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Tattoo Gear: Testosterone For Your Power Supply 3 Minutes to Better Tattooing

Testosterone For Your Power Supply 

| 3 Minutes to Better Tattooing |

“...power supplies are designed so that we can dial back and deliver just the right amount of voltage that we would need for that machine.”
- Jake Meeks

For a while now I’ve been looking for a real life example of how available amps affect your consistency when making marks during a tattoo. I finally got to test out this theory by chance since a tattooer friend of mine has been in the shop with me recently. 

Check out this episode of 3 Minutes to Better Tattooing to see the real-life examples that show how the quality of your power supply is affecting your tattooing.

This episode was made possible thanks to:

Video By Jake Meeks –

Writing By Daniel Pushcarich -`

Topics: Tattoo Techniques, Power Supplies, Tattoo Gear, Tattoo Machines, Tattoo Needles, Tattoo Stipple shading, Tattoo Whip Shading.

Amperage vs Voltage for Tattooers

“So voltage measures the force or potential of energy that can be transferred through a power source…Amps, on the other hand, are determined by the device that you're trying to power.”
- Jake Meeks

When it comes to running a tattoo machine you have two things to keep in mind: Voltage and amperage. Voltage is the power coming from the outlet, the available amount you have to pull from. Amperage however, is what the machine pulls from the source.

How the Power Supply Functions

Normally, machines will draw less than an amp or so, but as you add resistance to it, it uses more amps to keep running at the same speed. So resistance would be things like force applied to the skin, or ink getting into the cartridge or tube, or the different lubricants or creams we use to add moisture. 

Dan Kubin Rotary Tattoo Machine

Power supplies are the median between them. They draw power from the source and limit it back to the machine. Some power supplies will allow more amps to be drawn than others. All of those things add up and affect how hard your power supply has to work to provide those continuous amps.

Real Life Example of Amperage Differences

“...the dots looked inconsistent in density… and they looked almost like it was scratching the surface of the skin and getting more irritated than I’m used to.”
- Jake Meeks

So recently, as I mentioned, the chance to finally put two different power supplies to a test arrived. I tend to do whip shading and stippling at lower voltage so that there’s a bit of space and it gives a grainy or dotted effect.

real life example of tattoo shading

Running my usual set up on this other power supply I noticed some of the marks I usually make weren't really coming through as clearly and the skin started irritating more than usual. I ended up swapping over to my own power supply to finish out the tattoo and the effect was like night and day.

The shading I had done with the other power supply came out looking good, but a lot more blurry and muddy. You can clearly see the difference when you compare the moment where I decided to swap in my own power supply.

Closing Thoughts

“This is enough evidence for me to say not all power supplies are created equally and you should pay attention not only to the starting amps for a power supply, but also the continuous amps…”
- Jake Meeks

The biggest takeaway from all this is to take a look into what your power supply is capable of. Are you having trouble with softer, or you can’t understand why other tattooers are getting nice peppered shading when you’re doing it exactly like they showed you. Maybe it’s your power supply holding you back from making the marks you want. 

comparison of tattoo shading from power supplies

So if you feel like your machine is great, but something else isn’t holding up to what you're capable of, take a look at the specs of your power supply. It might actually make all the difference.



Want more?

Check out our Tattoo Gear series HERE!

Transcript can be found here. All Transcripts can be found here


The Fireside Tattoo Network is home to the Fireside podcast, Fireside Technique video series and our Fireside Weekly blog.

The Fireside Tattoo podcast is hosted by veteran tattooer Jake Meeks, check out our episodes where we discuss, argue and wax philosophical, from tips for all levels of artists to trends in the tattoo world. Many guest artists have sat down for interviews and in-depth conversations and many more are planned…check back often!

Our Fireside Technique video series offers short, detailed how-to videos geared towards helping artists improve their work. We often take some of our more technical topics from our Fireside podcast and film an in-depth, narrated, time-lapsed video showing exactly how Jake or our featured artists handle certain issues.

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Tattoo Gear giving you option paralysis? 

Tattoo gear has come a long way over the last decade. From tattoo machines and power supplies to batteries and cartridges. For years Jake has had hundreds of requests for reviews on many of these subjects and everything in between. 

At Fireside we offer honest and unbiased advice on all aspects of tattoo gear and supplies. We want to give you confidence for making more informed decisions for your tattooing workstation and, most importantly, for your clients.

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