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Thread: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

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    Senior Member Empty_of_Clouds's Avatar
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    Default Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Too many bald chooks
    Last edited by Empty_of_Clouds; May 13th, 2022 at 01:38 AM. Reason: speeling error

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    Senior Member Pterodactylus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Imho there is no product where you will not be able to find also negative feedback.

    For me some reviewer deserve more credibility than others, based on their reputation and their previous reviews (also with respect if their observations match more or less the own observations for products personally known).

    But even for those I do not treat their verdict as granted, they just bias my opinion maybe in a specific direction.

    An indicator is also when opinions of many going into the same overall direction (excluding Brand fanboys)

    Video reviews add another dimension to a review.
    Not so much with respect to physical measurements, observations, but mainly seeing that guys writing with the pens.

    I closely look how they write with them. I want to see it in detail, judging their skills as well as the pens quality.
    See if they are heavy handed, how they push (or torture) the nibs and also last but not least judging the line quality, how much life in the output is and how the result looks like.

    Of course a skilled writer can produce most likely a good output also with a crappy pen, but for me this is most important.
    I can judge if their writing style match somehow with mine and if the output (and the output is really important for me, as itˋs still a tool for a task) is appealing to me.

    Many reviewers focus not on the writing and/or are not capable to produce appealing and representative output, and imho these reviewers already disqualifies themselves already mostly by this fact alone (but still can be very knowledgeable pen folks).

    But maybe this is related that pens are for me mainly tools and their main task for me is to produce appealing good output, design is not my focus.


    Finally judging reviews is still difficult, they are to some degree always not objective, always biased by personal preferences and experiences.
    They are also not representative assuming that even for high quality brands with good quality control pens might behave not completely identical, and the review is done only with one single pen, often with a single ink.



    Lastly I want to tell you (because I assuming this pen is the reason for your thread):
    The Montblanc Calligraphy nib in the 149 is imho an awesome nib, definitely a recommendation from my side . (From a guy who never wanted to have such a big clunky pen, but the nib is just exceptional compared to the vast majority of nibs in modern pens which just write more or less the same)
    Last edited by Pterodactylus; January 19th, 2022 at 04:13 AM.

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    Senior Member dneal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    The problem is that there are only a few things that are objective, and so many things that are subjective, that the reviews aren't worth much other than general information and entertainment.

    Example: Nakaya's Neo Standard. The single threaded cap takes a few turns to remove. Maybe that's annoying to some and a "deal breaker". Maybe not. Good info to know from a review. What you can't know is how it feels in hand. I had one. I hated it, but I loved a Naka-Ai. They're similar in dimension but felt completely different in use. Maybe a better example is the Lamy 2000. We all know about the "nubs" that hold the cap on. Some people can't stand them and some are indifferent (I'm the latter). It doesn't matter how many reviews you read, and you could tally the positives and negatives up; but they mean nothing until you've tried one yourself and see how the nubs matter (or don't) to you.

    I have been a member of a guitar forum for many years, and somewhat regularly a person will come along who is ready to spend a significant amount of money on a "boutique" brand or luthier-built guitar; upwards of $12k. They'll describe a sound and ask what they should get, or post a couple of links to specific guitars at online shops and ask which one. My advice is always to spend $500-$1000 of that budget for travel to the shop and play a bunch of guitars. No one can know what tonal profile they'll like. No one can know how the neck feels in hand to an individual.

    So I assume, like Ptero, that you're considering a 149. If so, is it worth the cost of travel to your nearest MB boutique to hold one in hand first, and find out how you like it?

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    While there is much that is subjective, there's really just as much that can be objectively conveyed through a review: how well does the cap stay on? does the inner cap seal well to prevent dry-out? are the tolerances good or are there wiggles or creaks? does the filler work smoothly and efficiently? is the clip (if there's one) springy yet strong? what angle does the nib work best at? does the pen flow unhesitantly during extended writing? are there skips? etc. etc.
    No, a good review is not just entertainment and some specs.

    I do agree with Ptero and dnealís advice with a pen like the MB where the sensory experience of the nibís performance is paramount to the purchase, as the way you, the individual, will use and respond to it canít be conveyed from afar.
    Last edited by fountainpenkid; January 19th, 2022 at 06:59 AM.
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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    dneal makes a very excellent point. What may be perfect for ptero or me might be very uncomfortable for you, EoC. Best advice -- if you are going to spend the money for a MB 149 is take a quick flight up to Auckland. There is a MB Boutique on 87 Queen Street in Central Auckland. You might discover that maybe a 146 is better suited to your hand, or even one of the Writer's Editions.

    All the Best.

