The Famous Starter Pen Conundrum

Pilot 78G: Blue and Green.

Pilot 78G: Blue and Green.

Chris Gryder is a talented artist and a friend of mine (plug for his work here). A few weeks ago he was looking at one of my fountain pens and asked what a reasonably priced pen to start out with was. The pen that first came to my mind was one loaned to me a little while ago by another talented artist friend, Pep Manalang (plug). This was a Pilot 78G which is not only very reasonably priced (it can be had for $12.00) but delivers a fantastic writing experience.

Most of the credit to why the pen is so attractive goes to the bold nib. It writes more like a stub and give some nice line variation. In addition it’s a smooth writing pen which can be a rarity at this price point. The construction is robust and it comes in a number of colors (although, except for the red, they are a bit subdued).

The Bold Stubby Pilot Nib.

The Bold Stubby Pilot Nib.

I hope Chris enjoys this pen. Even if he doesn’t become a fountain pen nut like myself he’ll be able to sign his name with some impact. An artist needs that, I think.


  1. JennyO
    March 30, 2009, 6:46 am

    They’re nice in blue and green! πŸ™‚

  2. April 1, 2009, 11:21 pm

    These are definitely among my favorite inexpensive writers. The only reason I don’t give them as “starter pen” gifts: the bottled-ink only situation. Not that I mind, I use mostly bottled ink, but newbies are sometimes scared off by that. But damn, these Pilot 78Gs are some fine pens.

  3. April 2, 2009, 2:40 am

    nice ballpen, might be very pricey…

  4. TAO
    April 2, 2009, 11:03 am

    Missive Maven: Yes, cartridges are easy and less scary. The 78G does take Pilot / Namiki cartridges if you remove the converter. That’s something I didn’t realize till just now. Bottled ink does make the experience more enjoyable to me…kind of a ritual. I also didn’t mention there is a BB nib available in the 78G which really has some line variation. A bit much for a newbie, though.

    Jeniffer: It’s actually a fountain pen and not a ball pen so that’s one reason it costs a bit more. No rotating ball at the end and it uses liquid ink. There are cheaper fountain pens you can buy (under $10) if you ever want to try one out. I recommend giving it a shot if you like write things by hand since fountain pens can add character to even lousy handwriting like mine.

    Thanks for the comments!

  5. April 12, 2009, 8:24 pm

    i’ve been wanting to get this pen and hopefully this weekend i’ll be able to visit a shop in manila selling NOS 78Gs. cheers!

  6. TAO
    April 12, 2009, 10:33 pm

    Clem, good luck! Hope you find some. If not, always the internet. πŸ™‚

  7. April 26, 2009, 7:17 pm

    hi tom! we went to the store, and yes, we got several 78Gs! i got three: black, teal, and green – all in medium nibs! only the red one is missing and my 78G lineup is complete. πŸ™‚

  8. TAO
    April 26, 2009, 11:52 pm

    Clem: What’s nice about these pens is they are so inexpensive you can afford to get on in every color!

  9. Cza
    October 25, 2011, 2:48 am

    You guys living in the Philippines can find this pen at Cosmos Bazar in Binondo, Manila. Google Maps will always come in handy for searching. Happy pen-hunting!

    1. TAO
      October 25, 2011, 7:10 pm

      Hi! Are you a member of FPN-P? If not you should check it out since they have great fountain pen meetings. πŸ˜€