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Ask Guy Aitchison

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Q) I am a apprentice and i was taught also to work with the least amount of voltage. Sometimes when i set my voltage low and the machine sounds good, when doing the tattoo colour it seems like the needles are catching the skin,. The only was i can combat that is by increasing the voltage... is there any other way?

A) If you are experiencing a snagging sensation, the first thing to try is more power; this may help you to find and work with the machine's natural rhythm. This kind of snagging is relatively rare in coil machines, and is much more common with rotaries- if you are using a rotary machine and dealing with lots of snagging problems that increased power doesn't seem to help, you may prefer the action of a coil machine. If it is a coil machine and increased power seems to make it run rough, you may need to adjust your point gap slightly to accommodate the different power setting. Often, increasing the gap can help resolve snagging issues by increasing the length of the stroke, therefore the travel speed of the needles: Moving faster, the needles can get in and out of the skin faster, making them less likely to snag. It's true that it's a good practice to work with as little power as you can get away with, but at times that can leave you with too little punch for the job- don't be afraid to use power when necessary.