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Needle Configurations

Needle Configurations

With the range of tattoo needle configuration options on the market today, it can be overwhelming to sift through everything to find your ideal set up. In this article, we’re going over how to read manufacturer configuration codes and some common questions we hear in the showroom about needles.

How do I read the code on my needle box?

It’s easy! The first 2 numbers refer to needle gauge (pin size) while the second 2 numbers refer to the number of pins in the grouping. The last letters tell you what kind of grouping it is (liner, round shader ,etc). Some boxes will also specify needle taper here as well.

My box code says “35” or another unfamiliar gauge number. What does that mean?

Your needles’ manufacturer uses metric measurements instead of imperial measurements for gauge. Here’s a quick guide:





Some manufacturers, like Kwadron, will have a conversion guide on the packaging as well.

What is taper?

Taper refers to the length of the needle point, and determines how much ink is picked up and rate of ink flow. Longer taped needles pick up less ink and allow for slower ink flow, making them a good choice for delicate work. Short and medium taped needles are great for bold colors and lines because they pick up for more ink that flows faster. Many brands will specify taper, but 

What does “extra tight,” “ultra tight” or “super tight” mean?

Unfortunately, manufacturers use these terms differently, so there isn’t an easy answer. The general idea is that this means standard size pins are soldered closer together than in regular groupings or use bugpins to achieve a finer line. An “extra tight” configuration made with bugpins will create a finer line than one made with standard pins. Some brands will have multiple product lines in the “extra tight” category made with different sized pins. Consult the label on the box or the manufacturer to be sure of what you're using.

What are ““bold” or “turbo” needles?

Depending on the manufacturer, this can mean a grouping with pins soldered more loosely for a bolder line or utilizes larger than standard pins. Other names for these groupings include “traditional” or “power.” Hollow needle configurations are generally regarded as a separate category.  These are great for artists that use thicker lines in their work. Consult your needle box or the manufacturer to be sure.

Help! My favorite needles are sold out! How do I choose another brand?

The first step is looking at the configuration code to see pin gauge, # of pins, and type of configuration. Using that info, you can look for brands on our website that offer the same configuration. For example, we offer multiple brands that have #10 bugpin liners.

We hope this article helps you better understand needle configuration offerings, and how to find the best options for you.

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