You can get really stressed out when it comes to choosing the right tattoo needle for a particular work because of the wide range of sizes that are available, understanding the different sizes and their uses will guide you in choosing the best needle to use. Generally, all the needles have their thickness between 0.30mm and 0.35mm, but their arrangements matter the most; these arrangements are used to group the needles into different types.
All the infinite number of tattoo needle styles all fall into four basic types, in order to reduce your search radius when choosing the perfect needle, you should consider choosing the type first.
Round Tattoo Needles
Round needles have their needles soldered in round patterns around a central shaft. Round needles are classified into two groups depending on how close its needles are packed together, these are liners or shaders. Round liners are marked as RL, their needles are tightly packed together, therefore, making them the perfect needles for making thin and thick lines depending on the number of needles. Round shaders are marked as RS, unlike the liners; shaders needles are loose which make them good for shading and color filling.
Numbers are always written in front of the alphabets (RL or RS), this number tells you the amount of small needles combined together to make the whole needle, e.g. 7RL or 7RS have 7 needles combined together to form the circle configuration; the number of needles ranges from 1 to 21. Round needles also use the same size tubes, i.e. for the 7RL needle, you must use a 7R tube.
Flat Tattoo Needles
Flat needles have their needles soldered in a straight line. This gives them the ability to deliver more ink to the skin and therefore provide darker and clearer lines with one stroke. Flat needles are used for whips, blending and also shading. Flat needles have their number of needles between 7 and 11.
Just like the round needles, flat needles are classified into two groups: flat liners (FL) and flat shaders (FS) with numbers also placed in front of their alphabets for a number of needles used. The tube sizes are also the same as the number of needles, i.e. for the 5FL needle, you must use 5F tube.
Magnum Tattoo Needles
Magnum needles are the best needle for coloring or shading large areas because they deliver a lot of ink to the skin. They have their needles soldered like two rows of needles placed on each other, but the needles were placed on alternating sides of the needle. This makes one needle be on top of two needles which allow them to cover more area when drawing tattoos; the number of needles ranges from 5 to 17. The magnum needles use flat tubes with the same number of needles. There are three types of magnum needles, these are weaved, stacked and round magnum needles.
Weaved magnum needles have their needles soldered close to one and other, they are referred to as M1 with the number of needles as the prefix, i.e. 7M1 is a weaved magnum with 7 needles. Stacked magnum needles are another type of magnum needles which have their needles soldered much closer to each other than that of weaved type; they are marked as M2 with the number of needles as a prefix. The last type of magnum needles are round magnum needles which can also be called curved magnum, their needles are soldered in a way so that the tips arch at the center which makes them useful for tattoos that need better ink dispersion, they are marked as RM.
Bugpin Tattoo Needles
Bugpins are sometimes classified under magnum needles because of their similar arrangement, they have thinner needles than most of the other needles (between 0.20mm and 0.25mm thick), they are marked exactly as other magnum but their tube number should by 1 or 2 lesser than their needle numbers i.e. for 9M1 needle, you should use either 7F or 8F tubes for it. They are used for making fine lines because of their small needle thickness.