Pen Review: Platinum 3776 Century Music Nib

 

Several months ago, I did a review of the Platinum 3776 Century in the stunning Chartres Blue resin. It was a pen I liked a lot, but didn’t love: a fairly tradition (i.e., boring) cigar-shaped pen that was saved almost entirely by the material from which it was made. Over time, I’ve come to like the pen a bit more than I did initially, due to its solid construction and its performance as a spectacular writer.

One of my viewers reached out to me about a month ago and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the pen again…this time with one of Platinum’s stock music nibs. Having never used a music nib before, I thought it would be fun to revisit the pen a bit, as well as try one of these two-slitted, three-tined nibs for the first time. (Thanks, Paul!)

P1000282

Up until just recently, the music nib was only available in the US on the black versions of the pen, not on the Chartres Blue or the Bourgogne (maroon) versions of their 3776, which is why I had never tried one. I’ve got enough generic black cigar-shaped pens, thank you very much. Since then, Platinum has made the music nib available on the blue and maroon versions of the pen, which is a step in the right direction. The unit I received was the traditional black with rhodium trim. As the body and construction of the pen are basically identical to the pen I reviewed earlier, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on that information.

What I do want to talk about, though, is the nib. Fountain pen folklore has it that music nibs were originally intended to help with notating music on the staff. As someone who has spent more than his fair share of time doing that, it’s fine for that. (Although, to be fair, I would NEVER notate by hand in ink. I’m not that good.) These days, since nobody notates music by hand, they’re pretty much just wide stub nibs. They are also, as a rule, rather wet writers. The two slits result in a pretty significant ink flow in most music nibs.

Platinum’s music fits the music nib stereotype: it’s wonderfully juicy and very smooth. It was a lot of fun to write with. The pen just glided across the paper on a nice wet line of ink. A lot of this comes, I think, from the fact that Platinum is actually tipping their music nibs. Unlike most modern stubs, their music nib had a rather hefty glob of tipping material which has been ground and smoothed wonderfully. Franklin-Christoph has just released a music nib that, from what I’ve been able to tell, is not tipped at all (like most modern stubs). I’d be interested to see how those would compare.

The ink flow that results from the dual nib slits also provided me with a quite lovely bit of shading on the ink I used to test the pen (Diamine Damson). The nib is quite rigid, however, so don’t get a Platinum music nib and expect to be able to do this or this. (Seriously, Azizah. Seriously.)

Despite the fact that nib doesn’t flex, its line variation is still pretty good. I didn’t pull out my loupe and my micrometer, but if I had to guess based on the line width I see from my other stubs, I would place the Platinum music nib somewhere in the range of 1.2-1.4mm. It’s far too big for my daily handwriting. Even when using two lines of a Rhodia DotPad (for a total of 10mm lines), it’s a little too big for me to use without losing the loops in my Es and Ls.

So, overall, I like the music nib from a a novelty standpoint. I think they would be fun to use for larger writing, or for something like addressing Christmas cards. But for a daily writer, this just wouldn’t work for me. Also, the understated nature of these generic cigar-shaped pens just does nothing for me at all–especially in black. Now that the music nib is available on the Blue or Maroon versions of the pen, I might consider one in the future, but frankly, I just don’t know how often it would get used.

  • Gordon Tillman

    Matt thank you for another great review! I share your sentiment regarding a music nib. I have a really pretty ribbed burgundy Sailor 1911 Naginata-togi with a music nib. It is great fun to write with and has a very wet nib — a bit more so than the one on the Platinum 3776 that you reviewed — but isn’t really practical as an everyday writer. As always, looking forward to your next review.

  • Kate

    Get one from mottishaw and have it ground! That’s what I did. I know have a super left oblique cursive italic that puts down a .9mm line on the widest point. Perfectly useable on clairefontaine paper with 8mm lines. But mottishaw can of course give you anything you want. Maybe even add flex? Would probably not really flex but just give it a soft feel.

    • Kate

      Should say “super wet left oblique cursive italic.” sorry for the typo.

    • San Jay

      Really can a music nib be sent to a nibmeister to add flex and made into a finer tip from a stub probably ???

      • It depends on the nib. 14k Nibs can usually be adjusted to add a bit of extra flex. But taking the tip down from a stub really isn’t easily possible, because the multiple tines almost require it to be a stub. Music nibs are unusual enough, you’re probably better off just selling the pen and getting a new one with a nib that closely matches what you have rather than trying to completely change the writing characteristics of a music nib.

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  • It’s a Rhodium-plated 14k Gold nib. That’s why it has the silver color.

  • have you ever thought about holding your stub pens so that the nib is at an angle, then write? I notice that you write with the stub flat.

    • I’ve tried it, but not had a lot of success with it. I tend to roll my pen when I try to do that, and end up having a rather unpleasant writing experiences. I would probably have a nib like this ground into an oblique to fit my personal style, I think.

  • The Wasp

    Pretty good, and agree. It’s a nib for calligraphers. I don’t know if Sailor has a music nib for 1911 but to comparing this with a 1911 music nib would be great. I only have one music nib and almost never have the opportunity to use it. It’s a Franklin Christoph and I live it – when I use it.

  • Franck Leprince

    Just a point about music nibs: I am a professional musician and arranger with over 40 years’ experience of using music nibs, which sadly are in decline owing to music writing software for computer users. The correct way to write musical notation using one of these nibs is by holding it so that thin edge of the nib is always perpendicular. In other words, all perpendicular lines should be thin, while all horizontal strokes are thick. If kept in this writing position, you will get all the grades of thickness in between, but where they are needed on the manuscript paper. This will allow you to fill in note heads (using a quick circular motion), or draw open note heads, ensure that all note tails are thin, ensure that connecting beams joining two or more notes are thick, and that slurs and ties (curved expression lines) start and finish thin, but are thick in the centre. The thickness of the nib is necessary because the staffs on manuscript paper are always of a particular universal size. If we are to include any text or lyrics on our scores, we put the music pen down, and choose a pen with a standard calligraphers’ script lettering nib, according to the size required. The Platinum pen you demonstrated is by far the best music notation pen on the market.

    • Craig McDonough

      Franck – thank you.

      There are also a lot of amateur musicians who use either a music nib or an italic nib for score transcription, especially from one instrument to another