Best Flex Nib Options for Fountain Pens

Looking for some flex in your writing? Here are a few options to consider.

If you’re watching this, you’ve probably also seen some of the amazing results that people get when using flex nibs in their pens. In my quest to get some of the same capabilities for my own writing, I have tried a few different options, and this is what I found.

My first foray was with the Conklin Duragraph pen with an Omni-Flex nib. I found one on sale from the Pen Chalet and I love the pen itself; it feels great and it looks pretty good too. The Omni-Flex nib has deep indentations from each side which should, theoretically, make the nib very flexible. In practice, though, I found that the nib hardly flexes at all. In order to get any appreciable flex, I have to put so much pressure on the nib that I’m at risk of bending it permanently.

My next option was to attempt a JinHao x750 conversion from the standard nib to a Zebra G dip-pen nib. The pens only cost a four or five dollars each, and a pack of ten nibs can be found for about $8, although I now recommend the titanium version that costs about $20 for a pack.

In any case, after ruining a pen, ruining a few nibs, slicing my finger open, and finally getting it right, the Zebra G nibs give really nice results. The un-flexed line is needle thin, and the nib is soft enough to flex out to 3 or 4mm wide without too much trouble. But there’s no ball-tip on the nib, making it very scratchy to write with most of the time, and even when I’ve managed to flatten them perfectly, they’re not as reliable as a true fountain pen nib.

So, I eventually found my “best of both worlds” option: the Ultra-Flex Nib from Fountain Pen Revolution. It’s wonderfully flexy, but also smooth enough to use for every-day writing. I love these things.

I’m not sure that they’re quite as soft as the G-nibs, though if they’re not, they’re pretty close. They also don’t offer quite as fine a point when un-flexed, but again, the difference is modest. Ultimately, you get very similar performance to the G-nib without the hassles of modification, installation, and regular replacement.

What do you think? Any better options out there? I’d love to hear about them.

  1. Please could you give me some advice I am interested in learning calligraphy and been advised to use a pen with flexible nib. I have one enormous problem I am disabled and have some trouble with dexterit. I have watched your video with a lot of interest but can’t afford a very expensive pen and I won’t be able to do any alterations to the nib. I am really sorry for any inconvenience but please can you help

    1. There are some really good options out there, I think. First of all, if you want to use a flex nib, then for calligraphy, you can use a flex nib in a dip pen… that’s the most common way to use them. But if you want to have the convenience of a fountain pen, then you can actually buy the Jinhao pens with G-nibs pre-installed, and they only cost about $3 each, here:
      A lot of people also enjoy doing calligraphy with a stub nib or parallel nib, so you might consider that as an alternative. You can buy Pilot Parallel pens for just a few dollars as well, and YouTube will give you some good ideas of the results you can get with them. Good luck!

    1. There are a couple of things you might want to try. The first thing you should do is wash the nib / feed unit with some soapy water (after you take the cartridge off, of course), which can help get rid of oils that stop ink from drawing into the nib. It can also help to pull out your cartridge and just drop a little bit of ink onto the tip of your nib, or squeeze the cartridge to force a little up into the feed to prime it.

      If those things fail, then you may need to get something to spread the tines of your nib a little bit. Brass foil is probably the safest option, but thin steel feeler gauges work well, too. I can’t really explain how to use the foil on your nib, here, but basically you insert it into the slit in the nib and spread the tines a bit. There are good videos on youtube that can give you more details.

      If none of those things work, then there’s probably something seriously wrong with the pen / nib / feed, and you might need to try installing a new nib.

      Good luck!

  2. Very nice article; I liked the tinkering/DIY aspect of it. After reading the article, I discovered a company, Osprey, that makes fountain pens with ebonite feeds already fitted to the Zero G nib. Price is around $30-$40, which is higher than the JinHao, but doesn’t require the conversion — which, from what I’ve heard from others online, can be a little tricky 😉

    1. Thanks! Yes, I’ve heard of the Ospreys, but haven’t tried them yet. My concern is that, with my current pens, the Zebra nibs corrode after I forget them in the pen for a few weeks (my fault, but… I know myself), and then I can’t get the nib out again… even with pliers. I’d hate to be destroying more expensive pens that way 🙂

      1. Do you have the same experience with the titanium-coated Zebra G nibs as with the plain steel in terms of corrosion? I’ve heard the coating is supposed to help prevent the rusting of the plain steel. I’ve used them with dip pens successfully but I find that with any (disposable) calligraphy nib you really have to rinse/clean/dry them more frequently that you do with stainless or gold nibs in fountain pens. I can see where that would be an issue with the JinHao conversion though because it sounds like they aren’t that easy to remove, even after altering it to fit the feed better. Being able to find an inexpensive flex nib with good line variation on a fountain pen as you have with the FPR pen, is a great compromise — especially when you don’t have the budget to buy a soft gold flex nib with an ebonite feed!

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