In June, I purchased a Noodler’s Konrad in 1820 Essex, and I have used it as one of my main everyday writers since then. After five months of nearly daily use, I am finally ready to present my long-term opinions on the pen.
1. Appearance & Design (8/10) – Classic semi-transparent design
When I first received the Konrad in the mail, I have to admit I was a bit underwhelmed. The pen was slightly smaller than I had anticipated, slightly duller than I had anticipated, and slightly plainer than I had anticipated. But the design has grown on me. What I once saw as slightly dull I now see as understated elegance and beauty. The pen’s body is transparent, tinted the color of seafoam green.
The cap and the blind cap are both an opaque white/sliver acrylic that gives the appearance of pearl. The clip is plain but sturdy and effective, stamped with “NOODLERS INK” and has the unique distinction of being in my opinion the best clip I’ve ever used. The nib is a plain looking steel nib, stamped with “NOODLERS INK CO” and with a slit running down all the way to the feed. The piston in the back of then pen is visible through the transparent body, in my opinion adding to the beauty of the pen.
2. Construction & Quality (9/10) – Solid all around, and an incredible Clip
The Konrad is constructed almost entirely from acrylic, except for the clip, the small metal accent on the cap, the nib, and the ebonite feed. The papers that come with the pen claim the acrylic is biodegradable, but to me it feels like it’d last to the end of time. If I dropped my pen capped from any reasonable height, I wouldn’t be excessively concerned. It is well made and well-constructed, and feels sturdy enough. The clip warrants its own statement however. The clip is quite possibly the best clip on any fountain pen I’ve ever used. It isn’t the prettiest, it isn’t the shiniest, it isn’t the thickest, it isn’t the anything-est for that matter, but it just works. I use my pen clips quite often, and they are regularly clipped to the outside part of my pocket. This clip is the easiest to clip on, the easiest to grab off, the sturdiest, and the strongest-seeming clip I’ve ever had the -pleasure to use. The cap and blind cap both unscrew smoothly and easily, and the piston mechanism is smooth turning and feels sturdy. My one complaint about build quality would be that my pen had a quite noticeable imperfection in the acrylic in the cap of the pen, but it adds character to the design in the end and I’ve grown to like it. Another important thing to note is that the entire pen can be taken apart and put back together with no special tooling, making it a very easy pen to repair, service, or modify, should you ever need or want to.
3. Weight & Dimensions (7/10) – Light, but not too light
The pen weighs 15g capped and 11g without the cap, and in my opinion the experience feels most balanced when posted. The pen is on the light end, but not too light. It weighs around the same as a Pilot Custom 74, if that helps any of you picture it.
4. Nib & Performance (10/10) – Wow. Just Wow.
This is the part of the review where I go full on crazy. The nib on my Noodler’s Konrad is the best nib I have ever used. It is glassy smooth, lays down a wet yet controllable line, and, being a flex nib, has a ton of line variation. In terms of the line variation, I cannot claim to know what true vintage flex feels like, I can just say that the Konrad does it pretty gosh darn well. For the first two months or so, the nib was really only semi-flex, which is where I think a lot of the talk about the Noodler’s pens not being real flex comes from. After that however, I’ve been able to get consistent line variation with minimal pressure. The nib is truly a joy to write with. I should also say that upon arrival the nib was also not quite so smooth, and I adjusted it to my liking with micromesh and Mylar paper of 1.0 and 0.3 micron grits. The level of smoothness I get with my Konrad is paralleled in my experience only by complete nails, so to have the combination of the smoothness with exceptional line variation makes the Konrad something special. The ebonite feed keeps up with flow extremely well, and the pen writes with a consistent moderately wet flow, even when being flexed. I have heard complaints about inconsistent flow on other people’s Konrad’s, however, so if you do have flow issues I believe the best option would be to heat-set your feed. I have never had to do this with my Konrad, but it’s nice to know it’s an option if I ever have to thanks to the Ebonite feed. The nibs and feeds can both be easily replaced if you manage to mess them up, replacement flex nibs (tipped) are $5 and replacement feeds are $4. I would be wary to replace my nib, however, because as I said before it took about two months of daily use to truly “break in” the flex in the nib.
5. Filling System & Maintenance (9/10) – Complete fill every time- worked like a charm for 4 months of daily use so far
The Konrad is a piston filler, and has worked reliably for me through all four months I’ve been using this pen. The piston is a plastic nob under a blind cap at the back of the pen. One slight issue I found with the filler is that on a few occasions if I screwed the blind cap on too tightly I would unscrew the entire piston mechanism from the pen rather than the blind cap. The piston turns smoothly and comes pre-greased, but you can always add silicon grease to the piston threads if they ever become “squeaky”.
6. Cost & Value (8/10) – Fairly cheap, but you might need to buy some stuff to go with it
The pen costs $20, and is in my opinion well worth the price. It should be noted, however, that if you aren’t already slightly invested in the pen world it may not be worth the cost to you. For instance, if I didn’t have the micromesh and Mylar paper to smooth my nib, or the silicon grease to regrease my piston three months into use, I probably would not enjoy my pen as much as I do. These are not substantial costs, though, and many pen enthusiasts probably already have them around the house.
7. Conclusion (8.5/10) – A great, unique pen at a great price, my new daily writer
After using this pen for the past several months, I can say with great confidence that it will likely be my most used pen for many more months to come. I have prettier pens, I have more expensive pens, I have pens that feel slightly better in the hand, and I have pens with shiny golden nibs, but none of these pens compare to the simple pleasure that is the Noodler’s Konrad. It has the greatest nib I’ve ever had the pleasure to use, looks good, has great ink capacity, and is incredibly sturdy. What more could you want?
All pictures are taken from www.gouletpens.com , the website where I purchased my Konrad. The shipping was quick, and the customer service was excellent. If you are considering the Konrad, I would highly recommend ordering from the Goulet’s.