Choose a Tattoo Machine - Rotary vs. Coil Tattoo Machine

Choose a Tattoo Machine - Rotary vs. Coil Tattoo Machine

A tattoo machine is an essential equipment for a tattoo artist, it is a sword to a soldier. Choosing the right tattoo machine is a good start for your tattoo journey. Understanding how coil and rotary tattoo machines are made can be helpful in choosing the right machine.

The Working Principle of Rotary and Coil Tattoo Machine

Rotary Tattoo Machine

It is a type of tattoo machine that uses an electric motor to drive the needles in a rotating motion. The motor is typically housed in the machine's body and is connected to a cam or crankshaft that moves the needles back and forth in a smooth and continuous motion.

components required for assembly into a rotary tattoo machine


Coil Tattoo Machine

It is a type of tattoo machine that uses an electromagnetic circuit to move the needles up and down in a rapid and repetitive motion. The machine consists of a frame, a set of electromagnetic coils, a capacitor, and a set of springs that help regulate the movement of the needles.


components required for assembly into a coil tattoo machine

Pro and Con 

Rotary Tattoo Machine

The rotary machine is a lightweight and less vibrating alternative to traditional tattoo machines. It is versatile and can be used for both lining and shading, making it a popular choice for tattoo artists. Additionally, its compact size and portability make it a convenient option for on-the-go tattooing. In recent years, wireless rotary pen machines have become available, allowing tattoo artists to work without the constraints of cords and cables. However, the motor-driven mechanism of the rotary machine can make customization and repairs difficult. While it is generally considered easier to use than other tattoo machines,


  • Easy to use
  • Request much less knowledge 
  • Quieter 
  • Less vibrate 
  • Portable
  • Lightweight 
  • One machine can do lining and shading


  • Hard to repair
  • Cannot customization
  • Only can adjust voltage
use rotary tattoo machine to tattoo you need tattoo power supply, or a tattoo battery pack, cartridge needles. if you use tattoo power supply, you also need a clip cord. you may also need a footswitch..

Coil Tattoo Machine

The coil tattoo machine offers several advantages that make it a preferred choice for many tattoo artists. One major advantage is its high degree of adjustability, which allows for greater control over the frequency, softness, and stroke length. Additionally, the machine can be easily customized to meet an artist's individual preferences, and is typically simple to repair due to its replaceable and fixable parts. Furthermore, the coil machine has a long-standing history in the world of tattooing, with many artists considering it a symbolic and iconic tool. However, it should be noted that the coil machine requires a greater degree of knowledge and experience to operate effectively, and is relatively heavy and produces more vibration and noise compared to rotary machines. Additionally, separate machines are needed for lining and shading, and it cannot be operated wirelessly.


  • More Adjustable
  • Customizable
  • Easy to repair
  • Lots of tattoo artists think it is the symbol for tattoo.


  • Request more knowledge to use
  • Heavy
  • More vibrate
  • More noise
  • Need 2 machine, one for lining, and one for shading
  • Cannot be wireless


use coil tattoo machine to tattoo you need tattoo power supply, tattoo needles, tattoo grip, clip cord. footswitch is optional.
Coil Tattoo Machine  Rotary Tattoo Machine
  • Heavy
  • Loud 
  • Much Vibrate
  • Lightweight
  • Quieter
  • Less Vibrate
  • Need 2 machines: One for lining, One for shading.
  • Can not be wireless
  • More steps to set up
  • A machine can lining and shading
  • Can be wireless
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to repair(if the coil is not break)
  • Customizable
  • Hard to repair
  • Not customizable 
  • Need more Knowledge to use
  • Easy to use
  • Lots of tattoo artists think a coil machine is symbol for tattoo.


Opinions from our Pro Team

Q: What kind of machine are you use when tattoo?

MAHAKALA TATTOO: I use a coil machine to lining, and a rotary machine to shading.

Diaoxian: I use 2 rotary machines. One for lining, and one for shading.

FATE TATTOO: It depends what kind of tattoo style I am doing.  

Q; Which tattoo machine would you let your apprentices to start with during their training?

MAHAKALA TATTOO: I will let them use a coil machine first because a coil machine is harder to use. If they can tattoo with a coil machine, we will know that they know how to tattoo with a rotary machine..

Diaoxian: I will let them use a rotary machine, but I will cover coil machines in the tattoo history class.

FATE TATTOOI used to teach the coil machine first. Later on, I started teaching the rotary machine directly because young tattoo artists wanted to graduate and start making money faster.


When choosing a tattoo machine, it's important for artists to consider their individual preferences and needs. The coil machine offers a high level of adjustability and customization, making it a great choice for experienced artists who are comfortable with its weight and noise level. However, for those who prioritize portability and ease of use, the rotary machine may be the better option. Ultimately, the decision between these two machines comes down to personal preference and experience level. It's worth considering trying both machines before making a final decision to find the one that best suits the artist's style and workflow.


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