I can do is comparing the measurements to pens I already do own.

 

So far I'm leaning most towards a Sailor PGS and Platinum #3776. They both have a variety of nibs available in my price range, and the dimensions are close to the pens I find comfortable in hand. I will keep looking to see where I can get the best price / or find an attractive color within my budget. Any extra insight is welcome.

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In that case, you could try Platinum to see what heavy feedback, but consistent in every writing direction, is like. Japanese people who aren't too familiar with fountain pens often seem to prefer Platinum over the other two brands because the feedback gives them more control when writing the small strokes in Japanese kanji characters. You could also try Sailor, because their feedback really is unlike anything else(the closest Western thing to it is Faber-Castell's feedback, in my opinion). Between all the brands I've tried over the years, Pilot's #15 sized Extra Fine, Fine and Fine-Medium are the butteriest mass-produced nibs in the general "fine" range. You can also count on all three of these companies to actually deliver a needle when you ask for an extra fine, unlike some Western manufacturers where you could get anything from an extra fine to a medium depending on which way the wind happens to be blowing that day(I'm looking at you, Pelikan).

 

You could also check out some of the stranger Japanese nib types(I'll leave out some already mentioned by arcfide):

-Platinum's Ultra Extra Fine mentioned by arcfide, but also Pilot's Posting are both very hard, very fine nibs that maintain their fine line width even if you have a heavy or inconsistent hand.

-Both Pilot and Platinum's Coarse nibs are round-tipped(not at all stub/italic) double/triple broad nibs and Sailor's Zoom nib is essentially also a Coarse nib, with the addition of the nib being ground in a teardrop shape: as fat and round as a coarse nib on the bottom, but getting progressively narrower as you go up along the front of the nib to the top(and the top is also ground so you can write a fine line with it smoothly when the nib is inverted). This means that the line width will be very wide as you hold the nib flat to the paper, and as you hold the pen more upright, it will get progressively narrower.

-Pilot's soft nibs(SEF, SF, SFM, SM, SB) are significantly less flexible than flex nibs, but significantly more flexible than your average gold nib. Platinum's soft nibs are basically as soft as Pilot's normal nibs, so I personally don't really see the point in them unless you really like Platinum's feedback, but want the slight bounce afforded by Pilot's regular nibs.

-As arcfide mentioned, all of Sailor's interesting nibs apart from the Zoom nib are hard to find, expensive and not always available on the pen you would want them on.

 

As far as the pens themselves go, I think the only interesting mass-produced Japanese pen is Pilot's Custom 823, solely because it is a vacuum filler. Arcfide did a good job of describing what you can expect from each brand, I'll just add that the shapes and filling mechanisms are broadly boring and iterative rather than creative. Lots of cigars, lots of flat tops, lots of cartridge/converter pens. Tons of beautiful and interesting pens if you want to spend significantly more money.

 

If I were you, I would buy from the Japanese second hand market using proxy services, but that is a rabbit hole I do not want to be responsible for sending you down. Japanese people usually take pretty good care of their belongings and are very honest when they describe the condition of the product. With enough patience and diligence, you can regularly find pens in great condition at a third of the MSRP or even lower if you're not looking for an extremely rare nib, but the pen itself will probably not be an exciting special colour or something like that.

 

One more thing to be aware of: the flow on Pilot's #10 sized nibs(Custom 742 & 912) is often poor because the tines are too tight. The #5 sized nibs(Custom 74, 91, 92) sometimes suffer from this too, but it seems to be a whole lot rarer. The #15 sized nibs(Custom 743 & 823) however have been consistently good for me in the flow department, and I've written with about two dozen new and used at this point. Sailor's flow is very nice across the board and Platinum tunes their pens on the drier side, which contributes to their characteristic feedback.

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Arcticart

Thank you very much. I feel like I'm much better informed on the differences between the brands. Not just for my first pick, but possible future acquisitions as well. I'll go with the Platinum #3776 with the soft fine nib. It could be drier than what I prefer, but at least then I'll have a point of comparison. From what I've seen the larger platinum nibs are wetter, but less practical for writing.

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10 hours ago, Arcticart said:

Thank you very much. I feel like I'm much better informed on the differences between the brands. Not just for my first pick, but possible future acquisitions as well. I'll go with the Platinum #3776 with the soft fine nib. It could be drier than what I prefer, but at least then I'll have a point of comparison. From what I've seen the larger platinum nibs are wetter, but less practical for writing.

 

My prediction is that you won't be able to stop at just one, if only because you can't help but want to know what the others would be like and how they compare. 🙂 At least, that's how it happened with me. 

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Arcticart
23 hours ago, arcfide said:

 

My prediction is that you won't be able to stop at just one, if only because you can't help but want to know what the others would be like and how they compare. 🙂 At least, that's how it happened with me. 

 

I fear you are correct 🙂

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I own copies of all those pens you mentioned. I started with the Pilot Custom 74 and would do the same again. I think the Pilot Custom series is fabulous.  These pens offer great ergonomics and the nibs perform well.  But then there’s fun to be had with the others you mentioned and they are special in their own right. The Sailors for me run a close second, followed by the Platinum. 

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Arcticart

 The Pilot Custom 823 is sort of a "grail" pen for me, but I have to save a bit for that. Maybe I'll reserve it for a special occasion.

