Goulet Q&A Episode 190: Breaking In Flex Nibs, TWSBI SE’s, and Goulet Jargon!

In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about breaking in flex nibs, TWSBI Special Editions, and Goulet Jargon!

This week:


1) leatherpaperpens- Instagram (10:01)
Can you describe where the twsbi nibs fall? Like are they closer to Japanese nibs (like the pilot) or German nibs (such as lamy)?

  • definitely German, because they are German (Jowo)
  • years ago they used Bock, also German
  • it’s a little confusing because it’s an Asian company, so you might think the nibs come from Asia
  • most fountain pen nibs come from Japan, China/India, or Germany
  • some exceptions (Stipula, Aurora)
  • Japanese nibs are typically finer in EF and F sizes, the big 3 Japanese companies all make their own nibs
  • Lamy makes their own, Bock and Jowo make most of the nibs for other companies that aren’t making their own
  • TWSBI’s nibs will write more closely to European brands, though it may vary a bit with specific models (the nibs might be different sizes and have different flow rate, etc)
  • Nib Nook

2) Diane W- Facebook (13:17)
Does it take time and useage for a flex pen to really show off its flex characteristics?

  • yes and no
  • it depends on the pen
  • steel nib flex pens like Noodler’s, they won’t really break in but so much
  • gold nibs will break in a little more, yes, maybe a little
  • it’s honestly a little hard to say, because vintage “wet noodle” flex pens have been used a lot over the years, but they were also made differently back then
  • I can see there being some argument for a nib “breaking in”
  • what I personally feel happens more is as flex pens get used, the person using it learns it more and “breaks themselves” into the pen more than the other way around

3) Bernard L- Facebook (19:03)
What are some of the problems of a modern fountain pen after a long period of usage? How does one know that a fountain pen require servicing?

  • super general question but I wanted to answer it
  • Fountain Pen 101 Pen Cleaning and Maintenance
  • clean it once a month, after every time you clean it, and before you won’t be using it for a while
  • converters will fail, but they’re replaceable
  • more complicated filling mechanisms will be a little different
  • pistons might need regreasing, that’s easier with some pens that others
  • beyond that, it’s really just making sure you don’t drop/crush/scratch etc it
  • at that point, it’s really just servicing it if something breaks or fails
  • there might be nib adjustments needed/desired over time, but that could be on any pen that sees a lot of use

4) 강현준 (Kang)- Facebook (23:52)
Why are black coated(black oxide/PVD/Ruthenium) nibs more scratchy when rhodium/platinum coated nibs aren’t? I love the style of the matte black vanishing point but am hesitant to buy it because Stephen Brown said in his review that black coated vp nibs are scratchier than others.

  • unfortunately I’m not familiar with Stephen’s video where he mentions this
  • I suspect this is somewhat of an anomaly
  • I haven’t gotten universal feedback about black nibs being scratching, on VP’s or other pen models like Monteverde, Lamy, Goulet, etc
  • sometimes black nibs can have issues with writing dry, depends on which coating process is done and what it’s done in the process of the nib’s life
  • Pilot has so few nib issues and we really stand behind them, I wouldn’t hesitate to consider one of their black nibs based on my experience with them

5) _lebronjimmy- Instagram (28:56)
How often are TWSBI special editions released? The gold Mini seemed to be a huge hit, selling out on your website the day it was in stock. However I’ve noticed that the turquoise and white Classics have stuck around for awhile. I’m a huge fan of your videos and your company by the way, keep up the amazing work!

