What Are Tattoo Needles?

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What Are Tattoo Needles?

People new to tattooing, whether they are aiming to be an artist or are interested in getting their first tattoo, are often interested in learning about the tattooing process. Learning about tattoo needles is one of the best places to start. There are many angles to the tattoo needle including their shapes, diameters, tapers, material, and their individual uses. Understanding tattoo needles and their many variations can help budding tattoo artists learn their art and it can give newbie tattoo owners some comfort.

Tattoo Needles

Tattoo needles photo by blaze of light

Tattoo needles are not really just one needle. A tattoo needle is usually made up of many needles, called sharps, which are all held together in various shapes by a needle bar. Shapes include flat, round, magnum and stack. While the number of needles in each pack is generally the same for each shape (ex. Rounds are usually made up of 7 needles), they can vary. These shapes work together with the other elements of the needle to help the tattoo artist create your tattoo.

Some other elements of tattoo needles are the diameter and taper of each of the sharps in the needle bar. The diameters of the needles generally range between 0.20 mm and 0.35 mm. The 0.35 mm is the most widely used needle and the 0.30 mm is the one most used for tattoo lining. The taper of the needle has to do with the shape of the point. These diameters and tapers give the tattoo artist flexibility and tools to create great tattoos.

Tattoo needles come in different materials. Most needles you see will either be disposable needles or they will be made of stainless steel. Both the disposable and stainless steel tattoo needles usually come pre-sterilized. Disposable needles are cheap and can often be used more than once before discard, however they do undergo a lot of wear and tear which can cost more down the line. Different brands craft their needles differently. Some brands are sharper than others. Which needles and brands are used is generally left to the preference of the artist or of the tattoo parlor.

While each artist has his or her own method of tattooing, each needle type has certain uses that it is more specialized for. Tattooing involves shading, coloring, lining, large tattoos/areas, small areas, etc. There are loose round needles, tight round needles, curved magnum needles, etc. You will typically find that tight needles are used for lining, loose needles are used for shading and magnums, or “mags” are used for larger areas.

There is a lot more to tattoo needles than most probably realize. With the many different needle bars, diameters, tapers and materials it can be easy to see how tattooing is not only an art but a science as well. And we have only just grazed the surface. Additionally there are tubes, hubs, stencils, tattoo machines, coils and other tattoo equipment that tattoo artists use. Even so, equipped with this knowledge of tattoo needles, learning tattoo artists can learn to perfect their skill and newbie tattoo owners can rest assured that there are many tools available to tattoo artists to create tattoos that you love.


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