Comparing Flex and Soft Nibs

Many fountain pen enthusiasts ponder, "What makes a fountain pen flex nib a true flex nib?"

There’s no official definition for when a nib becomes a flex nib. It’s all very subjective, depending on the user. Traditionally, a flex nib refers to a nib that flexes out or creates a "spread" in the tines, which creates line variation. If a nib primarily just flexes up and down without a lot of line variation, is it also a flex nib since it technically does flex?

Assorted flex nibs

This subjectivity can complicate things, so we've picked ten fountain pens with varying nibs to compare and contrast their flex capabilities.


Diplomat Magnum

Although this fountain pen has a small steel nib, it still has a surprising amount of bounce. Even if you're not getting a ton of line variation, this nib brings a comfortable and affordable writing experience.

Diplomat Magnum Fountain Pen - Hot Pink


Noodler's Konrad

The Konrad is an oldie but goodie! Ink output may not be the best, but this writing tool has a great nib for an even better price.

This pen has excellent line variation. You may not get a lot of bounce, but it has a lot of spread. When flexing the nib, be careful not to overstress it, or you will get some railroading. It's a fantastic affordable tool for artists and enthusiasts alike.

Noodler's Konrad Fountain Pen - Clear


Pilot E95S

This pen wouldn't be considered to have a flex nib, but the nib is softer than most standard gold nibs and you can get a slight line variation on your down strokes if you push down on the nib hard enough. If you want to add a quick flair to your writing, this tool could provide you with extra pizzazz.

Pilot E95S Fountain Pen - Black


Pineider Alchemist

The Pineider Alchemist features one of the best soft nibs on the market – the Quill nib. This nib can be found on several Pineider fountain pens and has a good amount of bounce, although it doesn't have much line variation because it's a more wet-writing nib, meaning it puts a lot of ink on a page.

Pineider Alchemist Fountain Pen - Kilauea Blue


Noodler's Triple Tail

The Triple Tail nib pours a lot of ink and comes out super wet on a page. It has a three-tined music nib, so unflexed it writes like a stub nib. Ink may come out in excess, but you'll be satisfied if you don't push down too hard on the nib.

Noodler's Triple Tail Fountain Pen


Pilot Custom 912 

The Pilot Custom 912 uses an FA nib, also known as the Falcon nib (not to be confused with the nib on the Pilot Falcon which is different), and has lots of bouncing going on. It also has a great spread, which provides some cool line variation. There may be some skipping with this nib, so you’ll want to write slow if you’re flexing, but overall, this is still a quality nib.

Pilot Custom 912 Fountain Pen


Pilot Justus 95

This fountain pen nib is unique because it has a bar extending over the nib and a knob that you can turn to push or pull the bar back to make the nib softer or harder. 

When the bar is pulled back, the nib is in soft mode. As far as bounce goes, it has some buoyancy, but it doesn't open up in the tines very much, but the ink does flow nicely on paper.

Pilot Justus 95 Fountain Pen - Black Rhodium


Platinum #3776 

You may not see a ton of line variation when using the extra-fine nib with this fountain pen, but it has some significant bounce, making it a comfortable writing experience.

Platinum #3776 Century Shiun Fountain Pen


Pilot Falcon 

When using a soft extra-fine nib with this fountain pen, you get some incredible line variation – the thin lines are very thin. It doesn't have lots of bounce, but because it starts off so thin, you can get a lot of varied line strokes. The tines don't open much, but it honestly isn't necessary.

Pilot Falcon fountain pen nib


Monteverde Innova with JoWo OmniFlex

Last but not least, we have the enjoyable JoWo OmniFlex nib. It's a wet nib that pools lots of ink onto the page, so you may not see a lot of line variation. When flexing this nib, you can get some line variation, and because it's a steel nib, you don't get a ton of bounce.

Monteverde JoWo Omniflex fountain pen nibs


There you have it! We used ten different nibs to decide which ones are actually flex pens, and we concluded that your personal writing style determines whether a nib is a flex nib or not.

No international standard declares whether a modern fountain pen is indeed a "flex" pen; frankly, it doesn't matter. For example, one fountain pen brand's extra-fine nib may look different from another company's. That doesn't mean that one of them isn't a true extra-fine; it just means they're using a different scale. 

Assorted Flex Nibs

You can read reviews on our website or contact our Customer Care team for more information about a specific nib before purchasing a pen. Just have fun, and enjoy the extra bounce that any of these pens will bring to your writing adventures! Write on!

Shop All Flex & Soft Nib Fountain Pens