  • it really depends, on the model, color, TWSBI’s production capacity, etc
  • TWSBI sells in Asia, the US isn’t their only market, so that surely has some impact
  • the Classics just aren’t as popular a model of pen as the Mini, not even close
  • I don’t know if there were the same numbers of pens created between those two
  • We were able to get follow up stock on the Classics, so we did sell out quickly, but then restocked
  • we might be able to get our hands on a few more gold minis, not 100% sure on that

6) dkplaysjt- Instagram (34:30)
I hope he is able to include mine from last week. I would appreciate his thoughts on the Pilot Metal Falcon, soft medium, as a “Lifetime” pen and how it rates as a buttery smooth writer for long note taking sessions with a con-70 adapter. I like the fact that it has a metal body. I purchased a Platinum Century 3776, but the resin body worried me a bit as a daily carry and yet also as a lifetimer. Thanks for being an awesome company; your values and customer care policy’s are simply the best that I have EVER encountered! Simply outstanding.

  • Both of these make great “lifetime” pens, no question
  • you don’t have to be overly concerned with resin pens lasting, go to a pen show and so much of the vintage stuff is resin (and often a more crude version of it) and those lasted
  • the Metal Falcon uses the same nib as the resin Falcon, so there’s no question that’s a solid performer
  • the Metal Falcon’s far less popular, mainly bc of the price jump up from resin
  • it’s totally worth it if you like the larger heavier body and con-70 converter
  • that soft medium too is fantastic


7) Vinniekowalski- Blog (39:47)
I’ve noticed that at times you use some lingo that verges on office-speak (e.g., celebrating my team, reinforcing our values, etc.). Terms that everyone can agree on are a necessary evil, and there are usually good intentionsbehind these sorts of buzzwords. Still, I can imagine a new person coming on feeling like they’re stepping into a cult if there’s a lot of euphemistically holy buzzwords being used. Do you think there’s a way to get the same communal buy-in to a company culture without the use of buzzwords? Or is this just an automatic part of the paradigm-shifting, disruptive relentless focus on our customer and our people (see what I did there)?”

  • this is funny, because I am probably saying stuff that sounds buzzwordy without even realizing it!
  • as with any tight-knit culture, lingo is bound to be a part of it
  • lingo and buzzwords themselves aren’t inherently bad, but it’s really all about intent
  • you likely have lingo and buzzwords that you’ve developed around your family, because it’s grown out of shared experiences and personal connection
  • you might also have experience with using lingo to try to fit into a place where you don’t quite fit in, and that’s when it can feel fake
  • lingo and buzzwords, in my mind, aren’t good bad or otherwise in and of itself
  • it’s really about what purpose it serves, the intent behind it, and what it means to the people in your company
  • personally, we spend a boatload of time on culture and values, so it takes some time for new folks to adjust
  • more so than business jargon is product jargon, that’s what throws everyone when they first come here!
  • we can all relate to that!
  • Some of our jargon here: #CrushIt, lots of # phrases actually, our values, mission, thematic goal of the time, team member, standup meeting, ad-hoc, tactical, strategic, 1-on-1, punt it, flesh it out, service time, low hanging fruit, QBQ, slack, shout out

QOTW: What’s one thing that Goulet Pens/Brian could to do add more value to your fountain pen experience? (59:06)

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-11-10T15:47:01+00:00 November 10th, 2017|Goulet Q&A|18 Comments
  • Charles Duffy

    With respect to the resin Falcon — mine’s definitely gotten banged up a bit in its ~3 years as a pocket pen (with some material chipped off the cap). Writes as well as ever, but the metal one does make sense.

    • Terry Godfrey

      Hi Charles. I know it’s a personal preference, but I keep my metal Falcon in my pocket in a pen sleeve. Anything that I value as far as my pens go for a daily carry goes in a pen sleeve. It requires an extra step to pull it out and use it so that would not be for everybody. My Kaweco Sport pens just go in my pocket unprotected but those are not that much of an investment as the higher priced pens are.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Good feedback, Charles. Thanks for sharing.

  • Terry Godfrey

    I watched Stephen Brown’s review of the Black Matte Vanishing point and he says the the tip is covered in the plating but he also states that the writing experience is still good. So I guess maybe some were plated after the fine tuning of the nib.

