Is your Tattoo Machine not turning on?

If you’re experiencing issues with your tattoo machine is not turning on, there could be several reasons for this problem. As a tattoo artist we understand that, your machine is indeed a crucial tool for your business. So it’s essential to troubleshoot and resolve any issues promptly. Here are some common reasons why your tattoo machine may not be starting and steps to address them:

Some common issues are-

Power Supply Issues

  • Check if your power supply is properly connected to both the machine and the power source.
  • Ensure that the power outlet you’re using is functioning correctly by testing it with another device.
  • Verify that the power supply unit is turned on and set to the appropriate voltage and frequency for your machine.

Machine Connection

  • Ensure that the tattoo machine is securely connected to the power supply.
  • Check for any loose or frayed wires in the machine’s connection.

Foot Pedal and Clip Cord

  • Inspect the foot pedal for any damage or loose connections. Make sure it’s functioning correctly.
  • Check the clip cord (the cord that connects the machine to the foot pedal) for any breaks, cuts, or loose connections. Replace it if necessary.

Machine Maintenance

  • Tattoo machines require regular maintenance. Check if there is any dirt, ink residue, or debris clogging the machine’s components. Clean and lubricate it as needed.
  • Ensure that the needle bar and other moving parts are not stuck or obstructed.

Needle Bar Alignment

  • Make sure the needle bar is properly aligned and not bent. An improperly aligned needle bar can prevent the machine from starting.

Voltage and Speed Settings

  • Verify that you have set the voltage and speed settings on your power supply correctly. Adjust them as needed for the type of tattoo work you’re doing.

Machine Compatibility

  • Ensure that your tattoo machine is compatible with the power supply you’re using. Some machines may require specific types of power supplies.

Electrical Issues

  • If none of the above solutions work, it’s possible that there could be an electrical issue with either the machine or the power supply. In this case, it’s advisable to consult a professional tattoo machine technician for repairs.
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Why Won’t Your Tattoo Machine Start?

If you’ve been eager to fire up that tattoo machine but are hitting a roadblock, fear not. We’ve got your back. From coil machines to rotary ones, we’ve got the scoop on the most COMMON issues and how to tackle them.

The Throw is too Weak

Troubleshoot: While operating the machine, you notice the needle moving minimally. Despite increasing the voltage, the needle lacks adequate up and down movement. This issue could stem from an insufficiently tensioned back spring.

To resolve the issue, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the screw holding the back spring in place.
  2. Rotate the back spring, armature bar, and front spring assembly by 180 degrees so that the front spring faces downward on the opposite side of the frame.
  3. Gently bend the back spring downward to increase tension. Do this gradually, as even a small adjustment can have a significant impact.
  4. Return the assembly to its original position and securely tighten it in place.


FIX: Three Potential Reasons

  1. Even if you’ve already tightened the hex bolts on the three-piece metal tube assembly, you might need to tighten them even further. Over time, hex bolts on stainless steel or aluminum grips can wear down, requiring extra tightening to securely clamp onto the tube. Just exercise caution not to over-tighten and risk stripping the bolt head, which would render the grip unusable.
  2. If the thumb screw on your tube vise tightens, but the tube and grip don’t secure properly, it might be due to insufficient tension where the thumb screw connects to the frame. To fix this, try using a spacer washer. Opt for a plastic washer as it compresses better when tightened, providing a more effective solution than a metal one.
  3. If the above 2 fixes don’t work, check the threading on the thumb screw. Through wear and tear, the tip of the screw thread will wear down faster than the rest of it. This is because you are mainly screwing in the tip when you tighten. If the threading appears worn, its time to get a new thumb screw.

The Machine Cuts

The issue is likely a thin connector within the machine’s circuit. If you’ve taken apart your tattoo machine, carefully inspect the wiring to ensure no wires were harmed or squeezed during reassembly. The wires are very delicate and connected by small solder joints. If any of these joints are damaged, the tattoo machine may intermittently stop working.

Another possibility is an incomplete connection with the clip cord. This happens when the contact point becomes oxidized. You can fix this by gently cleaning the clip cord with sandpaper.

Sparks between Contact Screw and Front Spring

According to tattoo machine experts in Australia, some machines might produce slight sparks, which is usually normal. However, if the sparks become excessive, it’s a cause for concern. Possible reasons could be an overly tightly twisted rear spring or using a plated front spring or a faulty capacitor. To address the issue of excessive sparks, try loosening the rear spring gradually and test the machine after each adjustment. Keep doing this until the sparks reduce or disappear. Sometimes this type of condition are the reason for not turning the tattoo machine on.

In another scenario, if your machine is new and sparking, you might need to run it for a few hours until the contact screw erodes the plating layer, which often resolves the problem. Improper ultra-frequency in the capacitor can also lead to sparking. Liners should operate with low ultra-frequency, while shaders require high ultra-frequency. It’s advisable to purchase a few capacitors to test and optimize your machine setup.

The Machine is Getting Too Hot

There are a few factors that can cause a tattoo machine to overheat:

  • High Voltage: If the voltage is abnormally high, it can lead to overheating.
  • Heavy Springs: Using springs that are too heavy can also cause the machine to become excessively hot.
  • Excessive Tension in the Armature Bar: If the armature bar is too tense, it can contribute to overheating.

To address the second and third issues, you need to loosen the springs. If you find yourself needing to run the tattoo machine at the maximum or near-maximum voltage, it’s likely not tuned correctly. You should adjust the tension, reduce the gap, and experiment to determine the optimal voltage for your machine.


A tattoo machine not turning on can be a daunting issue, but with the right knowledge, you can often resolve it without much trouble. By following the troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide, you can diagnose and address the problem efficiently. Remember that regular maintenance and proper care can help prevent such issues in the future, ensuring your tattoo machine remains a reliable tool for your artistic endeavors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should I do if my tattoo machine is not turning on at all?

So. if your tattoo machine is not turning on at all, first check the power connection, power supply, foot pedal, and the machine components for any issues. If the problem persists, consider consulting a professional tattoo machine technician.

Are there any DIY fixes if my tattoo machine is not turning on?

While some minor issues like loose connections can be fixed by the user, it’s advisable to consult a professional tattoo machine technician for any significant problems to avoid further damage.

How often should I check my tattoo machine for potential issues with turning on?

Regularly inspect your tattoo machine and associated components to ensure they are in good working condition. A periodic check can help identify and address issues before they escalate.

Can a faulty foot pedal be the reason my tattoo machine is not turning on?

Yes, a faulty foot pedal can prevent your tattoo machine from turning on. Ensure the foot pedal is functioning correctly and is properly connected.

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