TigerBlue77

Rotary vs. Coil

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So my very first REAL tattoo, my dragon. Was a very pleasurable experience. Very minimal pain, very tolerable with no pain killer or numbing medication. The healing process was clean with very little stiffness, pain or scarring. I was easily sitting 4-5 hours each session.

Five years later when I started my next piece it was a whole different story.

I was sitting 3 hours tops in excruciating pain. I was bleeding and bruising badly. Healing was still strong but with lots of scabbing with some stiffness.

I just chalked it up to my body changing, getting older, being in a different mind set, and having a different artist. Deal with it I told myself.

Then I started seeing that same artist again and they now had a new rotary.

It was like I was having flash backs. The tattoo process was again enjoyable. No pain, no hurry the f up thoughts! Two solid sessions of pure bliss, for me anyway. Justifying my thought I previously had that I wasn't mentally prepared or my body wasn't rested etc

Then I went back again this past Saturday, I learned the rotary he was "experimenting" with was a cheap $45 eBay buy and it had broken. So we were back with his old stand by.

And don't you know it, just like that back to hellsville.

I barely made it 3 hours with out freaking out. I literally felt like I was going to go into shock.

Next morning my arm was swollen as hell, stiff as can be and just plain painful. Where as before with the rotary the next morning was very minimal discomfort.

What gives?

Is that the difference in machines?

Is it the artist?

Is it how he sets up his shader?

I'm completely lost here. I in vision myself with full sleeves and full neck to knee back piece. I already have plans to be tattooed by other artist. Is this what I have to endure, do I need to stock up on some HUSH and vicodine or what?????

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I've never been tattooed with a rotary, so I can't really compare the sensation between the two machines. All I know (or at least feel) is that the sound of a coiled machine is such an integral part to the tattoo experience. I can't imagine going into a tattoo without the artist setting up the machine, running it and adjusting the voltage before asking if I'm ready to start. I need to hear that sound!

Edited by Dennis
Shit the bed

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My guess would be it's a combination of multiple factors. I have noticed rotary machines have a little more discomfort for me personally but heal really well... Also the style of tattoo, and location getting it can be a factor.

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I'm completely lost here. I in vision myself with full sleeves and full neck to knee back piece. I already have plans to be tattooed by other artist. Is this what I have to endure, do I need to stock up on some HUSH and vicodine or what?????

Do what you gotta do to get through it man no judgement...shit hurts sometimes. I was just talking with my buddy yesterday while he was tattooing me about rotary machines and he said the guy he used it on healed in like 3 days and said it was less painful. I proceeded to ask why the fuck he wasn't using it on me then haha.

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I once got a small moth tattoo with done with a rotary, lines healed like crap, some of the color healed like crap. Wasn't worth it, although I keep hearing how amazing they are. I think a lot of it depends on the artist though.

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I have very minimal experience with rotary machines, but I don't care for them much. It is damn near impossible for me to pull a clean line with a rotary, but I think most use them for shading and pointilism anyway. I have had the same experience as @timmstrating when being tattooed with them.

One thing I can say though, is that coil machines have many variables in how they're built and are adjustable to fit how you like to tattoo whereas rotaries generally always run the same way with the only variable being speed. So it is very possible that your tattooer's shader had a particularly heavy hit.

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Is this thread borderline "how to tattoo"? Not sure if some of these technical terms should be thrown around...

Mods?

I don't really see any problems with what's been said so far in this thread, but let's stick to the subject of how they differ pain-wise from a clients perspective here on out.

- - - Updated - - -

I've been tattooed with rotary machines a couple times, and in my experience it was a little less painful than the coils.

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I don't think this thread could teach someone to tattoo, but if someone came in an requested to get tattooed by a rotary I would be besides myself that they thought they had a say in the matter. Why can't tattoo machines, be magical devices conjured up in secret lairs with parts unknown to modern man. I have been tattooed by a rotary machine and i guess at times it was less painful than a coil, but not rainbows and unicorns better, and after two hours it sucked just as bad. Tattoos hurt

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I don't think this thread could teach someone to tattoo, but if someone came in an requested to get tattooed by a rotary I would be besides myself that they thought they had a say in the matter. Why can't tattoo machines, be magical devices conjured up in secret lairs with parts unknown to modern man. I have been tattooed by a rotary machine and i guess at times it was less painful than a coil, but not rainbows and unicorns better, and after two hours it sucked just as bad. Tattoos hurt

I endorse this statement.