  • howeln

    That one thing would be, I would like to know what you can special order. I have heard you mention a few times that we could special order…but how do I know what could be special ordered? For example, one pen I was looking at, seem to have other nib types, but you only carried X-fine or fine. I know sometimes some sizes are no longer available. But it would be nice if special order options were apparent on the web page. i.e. you can pull down and select, but then it says to email and ask about special order….or some other method. Or a special order page that lists what could be ordered if mainstreaming with stocked items would be a little messy.

  • _s_s_miles

    Well, I’ve begged for this before, but since you are asking about that 1 thing I’ll re-beg: PLEASE please please consider adding paper to the Education section of your site!!! You have done wonderful things with 2/3rds of the FP trifecta with pen pics/nibs and ink swabs. But what about the 3rd third? Paper is just as important, yet you don’t have any educational materials on how different brands of paper respond to bleedthrough, drying times, feathering, sheen refraction, etc… I think this is the last gaping hole in what has become the single best online source of honest, straight forward, empirical data on FP info.

    Secondarily (and please understand that I genuine love Q&A and don’t think I’ve ever had a single negative thing to say about them…). But Brian, you really do spend WAY too much time talking about business during Q&As, whether it be philosophically, generally, FP specifically, etc. It’s obvious that it’s something you are quite passionate abou, and spend a great deal of time researching, reading, brainstorming, & striving to keep a thriving business fresh and flourishing, and I understand answering a question here and there about your processes & acumen, ESPECIALY when it pertains to the FP world; but when you spend roughly 5 minutes per pen question and then a full 20 minutes on a business Q, it becomes tedious. And I, for one (please call out if you agree or disagree) find that it takes away some of the joy of listening in each week – this week in particular. I love what you do, and I love that you love what you do, but I’d much rather you stick to the products and the uses of said products, and maybe do special business model Instagram videos for the entrepreneurs among your followers.

    • Shaavazul

      Yes, I second this statement! Especially completing the trifecta. I deal all the time with handmade papers (different beast) so not being able to handle the papers directly is one of the major things that keeps me from buying more. I know you have a notebook sampler, but how horribly impossible would it be to have the same sampler, but only single sheets not the whole notebook? It would be a lot of work on your end (separating out the sheets and labeling them) but it would be so helpful.

      As for the business questions, I agree that they take away some of the enjoyment. I appreciate that they are at the end so I can skip over them to the QOTW, but it feels like it should be it’s own separate video. Maybe a monthly thing where you talk business exclusively.

  • peter hofmann

    One of the things that would be a “quick fix”, would be to fix the navigation on the web site. When I am in the blog section, there is no way to get back to the main page (I can click Home and am returned to the blog), if I click the GPC logo, I still do not get back to the home page.
    Agree with _s_s_miles the business section does take up a bit “too much” time and detracts from the pen related stuff, it is interesting but I do tend to “tune out” towards the end. I know there is most likely interest from other entrepreneurs out there but not in my personal case.
    One of the reasons I come back and purchase 90% of my pens from GPC? There is a lot of great information on the site (even the older videos are super useful), my experience with the customer service team has been 100% (shout out to Zippy Francis!). Pricing is in line with other sites (yes, I do cross shop) and sometimes even if the price is a bit higher I still purchase from GPC.

    • Tom Johnson

      I assume that by “…the main page …” you mean the home page for the Goulet Pens store. The “HOME” takes you to the blog home page as you found out. There are two home pages, one for the blog and one for the store. All you have to do is to go to “SHOP” at the top right and it takes you directly to the Goulet Pens home page, which you are calling the “main page”.

