Review: Monteverde Impressa

Monteverde Impressa cappedThe Impressa was a recently released by Monteverde and is available in four colors. Monteverde pens always caught my eye as a good value yet my only Monteverde is a Regatta I bought about 10 years ago. I was recently contacted by Ron at Pen Chalet who offered to provide a pen for review. (Thanks Ron!) I picked the Monteverde Impressa and let Ron pick the color.

Why I Got It

The pen was provided free for review by Pen Chalet so price was taken out of the equation. I was allowed to pick the pen I wanted to review and chose the Impressa due to its new, and rather unique design. There were four colors available and the Gun Metal & Red intrigued me but seemed just a little too subdued in the pictures. So I decided to let Ron pick the color but I did request a fine nib.

I did see the complete line at the Long Island Pen Show and the pens were shinier and better looking live than in the photos. There wasn’t a design I didn’t like.

What I Got

I received the Pearl Silver with Blue Trim model. It’s much shinier than the pictures and I really like it. This is even though blue is not a color I particularly like. But it works well with the white pen. The nib is a fine steel nib engraved with the Monteverde logo and name.

Monteverde Impressa packagingThe pen is an interesting design and one that’s unique in my accumulation. The top of the cap starts off square and becomes round as it reaches the body. The clip is built into the top of the cap where it’s hinged and has a spring action which allows it to open wide and still close tight. It does easily open and slide over material so it’s not the most secure clip. The pen is not about to fall out of my pocket but it will slide out easily if it catches on something. This does make it easy to slide in and out of a shirt pocket or a pen case. The clip does have a little lateral wiggle to it so it doesn’t always appear perfectly straight against the pen. It doesn’t feel poorly made, just that the tolerances of a $40 pen are not the same as a $400 pen. But it’s one of those things that I didn’t notice right away, but once I noticed I couldn’t unnotice. It hasn’t gotten any looser after a week of use in both my pockets and pen case.

The pen appears to be made of metal although I haven’t seen any official confirmation of that. The pen does have significant weight too it, especially when compared to the pens I typically use. it’s not so heavy that it’s uncomfortable, but it probably wouldn’t be my choice for a day log writing session.

The cap snaps on but does snap on securely. When posted the cap is help in place with friction.

The pen still has good balance when posted. Although that comes from someone who prefers to use pens unposted.

The step between the barrel and the section is very pronounced, especially since the cap threads are there. I can hold the pen naturally without the threads bothering me but if you hold the pen higher up it may bother you.

The nib is a standard #6 nib and can be swapped with most other Monteverde nibs or standard #6 nibs, It’s a nib only exchange, not the entire nib unit.

I really liked the look and design of this pen. It was also a good size which I thought would be comfortable to write with.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped:  5.5055″  139.83 mm
  • Length Uncapped:  5.0585″  128.49 mm
  • Length Posted:  6.0640″  154.02 mm
  • Section Length:  0.7285″  18.50 mm  (from below the threads to the top of the ridge protecting the nib)
  • Section Diameter (near nib):  0.3640″  9.24 mm
  • Section Diameter (below the threads):  0.4195″  10.66 mm
  • Cap Diameter:  0.4995″  12.68 mm
  • Weight:  1.4 oz  40 g

Using The Pen

Before inking the pen I flushed it out with a solution of water and a couple drops of dish soap to remove any manufacturing oils or residue. I’m glad I did this as it removed one possible cause of the terrible writing experience when I first inked the pen.

Monteverde Impressa nib closeupThe pen comes with both a black and a blue cartridge along with the convertor. As is my current practice I used one of the included cartridges, starting off with blue. I didn’t force the ink into the nib and it took about 15 minutes for the ink to get to the nib. Even with the ink flowing the writing experience was terrible. The flow would be good for a sentence or two then there would be terrible skipping. Then writing would be OK for a bit but good writing and skipping would alternate.

Things got so frustrating I removed the cartridge and again flushed the pen. Next up was the convertor filled with Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black. Even though the ink was black, night turned to day as they say. Flow was good although some skipping remained. But this time the skipping was on one stroke and immediately recovered. The ink did cling to the convertor so as the level became low I had to force the ink into the feed. I have the same problem with some other convertors so this didn’t annoy me.

Once I wrote the pen dry of the Sailor ink I tried a cartridge of Visconti Red. While it wasn’t as bad as the original blue cartridge the line would often be thin which was unpleasant so I flushed the ink and put Waterman Blue-Black in the convertor.

The Waterman Blue-Black wrote well. The skipping remained and it also clung to the convertor. By this time I decided to check the nib under a loupe and sure enough the tines were misaligned and was most likely the cause of the remaining skipping. So I aligned them. This more or less eliminated the skipping problem. More because it wrote great with the convertor until the level got low, less because cartridges didn’t have good flow and the ink still clung to the convertor which reduced flow at times.

