It looks like you’re shopping for beginner tattoo kits.
You’re not the only budding artist that’s asked us, “What do I need for tattooing?”
We get questions like, “What are the best tattoo machines for beginners?” and “Which are the best tattoo starter kits?”
We’re glad you came to us today to find affordable tattoo machines.
Let’s start by explaining the difference between rotary tattoo machines and coil tattoo machines. You’ll need to choose one type or the other.
- Coil Versus Rotary Tattoo Machines
- Differentiating Between a Liner and a Shader
- DragonHawk Complete Tattoo Kit
- Starter Beginner Complete Tattoo Kit with Carry Case by Dragon Hawk
- DragonHawk Complete Tattoo Kit with 2 Machines
- DragonHawk Complete Tattoo Kit with 4 Machines
- Stigma Complete Tattoo Kit Pro Tattoo Rotary Machine Kit MK648
- Solong Tattoo Complete Tattoo Kit TK453
- Professional Rotary Tattoo Kit Hildbrandt Advanced TKHADVR
- GRINDER Tattoo Kit by Pirate Face Tattoo
- Wormhole Tattoo Complete Tattoo Kit for Beginners
- Solong Tattoo Complete Starter Tattoo Kit (Budget)
- Shark Complete Pro Tattoo Kit with 8 Gun Machines
- Four Things to Remember about Tattooing Technique
- Besides a Machine, What Do I Need for Tattooing?
Coil Versus Rotary Tattoo Machines
|Rotary--DC motor rotates cyclically to provide up and down needle motion||Quiet operation|
Low vibration, easy to control
Versatile – used for shading, coloring, and lining
Easy to adjust
Simple to set up and use
Difficult to adjust by ear
|Coil-- most commonly used are double coiled versions||Most popular type of machine|
Easy to customize
Ideal for long tattoo sessions
Easy to regulate power and speed
|Loud buzzing noise
Requires more tuning and more maintenance
Besides these two kinds, there are other types of tattoo machines, including pneumatic (1). But most new tattoo artists start with either a rotary or a coil tattoo machine.
Differentiating Between a Liner and a Shader
A liner machine runs faster than a shader for precision work. It has a smaller gap between the front spring and contact screw and has a shorter front spring because it has a shorter stroke.
A shader runs slower but with higher power to penetrate deeper. It has a wider gap between the front spring and contact screw and a longer front spring and softer stroke.
The best starter kits for beginners include at least one shader and one liner.
But before you start worrying about which kind of machine to pick, let’s look at reviews of the top tattoo machines for beginners. This way you’ll get an idea of what’s available.
DragonHawk Complete Tattoo Kit
DragonHawk is recommended by Gabe Shum, the tattoo artist who inked Lebron James and David Beckham (2).
But if that’s not enough to get you interested in their machines, take a look at this kit. You’ll be impressed at how much it offers for the money.
For one, it’s a coil tattoo machine that comes with two cast iron tattoo guns. It runs on a power supply with an LED readout and a foot pedal. It allows you to make quick voltage adjustments.
Next, it includes needles, gloves, inks, practice skin, and other accessories. But for a little bit more money, you can get a much more extensive setup. Check out the next one below.
Starter Beginner Complete Tattoo Kit with Carry Case by Dragon Hawk
This DragonHawk starter kit includes nine coil tattoo machines that feature low vibration to avoid tiring your hand.
Five of the tattoo machines are the classic style, while four are specially crafted for beginning tattooers. They are ideal for lines and shading.
Besides that, the power supply has a foot pedal controller and a digital display for accurate adjustments.
The package includes fifty pre-sterilized needles (made of 304 stainless steel) in assorted sizes plus ten Immortal inks that are made in the USA. The inks are safe for use on human skin, but you can also experiment with them on the included practice skin.
It all fits in the included carrying case.
DragonHawk Complete Tattoo Kit with 2 Machines
This DragonHawk kit includes one gun for lining and one for shading. Both are made of cast-iron.
There are also twenty pre-sterilized tattoo needles with disposable tips and four colors of ink. But that’s not all – they even include razors, gloves, and practice skin.
The power supply has a digital display to help you make quick changes. And everything fits into the included carrying case.
The company offers a satisfaction guarantee. Additionally, rumor has it that their customer service is quick to resolve any problems.
DragonHawk Complete Tattoo Kit with 4 Machines
This kit comes with four coil machines: a conventional liner, a power liner, a color packer, and a soft shader. In other words, it has all the tattoo machine grips you need for beginning or intermediate tattooing.
It includes a digital power supply, fifty pre-sterilized needles, ten Immortal tattoo inks, a carrying case, and other accessories like practice skin. There are even instructional DVDs to help you learn to use the equipment.
A couple of things to note: the stainless steel needles are designed for easy soldering, something of interest to you if you pursue a career. Also, plan on making some adjustments to the shader and liner machines in order to do fine work.
Stigma Complete Tattoo Kit Pro Tattoo Rotary Machine Kit MK648
Stigma’s kit includes a rotary tattoo machine that operates much more quietly than a coil tattoo machine. It’s made for shading and lining.
The package comes with twenty needles in a variety of sizes plus 5 color inks. Unfortunately, these are practice inks that are not formulated for human skin. Use them on the practice skin.
It also includes a plastic carrying case.
Although this is a basic kit without a lot of accessories, it’s good if you’d like to experience what it’s like to use a rotary tattoo machine.
Solong Tattoo Complete Tattoo Kit TK453
The Solong Tattoo TK453 kit beats out their other offerings because of what it offers for the price.
It comes with four tattoo machine guns that do shading and lining. Each gun or iron has a distinct appearance so you won’t get confused about which one to use.
