In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about Where to Start if you know nothing, Durable Bottles, and What Makes Nibs Good.

This week:


1) laura.boggs.581- Instagram (09:55)
I recently heard that a pen with a gold nib “adjusts” to your writing style. Is this something that happens with gold nibs or fountain pens in general?

  • I’ve answered this, I know
  • I talked about it in 7 Pen Myths you should stop believing
  • this one has good intentions, in that you should take care in sharing fountain pens with others
  • nibs don’t really adjust to anything, you’re more adjusting to it
  • nibs can be manipulated to write to an individual’s preference
  • largely, other than writing hard spreading the tines, it’s not really conforming to an individual
  • it’s a pretty romantic idea
  • it definitely will perform differently depending on your hand position and who’s writing with it, and maybe that’s some of where this comes from…but it’s not actually changing itself because of you

2) benjamin.nielson- Instagram (13:54)
Stub nibs are commonly sized as 1.2 and 1.5. How does this compare to Fine, Medium and Broad nibs of both European and Japanese origin?

  • thinner stubs are commonly 1.0-1.2, most often 1.1 in the brands we carry
  • Japanese and European nibs differ, for sure
  • Richard Binder put together a comprehensive stroke width cart in 2013, available on his site
  • Fine: 0.5mm EU, 0.4mm Japan
  • Medium: 0.6mm EU, 0.55mm Japan
  • Broad: 0.8mm EU, 0.75mm Japan
  • stub nibs typically are advertised in their actual widths, not the line they draw
  • lines they draw might be 75% of the width of the nib itself, if varies
  • for a 1.0 you’re looking around a broad nib, maybe a tad wider
  • 1.5 you’re looking more in the BB or 3B range, which most pens just don’t have available
  • won’t vary much EU to Japan in these sizes, honestly

3) mjbettigole- Instagram (19:39)
Under what circumstances would I want a soft nib?

  • soft can mean just a little springy with no line variation, or just springy with no variation at all
  • Pilot Falcon is perhaps most famous for “soft” meaning line variation
  • Platinum soft nibs don’t have much line variation at all, just springier nib
  • I hear the term used more the Japanese pens, actually
  • it’ll depend on what you’re going for…but generally, it’s for those with a slightly lighter hand that want a springier feeling, or if you intentionally want some line variation (then you just look at reviews)

4) therealknittingale- Instagram (24:02)
How do you know where to start? I feel like there are so many options that it’s hard to know what to consider. Size? Weight? Flex, non-flex? It’s daunting and hard to know what you’re really getting without being able to test drive the pens.

  • it is hard! I empathize, especially because most people don’t think intently about their writing instruments at all until getting into fountain pens
  • if you’re starting from ground zero, you will have to try some stuff
  • go with ones that are popular “starter” pens, 5 pens for newbies
  • set a budget to experiment, maybe $50 for pen and ink
  • definitely NOT flex
  • weight is good, because you can weigh pens you have now to get an idea, but that will be hard unless you have a precise scale
  • ask around, if ANYONE at your work, church, circle of friends is into fountain pens, they will almost certainly want to share with you, especially if you’re new!
  • watch Fountain Pen 101 to learn the ropes, then ask my team!

5) quadcarry- Instagram (31:46)
How does micro scratches get on the Nib? I have a 3 year old MB149 with scratches all over the nib and a 6month old one and it’s very shiny. It doesn’t come into contact with anything else but a soft cloth. Me and my friends were both wondering about this question and are stumped, maybe THE Brian Goulet can shed some light.

  • it’s probably the glass from your ink bottles!
  • Moh’s hardness scale has glass at around 4.5-6.5, gold is at 2.5-3
  • rhodium plating protects it more at around 6
  • I suspect this is the cause!
  • polishing cloth ought to take care of that though

6) michael.j.culbertson- Instagram (38:02)
What characteristics make for a good nib? How can you tell the difference between a nib that is poor overall and a nib that is simply poorly tuned?

  • this is a super general question and hard to answer without going into crazy detail on nib construction
  • there are a lot of factors that go into nib quality, type of alloy, manufacturing method, tipping, weld, sharing, slit position, cleanliness of slit, etc
  • visual inspection if you know what you’re looking for, and a loupe is pretty critical
  • proper alignment of tines
  • nice writing pad
  • slit tapers to the tip
  • the best way to tell is just how it writes
  • should write under its own weight


7) supreme_leader_blazej- Instagram (43:33)
What bottles of ink are durable? I bring my bottle of ink with me every day to school in my bag and last time the plastic cap broke! Thank you and great videos.

QOTW: What’s the best fountain pen “hack” you’ve discovered? (49:04)

Write On,
Brian Goulet