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To do your best tattoo work, you need to use a quality tattoo machine. When you’re just starting out, you won’t readily know what the best tattoo machines for beginners are. In fact, even professional tattoo artists find it difficult to traverse these waters.
Not only do you have to decide on a brand, but you also have to choose between the different styles of machines.
Before we look at the best tattoo machines for beginners, let’s discuss the difference between the two kinds of tattoo machines: coil-driven and rotary motor.
Different Types of Tattoo Guns
Coil tattoo machines
Most old-school tattoo artists use coil tattoo machines. The coils produce an electromagnetic circuit which causes the machine to go up and down.
They’re more complex to set up and use than rotary tattoo machines, and some say they’re not beginner friendly. However, as mentioned, a lot of artists started with coil machines and learned to appreciate its precision to such a degree that they refuse to use another kind of tattoo. They also find the loud noise as a helpful guide to regulate speed and power.
It weighs more than rotary machines, which some say helps them maintain control over the machine. Of course, the heavier the machine, the more likely your hand will get fatigued quicker.
Although you get better results with a coil tattoo machine if used correctly, these machines in inexperienced and careless hands can cause a lot of damage to the skin. So if you plan on buying this type of tattoo gun, you need to practice on fake skin, and ask a professional to teach you how to set it up correctly.
If you’re fearful of starting out with a coil-drive tattoo machine, a rotary is your other option. A rotary tattoo machine has a motor that rotates in a cycle that generates the energy to move the needle in a linear motion. The design is fairly simple yet can be very versatile—most rotaries can be used for lining, shading, and color packing.
Rotary tattoo machines
Rotary machines are easy to use since they don’t require a lot of disassembly, adjustments, or maintenance. These tattoo machines are also softer on the skin, they make less noise, and have limited vibrations.
They tend to be somewhat smaller—hence weighs less—than coil tattoo machines. This is good news if you plan on tattooing for long periods. You also get pen tattoo machines that are a variation of the rotary but even smaller and lighter. There are even some cordless rotary-type tattoo machines!
The only drawback worth mentioning is that rotary tattoo machines aren’t as fast as coil machines, and they’re not as durable.
We won’t judge you if your head is already spinning—there are truly a lot of things to consider when it comes to buying a tattoo machine. Luckily, you have experts like us to help guide you in the right direction.
This article will help budding tattoo artists find the best of the best tattoo machines for beginners.
5 Best Tattoo Machines For Beginners overviewTable could not be displayed.
5 Best Tattoo Machines For Beginners
1. Dragonhawk Mast Pen Machine: Overall Top Pick
If your love of drawing sparked your interest in becoming a tattoo artist, the Dragonhawk Mast Pen may be the best tattoo machine. Beginner tattoo artists tend to draw a lot to hone their artistic talents and this machine makes it possible for them to transfer their skill from paper onto skin more easily. It feels similar to using an actual pen and its light-weight(120 grams) makes it comfortable to hold.
The Dragonhawk Mast Pen has a clear tip that makes it easy for you to see what you’re doing. Furthermore, it has a curved end and this will make tattooing the twists and turns of more intricate pieces effortless.
You may be concerned that the size of one of the best tattoo machines for beginners means a smaller motor and less power. Don’t worry—you can expect reliable output. The noise level, as well as the vibration of this machine, are low, which means you can tattoo for long periods without hurting you or your client’s ears.
Another big reason why the Dragonhawk Mast Pen made it onto the list of best tattoo machines for beginners is that it is available as a tattoo kit. When first starting, we recommend you buy a kit. It saves you the trouble of putting everything together and finding accessories that are compatible with your machine. Of course, it helps that this rotary tattoo pen can fit all needle cartridge types.
You also get a travel and storage bag, something that will make your life more laid-back when you have to move your kit between your apprenticeship and home.
Do keep in mind that this kit comes with ten 5ml ink bottles so you may want to invest in some extra tattoo ink.
Why is the Dragonhawk Mast Pen a good choice?
- It feels like you’re using a pen.
- It can be used for lining, shading, and solid coloring.
- High power without excessive noise or vibration.
2. Dragonhawk Coil Machines Tattoo Kit: Best Value
We mentioned how choosing a tattoo kit is a wise decision when you start collecting your equipment. While some kits only contain one machine and accessories, this kit comes with a whopping four coil tattoo machines!
When you first start doing tattoos, machines designed for specific tasks will make the process more relaxed. You won’t have to tinker with one machine to get it to do what you want and waste time. This is what makes the Dragonhawk tattoo kit stand out. You get a liner, power liner, shader, and a fourth machine that is good for color packing.
On top of that, you get everything you may need to start tattooing immediately. This includes disposable tips, needles, ink cups, ink caps, paper towels, ten 5ml inks, transfer paper, practice skin, and a power supply. This means one thing: convenience. You won’t have to buy anything else to start tattooing.
Another great selling point of this beginner tattoo kit is that the brand teamed up with a professional tattoo artist to design the machines included in this kit. So, you can expect to get four of the best tattoo machines for beginners that work! Dragonhawk also has someone who inspects and adjusts each machine by hand to make sure they’re ready to use. In fact, there’s a focus on quality throughout the kit—you’re not buying cheap, throwaway gear.
Of course, if you’re not happy, or you get a damaged kit, Dragonhawk has excellent customer service. They’re known for offering replacements or sending a brand-new kit altogether when customers are unhappy.
Why choose the Dragonhawk Coil Tattoo kit?
- It contains everything you’ll need.
