Rotary vs. Coil Tattoo Machine – What is the Right Tattoo Machine for Tattooing?

Rotary and coil tattoo machines both are popular and widely used tattoo machines. Although many other tattoo machines are available, these 2 are the preferred tattoo machine by many professional tattoo artists due to their offered benefits.

Both machines are promised to deliver amazing results, but their working procedure is different. A beginner in the tattooing industry always looks for an answer to the question, rotary vs. coil tattoo machine – which one to choose.

This is why I made this write-up to give you a clear understanding of the differences between these 2 machines and what should you look at when you check the different tattoo kits out there.

What is a Rotary Tattoo Machine?

Following specific mechanical and scientific principles, a rotary tattoo machine creates a tattoo. It consists of a small electric motor that powers the needle to move up and down. The needle moves slowly to give a smooth feeling to the skin.

Tattoo artists are showing much interest in rotary machines in recent times. These machines are now equipped with an armature bar that assists the machine to hit the required efficiency – this feature is adapted from a coil tattoo machine. Either electricity or an air compressor powers these machines.

What is a Coil Tattoo Machine?

The coil tattoo machines are used by most tattoo professionals in the world. Even beginners start their tattooing profession with it. The coil and armature bar is the main part of a coil tattoo machine. The armature bar gets released when electromagnetic current passes through the coil. Then the armature bar creates a hammer-like effect, and thus the needle penetrates the skin to insert ink onto the skin.

The armature bar returns to its position since it is attached to a spring. As a result, the electromagnetic field reestablishes. it passes through the coil again to release the armature bar. This cycle repeats again and again until the electromagnetic field stops reestablished.

Comparison Chart – Rotary vs. Coil Tattoo Machine

The below comparison chart will give you a quick overview of the difference between rotary and coil tattoo machines.

FeaturesRotary Tattoo MachineCoil Tattoo Machine
WeightLightweight.Bulkier than a rotary tattoo machine.
Sound LevelWorks silently.Creates much noise.
UtilityCan be used as both shader and liner.2 separate machines are required to accomplish shading and lining design.
Needle MovementSmooth.Rough.
Ease of UseEasy to use.Little Practice is required.

Key Differences Between Rotary and Coil Tattoo Machine – In-depth Discussion


Coil tattoo machines are designed with heavy coils made of iron bars that make them heavier than the rotary tattoo machine. The small electric engine is the main component of the rotary machine, and thus they are lightweight.

Some tattoo artists prefer to work with heavy coil machines, but when drawing a larger tattoo design, you will feel fatigued in your arm and hand due to the coil machine’s bulkier feature.

Sound Level

If you ever pass beside a tattoo shop, you must have heard of a buzzing sound. The coil tattoo machine creates a continuous buzzing sound when it operates. It generates this sound due to the consistent hammer-like effect of the armature bar. Many people think that getting a tattoo using a coil tattoo machine is painful. The truth is, it is a misconception.

The rotary tattoo machine’s design is so simple. Thus, it performs quietly.


The best thing about a rotary tattoo machine is, that it can perform as both a shader and liner. It means it is an all-rounder. By adjusting the tube stem of a rotary tattoo machine, you can use it for both the shading and lining of a tattoo design. For this reason, frequent changing of the machine is unnecessary.

On the other hand, you can’t use a coil tattoo machine for both shading and lining. You will need to buy 2 separate tattoo machines for this.

Ease of Use

Rotary tattoo machines are lightweight, create less sound, and don’t vibrate. That means working with it is hassle-free. Also, a beginner doesn’t require practice to get familiar with it.

In contrast, operating a coil tattoo machine requires little practice. Moreover, they are bulkier than the rotary machine, as a result, operating them is less comfortable.

Movement of the Needle

A coil tattoo machine’s needle movement is rough because the electromagnetic field breaks and reestablishes in every cycle. But in the rotary tattoo machine, needle movement is smooth due to the electricity’s consistent flow.

Rotary vs. Coil Tattoo Machine – Which one is the Best?

Rotary tattoo machines are smaller in size, perform quietly, and are lightweight. This way, you will not be disturbed when working on this machine due to its silent characteristic. At the same time, working with me for an extended period is a breeze. It is beginner-friendly, and experts also find it is straightforward to use.

Setting up Rotary tattoo machines is also comfortable. Plug the needle into the required power source, and the machine is ready to perform. Cleaning the machine is easy, too, after a successful tattooing session.

However, a coil tattoo machine is preferred by tattoo artists for its precision. Rotary tattoo machines also deliver a precise result but are not similar to the coil tattoo machine. If accuracy is the priority of the tattoo project, the coil tattoo machine is the best pick.

Overall, pick a machine type that meets your tattoo design requirement and suits your style too. Additionally, you can choose both machine types, if required.

Last Words

Hopefully, this guideline will help you a lot to make a precise decision over rotary vs. coil tattoo machine – which one to choose when you look for a full tattoo kit for sale.

Whatever your decision is, make sure the machine fulfills your requirement. The decision relies on personal style and the way of working.

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