The Best Tattoo Machine for Lining: Your Single Most Important Machine.

Best Tattoo Machine for Lining

Your choice of a tattoo machine is a personal choice. We realize that we’re treading on sensitive grounds when talking about the best tattoo machine for lining. Our goal is to help you understand the options and the specifics of different machines. To cover all the bases, we included several options.

Quick Top 5 Tattoo Machines for Lining

​Which ​To Go For, A Rotary or Coil Tattoo Machine?

This question is one that can stir up some emotions on either side of the fence. It never fails to surprise us that some tattoo artists are so fiercely loyal to their choice. Each type has its pros and cons. We’ll brave these troubled waters, duck, and step into this controversial debate.

Rotary Tattoo Machines

The rotary tattoo machine is the grandfather of modern devices, going back to the 19th century. We’ve done a lot since the single needle days of early history. You can thank Thomas Edison and his invention of the Stencil Pen in 1876 for that. You’ve come a long way, baby!

If you’re a traditionalist, it’s probably your go-to machine anyway. Hey, it’s history. We like that connection. On the plus side, these tattoo machines are lighter, making them easy to hold. There’s less maintenance with them which we definitely like. A bit of oil keeps it running fine.

The rotary is a consistent tattoo machine which can be a huge benefit to the tattoo artist. You know what to expect so that you can concentrate on your work. If you do a lot of fine lines, they offer a better choice. They also tend to be less traumatic to the skin, making for quicker healing.

Coil Tattoo Machines

For those loyal to the coil, these machines offer versatility which is one of its greatest draws. However, that means there is a learning curve for each tattoo machine you use. You’ll need to hone in on the optimal voltage to get the work done. That certainly isn’t a bad thing.

And it makes it easier to understand the loyalty of artists to these machines. It’s almost a bonding experience to learn to use the device and to know its quirks and potential. But it’s also about your entire tattoo station setup including your power supply and pedal.

Each type of machine reacts differently to voltage changes. A rotary tattoo machine will go faster and stay consistent with increasing voltage. A coil device, on the other hand, will hit harder as the voltage goes up. Each machine has its finer points for correct and safe operation.

Recommended: Our guide on the Best Tattoo Starter Kits

This video by the Tattoo University goes into greater detail about the differences between rotary and coil tattoo machines. It discusses the importance of understanding how to use your device safely as it relates to skin penetration.

Consider the Important Qualities and Features

You should keep several things in mind when choosing a tattoo machine. Once, you’ve picked a type, move on to consider the construction of the machine. Your stand-by machine will have to take the rigors of a lot of use. You should stick with products made of solid, durable materials.

Stick with Quality

You should rely on manufacturers with a reputation for high-quality products. These will be the ones that have stood the test of time. You’ll also be able to locate plenty of user accounts about performance. A tattoo machine may look nice, but it should stay the course through use.

Price Isn’t the Whole Story

Budget, of course, will ​undoubtedly influence your choice. They don’t call them starving artists without a reason. But that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice quality for an affordable price. Many manufacturers offer good products without breaking the bank.

Don’t let price be your only guide. It’s an important consideration, but it’s not the deciding factor. Remember that well-known manufacturers can offer an affordable option simply because of their sales volume. If you’re trying something new, it makes sense to make a reasonable investment.

Also, opt for a product that comes with a warranty or guarantee. You likely know how good of a fit it is pretty quickly after you start using it. A company that backs up their products with guarantees makes a powerful statement. If they believe in their products, it’s likely that you can too.

Think about Your Whole Setup

Your tattoo machine is your set of brushes. But it’s just one part of your whole kit. Your work is a sum of all parts. You’ll find that your choice of a pedal, for example, can affect voltage. That can, in turn, influence how the tattoo machine performs when lining.

That said, you need to realize the effects of these other influences to access the performance of a new tattoo machine. If it’s not a great fit out of the box, it could mean that all the components of your kit aren’t playing nice together.

We recommend keeping your setup consistent. If you’re going to change out a tattoo machine, keep everything else status quo. That way you can give a true assessment of how your device is working out for you. Do yourself a favor and make it easy to eliminate other factors.

