Types of Tattoo Machines: Rotary vs Coil Machine

People often get confused when it is time to choose a tattoo machine. That’s why we have created a site for you to explain to you some complex things about tattoo machines in simple terms.

While choosing the tattoo machine, there are mainly two types of machines: Rotary Machine and Coil Machine. Both of them are popular and used by so many people.

If you are confused between rotary tattoo machines or coil tattoo machines, then in this post, I will help you understand the difference and working of both of them.

Rotary Tattoo Machine


Rotary tattoo machines are the best picks for those who are starting to be the tattooist. Rotary machines are quite and a handful of machines that are very simple to use.

There are many advantages of rotary tattoo machines over coil tattoo machines when it comes to using the tattoo machines.

Rotary Tattoo Machines works on electromagnetic currents. The current helps to move the amateur bar inside the tattoo machine and move the needles up and down through the skin.

Rotary machines are very quiet in terms of noise. They don’t make loud noises like coil machines.

Rotary machines are versatile. They can be used for both lining and shading work.

The best and most noticeable thing about the Rotary machine is the fast and more fluid needle movement. That makes it less damaging to the skin.

Advantages of Rotary Tattoo Machine

Rotary machines are one of the easiest machines to use for making tattoos. Not every professional tattoo artists use the rotary machine over the coil machine, yet the rotary machine does have some best advantages over the coil machine. Let’s check out some of the best things that you get in the Rotary machine.

  • Simple to use
  • Less damaging to the skin
  • Low maintenance
  • Fast needle movement

Simple to use: Rotary machines are the best machines for beginners. If you are just starting to make tattoos, then rotary machines are for you.

Less damaging to the skin: It does have the fluid needle movement, which makes it quick, and it is less harmful compared to the coil machine for the skin/body.

Low maintenance: There is nothing much for you to take care of in maintenance with the rotary tattoo machine.

Fast needle movement: As rotary machines work on electromagnetic currents, the needle movements are fast and quick.

Disadvantages of Rotary Machine

There will always be some disadvantages or drawbacks in almost everything when there is some competitive product.

Rotary machines do have some backsides in certain areas when compared to the coil machine. That doesn’t make any product bad over the other, but it makes us best for choosing which one is perfect for us.

Here are some of the things that I figured out in the Rotary machine.

  • Not that effective with large needles
  • Not the best when there is pressure on the skin

Not effective with large needles: If compared with the coil machine, rotary machines are not that effective with large needles as coil machines.

Not the best when there is pressure on the skin: If the client is putting some pressure on the skin while making a tattoo, then the rotary machine will give you some trouble. You will need to make the skin free and easy when using the rotary machine.

You can check out the best rotary machines if you are looking for rotary machines.

Coil Tattoo Machine


Coil tattoo machines are one of the best picks by professional tattoo artists. All the professional tattoo artists will always prefer coil machines for their work because of the detailing.

Whenever you walk through any tattoo shop, you will hear a loud buzzing noise from the machine. That sound is of the coil machine.

Coil tattoo machines work in the very traditional way of pulling and pushing the needle into the skin. It works on the electric motor, which directly puts the needle in and out of the skin. (That’s why only professionals should use them as it needs more precautions and care.)

Coil machines are a bit harmful compared to the rotary machine. That’s why you should take lessons from professional artists before using them.

Coil machines are super noisy. It makes a loud, buzzing noise, and they are very loud.

Coil machines are not as versatile as a rotary machine. You can use it either for lining or for shading.

The machine provides choppier needle movement because of the way the coil machine works. That’s why you need to be careful with coil machines.

Advantages of Coil Machine

The coil machine does have some of the best things over the rotary machine. That’s why many professional artists use coil machines over the rotary machine.

The coil machine is the tattoo machine made for the professionals. It is a machine that works a traditional way.

If you know how to use a coil machine with care and expertise then coil machines are best.

  • Best for lining
  • Can create smooth fine lines
  • Shading is easier with a coil machine
  • Works best on hard skins

Best for lining: Set it up for the lining, and that makes it work as the coil machine does not do lining and shading both. You will need to get the best coil machine for a lining if you want to do the linework.

Can create smooth lines with ease: Coil machine makes it easy for artists to create smooth lines. Even if the skin is tough, it works best.

Shading is easier with a coil machine: If you set up your machine for shading then the coil machine works best for shading than a rotary machine.

Works best on hard skins: Coil machines work best on the hard or pressurized skins as well. You don’t need to swallow or make some extra efforts while using the coil machine.

Disadvantages of Coil Machine

There are no disadvantages but some things in the coil machine which needs to be considered.

  • Requires high skills
  • Not for beginners
  • High maintenance
  • Not easy to set up

Requires high skills: You need to be an experienced artist or the person trained under the professional if you have to use the coil machines.

Not for beginners: The coil machines are not for beginners. They are not simple to set up as well.

High maintenance: Coil machines require more maintenance and care compared to rotary tattoo machines.

Not easy to set up: You need to set up coil machines based on the work that you are going to do. You need to set up the machine for lining and shading differantly.

Rotary Tattoo Machine vs Coil Tattoo Machine

To be honest, there is no one to one comparison in which we can pick out the best machine out of these two. Both machines are the best types of machines when it comes to making tattoos. That’s why both of them are in the talks for a very long time.

The only thing is, you need to select the one you should select based on your experience, work, and need.

If I have to sum up everything and tell you everything once then I will say

Choose rotary tattoo machine if you are just starting out as the tattoo artists or you are learning and choose coil tattoo machine if you already have some experience.

Rotary machines are best for those who do not want to be caught in extra maintenance and stuff like that. In the coil machine, you need to do some extra setup for lining and shading.

You can choose the rotary machine even if you are experienced if you want to go with a quiet machine and something that is less damaging to the skin. You can go with a coil machine even if you are just starting out if you are doing it with the help of a professional.

Rotary Tattoo MachineCoil Tattoo Machine
Works on electromagnetic currentWorks on the electric motor
Makes no soundMakes loud buzzing noise
Can be used for both lining and shadingCan be used for either lining or shading (based on the set up)
More fluid needle movementChoppier needle movement
Simple to easeA bit tricky to set up and use
Less damaging to the skinBit damaging compared to the skin
Low maintenanceHigh maintenance
Best for beginnersNot for beginners
Does not work best under pressure on the skinDoes work best under pressure on the skin
Not effective with large needlesEffective with large needles

If you want to know the best tattoo machines then you can check out: Top 5 Best Tattoo Machines

Final words

I hope you must have understood the difference between both types of tattoo machines and you are good to select one for you.

You can read some of our other articles to know the best tattoo machines or some of the reviews of the tattoo machines as well.

Do you need some more help? Do let me know in the comments section.

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