    PS-- If you and your wife do decide to fly up to Auckland for the weekend, be sure to take along a pad of Rhodia and Clairfontaine. The paper they use at the Boutiques for you to try the pens with is absolute crap. ( At least the ones in Las Vegas and San Francisco were, LOL. )
    Last edited by junglejim; January 19th, 2022 at 07:07 AM.

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    So I too am going to guess that maybe you're talking about a 149 since you had previously asked about it.

    This can be a polarizing pen. I consider it to be the longest-produced pen on the market today given its 70 year and continuing run with no real changes to the overall form(albeit different vintages have different "feels" and substantial internal differences) and even if you disagree with my specific selection in that category that is not really the subject of this thread. What I would say to the longevity comment is there must be something right about it for it to have lasted this long. At the same time, it's also a brand that some consider to have a lot of "baggage" that immediately biases them to want to dislike the pen, while others may have an inherent bias to like the pen because of the brand.

    Further, I can say that I have 5 of them. These cover different nib sizes and eras of manufacture. They have some degree of commonality including in general how they handle(although differences in construction over the years lead to slightly different balance) and how they feel in your hand. Some eras of nibs have their own distinct features. In general, though, I consider the nib grind to be the greatest differentiator in how the pen writes. Not all of a given grind will write the exactly the same, but to me the general feel/character of a given nib grind as well as the line it produces differentiate the pens more so than almost any other factor, at least throwing out some of the earlier much more flexible ones.

    To the point with this, I have two Bs made about 15-20 years apart, as well as a recent OB and I have written with a recent B. I think by far and away this is my favorite nib size in this pen, and I do see a lot of commonality between ones of different eras.

    I have an EF and an M that were made within a few years of each other, and those are VERY different pens. I'd say EF is my second favorite 149 grind behind the B. To me, the M is kind of a "whatever" pen. I still like that it has the feel and overall handling of a 149, but the nib is too smooth(all of my others have a pleasant amount of feedback, although not over the top) and basically just to me has none of the character of the other sizes I've used. I have seen references to it being the most popular size, though, so apparently some like it and that's why MB catalogs 9 standard grinds for the 149.

    Funny enough, my favorite 146 is an M. It was also my first 146. My favorite 149 remains a 1970s B that was also my first. Perhaps too I am biased in nib choice in that the first I get sets the standard for the rest, particularly if I really take to it. I still need to get an F 149, as I've liked the 146(and other MB #6 size) Fs I've used. I've had other 146 Ms that I really just didn't like as well as my first one, although I do like all of my B 149s.

    In all this rambling, though, I think there's one important point. The 149 is a pen that has so many cataloged variants in current production and has changed enough over the years that one reviewer liking or disliking a pen may not dictate what you can expect from a sample you get.

    Secondary market pens can be a great value on this model, and one big benefit is that they tend to be easy to sell for around what you paid for them(note that they generally do take a big hit on value going from new to the secondary market). With that said, you can use this to your advantage as if you buy one this way and don't like it, you can often sell it for around the same price as you paid and, all said and done, may have only paid a small amount of money if not made a bit of money to "rent" the pen while you decided if you liked it.
    Last edited by bunnspecial; January 19th, 2022 at 10:06 AM.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    The majority of people who do reviews on YouTube (the only video source I normally look at) want to be liked. They want subscribers. They like the attention (and getting stuff from places to review). It is hardly the place I would go for honest reviews, because everything is couched in careful, conciliatory language.

    They want to be liked, in many senses of that word.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    The majority of people who do reviews on YouTube (the only video source I normally look at) want to be liked. They want subscribers. They like the attention (and getting stuff from places to review). It is hardly the place I would go for honest reviews, because everything is couched in careful, conciliatory language.

    They want to be liked, in many senses of that word.
    Matt Armstrong didn't hold back from saying if he thought a pen was meh (or worse). I bought one of his pens that he had previously reviewed negatively. Worked fine for me.
    I've handed favourite pens to people at Pelikan Hubs and cringed as they wrote weird with them, said they weren't for them.
    @EoC: Sadly, predictably, another person's experience is not necessarily a predictor of yours, even with the exact same pen.
    Which is not to say you won't gain some useful information from YouTube or written reviews, but purchasing a pen without trying it first is always a leap of faith.
    Last edited by catbert; January 19th, 2022 at 01:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Deciding to buy a certain pen, for me, isn't really a rational decision. Any more than it is to fall in love.

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    ... a 'tune and sooth' service ...
    Should be popular, given how ruffled people are right now.

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Phew. Nothing brings on brand hate quite like Visconti. For what its worth, I've had three and all were great. Two were tuned, one was not.

    The biggest complaint is nib QC, so if you can get that squared away before acquiring the pen, you should be good to go.

    They do run a bit wider/wetter, so a fine and medium are not going to have huge width differences.