Be Open to a New Experience

As an artist, you are probably always looking for ways to fine-tune your craft. That’s the nature of the business. It’s constantly in flux with new trends emerging. You can apply the same open attitude to your choice of a tattoo machine.

If you’re a die-hard coil machine user, consider a rotary device for a change of pace. Likewise, branch out and see what the buzz is about ​regarding coil tattoo machines. All of our options are affordable. Even a small shop can pop for any of them to see what it’s like on the other side.

​Reviews of the Best Tattoo Machines for Lining

Getbetterlife® Danny Robinson's 2 Tattoo Machine Gun

The Getbetterlife® Danny Robinson's 2 Tattoo Machine is on the higher end cost-wise, but you are getting both a shader and a liner for the price. That said, it’s an excellent value considering its construction and performance. Let’s just say we were impressed.

At first glance, these are solid, well-made coil tattoo machines made with brass and copper. You know you’re getting a quality product. On the other hand, the materials add to the weight which may be a deal breaker for some artists. The machines perform best between 7 and 8 volts.

The tattoo machines come with a lifetime warranty. We always like it when a company stands behind its products. Getbetterlife has an excellent reputation in the industry and is known for its great customer service. The Danny Robinson’s 2 Tattoo Machine is without a doubt the best tattoo liner, plus you get a shader!



Dragonhawk 2 Brass Liner

The Dragonhawk 2 Brass Tattoo Machine is similar to the previous model in several ways. It is comparably priced and includes a shader and liner. They are made of brass too with a heftier hand feel. They offer a lifetime, money back guarantee that you’ll love how it performs.

The liner delivers sharp lines like high-end tattoo machines for a fraction of the cost. It is CNC, so there’s no welding. There’s a lot of attention to detail including the design. The heavier shader unit is equally as nice. They’re good-looking machines that we’d be happy to have in the shop.

The tattoo machines have a great hand feel to them. The only downside we saw was that the grips come in random colors. We’d love it if they matched the brass color of the units, but we’re just being picky on that point.


The Best Rotary Tattoo Machine for Lining

Dragonhawk Rotary

The Dragonhawk is one of two rotary tattoo machines that we considered. That’s taking it back to old school with the original type of machines. It is the most expensive product we reviewed. That said, you can use it both as a shader and a liner, so it’s almost like two tool in one.

It’s considerably lighter than the typical coil tattoo machine. It’s easy to handle and runs quietly. It lays down great lines and is smooth to handle. You can choose different stroke lengths and switch between cartridge and standard needles.

There is a bit of a learning curve for new users, but we could say that about most tattoo machines. It’s just a different type. Overall, we’d say it’s a good purchase for an apprentice or beginning tattoo artist.


Tattoo Gun Cast 10 Laps Coils

The Tattoo Gun Cast 10 Laps Coils Tattoo Machine was the most affordable of all the products we considered. But that doesn’t mean it’s low in quality. It has a solid cast iron frame with a cool design on the sides that we liked.

You can use it as a shader or liner. As you might expect, it’s a bit heavier considering its base material. Some users have reported spring contact screws losing tension with use. If you like to customize your tattoo machines, it’s not a big deal to make some adjustments.

The tattoo machine has a good hand feel that won’t fatigue your hands for longer jobs. It’s a decent product for the beginner on a small budget or if you just need some spares in the shop. As several users have pointed out, don't over tighten the tube grip.


​Generic Rotary Tattoo Machine Gun

The Generic Rotary Tattoo Machine is a mid-priced device that has its own spin on making tattooing easier for the artist. It is a lightweight machine with an ergonomic design meant to make the hand feel more comfortable.

It is a CNC-machined model that has undergone several performance improvements to make it more efficient. Word on the street is that it’s a decent machine that delivers consistent performance. Some users have reported cartridge issues if overtightened.

However, we’ve also heard some complaints to the contrary. It may serve you best as a backup rather than your go-to tattoo machine. If you haven’t used a rotary device, it’s a good option that won’t set you back a lot of cash to see what all the buzz is about these machines.

​Final Word

​Finding a good lining machine is one of the more trickier tasks when choosing the right equipment, that's why we've taken the time to put all this information together. We've rounded up the top 5 models on the market so you can ​separate the junk from quality. Choose one of the 5 liners on our list and we ​guarantee your tattooing will be off to a flying start!

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