There’s also a digital power supply with LCD and a foot pedal.
But what makes it fun is the fifty-four bottles of practice ink. It’s perfect for the creative artist.
Don’t forget that there are also plenty of accessories like fifty needles, ten tattoo tips, ten tattoo grips, one hundred ink cups, practice skin, disposable gloves, and even rubber bands. It also has all the tools you need to make adjustments.
This is one of our top picks for beginning tattoo artists. The wide variety of ink encourages experimentation. Plus, the big assortment of accessories means you won’t have to but a lot of extras to get started.
–The Team’s take
Professional Rotary Tattoo Kit Hildbrandt Advanced TKHADVR
The Hildbrandt kit has both Beretta shader and Silencer liner rotary machines. It’s made in conjunction with the TeachMeToTattoo website and comes with a training DVD and textbook.
The Spartan power supply should provide many hours of steady service. Meanwhile, the rest of the kit at least gets you started with the basics.
It has fifty needles in ten different needle groupings, two stainless steel grips, disposable tubes, latex gloves, a tuning key set, transfer paper, and practice skin.
If you’re serious about tattooing, and you’d like to use a rotary machine, you can’t go wrong here.
GRINDER Tattoo Kit by Pirate Face Tattoo
Pirate Face Tattoo sells this Grinder kit with four tattoo machine irons. It includes a power supply, seven bottles of Radiant Colors ink, needles, ink cups, grips, gloves, practice skin, transfer paper, and a carrying case.
But the highlight for beginners is the instructional book and DVD. Moreover, this American-made ink is safe to use on human skin.
Wormhole Tattoo Complete Tattoo Kit for Beginners
Here’s an inexpensive tattoo kit for beginners.
Like most similar packages, this one has a few complaints, but the company offers a warranty on the machines and power supply.
It includes one tattoo lining machine and one tattoo shading machine as well as a power supply and foot pedal. It’s not a digital power supply, which means you’ll learn to adjust it by ear.
Although there is no carrying case, there are ten inks (in random colors), practice skin, aluminum grips, disposable tubes, disposable tips, and thirty needles in assorted sizes.
Solong Tattoo Complete Starter Tattoo Kit (Budget)
This is a budget starter kit from Solong Tattoo. It has a single coil tattoo machine gun that does both shading and lines.
But the highlight is the digital power supply with a foot pedal that’s very easy to adjust. Furthermore, there are fourteen tattoo inks for practicing, twenty needles, tips, one grip, and one hundred ink cups.
The teaching manual will help you understand how to use the machine. And the free replacement service and one-year warranty eases frustration if there’s a problem.
Shark Complete Pro Tattoo Kit with 8 Gun Machines
Shark’s Pro Kit comes with a carrying case but no ink. There are eight tattoo machines – both shaders and liners. They come with attractive grips.
The digital power supply saves you time, and the long clip cord gives you room to move.
The company’s gone to the trouble to get FCC certification for the machines, plus they offer a one-year warranty.
Other pieces include fifty sterile needles in several sizes, practice tips, disposable tips, ink cups, and ink cup holder, and adjustment tools. The DVD mostly explains the machine itself, not how to tattoo.
Four Things to Remember about Tattooing Technique
Whether you have a budget tattoo machine or something that cost more than your rent for the month, the results depend on these four things.
- Angle – make sure the needle goes in at a 45° angle. More than that and the ink comes up out of the puncture. Less than that and the design will look wrong.
- Depth – go too deep, and it’s going to hurt a lot and bleed. If you don’t go deep enough, you’ll scratch the surface, and the ink won’t stay.
- Setup – take the time to practice setting up and tearing down your machine. Learn proper sterilization techniques and hygiene.
- Placement – freehand art tends to look squiggly. Instead, support your palm on the skin and use it as a pivot point to control and balance the tattoo machine.
Besides a Machine, What Do I Need for Tattooing?
Now that you’ve seen a variety of starter kits with both rotary and coil tattoo machines, you probably have a better idea of what you want.
We recommend a digital power supply for beginners. But the choice between rotary and coil is up to you. If you have a chance to try them both, do so.
Obviously, you’ll need inks. Many of the inexpensive beginner kits come with practice inks that aren’t made for human skin. But feel free to draw all over practice skin or banana skin with them.
Also, you’ll need needles, lots of needles. And tips, and ink cups, and needle trays.
But, safety first – don’t forget you’ll be sterilizing your equipment. You’ll need germicidal liquid, an autoclave, autoclave bags, and an ultrasonic machine cleaner. Paper towels and disposable gloves are a must.
Don’t forget comfortable chairs for yourself and your client, plus a worktable and excellent lighting.
Hustle Butter or Vaseline come in handy for stencils. Bandages, plastic wrap, and aftercare ointment come in handy after you’re done. But don’t forget the disposable razors for beforehand.
Most of all, what you need for tattooing is the desire to be an artist, not a hack.
Jimmy Ho, Gabe Shum, and other great tattoo artists developed their talent both on the skin and on paper. They put a lot of practice into their work. They were willing to learn.
You’ll be creating body art – perhaps for yourself, perhaps for others – that will endure a lifetime. You’ll be helping people express their deepest desires.
Do good art.
We hope we helped you discover the best tattoo machine and starter kit today. The choice becomes easier once you know what type of machine and which accessories you want.
We’d love to hear back from you about which machine you’re using and what you like about it. Feel free to leave us a comment below.
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo_machine accessed June 12, 2019
2. https://www.scmp.com/magazines/hk-magazine/article/2037395/whos-hong-kong-tattoo-artist-who-inked-david-beckham-and published October 7, 2015, accessed June 12,, 2019