Monteverde ink writing sample

Writing sample using the convertor

I didn’t need to do any nib smoothing, just a tine alignment. At that point the nib was very smooth. If it was aligned when it arrived I’d have considered it a very nice steel nib. Also on the subject of performance, I should mention I also removed the feed and nib to give them a thorough check and cleaning before writing this review. The performance didn’t change after this. You’ll also find a link to The Pen Habit under additional reading and he picks a medium nib’d Impressa as one of his five favorite pens.

None of the four cartridges I used provided acceptable performance. All had flow problems although the later cartridges did better. None were consistent enough to use until empty. On the other hand, the convertor has worked well. There aren’t any flow issues until most of the ink is used and I have to force the last bits into the feed. This isn’t an insignificant amount of ink as there is several pages of writing left. These are covered under ink used.

The pen is a wet writer, even though I have a fine nib. I’d say it’s one of my wettest fine nibs, if not the wettest. Sixth months ago I wouldn’t have liked this but I’ve begun looking at wetter nibs to provide some variation in my accumulation. The Montverde Impressa ended up being a nice writer, although the frustration adds to the $40 price.

Cleaning

I haven’t had the pen long enough to worry about clogging or staining, but it was easy enough to flush the ink out with regular water. The included convertor also disassembles to make it easy to clean.

Inks Used

As I mentioned, the cartridges didn’t work well at all. The performance ranged from absolutely terrible to just a frustratingly thin line. The convertor was used between each cartridge and didn’t have the same problems. Cartridges used were the included Monteverde Blue and Black ink which were the worst performing inks. The Visconti Red alternated between a nice line and a weak red line. The J. Herbin Perle Noire wrote well for a while then the feed would run dry and I’d have to force ink into it. This pen just doesn’t seem to like cartridges.

Things were much better when using the convertor. All the inks wrote well but had a tendency to cling to the convertor, not something unique to this pen. All the inks wrote well until the ink level became low enough to starve the feed. There was still a lot of ink stuck in the convertor so forcing it into the feed resulted in several more pages of writing. Inks used include Waterman Blue-Black, Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano black, and Visconti Bordeaux.

Wrapping Up

This is a tough one. I love the look and design of the pen but the performance left a lot to be desired. I really want to love this pen. If this pen had been a purchase I think I would have been justified in exchanging it, especially if I preferred cartridges. On the other hand it’s a $40 pen and the chance to experiment was hard to resist. There really were two problems – the first being the mis-aligned nib which was relatively easy to fix. The second problem is harder to identify. If both cartridges and the convertor had the same problem I’d say it was a feed problem. But inks in the convertor write fine, downright wet. While cartridges put down a weak line at best. To top it off I alternated between cartridges and convertor so it’s not likely one on the flushes removed some previously unseen residue or oils.

The mis-aligned nib is a little more forgivable although I have to say I’ve been impressed by a lot of inexpensive nibs these days.

Thanks to Pen Chalet for providing the pen for review. The Monteverde Impressa is currently $40 from Pen Chalet. They are also running a giveaway of a $50 and a $25 gift card ending about April 13th. Get complete giveaway details here. You can also use the coupon code FPQUEST for 10% off a purchase from them.

Additional Reading and Viewing

The Pen Habit reviewed the pen and selected it as one of his top 5 pens.

Gallery

 

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6 thoughts on “Review: Monteverde Impressa

  1. I just bought this pen from the fountain pen hospital. I am giving up. it looks nice, but everything else is a disaster. It leaks. The converter rattles and has fallen out. and I have to continuously open the pen and turn the knob on the converter to make sure that ink continues to flow out of the pen. what a disaster. I have been using my lamys and my pilot metropolitan without such problems. it is a shame, because the pen looks really nice. Exactly as everyone else described.I am using noodlers black.

    • @Rich. It’s a nice looking pen so it’s frustrating that the quality just isn’t there. Especially since, as you mention, there are other low cost, high quality pens.

      Ray

  2. Worse pen I ever owned. Every sentence starts off with half of the first letter, and then it’s like writing with a garden house. I really wanted to like this pen. The nib looks awesome and the pen feels solid and substantial. Too bad it doesn’t write worth a damn.

    • Seems like they do have some QC problems, with more problem pens than good pens reaching the street. I haven’t inked this one up again since the review.

      This isn’t the worst pen I ever owned, which isn’t meant as a defense. But it is the most frustrating since it had so much potential.

      Thanks for reading,
      Ray

      • Being stubborn, I played around with the nib a little more, soaked it in water with a hint of dish soap rinsed it out again, and then inked it with Noodlers Zhivago. It started working better. I then cleaned it out again, a little more nib fiddling, and put in a blue monteverde cartridge. It’s now working pretty well. Nice flow, and only an occasional dry start. The writing has always been very, very smooth. That was never an issue. Kind of glad I stuck with it.

  3. Piece of crap pen. Doesn’t write well, leaks and generally not worth the money I paid for it. I have a pen three times cheaper than this pen and it works great. I guess paying more does not necessarily mean you are getting better value.

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