      • peter hofmann

        Tom, thanks for that, learn something new everyday. But still not exactly “intuitive”, good to know though

  • Shawn MacMeekin

    Cheers Brian, I interviewed for the videographer position you had open recently, believeing you got the right person! Anywho… what about kiosks… so you have seen the mall candy, perfume, skin moisturizer, toy drone kiosk at your local mall … how about a specially designed Goulet Pen kiosk where someone would step up to a station on a kiosk cart, filled with multiple stations stocked with paper, fountain pens, each with a specialized package box set … I see your pens but have no clue about the accessories and inks, papers, cartridges, nibs, etc … so when one would experience the station, which ever one on the kiosk cart (could be set by price point) tempts me, someone could get a sampling of the compete package with all options, even packaged as a set ready for purchase … paper, pen, ink, accessories, etc … since yeah, I could by a pen, but I have no clue what else is involved, but I’m smart enough to know that there is more and am willing to pay for it … anyway, Merry Christmas and I am ready to see the Goulet kiosk for all your pen needs at my local mall showcasing all the fun and exciting fountain pen tools that can help me be creative and make memorable moments during the holidays, especially shimmering inks and all the smear … just a thought, Cheers! More ideas about amazon if you ask …

  • Kak_arctic

    QOTW: I’m sorry that I’m gonna bring up something that Gouletpens have already done in the past and moved away from, and that I have been missing it ever since. That thing would be the inkdrop.
    I LOVED the inkdrop. I understand and respect the decision of stopping doing it and am fine with it. But if there’s one thing I really want Gouletpens to do, it would be the ink drop.
    Ink drop has been the single best experience I have ever had with my fountain pens. It’s just such a perfect program in my opinion: you get the expectation, the surprise element, and the actual experience of using different kind of inks, and you get to share it on instagram and see what other people are doing with those inks!
    I can definitely confirm that I write with my pens and change out colors way more frequently when I had inkdrop. I still use fountain pens a lot, but certainly not as much. And I still get ink samples and stuff, but it’s not quite the same.
    If there’s any chance for inkdrop to come back in another form, like bi-monthly or seasonal, I would be totally up for it. It was such a fun program.

  • elusiveOwl

    The only thing that’d improve my experience would be the impossible; lower cost shipping to Australia. It is the only reason I haven’t yet bought anything yet, although I do plan to for inks in the future, even as I devour all the YouTube videos and resources you offer for free (which I am grateful for).

    I just can’t justify the cost when there’s an Australian site (that reminds me of Goulet Pens but with a bit less interaction with consumers) where I get free shipping, practically cutting what I’d have to pay in half.

  • Shaavazul

    On the product side:
    1. Greater variability with accessories. Like some cases that are not leather and are more in the $20 range? Those exist, right?
    2. I really want Organics Studio and Papier Plume inks and I have a hard time justifying a purchase from another retailer when the ink is the only thing I want to buy from them.
    3. Knowledge of what can be special ordered. Are there only certain companies/products that you can special order or is open to anything? (For example, a Pilot VP Décimo in white/myca blue/gray/Japan special edition color?)
    4. A search feature for water resistance. Maybe set up a 1-5 “spectrum” for water resistance, 1 being none—if you cry you’ll never see your words again and 5 being immoveable—pulp and remake the paper if you want the words off. The spectrum can be part of the review system for all the inks and largely generated by product reviews.
    5. More paper reviews. Perhaps with a spectrum of measuring feathering, bleeding, and ghosting. I know photographing white things is really hard, but some of the paper images are really hard to view and give little indication of the paper layout or color.


  • Conrad Pfleging

    I’m a small customer what would be a much bigger customer if your shipping rates didn’t beat me up so badly. Other than that I love everything you do!

  • FK

    I love the Education section of your website. I was wondering if you would consider positing swatches of all the inks you have made swatches for (example Private Reserve). I would love to be able to compare more ink samples when narrowing down my choices.

    I feel torn when making purchases. When I started getting into FP I only bought from GP. I never expected my interest to grow as it has, so as I continue to buy more, I do feel compelled to try and find better deals but because I believe in your company (customer service, education/website, blog/videos, and fun (mondaymatchup, thanksgiveaway etc), I really do want to support it.

    Some ideas that I’m not sure would work:
    -Dollar rewards (maybe to earn free ink samples or bottles?)
    -Cheaper or free shipping
    -Teacher discount

    Thanks for all that you do!

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Those are interesting ideas. Thank you for sharing!