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In this episode of Goulet Q&A, I talk about the pros and cons of eyedropper conversions, the most polarizing pens I’ve seen, and why pen companies don’t just all make perfect nibs. Enjoy!

New/Upcoming Products – (4:03)

Pens/Writing – (6:57)

1) Susan D.- Facebook – (7:00)
When cleaning pens I see you pull the converter off of the nib unit. I am afraid to do this….won’t it eventually weaken the connection and potentially cause a leak?

  • eventually, yes
  • they’re plastic, it’ll eventually wear down
  • they are replaceable though, for that reason
  • if you don’t take it off, I’d argue you’ll wear out the piston mechanism just as well


2) Susan D.- Facebook – (10:16)
I have been using fountain pens 3 years and my husband got his first fountain pen (Lamy Al-Star) a few months ago. Up until now I let him try out some of my less expensive pens. He’s been eyeing up my 14 kt gold nib pens. Will those softer nibs be at risk of being altered or damaged if I let him use them? Do the nibs adjust to the specific writer?

  • I can see where you want to pause a bit here, that’s okay
  • this is clearly personal, and you’ll need to use your best judgment
  • a few months is plenty of time to understand how to respond to a nib
  • talk to him about how a gold nib is softer and he needs to lighten his pressure, and watch him write with it
  • make him promise to buy you a new one if he breaks it, haha!
  • I’m all for him trying it, he just might fall in love and then you’ll both start to acquire nice pens you can share!
  • Nibs don’t adjust, they respond, let me explain
  • it’s not a living creature like a horse that gets to know you as your ride it, it’s more like a musical instrument or a race car that responds differently to the way people handle it differently
  • the adjustment is done on the part of the user, not the pen
  • the one exception is that over time, a nib can soften or wear down in spots where it’s used most frequently, but that’s over a long time (years)

3) Katherine S.- Facebook – (18:32)
I see a lot of questions from folks who want to know if a pen can be ‘eyedroppered’ what I would like to know is why would you, other than massive ink capacity? Pros & cons of an eyedropper pen vs a pen using any other filling system would be welcome!

  • It’s mainly ink capacity
  • Cost, like how you don’t have to buy a converter for a Platinum Preppy
  • Convenience, like with the Kaweco sport that only takes cartridges otherwise
  • Aesthetics, you might just like watching the ink slosh around in a demo pen!
  • drawbacks would be ink burping, and having to clean it out (not as easy to change colors)

4) harlotofloyola- YouTube – (25:32)
I’ve been considering buying a Parker Sonnet but the pen seems to inspire a lot of hate as well as fans. What other pens have you found are extremely polarizing?

  • um NOODLER’S by far, flex pens always create interesting conversation
  • Lamy Safari/Al-Star, mainly the triangular grip, and the “paperclip” clip design
  • Lamy 2000, though this has gotten much better since our Lamy 2000 nib video
  • Kaweco pens to a degree, some just don’t like the size or design

Ink – (33:23)

5) Amber H.- YouTube – (33:25)
So, I just very recently got into fountain pens, and I started off with a Pilot Metropolitan Medium and I went through the cartridge in only 3 days (I don’t write prolifically). How long do you think a 3 oz bottle of Noodler’s would last me?

  • this will vary a lot with the nib size, ink, paper, etc
  • Pilot cartridge holds 0.9ml of ink
  • Noodler’s 3oz bottle is roughly 89ml
  • One 3oz Noodler’s bottle is equivalent to 99 Pilot cartridges
  • You used 1 cartridge in 3 days, so 99 cartridges (one Noodler’s bottle) should last 297 days
  • 12 cartridges to a box at $4.40 = $0.37/cartridge
  • 99 cartridges at $0.37ea = $36.30 vs. Noodler’s bottle at $12.50

Business – (36:47)

6) Leslie T.- Facebook – (36:49)
I’m watching an old Q&A and you’re discussing how you carry brands/pens based on customer interest/demand. How does that jive with your wonderful mission of introducing new people to pens? I’m curious specifically about pen companies that newer users might not know to ask about. How you you balance those decisions?

  • In the early days, it was all about 1-1 demand, meaning customers asking for specific products by name
  • I’ve grown GREATLY in my own understanding of the desires of the community over the years
  • Now it’s more about understanding what people want in general, and I can find what will hit on that
  • Like anyone who knows their craft, they can understand what people want even if they can’t articulate it themselves
  • Think of an interior designer, painter, craftsman, or musician, they know what people want when not told directly what that is
  • Newbies are always on my mind, and I am constantly urging our manufacturers to design products with them in mind!
  • I’m not a savant though, I still appreciate being told exactly what people want
  • It is a balance sometimes, because we can asked for things that maybe aren’t that great or don’t fit out values
  • mission and values always come into play here

Personal – (49:17)

7) Michael T.- Facebook – (49:19)
Are you a bit of a pack rat? You have a lot of pens, but do you keep every box for every pen? I do, and mine fills a small box under my bed. I feel like that would fill a closet for all of yours.

  • Pack rat is a nice way to put it, I do like to save all my stuff
  • I have dozens and dozens of bins packed up with all my pen boxes
  • It definitely takes up an adequate amount of space!

Troubleshooting – (53:14)

8) Camden S.- Facebook – (53:15)
Do you have any tricks to open a stuck in bottle cap?

  • ink can get on the cap, dry on it and almost glue it closed
  • grip and twist until it gives up
  • Goulet Grip can help, though it’s often too small
  • medicine bottle opener, grippy material, rubber glove, all can help
  • some people try running the cap under warm water, I don’t know if that really does anything

9) Gary- Email – (56:06)

A good fountain pen nib is vital for a positive writing experience but it seems common for buyers to have nib problems even with higher priced pens – why don’t manufacturers do a better job of quality control for this vital component – after all a dud nib can certainly damage brand image & prospect of repeat purchases.

  • I couldn’t agree more
  • nibs usually require hand tuning, especially the thinner nib sizes
  • i.e.: Lamy EF steel nibs see more inconsistency than other sizes
  • In general, there are just fewer nib professionals around than there used to be
  • People hold pens differently! What works well and feels good to some just doesn’t work as well for others
  • This can make a normally reputable pen disliked by some (think Lamy 2000)
  • Before the internet, pens were sold most often in person, in a store where it was tested before you bought it
  • Tweaking and adjustments could be made on the spot as you’re writing with it
  • It’s amazing to see what a nib pro can do, how quickly they can adjust your pen to your needs with you right there, I see this at pen shows
  • most of the issues are not that hard to fix, honestly
  • I see the future being relying more on self-teaching, because it’s amazing what you can learn to do with just a little practice and some basic tools
  • This is something I’m certainly going to look to explore more, in all my free time!

QOTW: What pen do you find the most polarizing, and what is your take on it? – (01:09:18)

Thanks so much for joining me this week! You can catch up on any old Q&A videos you missed here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet