Jul 2, 2016101 views

Looking for pen recommendations

Howdy all.
I bought a cheap Cross Aventura (pic above) a few years back that is finally starting to give out. I now want to replace this pen with something slightly more 'advanced'. Here's what I'm looking for:
  • Refillable - I'm seriously done with cartridges. I've probably lost like 20 of those things. Having the option to have cartridges would be nice, but I don't want to rely on them.
  • A fine nib - Or at least, finer than what I have now. I think my handwriting has improved to a point that I am writing much tighter than I used to and I'm having a hard time making round letters easily distinguishable .
  • Pedestrian - I don't want anything too flashy or showy for a couple reasons. One is that I am literally using this thing every day. I need a workhorse, not a showpiece. The other reason is that it just doesn't suit me. My current pen is black with gold accents and that's about as far as I want to go. Other colours are fine.
Where should I start looking?
Bonus question: do you have an ink recommendation?

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I finally shook the cobwebs off my wallet and got a TWSBI 580... Absolutely LOVE it ! LOVED it so much I bought another...
They have fine and extra fine nibs. Beautiful pen, piston fill that holds a generous amount of ink.. designed to allow you to clean it easily. Really lovely when filled with your favorite color.
Definately a workhorse that looks sweet - IMO :)
Check it out @ http://www.gouletpens.com/twsbi-580/c/258
and SBrown's youtube review -
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Dear Dr,McCoy... The problem isn't with the pen my friend... the problem is the Los Angeles heat... No TWSBI sweaty grips here in beautiful Michigan.... Perhaps your gal can knit a tiny sweat band for the grip section ;) ... Enjoy !
I did actually think about putting one of those foam grips on it, but then I realised I wouldn't be able to get the cap on.
I would strongly recommend Sheaffer Prelude. You can find new old stock for like $20 on Ebay. Full ss body is very durable; nib is a dream and uses standard sheaffer converter. I have long ignored recent, nonvintage Sheaffer pens, until I recently got the Prelude by accident in a lot purchase. In my opinion, there is no competent in this price range.
Cool! I'll probably give that a look soonish. I ended up going with a TWSBI Eco - but my gal has taken to it and sharing it has already been a little difficult. Thanks!
I really enjoy the Pilot Custom 92 (which I got for a good price on Ebay, shipped from a Japan), as well as the Lamy 2000. For inks, I really like the Goulet-Noodler's collaborative ink called "Liberty's Elysium." (There is also a less expensive Pilot called the 74, which has the same nib.)
Is there a list of legit sellers for Pilot pens on Ebay? I'm really interested in the Decimo/VP still (also the E95s).
i'm not sure about a list, but i went with a seller listed as 'from Japan' with a lot of good reviews -- that particular seller is called "made-in-japan.store"
Not quite my 2 cents worth. I am stuck on Preppy but you may want something a little better, you might go the plaiser. I have not tried it but it is seemingly "better" than the preppy. I have done eyedropper and love it. I am venturing into TWSBI ECO, $30. There are Lamy's without the triangle, but my fingers slide down the grip. I am using Waterman ink but am finding it is a little too wet. All these are xf (.2) or f (.3).
With respect to nibs, stub, italic, cursive, oblique, flexi, etc., are all nib shapers intended to provide more variation in the width of the pen stroke. A stub nib draws a wide line when moved down the page vertically, and a fine line when moved horizontally. You can read about nib shapes here: http://www.richardspens.com/?nibs=primer

If you write small, just as you suggest, you will probably be best served with a fine or extra-fine nib, and you probably won't be very happy with a stub nib. Having said that, if you are seriously interested in pens, it won't be long before you look for some of the different nib shapes just to see what all the fuss is about.

And to show what is possible, I like the way my handwriting looks when I use a stub nib, but before I retired, I maintained a day planner with narrow line spacing, and any stub nib made a mess. I bought a custom-ground nib for my Pelikan Demonstrator that has a stub nib, but when rolled over, the top side if the nib is ground to write a fine line. I could use the fine line in my planner, then roll the pen over to write a note or a showy signature.
Personally, I think it is hard to beat the value of Lamy 2000 (gold nib with a piston filler), if you can get it at the Massdrop price ($100+). And it is one of the smoothest pens I have. But be aware that some people do hate it. You can read the background here: http://blog.gouletpens.com/2015/12/discussing-lamy-2000-quality-control.html.

You might also consider Tactile Turn Gist Fountain Pens that I don't see others mention here. You can buy directly from Will's website and occasionally find 25% coupon by google. Goulet Pens also has a great introduction and you can buy from them too: http://blog.gouletpens.com/2016/07/introducing-tactile-turn-gist-fountain.html.

For inks, JetPens has very detailed comparisons for several colors which I find useful: http://www.jetpens.com/blog/fountain-pen-inks/ct/71. Personally I like Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki the most for my daily usage.
Wow, great links! Thanks! I really like the look of those Gist pens from Tactile Turn (especially the copper).
Lamy 2000 in extra fine. It is a piston filler (no cartridges), it is a minimalist design (not flashy), and it is well made and will last you many years. It also writes like a dream.
Yeah, I think I'm gonna give that one an in-store try if I can. I will say that if I'm going to spend that much on a pen though, the Vanishing Point appeals to me a bit more (even if it is less pretty).
My two cents, for what its worth. I have most of the pens previously mentioned, and then some: Pilot Vanishing Point (4 of them now, I love these pens), Pilot Metropolitan (my first FP), Lamy CP-1, Lamy Studio, Lamy Safari/AL-Star, Lamy 2000, TWSBI 580 Diamond, TWSBI Eco, Kaweco Lilliput, and more. Lots of pen, but few of them would be in your desired price range.

Pilot Vanishing Point: Way outside of your desired price range, but there's a reason I have 4 of them: it is a f**king awesome pen. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you can ever get one, DO IT. One of my 3 daily drivers. Get it in matte black for a very stealth look.

Lamy Studio: The 2nd of my daily drivers. Very smooth in medium. Excellent pen. My only gripe is that the grip feels too smooth some days. It is something others have commented on as well. The grip is perfectly smooth, untextured metal, so you may wish to try it before getting it.

TWSBI 580 Diamond: The final daily driver. As a piston filler, massive ink reservoir. I love this pen to bits. Should be right at or slight above your desired price point. May be considered a bit more showy than the Studio, with the clear body that shows off the ink and all. Be careful if you disassemble it, reassembly can be tricky, but there are videos on youtube to help with that.

Lamy CP-1: If fountain pens are too big for you, this is the pen to get. Roughly the same diameter as your average ballpoint, this pen blends right in. Lamy nib, which means it writes just as smooth as the Studio. I found mine in EF too dry for my taste, but that sound like it would be right for you.

Lamy 2000: Mostly for future reference here. I have a love / hate relationship with this pen. Very smooth nib, if you can keep it in the sweet spot. Keeping it in the sweet spot though, is like trying to balance a pen on the end of your finger. Not something easily done, and compared to the TWSBI 580 and the Studio or CP-1, not something I will spend the effort on, as nearly every other pen I have is far less finicky.

TWSBI Eco: Comparable to the Pilot Metropolitan with regard to price point, roughly 20$ or 30$. The least expensive piston filler I know of. Personally, I'd skip it and go straight for the 580, since the 580 feels far better in hand, but a decent pen still.

Inks: My daily drivers are used at work, which require waterproof inks, so Noodlers Bad Blue Heron in the Studio (nib creep is a thing, but the Studio is easy to clean) and Noodlers Liberty Elysium in the TWSBI. I have Pelikan Edelsten Topaz in the Pilot VP for everything else.

tl;dr: Get the TWSBI 580. Save money. Get the the Vanishing Point later.
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Skip the TWSBI? Wait a month for the VP or get the TWSBI now? Mmmm... Hard call for me to make.

I note that you wrote that you didn't like the triangular grip of the Lamy Safari / AL-Star. The VP has the nib at the top, near the clip, which means you will be holding at or on the clip, which makes the grip roughly triangular. It'll change a bit depending on how you hold the pen. If you've written with a VP before, and you're good with that grip and how the clip is, get the VP. Otherwise, get the TWSBI, which has a standard round grip.
I ended up getting the TWSB Eco over the 580 due to the weight and size savings overall. It's a great pen - I'm glad I got it in EF. The two drawbacks are the slightly slippery grip and that my gal keeps stealing it for herself! I'll probably still end up getting a Decimo or VP. I dunno if you'd be interested in this, but I am trying to see if Massdrop would try to get Pilot to do a special matte black Decimo. Here's the poll link: https://www.massdrop.com/vote/-Product-I-would-buy-a-Pilot-Capless-Decimo-Vanishing-Point-in-Matte-Black
Depends on your budget. Personally, I'm a big fan of anything by TWSBI. A TWSBI Eco is a good inexpensive work horse pen, and their EF nibs are great. A Lamy Safari/Al-Star are also good options for an upgrade, as is a Pilot Metropolitan. But if you want a REALLY awesome pen, I would suggest the timeless Lamy 2000, but that's going to depend on your budget. That is my favorite pen, so I'm partial to that one. It's a piston filler with barely visible seams. Who knows, by the time I've gotten to this, you might have already purchased a new pen or two.
You might want to consider TWSBI. These pens are made in China, but are of excellent quality considering their price points ($50). All TWSBIs are either piston-filled or vacuum-filled, so cartridges are not an option. One feature of the pens I especially like is that the pens can be completely disassembled by the user, making them easy to clean if you want to change ink colors. I own a Diamond 580 Clear and a Mini Clear. I bought fine nibs and 1.1 stub nibs for each pen, and I have found that all four nibs write smoothly and start reliably. An extra-fine nib is also available, along with medium and broad. The nibs can be changed quickly and easily, and come with a protective storage case. Both pens stay balanced when the cap is posted, During the summer I wear pocket tees or polo shirts with pockets, both of which have pockets that are shorter than those found on dress shirts. The mini fits the short pockets very nicely.

I have used a variety of inks, including Noodler's. I have settled for the most part, on Private Reserve Avocado and Black Cherry because I like the colors and because the inks are washable (and NOT waterproof). I find Noodler's ink writes fine and there are lots of nice colors, but I can't seem to fill a pen without getting ink on my fingers, and Noodler's is much harder to clean off than Private Reserve.
Actually, yeah, TWISBI is in the lead right now in terms of pens I'm really interested in (within my budget). I like that they're easily cleanable - that's good info! Pretty much everything they sell looks up my alley.

I haven't looked into "stub" nibs so far. I don't even really know what that means. I think I want something fine because I tend to have a lot of closed loops when I write small (fairly frequently).
A stub nib means it's flat along the top, it gives your handwriting a calligraphy look to it. The good part about TWSBI is you could get two! One with a stub nib, and another with a F or EF nib on it.