What is a fude nib?

In the world of fountain pens, there are many different types of nibs. Some nibs affect the size of the line the pen puts down. Other nibs affect the shape of the line the pen puts down. This occurs due to the different shapes of the nibs. There is one type of nib that is unique amongst fountain pens and creates a line shape that is equally unique. I am talking about a fude nib.

Fude nibs look very different from any other type of nib you’ve come across. When seeing one for the first time,many people will probably think that the nib is bent. The nib is in fact bent, but not due to any type of abuse. A fude nib is bent on purpose and that unique shape is what allows it to create a line like no other nib.

A fude nib is bent and has a unique look amongst fountain pen nibs.

The general shape of a fude nib is very similar to any other fountain pen nib, in that the tip has a triangular, pointed shape. The difference is that the last few millimeters of the nib is bent up at an angle. This bend is what creates the unique line of a fude nib. It is meant to imitate the line that a brush would create when used for writing and, when used properly, can create line variation that is very different from what you would get from a fountain pen with a flexible nib.

Why would you want a fountain pen that imitates a brush? Fude nibs were originally developed in Japan. In fact, the word “fude” (pronounced foo-deh), means brush in Japanese. Japanese calligraphy was traditionally done with a brush and, due to the brush being soft, has a lot of line variation. When fountain pens became the main daily writing instrument, fude nibs were developed in order to imitate brushes and give the writer a similar quality of line. 

A fude nib is meant to imitate a brush.

Depending on which part you use, writing with a brush can produce different line sizes.

While you may not write in Japanese, that doesn’t mean you aren’t able to enjoy using a fude nib. For much the same reason as you may currently have different types of nibs such as stub, italic or architect, a fude nib can be a nice addition to your collection. Not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at what writing with a fude nib looks like.

How is a fude nib used?

The first thing you need to know about writing with a fude nib is that the angle at which you hold the pen will affect the line size. Remember, this nib is intended to imitate writing with a brush. If you hold the pen (or a brush) nearly perpendicular to the paper, you will be using only the very end of the nib and will create a thin line. If you hold the pen at a lower angle, more of the nib (or brush) surface is in contact with the paper and it will create a thicker line.

Holding the pen at a higher angle will give a finer line.

Holding the pen at a lower angle will give a broader line.

You may be wondering how a fude nib is different from a flex nib. When writing with a flexible nib, the angle at which you hold the pen does not change. Instead, line variation is created by changing the pressure of the pen on the paper, which spreads the nib tines apart. With a fude nib, you do not press any harder to change the line size. Instead, you need to change the angle of the pen while you write to create line variation. This means that it is more difficult to get line variation in your writing with a fude nib than with a flexible nib. It is possible, but it will take practice to master.

Writing with a flexible nib can give a lot of line variation.

A fude nib can give some line variation, but is different from a flexible nib.

A variety of line sizes possible with a fude nib.

Due to the fact that holding your pen at varying angles will produce different lines, fude nibs are available with different angles to accommodate multiple writing styles. This angle refers to the angle of the raised portion of the nib when compared to the pen body. You will mostly find nib angles ranging from 40 to 55 degrees. If you typically hold your pen at a lower angle, a lower nib angle such as 40 degrees may be a good choice for you. If you typically hold your pen at a higher angle, a higher nib angle may work better for you.

Which Fountain Pens Have Fude Nibs?

Hopefully by now you want to try a fude nib. Please don’t take one of your fountain pens and bend the nib, hoping to create a fude nib yourself! Like any fountain pen nib, they are best created or modified by the manufacturer or a trained professional.

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to try a fude nib is with a Sailor Fude de Mannen. This inexpensive cartridge pen is the perfect introduction to fude nibs for most people, as it costs less than many bottles of ink and still writes well. The pen body is probably longer than most fountain pens you’ve used. I imagine this is to better imitate a brush handle. While it’s not the fanciest pen around, there’s no better pen to start your fude-nib journey than with one of these.

(Editor's note: Although Goldspot does not offer fountain pens with Fude nibs at this time, we are gauging the community's interest and may have them available in the future.)

The Sailor Fude de Mannen is one of the most popular fountain pens with fude nibs.

With a little searching, you’ll be able to find other fountain pens with fude nibs. There is a Sailor Profit model that comes with a fude nib, as well as some high-end Sailor pens. Some Moonman fountain pens also have fude nibs. Many Chinese fountain pen manufacturers such as Wing Sung, Duke and Jinhao offer fude nibs on their pens. 

Although fude nibs have their origins in Japanese brush writing, they have been adopted by the mainstream and are enjoyed by many fountain pen users as a way to make their handwriting look more interesting. Fude nibs can create varied line widths and add variety and interest to otherwise ordinary handwriting. While they do not necessarily require any special skills to use, it will take practice to master writing with one. 


About the Author

Hi, my name is John. I’ve been using and collecting fountain pens for over 20 years. I got my first one in college when I wanted something different to take notes with. I run the site FountainPenLove.com.