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    Senior Member dneal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    Deciding to buy a certain pen, for me, isn't really a rational decision. Any more than it is to fall in love.
    Unfortunately, when the infatuation is over you discover you can't live with the person.

    Pelikan M800 Tortoise...

    Finish every day, and be done with it.
    You have done what you could - some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as fast as you can, tomorrow is a new day.
    You shall begin it well and serenly, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

    Emerson

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    Senior Member mizgeorge's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    For example, Figboot has shown (I think) both fine and medium and in both cases the line on the page looked the same! He uses the same paper but different inks, so there is that to account for.
    Just to add to that thought - Mr Boot appears to be so heavy handed that I suspect many nibs he uses will appear a good half a width wider than they actually are, especially if they have any degree of softness.

    If you are going to judge by video reviews, you really need to find a review whose handwriting at least approximates your own - if not in terms of letter formation, at least in grip, pressure and speed (which can also be about how comfortable they are with writing cursive in the first place).

    However, if you are going to use someone like Appelboom, they should be able to provide a video demonstration of the nibs with the hand and the same ink on the same paper (even if just filmed on a phone) to help make that decision. I suspect that someone like Annabelle will be far better able to provide a balanced view than the majority of 'reviewers'.

    And whilst you may be far away geographically, in reality, the vast majority of us have been a long way from being able to try anything in person for the last couple of years, and some of us struggle to shop other than online for various reasons even without the pandemic.

    I hope you get what you're looking for.

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    I would like to claim that was intentional, but I cannot. However, as it does indeed seem appropriate to the thread, and I find it funny now it's pointed out, I am not going to change it!
    Freudian slip? Sometimes a cigar-shaped pen is just a cigar-shaped pen.

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    I faced this when making the decision for a Pilot Custom Urushi.

    First, when reading or viewing reviews, I'd try to have in mind the characteristics that are important to me. I listen (or look) for mention of things like flow, ease of cleaning, and out-of-box nib quality. (That last item is the thing that is quickest to make me fall out of love with pen. If the tines are misaligned, the honeymoon is over, instantly.) I look for consensus among the set of reviewers I've found trustworthy or whose competence with fountain pens seems sufficient given my own experience. If the brand has a low-end range, I try it out. That tells me how much, and about what they care. (Pilot, Sailor, Lamy, and Platinum all fit here.) If I like those, and the bulk of reviews match up to what I find important, I'll probably take the plunge.

    It's why I didn't purchase a Visconti or a Pelikan, for example.

    If we're talking stratospheric, however, you may have little to go on. But it might be worth attempting to correspond with some of the reviewers directly. You could ask them how they're finding these pens post-review. The worst they can do is not respond.
    "The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here..." -- Abraham Lincoln, 1863

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    Senior Member Yazeh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    I would suggest a different view. If I recall well you mediate. You can do a pen mediation and asking the question if this pen is right for you or not. If it is, you'll know.
    And if indeed it's not satisfactory, it could be used an object to mediate on.
    I recall once having a chat with a zen master, who told me that her husky dog, challenged all her years of practice as a monk...

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    I would think an accomplished/experienced FP user would require fewer reviews than a novice. Not sure if your serious, but why the need to meditate.

    And, if the person had a problem with the dog, not a Zen Master...LOL!! However, if you need 20 minutes before you are calm. The dog has already ruined the carpet so why stress.

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    A slightly different perspective. I always look at the one star reviews on Amazon.

    If they're just disgruntled people who didn't get on with the product, fine.

    Occasionally they bring up a real safety or performance problem. If I see two or three of those reviews, I consider it a red flag.

    Certain pens have those red flags (cracking, terrible nibs, whatever).

    Five and four star reviews are interesting but won't *necessarily* add up to a purchase decision.

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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by amk View Post
    A slightly different perspective. I always look at the one star reviews on Amazon.

    If they're just disgruntled people who didn't get on with the product, fine.

    Occasionally they bring up a real safety or performance problem. If I see two or three of those reviews, I consider it a red flag.

    Certain pens have those red flags (cracking, terrible nibs, whatever).

    Five- and four-star reviews are interesting but won't *necessarily* add up to a purchase decision.
    I agree. I tend to look at the three-star reviews. Reviews that just say "junk" are not useful. If I see three bad reviews in a row, that raises concern. I also like to view the most recent reviews in case some of the bugs have been worked out over time.

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    Senior Member pajaro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruffling feathers - assessing critical feedback

    Based on raves by FPN users I bought many pens that were hard starters and many that didn't last. There were a few I wished had died. Eventually I read reviews and learned to read between the lines from clues that related to my experience with pens generally. Eventually I quit buying pens at all. With few exceptions, pens have been disappointing. In retirement rollerball pens with porous point refills suffice generally. Plus a 51, an L2K and a MB 144 medium.

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