Do you need a Calligraphy Nib?

Posted by Wancher Pen on

If you are reading this article, there’s a good chance you have already collected a wide variety of nibs. At this point, you can clearly identify the difference between a Japanese EF (Extra Fine) and a German EF. You have your own preferred method of cleaning your nibs. You probably already have your own custom-built grindstone machine for shaping and sharpening your own nibs… Or maybe you haven’t fallen off the deep end quite just yet. 

Regardless of where you are on your fountain pen journey, the importance of the nib cannot be overstated. Furthermore, for budding calligraphers, the nib can mean the difference between a work of art and a work of anguish. This leads to the following question: Do you need a Calligraphy nib? 

What is a Calligraphy Nib?

Surprisingly, there isn’t a singular answer to this question. Most simplistically, a calligraphy nib is simply a nib that has been crafted for the purposes of calligraphy. However, a calligraphy nib can also be defined as a flexible or semi-flexible nib. On the other hand, it can also be a pointed, detachable end of a dip pen. It is generally understood that a calligraphy nib should be one that enables the calligrapher to achieve different line widths, while allowing for a smooth, easy stroke. 

Clearly, there are different schools of thought on what constitutes a nib, which means that several different nibs can and, in fact, should be used for calligraphy. 

The Standard Nib

Occam’s Razor suggests that sometimes the simplest answer or solution is the best one. In regards to calligraphy, a ‘regular’ Jowo #6 stainless steel nib may be the simplest and best option. If you have never attempted anything like calligraphy, then it may be best for you to do your best with what you currently have, which is - more likely than not - a standard nib. It may not be the fanciest weapon in your arsenal, but it is still a weapon, nevertheless, and in the disposal of the right calligrapher, it can be a deadly one too.

Jowo Steel - Wancherpen International

The Semi-Flex Nib 

In many ways, the semi-flex nib is the best of both worlds between a regular nib and a fully Flex nib. The flexibility of the Semi-Flex enables the user to achieve incredible variations in their line widths and consistency, yet a subtle rigidity makes it far simpler to use than a normal Flex Nib. Basically, the Semi-Flex Nib enables quite a bit of versatility so that people can use it whether they’re working on their calligraphy or simply writing down notes. 

Size #6 Nib - Matama Stream - Semi-flex Hard Nib - Wancherpen International

*The soldout Matama Semi-Flex Nib will be back in stock soon!

The Standard Modified Nib

What, exactly, is a standard modified nib? Well, just like with a lot of other things in this hobby, there are numerous answers. However, a standard modified nib is simply a nib that has been slightly modified in one way or another. For example, the Keiryu Nib is essentially a Jowo #6 Nib that has been personally sharpened by The Nib Shaper, Master Nagahara.

This results in a different writing experience for users, which is further varied depending on the chosen nib size. It may not be as drastic of a difference as going from a standard nib to a Fude Nib, yet it’s certainly a good start. A modified nib should allow for users to achieve similar line variations and strokes as a Semi-Flex Nib without the actual difficulty or skill that a Semi-Flex would entail. 

(OPTIONS-HIDDEN) KEIRYU Nib Kodachi Stainless Steel Gold-plated - Wancherpen International

The Brush Nib (Fude Nib)

Perhaps the best possible calligraphy nib is a Fude Nib (“Writing Brush” Nib), which originates in East Asia. From afar, the Fude Nib looks the same as any other nib, yet closer inspection reveals that the tip of the nib (the nib point) has been bent at an upward angle slightly. This slight change enables the user to produce thick and thin lines with equal ease, and it is the true nib equivalent of an actual brush pen used for traditional calligraphy. 

 Kuretake Kindai Maki-e - Shunshoku Banri - Wancherpen International


At the end of the day, the best calligraphy nib is the one that works best for you. Each calligrapher is different, which means their needs and preferences will differ from person to person. If you are the type who prefers to use a dipping pen for your art, then that is the right calligraphy nib for you. If you are the type who prefers to use a PuChiCo with a #5 size nib, then that’s perfect. There is no right answer to this question. Instead, it’s important to know your options, and to know which one is right for you. 

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