Goulet Q&A Episode 196: Mid-Priced Pens, Scratchy Stubs, and Picky Pen Buyers!

In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about his favorite mid-priced pen, scratchy stubs, and what he thinks of picky pen buyers!

This past 2 weeks:

  • Christmas! Tons of family time
  • Really unplugged pretty hard
  • Team did our year-end physical inventory, nailed it!
  • I’m shooting this one this week on Tuesday, pretty out of the loop
  • next week’s will be something I end up shooting at Edison!
  • I’ll be traveling to Laguna Beach for a conference, considering a meet up there on Thursday morning on Jan 11, any interest?
  • Heading to Milan, Oh to see Edison pens hq!
  • shoot some vids, shop tour, Q&A, nib stuff


1. @Evrim_Binbas- Twitter (8:06)
We hear a lot about the anatomy of nibs; wet, dry, baby bottom, smooth, flex, etc.. but what about the anatomy of feeds? Why do some feeds keep ink flowing in long writing sessions, or when if we keep the cap open for a long time, but why other’s don’t?

  • this is a complex question, as it’s not JUST about the feed
  • the feed is the delivery system of the ink to the nib from the ink chamber, so to a degree is impacts flow
  • the nib itself also impacts flow, and that’s the part you see and can more easily adjust, so it gets talked about more
  • what can impact the drying out of a pen when uncapped is the ink, for one, the feed design, the nib design, relative humidity in the air, nib housing design, etc
  • the truth is I don’t know enough about the engineering and physics behind it all to explain every facet of it, and I’m not sure even the manufacturers know and test for all different kinds of inks and environmental factors, there are just so many
  • I think pen designers are doing the best they can to try to come up with the best pens in as many factors as they can influence, and the rest is up for us to discover in use

2. @ilfereti- Twitter (16:49)
Are fountain pens safe to use on cotton paper or will the fibers get stuck in the nib?

  • it’s totally safe, sure
  • paper’s more absorbent, so it flattens out the look of the ink a bit, especially terrible for shimmering inks
  • cotton paper can be more fibrous, so you just want to clean your pens regularly
  • make sure you aren’t writing with hard pressure, kind of a general rule but more applicable here
  • watch out for fibers caught in the tines, pretty easy to see
  • pen flush when cleaning helps
  • brass sheet helps with fibers in the tines
  • overall though, just enjoy!

3. kolecoomer- Instagram (21:27)
What is Brian’s favorite pen between $50-$100? Im pretty sure he hasn’t answered this one yet… Maybe. I hope.

  • I don’t know if I’ve answered this specific one…so here goes
  • TWSBI 580AL, pretty hands down
  • GREAT pen for the money, easy to maintain, nib size options, good ink capacity, workhorse, fun to fiddle with
  • honorable mention to TWSBI Vac700R, Conklin Duragraph, Lamy Aion

4. @shelbinator- Twitter (27:09)
Are stub nibs more likely to feel scratchy and require a certain finesse to use? Or am I just unlucky?

  • basically, yeah
  • they’re somewhat less forgiving in their rotation
  • if they’re misaligned at all, they feel scratchier, especially if you write with a heavy hand
  • you need to be able to write with them without over-rotating (something more of us do than we realize)
  • it takes a little practice, but is well worth the effort!


5. @classicURGE- Twitter (36:10)
In your estimation how much ink (in letters) is wasted when cleaning/wiping the pen/nib after filling? Full tweet perhaps?

  • it really depends, some nibs let out a lot more ink than others, and it depends if you’re really holding it on there and soaking up the ink out of the feed vs just wiping a couple of drips off the nib
  • I’d say a tweet’s worth is fairly accurate!
  • in the big picture, it’s not but a few cents worth, even after many wipes, so it’s really not anything to sweat over


6. @Morgan_Josh_C- Twitter (39:56)
Why does my fountain pen (F and M nib; Noodlers and Pelikan inks) will “skip/jump” on Rhodia paper but will move smoothly on Leuchtturm paper? I love the almost non-existent bleed through of Rhodia but the skipping/jumping happens so often I’ve not resupplied.

  • this is one of the bigger complaints I hear about Rhodia/Clairefontaine (in addition to dry time), so I’m not shocked
  • there are couple of factors at play here
  • 1) nib tuning, if there’s any baby’s bottom on your nibs (over polishing that can impede ink flow and cause excessively smooth nibs) it will skip worse on smooth, ink-resistant paper than more absorbent paper
  • 2) drier ink, Pelikan especially is drier, some Noodler’s can be, certain other inks (mainly from pen manufacturers) tend to be a little on the drier side
  • 3) hand oils, especially if it’s happening more at the bottom of the page than the top
  • it’s really a personal preference thing, and there won’t be one perfect paper for everyone
  • Rhodia is amazing and my favorite workhorse paper, but you gotta enjoy whatever you’re using

7. franzjpm- Instagram (47:35)
What’s Brian’s thoughts on picky buyers.

  • haha, what a question!
  • I LOVE them, I wouldn’t have a business without picky buyers
  • Picky buyers end up coming to Goulet Pens because we have deep knowledge resources, a friendly staff, and an exclusive focus on fountain pens
  • We want to be the #1 online resource of fountain pens, so we will inevitably attract the pickiest of pen people and we love it that way
  • Now, the nature of the question is probably more negative than that, I get it…I would probably spin it and use the word “discerning”
  • We do get some people that are somewhat past reasonable in their requests, and we just communicate honestly with them about what we can do
  • We exist to serve the most passionate, dedicated, and determined fountain pen users out there, so you’ve come to the right place!

