FPNibs.com Semi-flex Nibs | To the Point
“What is the best flex nib out there?”
It’s a question I get all. the. time…in various flavors (best flex under $100, best modern flex, best vintage flex, etc…) It’s an impossible question to answer, but one that I suspect will always be top of mind for those folks entering the pen hobby for the first time. New fountain pen users are fascinated by flex. I think it’s because flex is so different than the writing experiences they’re used to. It’s something you can’t come close to replicating with a ballpoint or rollerball. It’s unique, and unusual, and novel, and so it is one of the first avenues of exploration for the FP users.
The problem is that flex is so personal, so unusual, and so variable that it’s impossible to talk about it anything approaching a standardized way. What makes vintage flex so good? Why is modern flex so bad? What is springiness? How do you rate the flexibility of nib? How important is ink flow? Why can’t they make modern nibs like the vintage ones, etc. Nobody can agree on terminology or classifications. And you find vast differences in the feel of a flex experience, even among identical pens from the same brand. (I cover many of those topics in my blog post, “Why Can’t Modern Manufacturers Recreate Vintage Flex?“) So, I never quite know how to answer these questions. Because the answer is almost always “it depends.” And then I encourage folks to try to go to a pen show where they can try them in person.
Now, I love a flexy nib. My everyday handwriting, which is a loopy cursive, is well-suited to a flexy, bouncy nib, so I keep my eye out for good flex nibs where I can. I have some vintage flex, which I love; most, however, are in vintage pens I don’t want to carry around with me. They’re too fragile. (And too expensive. And almost irreplaceable.) So, the hunt for a modern flex nib continues. There are a few options for modern flex out there, but none of them are great. One of the best options for modern flex that I’ve discovered over the last several years can be found at FPNibs.com. This site, run by a gentleman in Spain, features a la carte nibs from manufacturers like Jowo (including TWSBI-specific nibs), Kaweco, and Aurora. In addition to selling a wide variety of nibs, FPNibs.com also offers nibmeister services: special grinds, adjustments, and added flex.
These added-flex nibs, properly labeled as semi-flex on the website, are 14k gold nibs that have had the shoulders shaved down and the feed adjusted to support flexible writing. And they’re good. Really good. When people ask me for the best modern flex experience, this is the nib I point them toward. I’ve taken my FPNibs.com semi-flex nibs with me to pens shows and meetups, and nearly everyone who has used it expressed surprise at how well the nib works.
Now, is it the same as a vintage nib? No, not really. (Although to be fair, there’s no one experience with vintage nibs. Every vintage nib is different.) But these nibs flex without significant force being required. The ink flow is able to keep up with deliberate flex writing. They’ve got a decent bit of snapback. And they’re smooth and pleasant to use. All in all, these are great nibs. I’ve never chatted with the FPNibs folks. They’ve never contacted me. I’ve paid for every single one of my FPNibs.com nibs out of my own pocket, and I have every intention of buying more. They’re just that good.
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