- The machines are top quality and were designed by a professional tattoo artist.
- You get four task-specific machines.
3. Dragonfly Tattoo Machine: Most Affordable
When you’re just starting out, you may not have a huge budget to spend on equipment.
Luckily, some brands do their utmost to release budget-friendly tattoo guns that can help beginner tattoo artists. This Dragonfly tattoo machine is one of those affordable machines. In fact, when you first look at the price you may struggle to believe it is a rotary tattoo machine and instead think it is a disposable accessory.
As you can imagine, at such a low price point, it may not be the most durable tattoo machine on the market. That being said, we still consider it one of the best tattoo machines for beginners because it makes it possible for you to start tattooing while still saving up and shopping around for your perfect tattoo gun.
If you decide on checking out this rotary machine, keep in mind that it doesn’t come with any accessories. Furthermore, it’s not meant for tattooing long stretches at a time. We recommend using it for an hour and letting it cool for ten minutes before tattooing again. It also works best on small designs.
You don’t have to worry about performance. Yes, it won’t be able to run for long, but it is a stable machine with low vibrations. As a beginner, using a tattoo gun that doesn’t vibrate is super helpful to create straight and crisp lines. The fact that it isn’t noisy also counts in this machine’s favor.
Think of the Dragonfly as a trial tattoo gun or one you use only now and then. It won’t take the punch of tattooing eight hours a day, but it gives you time to figure out if you truly want to be a tattoo artist and to save up for a pricier machine.
Why buy the Dragonfly as your first tattoo machine?
- It is super affordable.
- It gives you time to save for a better, more durable machine.
- It’s easy to use.
4. Solong Complete Tattoo Kit: Quality Dupe
This is another complete tattoo kit that contains everything you need as a beginner tattoo artist. In it, you’ll find one coil machine, and all its attachments and accessories. You’ll also get 14 bottles of tattoo ink. When you buy this kit, you can skip the hassle of searching for all the important components of a tattoo kit separately.
But what makes this tattoo kit stand out from the others is the brand’s focus on offering affordable dupes to expensive models. They want to give their budget-conscious customers a chance to own a high-quality machine that performs like the high-end brands but at a fraction of the price. No wonder they’re one of the most loved brands around the globe.
So, when you buy this Solong kit, you’re getting one of the best tattoo machines for beginners. No wait, you’re getting two! This kit includes a liner and a shader.
We appreciate the fact that you get both because it is easier for beginners since they won’t have to adjust one machine to do both—something which is considered advanced. Coil tattoo machines are already intimidating, we don’t want to scare off newbie tattoo artists by asking them to mess around with these machines too much.
Why choose this Solong tattoo kit?
- Quality machines at an affordable price.
- You get a liner and a shader in this kit.
- It’s convenient since it contains everything you need to get started.
5. Stigma Complete Tattoo Kit Pro: Popular Brand
Stigma is one of the biggest brands in the tattoo industry. With this tattoo starter kit, the brand is offering an entry-level setup for beginner tattoo artists. The kit is pretty basic but offers a reliable machine.
It gives you a taste of what the brand has to offer should you upgrade your machine as you advance in your career. In other words, Stigma doesn’t skimp on their beginner kits. Instead, they whet your appetite for high-quality, durable machines with great performance.
Best yet, this kit comes with a friendly price tag. Naturally, this may cause some to pause and wonder whether they’re buying a substandard product. When it comes to Stigma, the answer is now.
The rotary tattoo machine that comes in this kit can handle up to 12V of power. That’s a wide range of voltage so you can line, shade, or color pack as you see fit.
Why is Stigma the brand you should choose?
- Its price-to-performance ratio is noteworthy.
- It is made by a reputable manufacturer.
- Kit comes with good quality accessories.
How to Choose the Best Tattoo Machine for Beginners
Choosing the right tattoo machine is a daunting task. The market is flooded with hundreds of tattoo machines from various brands. It’s hard to know where to start.
Here are the two top things to keep in mind when buying a tattoo gun as a beginner artist.
Your Skill Level
You’re still a beginner. Buying a tattoo gun with complicated features that will require a lot of fiddling will only lead to frustration, or worse, chewed-up, damaged skin that ends up scarring. You won’t buy a sports car while you’re still learning to drive (even though you’ll want to). The same applies to tattoo guns.
Match what you buy with your skill level. We recommend you go for a rotary tattoo machine unless you have a professional tattoo artist helping you figure out how to adjust coil tattoo guns.
Is it your dream to be a professional tattoo artist or do you plan on doing tattoos as a hobby? Answering this question can help you decide on what the best beginner tattoo machine is for you.
If you don’t plan on doing it as a full-time job, you won’t have to buy a super expensive tattoo machine. Since you won’t be recouping your money by doing tattoos, you may want to limit how much you spend on a tattoo machine.
On the other hand, if you plan on going pro, you can see your tattoo gun as an investment that will pay itself off in time.
Starting your career as a tattoo artist is an exciting yet at times confusing time. You want to give only your best and to do that, you need to use equipment you know will make you shine. Wading through hundreds of tattoo machines of different types to find the best tattoo machine for beginners can be a difficult task.
Thankfully articles like these can guide you in the right direction.
The best advice we can give you is to choose a machine that fits your skill level and budget.
Beginner tattoo kits are by far the most economical choice as you not only get a machine but everything you need to put ink to skin. However, nothing is stopping you from purchasing your tattoo machine and accessories separately. You may just need to do some extra research to figure out how everything works and most importantly if they work together.