17 October 2011

Young Music

Pen review of the Sailor Young Profit (Somiko in some markets) with music nib.

Feeding my inclination for music nibs I have finally put my hands on this single-slit nib labeled as music by Sailor Company. This is the cheapest music nib among those made in Japan.

1. Appearance and design. (6.0/10)
This is a black pen with golden accents. Even the steel nib is gold plated to match. Therefore, it keeps the classical serious and formal look of many a pen. However, this is not a torpedo pen à la Montblanc despite the model name—Profit pens are the Sailor copies of the German formal pens.

This pen, in a nutshell, is a cartridge-converter, with a snap on cap and a rigid steel nib. All very correct and functional, and nothing really exciting.

2. Construction and quality. (8.0/10)
The materials employed on this pen are correct and show no abnormal wear. Everything seems right. The pen looks durable and ready for years of use.

3. Weight and dimensions. (8.0/10)
Medium weighted pen, which is somehow surprising as it is mostly made of plastic. Fortunately, it is well balanced either posted or unposted.

Diameter: 12.0 mm.

Length capped: 135 mm.
Length uncapped: 123 mm.
Length posted: 145 mm.
Dry weight: 18.1 g (including the converter).

4. Nib and writing performance. (7.5/10)
Once again, this is the key point of the pen. The nib seems to be the only argument in an inexpensive cartridge-converter pen with boring looks.

This music nib is made of steel and is gold plated through a process of physical vapor deposition. Sailor was a pioneer in using it for pen nibs and decided to mark it with the acronym TIGP: Titanium Ion Gold Plated. However, this is still a steel nib with no special geometry. So, it is also quite rigid.

The nicely engraved steel nib. On top, the acronym TIGP describing the plating process. On the side, MS shows this is a music nib.

Performance-wise, this pen shows a nice line variation between the strokes horizontal (parallel to the tines) and vertical (normal to the tines). However, it is quite critical on this nib to write with no inclination between the nib and the paper. Or in other words—both tines have to be in good contact with the paper. Otherwise, the nib becomes dry and easily looses the ink line. The reason for this behavior, annoying most of the time, lies in the width of the tine, wider than usual. Then, small angles between nib and paper create bigger gaps between the slit and the paper thus breaking the ink drop.

This is not the case in three-tine music nibs because the second slit naturally shortens the outer tines thus making the gaps due to pen inclinations less critical to the nib performance. This Sailor music nib is not suitable for those who use oblique nibs.

All this makes me confirm my initial impression of this nib—it is more of a stub than of a music nib. It is, nonetheless, an interesting and upscale alternative to calligraphy (i. e. italic) nibs.

Writing sample of the Sailor Young Profit with music nib.

5. Filling system and maintenance. (6.5/10)
This is, as are most Japanese pens, a cartridge-converter pen. The converter, of 0.7 ml of capacity, is on the small side for the wide line of this nib. Having a replacement cartridge with this pen is a must.

Nib and feed can easily be detached from the barrel by pulling them. Cleaning the pen is very easy.

6. Cost and value. (8.5/10)
For JPY 5000 (plus taxes) you get a smooth and rigid stub that Sailor insists in labeling as music. It is not easy to master and many would never go through the effort of getting use to it. Two are, in my opinion, the alternatives to this pen: One is the more expensive three-tine music nibs by Pilot and Platinum. The other is any of the calligraphy sets by a number of Western companies. Those Japanese music nibs are easier to use, whereas with those italic sets we are bound to encounter similar problems to those we faced with this Sailor music nib.

7. Conclusion. (43.5/60=72.5/100)
Not very high marks for this pen. Its only interesting feature is the nib, but it is not very user friendly, and, compared to other music nibs as Sailor insists with its naming, it is not a real competitor. The rest of the pen is fairly uneventful.

(Sailor Young Profit with music nib – Sailor Tokiwa-matsu)

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, October 17th, 2011
[labels: plumín, Sailor]

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