Fountain Pen Basics: What size of nib should I get on my first fountain pen?
When choosing your first fountain pen you may notice that they are outfitted with a variety of nibs. The most common nib choices are extra-fine, fine, medium and broad. Other types of nibs include soft fine, BB, stub, italic, calligraphy, music, left-handed and more.
When you pick up a ballpoint or rollerball pen to write, not much thought is given to the way you hold the pen. Pretty much no matter which way the pen is oriented in your hand, the pen will write - assuming you are not out of ink of course! Fountain pens are different. Most of them need to be held correctly, with the nib oriented in the right direction, in order for the pen to write well. Depending on how coordinated you are this can take a little practice.
Nibs that are in the middle of the nib size spectrum are often the easiest to write with because they will usually write even if the fountain pen is not held exactly right. We would recommend a medium nib as a good choice for a beginner, or if your writing is small, a fine nib. Left-handed nibs are often medium-fine in size, so they are also a good choice for a beginner that is left-handed. However, a left-handed nib is not essential for a left-handed writer.
Something to keep in mind is that nib sizes are not standardized. For example, generally German-made nibs are broader in size than the equivalent size of Japanese-made nibs. This does not apply 100% of the time though, sometimes there are exceptions. A couple of popular brands with German-made nibs are LAMY and Pelikan. Pens with Japanese nibs include brands such as Platinum, Sailor, Nakaya, Pilot and others. Japanese extra-fine and fine nibs may seem very very small compared to the tips on the ballpoint and rollerball pens that Westerners are used to writing with.
These recommendations are based on our own personal writing experiences. If your first fountain pen does not have a medium or fine nib don’t let that hold you back from enjoying the satisfying experience of writing with a fountain pen. With a little bit of practice and experimentation you may find there is a place in your pen case for nibs of many different sizes! If you are an experienced fountain pen user, what nib size recommendations would you like to pass along to a beginner?