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Oct 25 / Leigh Reyes

If nibs could sing.

Ah, music nibs. They transform lists to lyrics, to-dos to haikus. Or so I would like to believe, even if music nibs on paper are indistinguishable from stubs and cursive italics. In form, they are quite distinct from other nibs, as they have two slits, resulting in three tines rather than the usual two. They were designed for quick music notation, capable of making hairlines for bars and staves, and wider lines for notes.

I have six pens with music nibs, three vintage and three modern.

I have 6 pens with music nibs

Pilot E, no name, Waterman, Platinum, Platinum for Kamakura Pens, Nakaya

The Pilot E from the seventies has a fingernail music nib. It’s the only one I’ve seen designed like this.

Pilot E music nib

Pilot E music nib

The tipping is thin. The effect is closer to an italic rather than a stub.

Pilot E music nib, side view

Pilot E music nib, side view

The no name overlay pen has a warranted music nib that flexes like there’s no tomorrow.

Warranted music nib

Warranted music nib

Warranted nibs were the generics of their time, and could go into any pen. They were warranted, or guaranteed, to be gold as stamped on the front. I love how this nib looks like it’s been run over by a carriage. Someone must have used it a lot; the tipping is worn down.

I found this vintage Waterman music nib on eBay – just the nib. Tom popped it into a Waterman safety. This is one of my favorite pens.

Waterman vintage music nib, front

Waterman vintage music nib, front

One of the signs of a nib with good flow is that slight space between the tines that allows capillary action to work its magic. Of course that space must disappear at the tip: the nib needs to “close.” In this close-up you can see both both slits with just the right space. I usually check tine spacing by holding the nib up against the light and squinting until my eyes hurt.

Two Platinums and a Nakaya

Two Platinums and a Nakaya

There is a tiny difference in the way the Platinum and the Nakaya music nibs write, even if they come from the same maker.

Music nibs writing sample

Music nibs writing sample

I can’t carry a tune, so these nibs will have to do the job for me.

  • Sonia Pascual

    the warranted nib writes awesome!

  • youstruckgold

    I can see why you love the Waterman – it’s there in the music of your lines

  • Alliah Czarielle Relayson Guer

    The no-name pen looks a lot like an old Parker, pre-Duofold. 1920s. Probably patterned after one?

  • Chito Limson

    I’ve yet to see these nibs used in music notation. Will you try a couple of measures for us, Leigh?

  • John Raymond Lim

    that orange on the waterman is like the essence of autumn.

  • Bruno Taut

    Impressive collection, amazing beauty.
    Did you get the koi back?
    I guess your next would might be a Nakaya with a elastic music nib, although they do not come cheap, as you do know.
    It is great to have you back on the blogsphere. Thanks for keeping the blog active.

  • Margana

    The notes look so lively. What a great recommendation for music nibs!