For most beginner and expert tattoo artists that have come to love the Seth Ciferri tattoo machines, the fact that they simply work well is what stands out for them.
Digging into the history of this top tattoo artist and machine builder, though, that’s not the only interesting thing here.
We, especially, love the fact that his works and machine designs were inspired by the likes of Aaron Cain, Mike Malone (RIP), Clay Decker, and even his brother, Adam Ciferri.
If anything, this tell us that he is a legend that has learned from the best, infusing his style along the way to create something unique for us.
Today, we will review two (2) of the amazing machines Seth Ciferri has ever built and how they compare for you.
Mini Flat-side Liner
Over the years, Seth Ciferri has created different liner coil tattoo machines, which are unique in their ways.
Of these, we have the Micro Jones liner, which comes as a limited-edition model, the Classic Liner model that brought Seth much fame and attention as well as the Mini Flat-side liner.
None of these liners are slouches when it comes to making their mark. As we said before, though, they all bring something unique to the table.
For now, let’s see how this liner fares in this category.
The outline of the machine
Seth has had a lot of design experience (on other custom tattoo machines) before he came to the Flat-side Liner model.
It was just expected that he would almost get this one right out of the box without needing too many iterations to get there.
One of the most impressive things about the design is how lightweight and forward-balanced the machine is.
It is one thing to tip the scales on the lower side at 5.3 ounces, and yet, another thing to have a machine optimized such that it doesn’t lean back when working.
Otherwise, the tattoo artist starts facing wrist fatigue on their longer jobs.
To achieve this characteristic while keeping the machine durable and functional, he opted for an aluminum frame cut into the desired dimensions with the precision of CNC machining.
Before you sneer at the mention of aluminum, he fixed the common issue with this metal by inserting steel at the clipcord connection, pairing that with a beefier side plate to ensure the metal is just as stiff as what you get on iron models.
So, all the strength of iron builds combined with the easier machinability and lightweight of aluminum, packed into a single model.
The minimalist design element of this machine is equally laudable, carrying a deluxe hardware finish that features the simplest branding on most custom tattoo machines today.
Although, Seth had moved away from the handmade tattoo machine genre when launching this one, he is still involved in the tuning of each unit to meet the right standards.
Managed voltage range
Every machine in this series was designed to operate at 6V within the 125-130Hz frequency range.
This usually signifies up to 50% of the power that the machine can deliver, so we expect that this unit goes up to 11V, at the least.
When you do need to work at high voltage levels, Seth included a dual, 8-wrap coil in the setup to handle and deliver all that power without burning out.
That is not an invitation to abuse the machine and run it at insanely high voltages for long. It, rather, tells you how much this well-built tattoo machine is designed to handle.
What needle configuration works best?
Seth Ciferri himself said this already, but allow us to reiterate: This machine will push any needle configuration with ease.
Artists who are used to standard needles will have a great experience and those who swear by their cartridge needles will also get the best out of the machine.
This makes the unit a fitting choice for beginners who are still finding their feet and might likely switch to another configuration in the future.
It is also a nice bet for those intermediate and expert tattoo artists that find themselves changing between standard needles and cartridges at different stages.
That said, you don’t need to buy tattoo needles from Seth or other providers to use this machine. They are designed with industry-wide needle compatibility, ensuring that you can use any set of well-made needles with this unit.
Lest we forget, the manufacturer recommends that you use this lining tattoo machine to push the big stuff, from 7s to 14s. That’s saying a lot, and we love bold claims like that.
Where we think it will do well
It’s already obvious: Lining.
We’ve always been particular about those coil models that are tuned to do one thing right since that is how they are supposed to work.
Seth especially tuned this one to deliver a heavy hit at medium or slow speeds. Thus, you don’t have to worry much about manipulating your hand movements to get the right hit.
On this liner model, the ease of use begins with the weight savings on the design.
Think about being able to work longer hours without the weight of your machine getting in the way. This makes tattooing a joy and ensures you can complete most designs in one session.
Furthermore, he added a forward-facing guillotine vise to this unit.
You might not notice it if you are right-handed, but it makes all the difference for left-handed artists who often have to tweak their style to accommodate machines made for a predominantly right-handed audience.
That’s not the only benefit you get from this kind of vise. Besides being ambidextrous, it also holds all of steel and plastic tubes right without prejudice for one over the other.
And, it doesn’t end there.
Remember the needle compatibility? Not many great coil tattoo guns can promise to work with all needle configurations – but this one goes on to deliver on that promise.
Being a relatively recent design, he tweaked the machine to come with cartridge support out of the box rather than that being an afterthought.
Finished with a dual setup of 8-wrap heat shrink coils, you have less heat energy dissipation to worry about when working with this unit.
Possible sticking point
We think that the only kinds of people that this machine might not appeal to are those who would have loved to have more than one function on their units.
We get that – and we have equally reviewed other machines that handle more than lining works simultaneously.
However, this is the ideal fit for professionals who prefer that their machine be expertly tuned to deliver the best result in only one department.
There are a lot of intricacies that go into the basic lining operation – and you should be looking to get a unit that does that extremely well anyway.
