Sunday, March 8, 2015

Epic Pen Search and Discovery, Part 7: Sailor 1911 Profit Standard with Music Nib

1/16/15 Platinum Carbon ink, Van Gogh watercolors, Stillman & Birn Alpha
(This is part of a multi-post series about my ongoing search for the ultimate variable-line-width fountain pen. To read other posts in the series, choose “Epic Pen Search” in the label cloud at right, below.) 

Despite finding a perfectly reliable and even elegant music nib in the Platinum that I had decided was a keeper, my mind kept drifting back to that Sailor I flirted with briefly once. (Yeah, I know how that sounds – it’s an apt metaphor in several ways.) I had read numerous reviews about how the Sailor music nib’s “sweet spot” was too narrow, causing frustration for many users. Yet for that brief moment that I had that pen in my hand, it seemed altogether sweet. . .

I should have listened.

1/10/15 Private Reserve Velvet Black ink, Stillman & Birn Alpha
Perhaps the pen I borrowed briefly had been altered somehow, because the one I purchased, the Sailor 1911 Profit Standard Demonstrator with a music nib, is definitely not the same. (That experience reinforced my belief that pens must be used in an actual sketching situation – not just scribbling or writing – to really know how they will behave.) And as those reviewers tried to warn me, it also isn’t the same as the Platinum’s music nib.

First of all, the Sailor music’s range of line-width variation is much narrower than the Platinum’s – the broadest stroke isn’t nearly as bold, and when I try to use the nib upside-down to get the finest line, it’s not only not as fine – it also feels scratchy, like it’s not really supposed to be used that way. (I don’t care if none of the nibs are supposed to be used that way; if they work, why not use them that way?)

Writing samples made with Sailor music nib.
Second, that small sweet spot others mentioned? It’s true. If the nib isn’t held at just the right angle to the paper, the ink skips or fades away. I encounter this issue most while simply writing in my journal, but it’s also noticeable when sketching – to the point of distraction. I’m constantly thinking about staying within the sweet spot instead of thinking about my sketch.

Perhaps with a longer workout, I could learn to get used to the Sailor music nib; after all, the Sailor fude took me months to fully love. Or I could dump it right now and decide that it was a flirtation that was never meant to be anything more.

(By “dump,” I don’t mean literally; I mean that I could try to resell it on the secondary market, which seems to be very active for pens in this price range, and probably be successful. It’s one reason I haven’t hesitated in experimenting with all these different nibs.)

1/13/15 Sailor Shigure ink, Sailor music nib pen,
Canson XL 140 lb. paper
One comment about the Sailor 1911 Profit Standard Demonstrator’s body: Its size and shape are identical to the plain black Sailor 1911 Profit Standard (coming up next when I discuss the zoom nib). The fully transparent “Demonstrator” model, however, is a lot more fun to look at. The standard Sailor converter has silver colored detailing, but this pen’s converter has gold detailing to match the pen body’s gold features – a nice touch.

The fountain pen world is full of music nibs to explore. But does a girl need more than one music nib? (Gourmet Pens would say yes – she is trying to collect a music nib by every manufacturer who offers one.) The only other one I would consider trying at this point is Pilot’s, just to complete my education about Japan’s “big three” pen manufacturers’ music nibs. But after my disappointment with the Sailor, music nibs have lost some of their appeal in my explorations.

Besides, I still have the zoom to consider. . . (stay tuned next week).

1/29/15 Sailor Shigure ink, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble
colored pencil
(Just in case it’s not obvious, unlike many blogs that review fountain pens, my blog has no sponsors or affiliates. Every pen I mention here was purchased by me at retail price.)

1/10/15 Sailor Shigure ink, Clairefontaine notebook (from photo)
1/15/15 Sailor Shigure ink, Clairefontaine notebook (from photo)


  1. Sorry that in real life use it wasn't what you wanted. Nice sketches.

  2. Your frustration at the not-quite-perfect nib sounds very much like the reason I have two dozen pens in the house. But you've inspired me to dig out my old Platinum and have another go with the Music nib.


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