Coil vs Rotary – Which Is The Right Tattoo Machine For Beginners?

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Tattoos, the age-old body art that was once considered taboo by society, is gaining immense popularity continuously from the 20th century. It was once done on the body of the criminals, outcastes, and socially irresponsible people to segregate them from others.

However, as time passed, it became one of the most sought-after body art and was done by 20% of the world’s population across the globe.  Earlier tattoos were done by hand and needles and piercing the skin, and then inserting colors.

However, with the development of technology, machines are being used by tattoo artists to inscribe beautiful designs on the skin and make them more delicate and perfect even with intrinsic designs.

Tattoo artists generally use any of the two types of machines; coil or rotary type. It is best to have some knowledge about them before one intends to surrender their body to the experts and be under the needles.

There are ample tattoo gun kits with both options in the market. It’s you who has to decide which tattoo machine would be the right fit for you.

Tattoos And The Machines

As artists or enthusiasts willing to be in the tattoo business or painting their bodies, it is often confused as to which type of tattoo machines they should use. Shall they use the devices with coils or use the rotary tattoo machines. To choose the best tattoo machine, you’ll have to read this post till the end.

Coil vs Rotary Tattoo Machine

The main difference between these two types of machines is in the principle of driving the needles precisely on the skin so that the desired body art can surface. In the coil tattoo machines, it is the electromagnetic current that controls the armature bar that moves the needles up and down while piercing the skin.

The coil machine is preferred by professional tattoo artists as they are inexpensive and readily available in the market. However, they make more buzzing sounds while working.

In the rotary tattoo machines, a small motor draws and releases the needles. The motor is encased within the machine. There is almost no noise while the machines are in operation.

Many tattoo artists prefer the rotary machines over the coil tattoo machines as the advantages are more while using the former. The impact on the skin is almost painless and highly smooth as one uses rotary tattoo machines.

The basic differences 

  • Lines and shading – According to the experts, the advantages of using rotary tattoo machines are much more than the coil machines. With the rotary machines, the lines can be smoother and much shading can be done, unlike while using the coil tattoo machines.
  • Noise factor – Would you prefer to wear earmuffs while doing a tattoo? Well no. The rotary machines work silently, unlike the coil tattoo machines. The coil machines make noises like the bumblebee, and a first-time tattoo enthusiast might feel nervous and shake the body creating a mess of the design and damaging the skin. The itching and the pain as the needles pierce the skin are much less in rotary machines compared to coil machines.
  • The weight of the machines – With dual coins and iron rods in them, coil tattoo machines are bulkier than rotary machines. It takes quite an effort on the part of the tattoo artist to control and maneuver the device over the skin of the subject, and any wrong handling can cause much damage to the skin of the person under the needle. As the rotary machines are lighter in weight, they can be handled with much precision by the tattoo artists. The artists can continue to work for long hours without getting fatigued. Mistakes are much less while juggling with the rotary machines to perfect the designs, unlike the coil machines.
  • The versatility in working – The biggest drawback of the coil machines is that they can either create shades or lines. No coil machines have both the provisions in the same unit. Thus one has to keep individual machines for marking lines or shading on the skin. Not only the investment doubles but making perfect designs becomes complicated. However, with a single rotary machine, one can fulfill both the purposes of lining and shading. Only the needles need to be selected accordingly.
  • The punch – Many tattoo experts and enthusiasts feel that the rotary machines have less punch than the coil tattoo machines as the recoiling is slow. Therefore, it becomes difficult to work with larger needles, unlike when these are used in coil machines. However, the maintenance cost of the rotary machines is much less than the coils tattoo machines.
  • The expertise to handle – Only the old warhorse of the tattoo-making industry can handle and juggle the coil machines more precisely as they are heavy and a bit cumbersome. The rotary machines can be used by any artist, keeping the first step into the industry.
  • Adjustments – While the rotary machines need fewer adjustments for design perfections, the coil machines require precision adjustments to make the designs perfect and attractive.


With the basic working principle being the same, which is to make body art, it is more of a personal choice to use any of the above machines. The choice is open to the user and the person going under the needles. However, forget the blues of the process of making a tattoo and be an expert tattooist using any of the two machines. Make sure to have more perfection with the drawings on the body.

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