Rotary Pen vs Coil Machines: Which One Is Right For You? - Tattoo Unleashed

Rotary Pen vs Coil Machines: Which One Is Right For You?

When diving into the world of tattooing, you'll likely encounter a myriad of tools and machines. Two of the most prominent types are rotary and coil machines. But which one is right for you? In this article, we'll break down the features, pros, and cons of each machine type to help you make an informed decision.

What are Rotary and Coil Machines?

Rotary Pen Machines:

Rotary tattoo pen machines utilize an electric motor to drive the needle. The continuous loop of the motor allows the needle to move in a smooth up and down motion.

Coil Machines:

Coil tattoo machines, on the other hand, use electromagnetic circuits to move the needle. Typically, they consist of one to three coils, which create the resistance and the necessary power to drive the needle.

The Pros and Cons

Rotary Tattoo Pen Machine

Rotary Machines:


  • Smooth Operation: Rotary pen machines offer a consistent and smooth needle motion, ideal for precise line work and shading.
  • Versatility: These machines can be used for lining, shading, and coloring, making them a favorite choice for multifunctionality.
  • Lightweight: Typically, rotary pen machines are lighter than their coil counterparts, reducing hand fatigue during long tattoo sessions.
  • Quieter: Rotary machines produce less noise, which can be more comfortable for both the artist and the client.


  • Less Punch: Some artists believe rotary machines lack the "punch" that coil machines provide, especially when packing in color.
  • Durability Concerns: The motor in a rotary machine might wear out faster than a coil setup, especially with cheaper models.

Coil Machines:


  • Powerful: Coil machines offer a powerful hit and can pack color into the skin effectively.
  • Adjustability: They offer more adjustability in terms of speed, depth, and power, allowing artists to fine-tune their machines to their liking.
  • Tactile Feedback: Many tattoo artists love the tactile feedback they get from coil machines. They can feel the "hit" and adjust accordingly.


  • Heavier: Typically, coil machines are heavier, which might lead to faster hand fatigue.
  • Louder: They can be quite noisy, which might not be ideal for all studio environments or for clients who are nervous.

Which One is Right for You?

Beginners: If you're just starting out, a rotary machine might be more forgiving, offering smoother operations and versatility.

Veteran Artists: Many seasoned artists prefer the adjustability and feedback from coil machines. But, it's not uncommon to see them use both depending on the piece they're working on.

Consider Your Tattooing Style: If you specialize in fine line work or realism, the precision of a rotary machine might be more up your alley. However, if you're into traditional or styles that require solid color packing, coil machines might be more suitable.

Budget: Generally, rotary tattoo pen machines can be a bit pricier. If budget is a concern, weigh the pros and cons against the price points available in the market.

Comfort: Remember to consider factors like weight and noise level, as these can impact your comfort and that of your client.


Both rotary and coil machines have their unique benefits and drawbacks. The best way to determine which one is right for you is to try both and see which aligns best with your style, comfort, and desired outcomes. No matter the choice, mastering your tool will ensure you produce stunning tattoos every time.