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A Smug Dill
On 8/15/2021 at 6:39 PM, Arcticart said:

I'll go with the Platinum #3776 with the soft fine nib. It could be drier than what I prefer, but at least then I'll have a point of comparison.

 

Yes, it will be a point of comparison. However, if you're envisioning having multiple Japanese fountain pens — of various makes and/or nib width grades — and want a point of reference against which to calibrate your expectations, I'd suggest anything but a Soft nib (whether on a Platinum #3776 Century, a Pilot Custom, or a Pilot Elabo model). The basic ‘hard’ nib of your preferred width grade should tell you more about how the Japanese Big Three brands grind their nibs and tune them for ink flow differently; whereas the SF nibs on the three different product families I mentioned above really aren't representative of what you'd usually receive in a Japanese pen, or generally reflective of what other users are describing when they discuss and compare Japanese pens, in case you want to be reading others' reviews and getting a more accurate sense of the nibs you have yet to try for yourself.

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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Arcticart

Well it's too late now. Stilo & Stile lives up to their claim on speedy shipping. I gathered the soft fine nib would have similar feedback and wetness to the regular fine nib. I guess I'll have an excuse to buy another #3776 in the future then to have two points of reference.

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Although I am a bit late, I noticed that you said you thought many were somewhat boring.  I suggest you take a look at the Pilot 95S.  It is quite a looker and very inexpensive for a pen with a gold nib from a top manufacturer.  This is a modern re-issue of a classic pen.  If you look around, you can find awesome vintage ones for less.  However, some of the vintage versions were made without gold nibs.  They are good, but if you are set on a gold nib, make certain it has one.  

 

Dave

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1 hour ago, Arcticart said:

Well it's too late now. Stilo & Stile lives up to their claim on speedy shipping. I gathered the soft fine nib would have similar feedback and wetness to the regular fine nib. I guess I'll have an excuse to buy another #3776 in the future then to have two points of reference.

 

Depending on how deep down the rabbit hole you want to go, the advice that @A Smug Dill gives cuts both ways. There are the standard nib sizes and stiffness, but people have been surprised by the difference in feel of specialty nibs from their favorite brands after they grew used to the "standard" nibs. If your interest is in specialty nibs or lots of unique experiences, then unfortunately, there probably isn't anyway to quantify the feelings of those efficiently, and you'd end up just needing to try them yourself to really know what they are like. However, the standard nibs are a little easier to extrapolate from a single nib sample of each make. 

 

As an example, Pilot has a reputation for heavily polished nibs, but if you get their SU nib, it's *very* sharp, and probably sharper than any other typical stub I've seen from Sailor, Platinum (their Music nibs), or Waterman/Lamy (both with stubs in the same general ballpark size). The sensation of that nib won't match any of the other Pilot nibs. 

 

At the very least, Platinum's Soft Fine is a unique feeling nib that some people love and others hate, so you're going to get something interesting regardless. Whether you'll like it or not is something I'm sure some of us will be interested in hearing from you. 🙂

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Arcticart
23 hours ago, rdh said:

Although I am a bit late, I noticed that you said you thought many were somewhat boring.  I suggest you take a look at the Pilot 95S.  It is quite a looker and very inexpensive for a pen with a gold nib from a top manufacturer.  This is a modern re-issue of a classic pen.  If you look around, you can find awesome vintage ones for less.  However, some of the vintage versions were made without gold nibs.  They are good, but if you are set on a gold nib, make certain it has one.  

 

Dave

 

The E95S has been on my radar for a good while and I like the look of it. I just chose to exclude it for now because I wasn't sure if I wanted it to be my first Pilot.

 

23 hours ago, arcfide said:

 

Depending on how deep down the rabbit hole you want to go,

 

It's more to do with "when I can afford to" rather than "if I want to." 😄

 

 

20210818_151320.thumb.jpg.c6315de67f75001451d3ea63d010163a.jpg

 

The pen did arrive today, and first impressions:

 

The pen looks better in person than it looks in the pictures. The material is really clear, clean and the gold trim goes well with the "bourgogne" color. It does look and feel classic in both good and bad. The pen is heavier than I expected, but sadly a large portion of the weight lies in the cap. I suspect that is courtesy of the slip&seal mechanism and the substantial clip. The cap makes the pen ever so slightly top heavy when posted for my smaller hand, but the pen is long enough for me to use unposted. The pen is a nice size for my hand though there is a sharp ledge at the end of the section which while not uncomfortable, is noticeable. The only thing that dents the otherwise good impression of quality is the converter that can rattle against the insides of the barrel. I think the wide shoulders on the nib look nice and unique. I initially thought about inking the pen from a new bottle of Sailor manyo sumire, but then decided to go with Pennonia mustvörös, as it's something I've used a lot in other pens. That way I could better compare the pen to others.

 

The nib is smooth and has less feedback than I expected. The feedback is very consistent, no matter the direction. Makes it easy to control. The nib is fairly dry, but it's not a deal breaker. I can still smudge if I try. The nib is surprisingly sensitive to angle variation which I have to pay attention to when near the edge of the page. I also didn't expect the nib to be this soft. It's very springy, but not "flexy" It feels unique. Time will tell if I like it, but after a few pages written, I don't hate it. Overall first impressions are on the positive side. The pen feels very much like an "every day workhorse"

 

Thanks for the input. It'll come in handy when I save enough for my next one.

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