Old School Coil Tattoo Machines

Coil Tattoo Machines – Rediscovering Old School Traditions

In a world where fancy wireless pens and rotary machines dominate the tattoo industry, there’s a timeless appeal to the classic coil tattoo machine.  Gone are the recognizable buzz of the neighborhood tattoo shop with the owner smoking a pipe while working on your piece.  While rotaries have their merits, coil machines have stood the test of time and continue to be favored by both old school and new school artists. If you are curious about the coil machine’s potential and what it can bring to your tattooing journey, you’ve come to the right place.

Embracing Coil Tattoo Machines: A Path to Artistic Excellence

Coil tattoo machines are renowned for their ability to deliver a distinctive hit in the tattooing process. They do great in creating bold lines and packing colors with an intensity that is hard to replicate with a motor.  The secret lies in the momentum generated by the coil machines heavy armature bar as it taps the needles into your client’s skin. This unique characteristic makes coil machines a favorite for line work and bold, solid tattooing.

Natural Give for Precision and Control

One of the greatest features of coil machines is their natural give, the resistance created when needles make contact with the skin. Coil machines achieve this through their spring tension, allowing you to customize the machine’s give to your specific needs. More give provides resistance, ideal for smooth shading, while less give minimizes bounce-back, perfect for fast, heavy lines. Adjusting the spring tension empowers you to fine-tune your coil machine’s performance according to your style.

Customization at Your Fingertips

Coil machines offer a wide range of customization, allowing you to tailor your machine to your exact preferences. That is why old school artists used to have signs that say “Don’t mess with my machine”. You can choose different wrap coils, coil sizes, and capacitors to fine-tune the machine’s behavior. Many professional artists have multiple coil machines in their setup, each meticulously customized for different tattooing styles. The versatility and adaptability of coil machines make them a cherished tool in any artist’s collection.

Rotary vs. Coil: A Matter of Style and Comfort

While rotary machines have their advantages, they operate fundamentally differently from coil machines. Both have their unique benefits, and the choice between them ultimately boils down to your personal style, preference, and comfort level. Coil machines bring a classic touch to your craft, offering a depth of character and precision that is unmatched.

Technical Considerations: Embrace the Challenge

If you are new to coil machines, there are a few things to keep in mind. Coil machines are notably heavier than their rotary counterparts, providing a counterbalance that can enhance accuracy and control. However, this weight may require some adjustment and practice to avoid fatigue during longer tattooing sessions.

Setting up a coil machine is a bit more involved than a rotary. It requires careful assembly of sterilized needles, attachment of the armature bar nipple, fine-tuning of adjustments, and securing rubber bands for optimal performance. This meticulous setup process ensures that you have full control over your machine’s performance, enabling you to create art that truly reflects your vision.

The Signature Buzz of a Coil Tattoo Machine

The unmistakable buzz of a coil machine is a classic sound cherished by tattoo artists and enthusiasts alike. However, it also comes with vibration, which can be a shock if you’re accustomed to the smoother operation of rotary machines. Over time, you can adapt to the buzzing sensation with accessories like cohesive wrap and silicone grip covers, reducing discomfort during longer sessions.

Maintenance and Longevity: Show Your Coil Some Love

To prolong the life of your coil machine, regular maintenance is essential. Coils have many components, with springs being the most commonly replaced parts due to wear and tear. Keep your machine clean with industry-grade disinfectants, preventing rust and buildup. With proper care, a well-loved coil can serve you for years.

Explore the World of Coil Tattoo Machines

Ready to embrace the coil machine and discover its unique potential? At Hildbrandt we offers an array of coil machines from trusted brands in the tattoo industry, including Union Machine, Feldman Mfg., FK Irons, Micky Bee, Golden Tattoo Machine, Dickie Golden, TTS, custom one offs from Iron Inx and of course our very own Hildbrandt and Inkstar.  Whether you are an experienced artist or just starting your journey, learning about coil machines is an important step in appreciating the rich history and enduring craftsmanship of tattooing.

Tattooing is an ever-evolving art form, and you can excel with any machine, from the most complex, customized coil to the sleekest rotary. The choice is yours, but the passion for tattooing remains constant. Discover the world of coil tattoo machines and unlock new dimensions of creativity and craftsmanship in your tattoo artistry.


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