Home / Beginner Tattoo Machines

Beginner Tattoo Machines

Tattoo Machines for Beginners

You’re ready to pursue your dream and start tattooing. But before you can start practicing, much less start an apprenticeship, you’ve got to make your first investment as a tattoo artist: a good tattoo machine for beginners. And when you’re just starting out, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options on the market. We’re here to help with suggestions for reliable and user-friendly beginner tattoo machines to kickstart your journey.

Types of Tattoo Machines for Beginners

The best tattoo machines usually offer a balance of three things: user-friendliness, overall quality, and affordability. Go for something too cheap, and you might find that it doesn’t perform well enough to help you practice. Splurge on a state-of-the-art machine, and it might prove too complicated for your current skill level. Instead, look for that machine that hits all three criteria – something that’s reliable and well-made, simple enough for beginners, and cheap enough that it won’t break the bank. 

At Painful Pleasures, we offer a selection of trusted brands that produce cheap tattoo machines, including Dragonhawk, Peak, Stigma-Rotary, and more to ensure that every aspiring tattoo artist finds the perfect fit for their needs. These machines are some of our top picks for newbies:

Dragonhawk Mast Archer

This machine is ideal for getting your bearings. It performs reliably with a 3.5 mm stroke length (i.e. a common stroke length that’s ideal for most simple tattoos) and is well-made enough that it won’t compromise the quality of your practice. At $189, it’s a cheap tattoo machine that still offers quality performance. If that price tag is still too high, the Dragon Hawk Mast Tour comes in at just $89. 

Peak Kyan Pen Style Rotary

Designed for accuracy and control with a comfortable grip, the Peak Kyan is a good tattoo machine for beginners, letting you practice with a familiar pen-like grip.

Peak Nebula Direct Drive Rotary Machine

While the familiarity of a pen-like grip is attractive to most tattoo beginners, don’t be afraid to go for a traditional rotary machine either. You might be surprised to find that the powerful direct drive motor of a machine like the Peak Nebula can actually make it easier to perfect your line work!

Stigma-Rotary Stylist

At $350, the Stigma-Rotary Stylist may not be the cheapest tattoo machine for newbies, but it’s still a great bang-for-your-buck option. Many experienced pros use and love this machine, so you may find that it stays one of your favorites even years into your career.

Kwadron Equalizer Proton Rotary Pen

Coming in at a similar price point as the Stigma-Rotary Stylist, the Kwadron Equalizer is another rotary pen that’s easy to use, offers great performance, and will last for years into your professional career. 

Super Simple Design Coil Tattoo Machine

Most novice tattoo artists feel more comfortable starting out on a rotary machine, but if you’re looking for a coil tattoo machine for beginners, the SUPER SIMPLE Design Coil Tattoo Machine is a great choice. At just around $40, it will introduce you to tattooing with a reliable coil machine for an affordable price.

Precision Tattoo Machine with Three Side-by-Side Coils

Like the SUPER SIMPLE Design machine, this is a well-made but cheap coil tattoo machine that will let you explore the art of tattooing with a coil machine without breaking the bank.

How to Choose the Right Tattoo Machine as an Apprentice

Starting your tattooing apprenticeship is an exciting step – congrats! Before you officially start, make sure you have a machine that’s up to the task. Depending on what type of machine you’ve been practicing with, you may need to level up. If you have a cheap tattoo machine, you almost certainly need to upgrade to a professional-quality machine before you start tattooing clients. Let's delve into the key considerations for choosing the best type of machine for apprentices:

Understanding Your Level of Skill

Before making your selection, evaluate your skill level honestly. Are you just starting, or do you have some prior experience? Would you do best with a machine that maintains a constant stroke length, or are you ready to experiment with different stroke lengths? When in doubt, ask your mentor what they’d recommend. Based on your current work, they can help you understand where you’re at in your tattooing skills and which machines would serve you best.

Picking a Machine That is Easy To Use

In general, simplicity is helpful for beginners. You may not be ready for a coil machine or a machine with multiple complex adjustable features just yet. So while you may dream of the cutting-edge machines that you see other tattoo artist using, know that you’ll get there in time. For now, a machine that helps you master the basics is all you need.

Determining Upfront and Recurring Costs

Budget matters, especially when you're starting your tattooing journey. But the cheapest machines might not be the wisest choice in the long run. If you’re tattooing real clients, a professional-quality tattoo machine is a must. Trying to save a few bucks by ordering a cheap machine on Amazon will likely only cost you more in the long-run when you need to replace it with something better. Also consider ongoing expenses like cartridges, disposable grips, etc.  

Tattoo Machine Maintenance for Beginners

Maintaining your tattoo machine is essential for its longevity and performance. So in addition to learning about sterilizing your tattoo equipment, you’ll need to learn about keeping your machine running smoothly. Our Tips for Proper Tattoo and Piercing Tool Maintenancecan help.

Kickstarting Your Tattoo Business

As you hone your skills, you may be thinking about turning your passion into a profession. We can help you think through each step with our tips on Managing a Tattoo Shop, and be sure to follow our blog for advice on everything from taxes for tattoo artists to using Instagram to promote your tattoo business.

Whether you’re laying out long-term plans to own a shop or just getting the hang of tattooing basics, Painful Pleasures has the machines and equipment you need to get started. From beginner tattoo machines to inks and accessories, we've got you covered on your journey to becoming a professional tattoo artist.