Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machines | Painful Pleasures Community

Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machines

What sets Bishop Rotary tattoo machines apart from other rotary machines? Is it the quality materials they're made of, their precision Maxon Swiss motors, the balanced design of these rotary machines, their light weight, or something else altogether? We take a close look at Bishop Rotary tattoo machines in this article, analyze their history, and dissect their many benefits to give you all the info you need to decide if a Bishop Rotary tattoo machine is for you.

by PainfulPleasures Last Updated: May 14, 2021

Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machines

Franco Vescovi founded Bishop Rotary in 2009 with the intention of providing tattoo artists with efficient, powerful and consistent rotary tattoo machines. He felt that traditional tattoo machines were lacking in those three areas and sought to fill the void with a better product. At the time, coil tattoo machines dominated the market. Vescovi saw the benefit of rotary machines, but couldn’t find one that met his high standards. With the help of an engineer, Vescovi and his brother set out to build better-quality rotary tattoo machines for their own use in 2008, but they soon realized their machines could benefit other tattoo artists, too. Over the next year, they extensively tested several prototypes, refined their design, established the Bishop Rotary brand, and finalized their first official line of Bishop Rotary tattoo machines–a line backed by Vescovi’s then 16 years of tattooing experience and 14 years of experience building direct drive rotary tattoo machines.

Bishop Rotary tattoo machines are hand-crafted by Vescovi and his small team in Orange County, California. Every part they use is made in the U.S.A. Together, the Bishop Rotary team creates lightweight, carefully balanced, low-vibration rotary tattoo machines that you can use for hours at a time without risk of damaging your wrist. Bishop Rotary tattoo machines are built by tattoo artists for tattoo artists, and they’re constantly evolving because Vescovi is never satisfied knowing that the smallest changes could make his quality rotary machines even better. Bishop Rotary tattoo machines are favored by some of the industry’s best, including Steve Soto, Jose Lopez, Dan Marshal, Tim Kern, Joe Capobianco, and many other top tattoo artists, which speaks volumes about the superior quality of their machines.

Vescovi also uses his Bishop Rotary tattoo machines in his own shop, Vatican Studios in Lake Forest, CA. He’s well known for his black and gray realism tattoos, portrait work, and Italian Baroque/Renaissance-style religious tattoos, like the one he’s working on using a Bishop Rotary tattoo machine in the video below.


Evolved Tattoo Machines

Franco Vescovi believes that “consistency equals precision”, which is why he and the Bishop Rotary team work tirelessly to provide tattoo artists with rotary tattoo machines they can rely on to be ultra-consistent, powerful and efficient–machines that empower artists to do the most beautiful, precise tattoo work in the least amount of time possible. Bishop Rotary tattoo machines are ever-evolving, because Vescovi and his team are constantly looking for ways to improve upon a design that’s already as close to perfection as you’ll find in the realm of rotary tattoo machines. All you have to do is look at their machines’ technical specs to see just how much Bishop Rotary tattoo machines have to offer tattoo artists everywhere.

Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machine Technical Specs

The Original Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machine Weighing in at just 3.8 ounces, the original Bishop Rotary tattoo machine is super light. It has a balanced, ergonomic design that’s engineered to flow with the weight of the tube, making the machine feel virtually weightless while you work with it. It’s a design that’s helped innumerable tattoo artists combat wrist pain and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, allowing them to work for many more hours than they previously could with other machines.

Bishop Rotary tattoo machines are crafted from billet aircraft aluminum using state-of-the-art 5 AXIS CNC machines for ultimate precision. The casings are anodized to aircraft industry standards and hand-polished to create an excellent finish, ensure tight tolerances and avoid wearing in high-friction areas. Each rotary tattoo machine is then hand-assembled so that the parts fit together exactly as intended and to ensure the finished machine functions properly.

Bishop Rotary uses only Swiss-made Maxon motors that drive tattoo needles in a consistent linear motion. Each machine utilizes a double-sized needle clip to put downward force on the attached tattoo needles rather than using the old rubber band standard. The clip holds needles securely in place and eliminates lateral needle motion. This allows you to use your Bishop Rotary tattoo machine to pick away at the ultra-fine details without interference from your machine.

Bishop Rotary suggests running their machines between 7.5 and 8.5 volts for color packing and shading, choosing the exact setting you use within that range based on your own hand speed and style. For lining, they recommend running their machines between 8 and 9 volts, again depending on individual preferences. You’ll have to determine what feels right to you, and keep in mind that it will take a few tattoos to get used to your new Bishop Rotary tattoo machine and find the settings that work best for you. If you give yourself a little time to adjust to working with a new machine, you should find that you can complete tattoos up to 30% faster and that the tattoos you ink will heal 30% faster thanks to the consistent punctures per second Bishop Rotary tattoo machines offer.

You won’t find adjustable give among the benefits of Bishop Rotary tattoo machines, because Vescovi doesn’t believe that reliable rotary machines should be flexible in that way. He says that it’s “best to train the brain to remember the feel of [a] machine that doesn’t ever change… This concept is ideal because you use the ‘pressure’ of the machine to [create] adjustable give.” Each Bishop Rotary machine has a spring that offers just the right amount of flexibility so you can use your hand speed and pressure on the machine to adjust your give as necessary. Vescovi calls this more natural method of working with rotary machines “organic give”.

The Present & Future of Bishop Rotary Machines

Bishop Rotary’s most recent enhanced rotary tattoo machine is The Capo, which features many improvements over their original model and comes in your choice of 12 colors as well as RCA or clip cord hook-up options. The Capo Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machine The Capo has a skinnier body than the original Bishop Rotary tattoo machine, it has a brand new Maxon Swiss motor in it, the front plate is enclosed, the machine has a longer slide, and the needle clip is longer. The Capo weighs in at just 4 ounces and features the same balanced, virtually weightless design as the original Bishop Rotary tattoo machine. These new machines are manufactured from the same quality materials and using the same assembly methods as the original Bishop Rotary machines, but their new longer needle clips provide increased needle stability and their enclosed front plates and more durable back plates hold lubricant in while keeping dust out. The Capo has a 3.5mm stroke length and offers tattoo artists an even more powerful, consistent and efficient rotary tattoo machine than their original model offers, which is saying a lot!

Investing in a Bishop Rotary tattoo machine may be one of the wisest moves you could make as a tattoo artist. Once you adjust to your new machine, you’ll benefit from fewer wrist problems, more precise tattooing capabilities, and less time spent inking stunning tattoos, while your clients will benefit from faster healing times. Your machine will be backed by Bishop Rotary’s lifetime machine frame warranty and a 1-year warranty on all parts, including the quality Maxon Swiss motor enclosed. And while you’re working with your awesome new rotary tattoo machine, you can rest assured that Bishop Rotary will be working to bring you the next best rotary tattoo machine on the market so you can continue using their machines when you’re ready for an upgrade.

Using Your New Bishop Rotary Tattoo Machine

Get the most out of your new Bishop Rotary tattoo machine by taking advantage of the training videos on their website, our helpful How to Use Your New Bishop PDF, and our educational YouTube videos shown below. For additional information, visit If you’re interested in buffing up on your portrait work skills, check out master portrait artist Franco Vescovi’s video, Mastering Tattoo Portraits with Franco Vescovi, 180 Minute DVD.




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