Let’s start with the basics. The Lamy AL-Star is a German-made, aluminum bodied fountain pen. The proprietary nib is available in Extra Fine to Broad, as well as a range of Italic nibs. Line width is comparable to other German fountain pen nibs, which is considerably wider than Japanese nibs. For example, the Lamy Fine nib leaves a slightly wider line than the Pilot Medium.
The triangular grip section encourages a “proper” writing position for holding the pen, which makes finding and staying in the nib’s sweet spot pretty much effortless. And because the feed is integrated with the grip, you won’t have to worry about realignment, should you ever feel the need to swap the nib or remove it for cleaning. You can expect to pay anywhere from $35 to $40 on the Lamy AL-Star from pretty much every major online retailer.
Now, let’s talk about this thing.
I was on the fence about Lamy for a long while, and I was leaning in the other direction to be perfectly honest. Looking at the pen online and reading other reviews, the pen seemed great, but bland. The design is fairly basic, the available nibs are fairly standard, it didn’t really stand out in a way that made me want to spend $30+ on it. Ultimately I was swayed to purchase due to a closeout deal from Goulet Pens, which included a nice pocket size Filofax notebook with the pen. I am a sucker for notebooks and journals.
Once I received and inked up the pen, I was basically hooked.
The short Fine nib is firm, but incredibly smooth writing. It’s difficult to compare it to something else. The flow is smooth and consistent like a Uni-Ball Signo gel pen. The line goes down smooth and frictionless like a brush pen. And you even get a small window on the side so you can tell when you are almost out of ink. The ink flows smooth and free. I have not experienced one rough start or ink skip since I started using the pen. And that is including a period of a couple weeks where I was trying out other tools and left the Lamy inked and waiting.
After spending two months with the pen, I can honestly say I would rather have started with this than the Pilot Metropolitan.
Does the Lamy cost twice as much? Yes. Is the Metropolitan a great pen? Of course. But with the wide range of colors and nibs available to the Lamy AL-Star, it is absolutely worthy of an extra 15 to 20 dollars from the start.
What it lacks in flare and flash, it makes up for in elegant and simple performance.