In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about how fountain pens should write when tuned properly, how nibs are modified to have flex added, and whether or not videos have been important for the growth of Goulet Pens!

This week:


1) Gillian B.- Facebook (10:43)

If different pen companies both use the same 3rd party nib, e.g. a Jowo #6, how much is it customized for the particular pen brand, and is that done by Jowo or the pen company or the distributor or ?? How much and what types of variation are possible or common?

  • the short answer is it depends, and I’m not privvy to the specific details of many pen manufacturer’s specifications with the nib 3rd party manufacturers they buy from
  • it’s very likely that the nib factory isn’t doing anything different with nibs that are unbranded, they’re going to be very similar (like what you might see from smaller, independent pen makers)
  • for larger companies that are getting them stamped (like Montegrappa), it’s entirely possible they have a specific request from JoWo about how their nibs write, since they’re already “different” nibs anyway. I don’t know for certain this is the case, but I could see the possibility for a request like that
  • Whatever JoWo may do to it, a distributor certainly could do their own things, too (with the manufacturer’s knowledge and permission, of course)
  • We’re working with Yafa on getting Bock nibs in the Monteverde and Conklin pens we carry
  • they’re unbranded, just like Karas Kustoms and other brands that might use Bock
  • I highly doubt Bock is making them differently for these two companies, but it’s very possible the two companies could be modifying them when they receive them
  • I doubt they’re doing all that much, other than inspection for quality and smoothing/adjustment when needed
  • No distributor is likely to get so picky on steel nibs where they feel they need to adjust their flow to a 6/10 if they’re coming as a 7/10 from the nib manufacturer, just to be different…it’s just not practical
  • most of the more serious modification you might be would be from one of the specific retailers who might offer a custom nib grind, which is really a whole other ballgame
  • Richard Binder used to do this, and Nibsmith are the only ones I can think of that offer this regularly
  • This is much more rare and often only done by retailers trying to offer an additional service for value-add or a competitive differentiator, and I’d love to do that
  • it’s a boatload of work, and very impractical to do at scale (which is what I’m still trying to figure out!)
  • So the long and short of it, it’s most efficient to get any nib work/modifications done as close to the manufacturer as possible, but the further down the distribution chain you go, you’ll find more potential modifications occurring

2) j_francis_imagery- Instagram (23:07)

Should a pen always write under its own weight? Or is that an unreasonable expectation?

  • ideally, yes, every pen should be able to write under its own weight when properly tuned and cleaned
  • does every pen do it? no, not necessarily
  • sometimes, the issue is us, the users (the “general population”, moreso than us serious users)
  • sometimes nibs are overpolished from the manufacturer in order for the nibs to feel smooth, especially when they’re mashed down like when people who’ve been used to ballpoints their whole life switch over to fountain pens!
  • the overpolishing can lead to baby’s bottom, which feels great but can make it where the ink in the slit breaks contact with the paper unless you press down on it
  • you can blame the manufacturers for this, and maybe there’s some room for that, but it’s also partly because they’re responding to how their pens are generally used and the feedback they receive
  • every nib meister I know aims for this goal though, and I’m working to educate every distributor and manufacturer I can to the point that there’s too much overpolishing going on and they can probably dial it back

3) kalonwinfield- Instagram (29:46)

Why can’t I find a replacement nib for my lamy 2000? 😢😢😢

  • short answer, because they aren’t able to be found (they don’t offer them apart from the pen)
  • they’re having a tough time keeping up with production of the 2000’s at all right now, but even still, it’s not so much a user-swappable nib like the steel Lamy nibs
  • they make them in-house, so no other brand will fit them
  • you pretty much don’t have an option but to get another pen or get a custom grind
  • I was in talks about getting spare nibs from them, but the conversation didn’t make it very far
  • they’ve never offered them, and are hesitant to do so for many reasons, and they’d be really expensive (like $125 or so)
  • still worth pursuing?

4) theaspiringpenman- Instagram (33:45)

Are you able to switch the nibs of the Montegrappa Elmo, or the Pineider Avatar with other number 6 sized nibs? What about the nib unit, is it interchangeable with other nib units? Thanks!

  • Montegrappa is now using JoWo nibs and nib housings, so yes, they should swap with other JoWo nibs/housings like Edison
  • the nibs themselves can pull out and swap with most any #6 nib across brands
  • Pineider gets theirs from Bock, and it’s a custom nib for them that Dante Del Vecchio designed, so I haven’t messed around too much with swapping them, I would largely say it doesn’t swap

5) this_username_isavailable- Instagram (44:32)

i often see videos nib mods of popular pens like the 3776 and other pens saying “with added flexibility” and they flex well then the stock ones. exactly what is done to a nib to get the added flexibility?

  • there are several ways to “add flex” to a nib
  • some require using different materials or changing the overall composition of the nib, which isn’t an aftermarket “mod”, so I won’t get into that
  • let’s assume you have a nib, and want that nib to be more flexy
  • there are a few techniques to achieve it, but all of them involved weakening the metal so it bends
  • you can cut a deeper slit (Noodler’s)
  • you can thin the tines (Aurora)
  • you can cut whole portions of material from the sides (Pilot FA, JoWo flex, Pineider)
  • you can thin the metal underneath (this is often done in conjunction with other techniques, especially as this one is really hard to do well!)
  • as relatively complex as fountain pens themselves are, adding flex is some of the most challenging work that requires still and talent to achieve, which is part of why you don’t see it mass available


6) Simma P- Facebook (50:31)

How does one do routine cleaning of the Boston Safety Pen? I’m not talking about taking the whole thing apart for a deep cleaning after using a tough ink. Just the routine cleaning and flushing we’d do normally when changing inks.

  • if it’s a routine cleaning, it’ll be a little bit of a pain but not terrible
  • fill the pen with water, cover the end with your finger, shake it, dump it, repeat as many times as needed, do the same with the cap
  • the pen can be completely disassembled, Nathan Tardif did a video on that himself if you want to see it all with the explanation of how/when/why/etc
  • taking it apart isn’t too bad, and I’d encourage you to mess around with it as it’ll be good for you to learn how it all works
  • is it practical to do that every time to change inks? No, so the shake/flush will be the way to go, with complete disassembly


7) Mike P.- Facebook (58:11)

Brian, how important a role do you think the Goulet Pen Company YouTube videos and social media presence has played in promoting the business, and creating a direct communications pipeline to potential customers?

  • it’s been incredibly important, for many reasons
  • it’s our largest social platform, in followers, comments, watch time
  • we get so much feedback about how much everyone learns and appreciates the videos
  • the thing it’s done the most is show our human side, personalities, and education
  • we utilize video, pictures, audio, and written word in our company, and our team does a phenomenal job, it’s all important
  • video has been a growing method of communication ever since we got into this business, and we’ll continue to focus on it as long as it’s bringing value to you!

QOTW: What do you do to entertain yourself when you lose electricity? (01:05:01)

Writing Prompt: Write about a time when someone did a random act of kindness for you. (01:05:50)

Write On,
Brian Goulet