Review by Tina Koyama
I think it was Azizah of Gourmet Pens who said that one can never have too many music nibs. If my handwriting were as beautiful as hers, I could rationalize having as many music nibs as I damn well please. Alas, it’s not (in fact, I usually print in a utilitarian manner), so I’m not sure why I felt compelled to add a fifth music nib to my collection (and will undoubtedly add more in the future), but I’m happy I did. The Noodler’s Ink Neponset music nib is quite different from the others I own.
Before I get to that nib, though, let’s talk about the Neponset’s body, which is substantial. According to Pen Chalet, the Neponset (appropriately named after an airship blimp) is the largest of Noodler’s fleet. Despite my relatively small hand, I prefer pens with a good heft and girth, both of which the Neponset has. It’s also more than a half-inch longer than a Lamy Safari.
That extra length balances well with the pen’s large diameter without the cap. With the cap posted, however, it feels a little back-end heavy to me. The cap screws on and posts securely.
I chose the Calligraphy Stone color, which looked orange in the model photographed on Pen Chalet’s site, but mine is closer to a golden topaz hue with more dark marbling. Some parts of the body reflect light more than others, and the marbling varies widely, too. Made of acrylic, the body is fitted with a silver-colored clip, trim ring and band to match the nib.
The Neponset uses a plunger-style piston filler. For people who are used to eyedropper pens or those with built-in pistons, the detachable piston’s capacity may seem small. Compared to the miniscule Pilot and Sailor converters I’m used to, though, the Neponset’s filler seems enormous.
Before I move on to the nib, I must say something I’ve heard other Noodler’s users complain about but had never experienced myself until now: that smell! I noticed it immediately when I uncapped the new pen, but when I unscrewed the section from the barrel, that odor nearly knocked me out! (Yes, I have said the same thing about alcohol-based markers and Xylene pens.) I quickly inked it and put the barrel back on, hoping that would hold the smell at bay, and it did. As long as it’s completely capped, I don’t smell it. (I’ve heard that if I disassemble all the pieces and leave them out in the open for several days, the smell will dissipate, so I’ll do that before its next inking.)
Now let’s get to that nib, which is the most important part of any pen (at least for me). Called the Vishnu Victory, the Neponset’s music nib has the traditional three tines. (I have a Sailor music nib with only two tines, but the Platinum, Pilot and Franklin-Christoph all have three.)
Apparently music nibs are so named because their stub-like shape can make a thin line horizontally and thicker line vertically, both strokes being used to write music notations. I also understand that the purpose of the double slits (three tines) is to keep more ink flowing. The Vishnu Victory certainly manages well on both counts. Immediately after its first inking and ever since, it has been flowing beautifully with no skips or hard starts, and it keeps up with longer or faster strokes with ease.
Pen Chalet’s description calls it a “flex music nib,” which caught my attention; none of my other music nibs have any flex at all (hard as the proverbial nail). While I probably don’t take advantage of flexing when I write, I sometimes enjoy making deliberately slow pen-and-ink-type drawings using fountain pens instead of dip pens, and the Neponset’s nib gives me just enough spring that I can get interesting line variations. Mind you, it’s not a wet noodle by any means or even as flexy as some contemporary nibs (my Pilot Falcon and Pilot FA nibs are much flexier), but it has just enough bounce to make the nib fun.
Flexier than all the other music nibs I’ve tried, Noodler’s Neponset is a versatile pen for both writing and drawing (and is therefore a welcome addition to my music nib collection whether I can rationalize another one or not). I hope that stink goes away.
By the way, if you’re curious about that quotation I used for my writing sample, it’s by Naoki Ishikawa, an explorer and photographer, quoted in last year’s Hobonichi Techo: “I want to spend the rest of my life continually astonished by things I’ve never seen. When I saw the world’s tallest mountain peaks, or Tibetan worshippers chanting prayers as they spent all day circling a temple, or the deep crimson sunsets of Africa, my body responded on its own. By the time I realized it, my finger was already pressing the shutter.”
I’d like to spend the rest of my life that way, too.