Needles - What you should know.

Posted by Paris Parker on

 WE ONLY SUPPORT LICENSED PROFESSIONALS. What you’re doing is permanent and without the proper training under a licensed professional, you can cause serious harm. We ask that anyone who is not working in a proper shop find information elsewhere. This is not a “how to” article and you will not find any on our site. This is to educate those who only wish to better understand the products that they work with every day. 

Remember – Work safe, work clean and work hard.



Do you groan when you hear, “What types of needles are out there?”

No? Not even a little bit?

Damn, either you’ve been tattooing since the stone ages, or you’ve already read this.

Needles are such a broad subject to cover; There’s multiple categories and subcategories, styles, jobs…… Oh god... There’s so much information to swallow, it can make you regret having that bowl of cereal this morning. Fear not young padawan, we’re here to help. Put that spoon down and we'll deliver this information in bite-sized pieces.

Let’s start with what a needle is.

Tattoo needles aren’t the freaky hollow shaft hypodermics that mean lady at the doctor stabs you with. Tattoo needles are usually several solid point needles soldered onto a ‘Needle Bar’. Think “metal paint brush”. Sharp pointy metal paintbrush… stabby brush... Tattoo needles come in many shapes and styles, all designed to do different jobs with one shared goal in mind; Poke the skin, make the ink stick, do as little damage as possible.

Now that we know WHAT a needle is, cool, lets cover their categories--

“Dude, hold on… Needles have CATEGORIES?!”

The categories of the needle are referring to what it’s designed to DO. Everyone has their own word for a needle’s little job, but we try to keep it simple. Remember, Category equals the needle’s design and job.

“Oh… Okay, that is pretty simple.”

Less scary now, right? Fantastic! Let’s keep going. We’re going to break down what all of this means.


Needle Categories


Round Needles

Round needles are soldered onto the bar in a circular pattern (Hence “round”). These needles can be used for lining, color, or small, detailed shading, depending on how close together they are.

Round liners are packed to a tighter focal point, almost at a slight angle, making them perfect for lines or intricate details.

Sometimes Round needles can also be “hollow”, making a circle shape with their points. These are recommended for crisp bold lines that prevent constantly dipping for ink, as they can hold quite a bit of ink in the center of them.

Round Shaders have less of a point to them- they’re broader and cover a larger surface area to allow for small amounts of color packing or shading.

Traditional Needles are also known as Loose round liners. They are aimed more for doing heavier lines, like what you would find in American or Japanese traditional styles (Hence the name). The needles grouping is loose, but not as broad as your shaders.


Flat Needles

Flat needles are a straight row of needles soldered to the bar and the needles have a short tapir. Think flat paintbrush- Some people think that these can be used for lining WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS as you can easily slice someone open. They’re best for light shading and color graduations.


Magnum Needles

Magnum needles are most artist’s first choice for shading work. The sets have a taper of either greater or equal length to the round shaders. Magnums allow a ton of ink into the skin, perfect for covering large areas of the skin with color or gradients.

  • Weaved Magnum

 Weaved Magnums resemble Flat Needles; however, they have alternating sides soldered together.

  • Stacked Magnum

Stacked Magnums are essentially tighter Weaved Magnums.

Round, or Curved Magnums are newer to the industry. Their edge has a rounded, curved shape similar to a paint brush. They were designed to be less traumatic to the skin and fit the natural contours of the flesh when a needle is applied.


Bugpin Needles

Bugpins are essentially magnums with very thin needles (a whopping .20-.25mm if you want to get technical). Bugpins got their name from the Entomology Pins used to anchor insect specimens. These needles can be used for lining or shading- adding smaller details with ease. They’re also better for grey work. This is due to the needles being smaller and in turn doing less damage to the skin when having to make multiple passes to get things “just right”

Another thing to keep in mind - “Needle Grouping”

This refers to how ‘tight’ your little needle sardines are. Going from standard, tight, and extra tight. The tighter the needles, the more pinpoint the lines will be. 


Its a lot of info to take in, but hey, look at you! Now you know the lingo of needles. Remember that what needles are best for the job at hand is purely subjective. What works for Bob may not work for Billy (God damn it Billy), but if everyone practices appropriate and safe tattooing methods- no one is more right than the other. Conveniently, we carry a huge variety, if not all, of these needles over on our website. Check it out!



C. Dolan

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