QOTW: What are you most looking forward to in 2018? (56:19)

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2018-01-15T13:27:35+00:00 January 5th, 2018|Goulet Q&A|14 Comments
  • Stephanie Walters

    Okay, the car rants were amazing.

    Loved the talk on stub nibs. Interesting to hear how the interaction with paper differs than standard nibs. I get a lot of compliments on my handwriting, and I completely attribute it to preferring stubs.

    What I’m most looking forward to this year: we’ve moving back to Tennessee (from central Florida), and I am SO FREAKING HAPPY

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Congrats on the move! Hope it goes smoothly!

  • Robert Dašek

    Fun and informative Q&A! Thank you!

    QOTW: Targeting the fountain pen hobby: More videos and info on Brian’s visit at Lamy, as well as what new products Lamy and other manufacturers come out with.

  • Joanna

    Great Q&A! Although you could’ve named it “Mid-priced pens, fuel injectors and cast-iron skillets”, that would’ve been awesome.. :p

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Hahaha I love it!

  • Lisa Vierra

    So is my Mini-Cooper S a fountain pen or a roller ball? Cast iron skillets rock. I like how you can start something on the stovetop – say, a frittata, then slap the whole thing under the broiler or oven. Then a cast iron Dutch oven makes fabulous crusts for bread.

    Looking forward to? Huh? Don’t know. I plan on going to Lisbon and Sintra this spring, so if I can work that in…but might have to put it off to help my parents get moved into retirement village.

  • Cindy

    Socal meetup would be fun! So excited for a group geekout. Any details?

    I’m going to have to remember that bit when filling my pens. I get slightly bothered when I can see ink in the more translucent caps.

    Qotw: pen wise I’m really looking forward to what pilot has in store for their anniversary. Life wise, there’s a tentative plan for a Utah road trip to check out some gorgeous parks. Besides that there’s isn’t a big event but I want to make small, positive changes in my life to improve myself and my outlook overall.

  • Tom Johnson

    Great Q&A, now I’m really looking forward to next week’s Q&A with Edison! So, for now, that is what I’m most looking forward to in 2018. One other thing is warmer weather after this bitter cold here.

    Q#2 – I used pens at work for years never writing on cotton paper, and I still would get a fiber stuck between the tines. It causes what you described – an effect like a brush bristle smearing the wet ink. Looking at the nib with an eye loupe would show a long, fine textile fiber, like a synthetic fiber off clothing (sweater, coat, whatever). This seemed most common with my Vanishing Point M nib, which in 1999 was an 18k gold nib. While I never tried to flex it, this is a springy nib and I think it probably opened more during writing than my pens with steel nibs. Sometimes I could pluck it out with fingers, sometimes it would be too short and I had to wipe the nib by pinching it between my fingers with a paper towel.

    Waiting for the next Q&A will be like waiting for a Goulet order to come!

  • Jackie O’Sullivan

    I am so grateful that you and Rachel are rearing responsible human beings! Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur for setting expectations.
    The consonance between your business ethic and your family values gives me hope 🙂
    Where will you be in California? I am east of LA, and if you have time what about a pen meetup!!??

  • Uniotter

    Great video, but Brian must’ve had several shots of coffee beforehand! *LOL* QOTW: have decided that 2018 is my year to thrive, so I’m hoping to sell lots of stories and buy a new house. Wishing a happy and healthy new year to the whole Goulet team!

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Best of luck!

  • jane pilecki

    I just want to say that for me, a ballpoint is the equivalent of a Yugo car. ..horrible and unreliable. I hate when the ballpoint leaves a blob of ink, or starts skipping because of a scrattch in the ball. (I do confess to having a MontBlanc ball point given to me 20 years ago. It has a broad size point, and I have to say, it writes quite nicely…for a ballpoint.) Fountain pens are my everyday pens, so I don’t feel like they are such a luxury. OK, now that I think about it, some people drive Bentley’s as their everyday car, and they sure are a luxury. As for the QOTW, what I look forward to most in 2018 is moving back from Phoenix to Boston, from where I come. I can’t wait to be with my family again. And all of my nearly 200 pens and 200 bottles of ink will make the trip with me!!! (And all of the paper of which I have stocked up!)

  • Anne Kaelber

    I’m glad to see feed problems covered a little. I have 5 Pilot Prera’s (M nib) and every one of them has feed issues. By that I mean I have to open the pen and twist the converter’s piston, while holding the pen point up, to help the air escape.

    I now have two Lamy Vistas and two Lamy Al-Stars (Charged Green and Pacific!), but only one LH nib. (I cannot wait for them to come back in stock. Wish I could pre-order them!). The *only* pen I’ve not had to do this whole routine with is the Lamy Vista. I think the one with the LH nib might be a little better about keeping the feed filled. So, I’m looking forward to trying the LH nib on one of my Al-Stars.

    QotW: I plan to publish my first novel this year. That’s been a LONG time coming, so it’s safe to say I’m looking forward to that most of all.

  • Frog 11

    Question regarding stationary: As much as I love the paper and cards I’ve bought from GPC, I’m considering getting some customized stationary (monogrammed, letterpressed, etc.). But how can one tell if a given paper is fountain pen friendly? I suspect there’s more to it than just looking for a certain GPS weight. Thanks for your thoughts!