What are the Different Types of Tattoo Machines?

Behind every beautiful tattoo design, the skill of the artist and the tattooing tool play a primary role. This means the perfection of this artwork can only be achieved with both of these.

 However, if you’re new to the tattoo world, you might need clarification about the different types of tattoo machines. 

When it comes to different types of tattooing tools, we classify them into four major categories: 

  1. Coil Tattoo Machine
  2. Rotary Tattoo Machines
  3. Pneumatic
  4. Hybrid

These are four different types of tattoo machine kits, each with distinct features and specifications. And each of them also comes with its own set of pros and cons. Tattoo artists select these machines according to their specific tattooing requirements and projects.

Furthermore, all of them are available at different price points. So beginner to experienced artists can buy them according to their budget. 

However, this article will only discuss the two main types of tattoo machines including coil, and rotary. And I will also share their pros and cons. So, please continue reading the article.

What Are the Different Types of Tattoo Machines?

Coil Tattoo Machine

Coil Tattoo guns are the most common and traditional machines available. The history of these tools dates back to 1891 when the tattoo artist Samuel O’Reilly developed them.

Types of Coil Tattoo Machine


Liner tattoo guns create fine, crisp, sharp lines before filling the colors. Liners inject ink into the skin; therefore, a high speed is crucial. As a result, these guns operate at a frequency of 120-150 Hz.


Shader coil guns are usually used in ink design for color packing and shading effects. Typically, shaders have 60-100 Hz frequency.

Pros and Cons of Coil Machines



The best thing about coil machines is that they are highly affordable and budget-friendly. They are especially perfect for beginner artists who want to avoid making a big hole in their pocket.

Top high-quality coil tattoo machines are mostly available between $50 to $100. Usually, these come with a complete start kit that includes all necessary items like ink, needles, gloves, and other required tattooing items to get started. 


Coil machines are known for their unmatched power and reliability. These machines are typically powered directly, which results in them delivering more power compared to other tattoo machines that are driven by a motor. As a result, coil machines are ideal for creating complex and large tattoo designs.

Easy to clean

Maintaining the hygiene of tattooing tools is crucial for creating clean and fine designs. However, many modern machines, including wireless ones, are challenging to clean due to their lack of separate parts. 

On the other hand, coil tattoo machines are easier to clean since their parts can be easily separated. 

Easy to handle

Coil tattoo machines have mostly beginner-friendly control, making them easier for beginners to use without prior experience. 


Extra noise and vibration 

The most significant disadvantage of these traditional machines is they create extra noise and vibration during tattooing operations. 

This noise can be distracting for both the artist and the client. At the same time, extra vibration makes it harder to create delicate designs, especially for beginners. 

Restricted Movement

Coil guns are operated with a combination of cables and foot pedals. As a result, it makes it difficult for tattoo artists to move machines in any direction freely. 

Heavier Weight

Traditional tattoo machines are usually more bulky as compared to modern rotary models. Their extra bulky weight makes using them for longer tattooing sessions challenging. 

Rotary tattoo machines 

Rotary modes have been a famous hotcake among artists since their launch in 2010. These tools consist of a small motor responsible for driving the tattooing process.

 An excellent rotary tattoo machine is a must/ in your tattooing device collection to make your artwork work smoothly and highly professionally.  

Types of rotary tattoo machines

Direct Drive Rotary Machines:

The needle is attached directly to the motor in this type of rotary model machine.

 As a result, it makes the needles go up and down faster. This design eliminates the need for additional components like armature bars and springs. Furthermore, direct drive systems minimize noise and vibration. 


This is another type of rotary machine in which a needle bar is directly connected to a slider mechanism. The motor is enclosed within a frame attached to the mechanisms via a shaft.


This is the most popular rotary machine model. Typically, these machines have ergonomic and pen-style designs, which make them perfect to use for a longer time. 

Furthermore, the pen-style machine featured a lightweight design, a power motor, and other advanced features. Many top rotary tattoo machines with affordable pricing ranges are available in the market. 

Pros and Cons of Rotary Machines


Versatility in Tattooing Operation 

Rotary machines are versatile in terms of tattooing operation. With the help of these tools, artists can perform various tattooing tasks, including lining, shading, color packing, and even permanent makeup.  

Lightweight and Ergonomic 

The best thing about these guns is their lightweight and ergonomic design. These features make them perfect for holding steadily without hurting the wrist or making the hands tired. 

Less Noise and Vibration

Rotary devices do not make extra noise or vibration, unlike coil machines. They run very quietly and smoothly. 

Compatibility with Major Cartridges

Rotary models tattooing tools are compatible with major brands’ cartridge needles. This means an artist can make or draw any artwork. 

Ease of Learning

Beginner tattoo artists who are just starting should begin with a rotary machine. This is because these machines offer user-friendly controls and designs suitable for beginners.



Rotary guns offer many advantages as compared to coil machines. But they are expensive when it comes to price. 

Limited Power 

As you know, rotary machines operate with the help of a motor. However, this motor provides limited power. 

Difficult to clean

Another considerable con of these machines is that they’re tricky to clean. 


Four different types of machines are used for tattooing artwork: coil, rotary, pneumatic, and hybrid. Coil and rotary machines are the most popular choices among tattoo artists worldwide. However, each of these machines has its advantages and disadvantages.


What are the two types of tattoo machines?

Coil and rotary are two major and commonly used types of tattoo guns. Each type has its distinct advantages and disadvantages, but, there are many suitable cheap tattoo kits for everyone out there.

What tattoo machines do artists use?

Tattoo artists use both types of machines: coil and rotary.

Which tattoo machine is for beginners?

There are many beginner-friendly machines available in the market. However, based on my experience, the Dragonhawk Mast Pen offers the best user-friendly control and setup.

Is a tattoo pen or gun better?

Tattoo pens are significantly superior when considering ease of use, quiet operation, lightweight construction, and ergonomic design.

What are the different types of coil machines?

There are two primary types of coil machines: the liner and the shader. A liner gun is typically used for lining, while a shader creates shading effects.

Spread the love

Leave a Comment