Weiner Dog Shader 2.1
Also made in the USA, the Weiner Dog Shader 2.1 packs quite a lot of history and competition behind it.
For one, it is not the only shader in his impressive line-up either. With options like the Modern Classic, the Micro Jones, the Belmont, and the Weiner Dog Shader 2.2, this professional tattoo machine is surely in great company.
Even internally, the numbers tell that this is not the first unit in its family.
After undergoing some iterations and developments, we dive deeper to see what he was able to come up with here.
What Seth offered with the design?
If we have established anything by now, it is how design is no issue for Seth. Above just making good outlines for the sake of machine beauty, he is also well versed in crafting functional elements.
This time around, he kept things strong and sturdy on the frame with an iron build.
Like his other custom tattoo machines currently in the market, CNC machining helped with crafting all the parts and elements of this device for better quality control.
For a machine that carries an iron frame, it is almost surreal that it weighs just 5.5 ounces.
Shaders are meant to carry a lot of power – which this one has too – yet it doesn’t make the weight scales scream.
One of the biggest design improvements that you’ll see on this piece from the previous models is in geometry.
Now expertly tweaked to deliver a stronger hit, the vises have also been changed around to fit the new geometry while performing better than before, at the same time.
Such impressive engineering is continued with an exposed double coil setup – lending more credence to the power that you’ll get from operating this piece.
Offered voltage range
A running voltage rating of 6V, generating 100-105Hz is a fine balance between vibrations and machine usage.
This rating is for an unloaded setup, but it tells you what’s to come when you start working also.
You won’t get a noiseless machine, but you should not have to deal with extreme noise and vibrations either.
That said, the machine should reach up to 10-11V of power during peak usage.
Since it is a shader, you might not need to go past 10V anyway, depending on your unique setup and model.
The needles that could work with this model
Take it from Seth when he mentions that his machines are suited to work with both standard needles and cartridges.
Purchase your needles from reputable brands so that they can pair well with this unit.
The manufacturer also recommends that you get your 7s to 13s ready to work with this machine, which is an ideal needle range for most artists when shading.
Given that it is an 8 wrap coil machine, though, don’t pack too many needles into the machine at once.
Of course, you get a faster outcome from using that configuration, but you might not get enough power to adequately pack the blacks and greys into the skin right from the coils.
Strike the balance between low to medium-sized packs and this coil, and you have a winning shader tattoo machine on your hands.
Where do we thing is the best use
Custom-fitted and tuned to shade well, that’s what this machine does.
Some experts might try to break it down and make it do other stuff, but you best get another tattoo machine for different operations when you have this one.
Plus, you stand the chance of messing up with the custom Seth Ciferri tuning, which you might never get back.
Not to mention the chances of breaking your warranty agreement on this unit.
For shading, Seth has changed the geometry of the machine around to make it better suited to delivering more powerful hits. That way, the needles stay nestled in the skin just a little bit longer to ensure crisper blacks and greys.
It is this same feature that makes the machine equally great for color packing besides the usual shading. As long as you don’t use this machine for lining, you’ll get the best results.
Besides the normal shading and color packing, we also appreciate how this machine is tuned for whip shading.
It gets into the skin right, creating those analogous, varying tones of color from the deepest part to the lightest region.
This allows artists like yourself to get more natural surfaces and drawings to be even more realistic.
Benefits when using this machine
We talked about the lightweight nature of this unit already. So lightweight, even he had to include that in the name.
For a unit made from iron, and specially tuned for shading, the sub-6 ounces weight makes it extremely easy to handle.
The ease of use continues in the change of the device’s geometry from the last model for better ergonomic appeal.
Now, it can be handled even better without feeling out of place or getting in your way.
This change in geometry also saw design elements like a drop-down rear end and vise, which allows for more space when using the machine.
All that, and the entire unit doesn’t break out of its minimalist style in any way.
Any deal breakers?
There’s not much to say here, and that’s telling a lot about the quality of build on this unit.
Factoring in the fact that this is not the first unit in the series, but an improvement over the initial launches, it is also understandable that it is close to perfect for users.
Unlike the Flatside Liner above, too, this unit will handle both shading and color packing in the same breath. With that, we don’t think anyone should be concerned about the fact that this machine can’t do it all.
Not that we don’t have other tattoo guns crossing over between all three tasks, but that would be overkill on such a specially tuned unit.
Again, the Weiner Dog Shader 2.1 is on top of its game, as it is.
Coil tattoo machines enjoy the best rap in the industry for how long they have been here, the specialty tuning that they offer, and the flexibility that they give the artists who trust them.
Having these machines tweaked and built from scratch by an expert artist is, thus, yet another treat on top of all that goodness they already offer.
When Seth is the artist in question, you don’t have to worry about the quality of build, the efficacy of the machine, or deliverance on its promise.
As shown by these two units, professional tattoo artists at any level can snag up this expert-tuned setup and make a success out of it.
There are other Seth Ciferri tattoo machines to explore out there. With these guys we mentioned up here, though, you simply can’t go wrong any day.
Images courtesy of Workhorse Irons