Monday, March 9, 2009

Seeing Red with the Pilot G-2

The Pilot G-2 is one of my main go-to pens. I love how it writes, how smoothly the ink goes down and how well it works in a Moleskine.

Oh, but I'm speaking of the black ink version.

The red ink G-2 has left me, well . . . seeing red.

One of my responsibilities at the church where I serve is to edit our weekly newsletter. The newsletter is created on a computer, but I prefer to edit a hard-copy. I'm old school - it's part of my charm.

And, being old school, I use red ink to make corrections. Why red? Simple, it stands out clearly from a sea of black print (ignoring the overabundance of color graphics, but I digress). I know that some people think of red ink in a negative light - connoting a degree of hyper-criticism, etc. To me, it is merely an efficient and time-honored editing medium.

I used to use red pencils (actually designed for editing) but these are somewhat harder to come by these days, so I switched to red pens. Red ball points have all the charm and utility of their black and blue cousins (not much), so I've searched for a good red gel-ink pen. The Pilot G-2 seemed the logical choice, as I've been so pleased with the black ink versions. (In case you are wondering, no, I have not tried the blue ink.)

My first attempt started well enough, the red gel ink flowed smoothly from the 07 medium/fine point - just like the black ink G-2's. I thought I had discovered the perfect editing pen. After a short period of usage, I began to experience some skipping, followed by a marked scratchiness. Assuming I merely had a defective pen, I pulled a fresh, red G-2 out and began again - with similar disappointing results.

"Perhaps it's the paper," I thought, so I went to a black G-2. No problems whatsoever. Puzzled, I found yet another red G-2 (one that came packaged with a set of black pens), thinking that I had stumbled upon a bad lot of the reds. To my dismay, this red G-2 also started well, only to skip and scratch after a few minutes usage.

Have any of you experienced a similar problem? I know nothing of how gel ink is formulated, but it seems odd that the black and red inks would behave differently on the same type paper from supposedly identical 07 points. This isn't really a review, nor even a rant. I'm genuinely puzzled as to why I'm having problems with Pilot's red G-2. I'd appreciate any insights you might have.


  1. I have noticed that the blue G-2s write much better than the black ones. I don't use the red ones that much so I have never had any issues with them. Maybe the color has something to do with the ink characteristics. Some research is in order. Nr

  2. I'll have to try the blue. I usually use black as black ink is required on legal documents I sign on occasion (marriage licenses, mainly). Perhaps the pigmentation imakes the difference. I know little of the characteristics of gel ink.

  3. I've been keeping a journal since 1991. It is most disconcerting when anything changes and several times MY pen has been discontinued. It takes a long time to establish a relationship with a new pen. I like one that flows with a small point but you never feel like you have a pointy-pen. They are hard to come by. And the color of ink is important. Black. It really, really needs to be black. Blue is distracting.

    Doesn't help any with your red pen problem but I wanted to write this anyway.

  4. Billie,
    I guess we all have our color preferences. I remember a college professor who would not accept any work that was not submitted in blue ink on yellow legal pad paper. He claimed that any other combination hurt his eyes. To each his own, as the saying goes.

  5. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy - I have exactly the same problem with my red G2 pens. I went through the same thought processes as you, and I have absolutely no idea what is wrong. I noticed this since I first started buying G2 pens. No other G2 color that I have used in the past six years has behaved as the red. Next step, ask the manufacturer?

  6. I've had the same problems but with the black version...

    Maybe the problem is not with the ink, but bad batches..

  7. I'm havingn the same problems with the black version. I would note that the time I actually bought the pens was about a year ago, I had no problems and was very happy, but now it seems that every time I write with them they are skipping, ( not flowing ink ) in the middle of word. I'm wonder if it's a shelf life issue or if the ball tip has somehow gotten dirt in it.
    I'm looking for a new pen!