If you were a student in our Modern Calligraphy workshops, you would have received at least 1 G nib, and that would in all possibility (actually 100%) be the Nikko G nib. This is the Japanese nib with an inscription 'Nikko G' on it. G nibs are often explained as what manga artists use, or did use before in the past (hence also the term, comic nib); I have seen on Japanese website that 'disowns' this nib as "for English writing".
Why do I pick this nib for students in a beginners' class? Well, there are a couple of reasons:
- I started out using this nib, so ... this is a choice inspired by nostalgia
- I still write with this nib, so this is out of habit really
- I have been told that beginners all start with a G nib -- I am not certain if this is true since I do not know all beginners
But seriously, I did give a thought about what sort of nib would be suitable, and I would have to say, I think agree that G nibs are a reasonably good choice for a few reasons.
First of all, G nibs are smooth to use. They aren't so fine that they cause mayhem on the upstroke, unlike some of the EFs (or extra fine nibs). G nibs are also easy to start, even if you don't use toothpaste to wash off the wax before first use, or if you wanna be macho about it, use a lighter to melt the wax (warning: do not use the stove) or even a tomato or potato (or how about a lemon? I don't know) to stab at it with to remove the wax.
Photo by Joel Lim Photography
Secondly, G nibs are rather stiff. The tines don't split as easily as the softer nibs like Leonardt EF Principal nib (or some people misspell that as Principle, which as a matter of spelling principles, is rather erroneous) or Hunt 101, or Gilliot 303, or Brause 66 EF... and the list goes on.
A stiffer nib usually works for most people since the stiffness or the lack of easy flex (it is flexible, but just requires more strength) actually mimics most modern writing instruments like the pencil, mechanical pencil, ballpoint, rollerball or felt-tip pen. The similarity means that you probably won't press too hard on the downstroke and the nib would not suffer much.
Finally, G nibs are made of stainless steel. Or so I am under the impression of. They clean easily (except of course when you use a waterproof ink and leave it there on the nib to DRY... oh I don't know what you'll use to scrape THAT out) and do not rust in a day or so. Unlike, for example, Leonardt #40, previously known as Hiro #40 (it's complicated) which rusts overnight if you should wash and not bother to dab it super dry. Been there. Done that. So easy maintenance means longer lifespan, means less replacement, less cost.
In the family of G nibs, there are a couple of brands, and IMO, Nikko G is about the 'hardest' of the lot. I simply pick Nikko G because I get to buy it in a nice box of 100 (or is it 120? and I like the sound of nibs jingle-jangling in a box, plus yay I get to reuse the nice plastic box). You can go ahead and try the other brands i.e. Tachikawa, ZIG (which is by Kuretake) or Zebra, which all come in a pack of 3 or thereabouts. There are 'premium' G nibs too, like Nikko Titanium, which is of a better quality and supposedly writes better (I am not fussy so I cannot comment).
But, do note that, G nibs being 'harder' i.e. requiring more strength to use, will mean they favour a modern grip -- I mean the way you hold the pen, which I will talk about another time.
I do use other nibs -- these days a lot of Brause 66EF -- but I still like my G nib too. In fact, I like it quite a lot so I've decided to name her/all of them Coco. So tell me, do you like your G nib?