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Ya not a how too thread, just curious if others have experienced what I have. I can't put my finger on it but there is a significant difference in feeling for me. Like the needle is being dipped in flaming hot taco sauce than being licked on by baby unicorns!

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I've been tattooed with a few different rotaries and regular coils. I think it is more of a mental thing than anything. I did really like when my artist was using a very particular rotary machine because it was deathly silent. I do remember that after 2 hours with the quiet rotary the sound of a coil machine was quite jarring, especially because I generally get tattooed with nobody else in the shop so there are no other noises.

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Both hurt equally, theres a mental aspect with that. Rotaries and coils both vary in quality and design. rotaries typically are quieter than coils. And like any tool , its the person using it that makes the difference in how the product comes out. for some artists, they swear by it and some don't. Some artists like to mix coil and rotary into their tattoos for lining and shading or vice versa

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The guy that has done most of my tattoos uses a combination of coil machines for line work and rotary machines for shading. When I first got tattooed by him he used coils exclusively, when he started in with the rotary machines it seemed to me that the rotary was considerably more painful. Just my perception though, could be I'm just imagining things, I think it is different for everyone.

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I have been tattooed by a rotary machine and i guess at times it was less painful than a coil, but not rainbows and unicorns better, and after two hours it sucked just as bad. Tattoos hurt

Didn't notice any difference painwise...the noisiness of the coil machine gives a warning of the impending pain though...with rotaries its like..."Surprise!!" :(

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Didn't notice any difference painwise...the noisiness of the coil machine gives a warning of the impending pain though...with rotaries its like..."Surprise!!" :(

It's always weird cause everytime you get tattooed it feels different so it's hard to say what hurts less. I really don't have a clue. Coil does sound more aggressive for sure.

In regards to the getting through the pain.I have much respect for people who sit through long tattoo sittings, I wouldn't say I have a high threshold for pain, but I guess if I want to get a tattoo I have to find a way to get through it. The best advice I have ever been given is to sit there and take it. You can take pain killers, rub cream on there, or whatever ritual you have, but the only answer is to accept the pain and try to relax, at times it sure sucks, but to me that's part of the accomplishment.

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It's always weird cause everytime you get tattooed it feels different so it's hard to say what hurts less. I really don't have a clue. Coil does sound more aggressive for sure.

In regards to the getting through the pain.I have much respect for people who sit through long tattoo sittings, I wouldn't say I have a high threshold for pain, but I guess if I want to get a tattoo I have to find a way to get through it. The best advice I have ever been given is to sit there and take it. You can take pain killers, rub cream on there, or whatever ritual you have, but the only answer is to accept the pain and try to relax, at times it sure sucks, but to me that's part of the accomplishment.

the artists I have talked to about the difference between rotary & coil,is that most say they can tell how the ink is going in better with the noise of a coil, :) that makes sense to me.

I've been tattooed by both,and I don't feel any difference,if anything like was said,the coils sound more aggressive,so it's probably a mental thing.

also,when I walk into a shop and they are using rotary machines,it just seems like something is wrong,or missing LOL , I know it's the way things are going,I'm just sayin.

and as far as the pain ? yes,it's a mind thing for me,I sat for an 8 hour "one shot" yesterday,and I can close my eyes and put myself somewhere pleasant,it's about extreme concentration on something else that helps me.but I agree,it still hurts either way,no matter where you get it,just different degrees of pain,it's up to us how we deal with it,I believe in the mind over matter thing,it can work.It got me through last night anyway.

IMO the worst pain is the shading & highlights that hurt the most,the going over already tattooed areas that hurts the most.

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Your artist knows what tools work best for them.....some prefer one over the other....some prefer to use them both....whatever works best for the artist............and every tattoo feels different to the majority of people based on where it is on the body and even where their mind is that day. What is crazy painful to one person is no thing at all to someone else! :)

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mind set plays a huge part in getting tattoo'd you may be perceiving more pain with that other guy because you're anticipating it and therefore you're not as totally relaxed, physically and mentally as you could be. but also age and time to take their tole on our bodies, i sat through 5 hours on my chest and just breezed through it, went back for some touch ups and add-ons, maybe 3 years later and i felt like he was trying to line the bench i was laying upon.

as for rotary vs coil its so hard to judge because as previously said on this threat tattoos hurt, all of em. but the aggressive buzz of a coil could easily be blamed for the perception of an increased volume of pain.

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