The Best Tattoo Power Settings For Your Gun Speed

Power Supply tattoo machine icon on a white background. Tattoo Accessory.

What power settings that you should have your tattoo gun on is something that directly affects the speed of the needle in your gun. However, if you are not familiar with what power settings are and why the speed of your tattoo gun is important, then you have a lot to learn about your tattoo machine.

These settings can be complicated if you do not know what you are doing but, once you know what the different parts of a tattoo machine gun work and how to use them, these will make more sense. So let’s first take a look at how the power settings work.

How The Power Supply Affects The Tattoo Gun

The power supply, simply put, is what controls the transfer of electricity to your tattoo machine. The more electricity that is flowing into your machine, the faster the needle will work. The lower the voltage is, the slower the needle is.

When you are doing the lining of the tattoo, you need less of a power flow than you do when you are doing shading work. This is because the faster the needle is moving in and out the more ink it will be pushing into the skin.

Since your lines are just where you start tattooing, you do not need these to be very dark and therefore do not need your needle to be moving as quickly. On the other hand, when you are doing your shading you want to get nice dark areas and you will need to use more power for this.

There are some power settings that are simple to operate with a power button, jack, or knob. However, other power settings are more complicated to use, some even having digital screens, or multiple knobs, jacks, or switches.

How Much Power Should You Be Using?

As mentioned, you need less power for lining that you do for shading. This means that somewhere between 6V-8.5V is usually a good range for you to experiment with when you go to start lining a tattoo on a client.

Meanwhile, somewhere between 8V-10V is a good range to start at for shading. This will depend on how dark you want to color to get. The more ink that you get into the skin, the darker and richer the color will be.

Most tattoo machines will say somewhere on them what range they are best suited for and it is important that you stay within this range. For example, if a tattoo machine says that it should not go over 9V then going over this amount can cause damage to the motor.

The exact amount that you will need will vary some because of a few different factors. The first thing that is going to make perhaps the most amount of difference is the tattoo gun itself. Some machines simply take more power in order to get the needle going at the speed you need it to.

Another thing that you will need to take into consideration is the toughness of your client’s skin. Some people have naturally tough skin, while others have skin that is easier for the needle to penetrate. The tougher the skin is, the more power your tattoo machine will need to have.

This being the case, you will eventually learn to have a few different voltage settings that you like. Two or three settings will be for lining depending on your machine and the client’s skin, with another two or three settings that you like for shading. You will have to learn how to tell over time how tough a person’s skin is.

How To Change The Power Settings

There are a number of different ways to change the power settings. However, some of these methods are more common than others. Most power setups can run power anywhere between 4V-12V which is both lower and higher than you will likely ever need to use.

Some of the more complicated power setups are designed to have two or even more tattoo machines attached to them. In the case of two tattoo machines attaching to the power source, there is almost always an additional switch on the box that has an L on one side and an S on the other.

This is due to the fact that this setup is often connected to one liner and one shader so that with a flip of the switch the power stops flowing into one and starts flowing into the other. This can save you time so that you do not have to unplug one and plug the other in.

In this case, have two knobs, one to control the voltage on the L side and the other to control the voltage on the S side. You do not have to plug in the liner on the L side and can choose to have two shaders or two liners since these letters are just there to help you tell which side is getting the power.

Then there are some advanced power boxes that have a digital screen that you can look at. These are, of course, much more expensive. However, these can tell you the exact amount of volts that you are using so that you do not have to guess which can be quite useful.

Option #1.

When the system is simple, there will be a box that has one power switch, two phone-jacks, and a knob with which you control the voltage. In order to use this type of power setup, you have to plug in your tattoo machine into one of the jacks.

Into the other jack, you have to plug in your foot pedal. Once everything is attached, you can use the foot pedal and turn the knob either one way or the other to decrease or increase the flow of the power to where you want it to be.

As a general rule, if you turn the knob to the right you will get a faster speed, and if you turn the knob to the left you will get less power. Still, it is always best to read the manual or instruction book that comes with your power control box to verify this and to make sure that you set it up correctly.

Option #2.

As mentioned, some power boxes have a digital screen. These often do not have a knob at all for you to use to change the voltage you are using. Instead, these have a digital screen that will have a menu of some sort that you can use.

Somewhere on this menu, you will be able to see what voltage you are using and you will be able to press buttons in order to raise or lower the volts. These often have an added benefit as well, allowing you to save your favorite voltage settings.

This means that you can save your favorite power settings for different things. Once saved, you can then switch from your preferred power supply for lining directly into the amount of power that you prefer using for your shading.

Final Tips

Learning what your best power settings for your gun speed are is something that is affected a little by your own personal preferences. But there are a few tips that you can keep in mind once you know a good range to start with that will help you find the right settings for you.

The first thing that you can keep in mind is that the higher the voltage you use, the quicker your machine will heat up due to the fact that the needle inside it is moving faster. Therefore, even though shading does need more volts, you should try not to go too high.

If your tattoo machine gets too hot, you will need to stop and let it cool some. While you can switch and start using a different tattoo machine if you have one, this can be very troublesome if you are in the middle of doing a tattoo.

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