The Faber-Castell Basic costs between £23 and £30, depending on the finish. At the cheaper end the choices are a polished or matt metal finish; at the higher end the choice is between leather or carbon. All are available with nibs from extra-fine to broad. This particular model has a leather barrel and broad nib.
I’ll say this upfront: the Faber-Castell Basic is my recommendation for a first good fountain pen. It deserves a lot more love than it gets. Let me explain why.
The Basic is a classically styled pen but manages to look modern too. It won’t look out of place in an office and, equally, it won’t look out of place in the hand of a trendy young thing (like me). It looks like a proper fountain pen and a leather or carbon fibre barrel for £30 is outstanding value.
I bought mine because I didn’t have a pen with a leather barrel: it’s an unusual finish. I like it. It’s comfortable to hold as long as the stitching doesn’t bother you. I’m fine with it but I can imagine it being irritating to some as it’s hard not to notice. However the section is rubber and provides a comfortable grip. The lovely smell of leather wafts up to you now and then and I’m looking forward to seeing how it ages. If you don’t like this barrel then the carbon fibre or silverish barrels are great alternatives.
The clip is reasonable. It’s clippy and it’s reasonably strong but, being folded metal, it needs to be treated with a certain amount of care. The cap pushes closed and it will post. Doing so makes the pen very long and unbalanced so I don’t recommend it.
Faber-Castell use the same nibs on their entire range. This means you get the same nib on the Basic as you do on the top of the range Ondoro, which costs three or four times as much. It’s conceivable that this could mean you are getting a very bad deal when you buy an Ondoro but in fact the opposite is true. Faber-Castell steel nibs are pretty much the best out there: incredibly smooth and easy flowing. Rather than it being a poor deal at the top of the Faber-Castell range, it’s an outstandingly good deal at the cheaper end. The Basic really does have the (steel) nib of a top of the range pen.
I’ve tried extra-fine, medium and broad Faber-Castell nibs. They’re all wonderful and they’re easily swapped between different models. The only criticism of them is that there’s a certain inconsistency between the widths. I’ve a medium that isn’t much different to the extra-fine. Faber-Castell isn’t the only company guilty of this.
I’ve never had any problem with flow in any of the nibs. This broad nib is wet and smooth and gorgeous.
The Basic uses standard international cartridges. Older models had no problems using a converter but you’ll find that the ones on sale now are described as not being suitable for use with one. Faber-Castell converters do not fit but I’ve used a Kaweco converter in mine since I bought it and not had any problems at all.
This is the best pen for someone wanting a ‘proper’ fountain pen for the first time. It looks like a real fountain pen and so can be used in any situation. It uses standard cartridges so can easily and cleaning use a huge range of inks. A converter adds even more options. It has the standard range of nib sizes and, more importantly, the nibs are reliable and extremely good. You cannot get a better pen for the money.
You can find some more reviews of the Faber-Castell Basic on Pennaquod.