About a year ago I decided, after long hesitation, to purchase a tattoo machine from Dan Kubin. I made this decision after I contacted many tattoo artists working in a similar style to mine, and many of them were working with a Dan Kubin. Loving words about, among other things, the strength, the durability and the versatility of the machines kept coming. There was no other way to find out for myself than just ordering one. This is a description of the Dan Kubin Sidewinder v4, after I have used it for some time now.
First of all a word about the purchase itself. Especially for tattoo artists who are located outside of the US, like me, the purchase of a Dan Kubin is expensive. When I made my purchase, the Sidewinder cost $700. Since it obviously still had to be delivered, I was forced to add another $ 50 on top of it for the delivery. After the machine was finally delivered to us in the shop, I could still count in about 170 euro for import taxes. At the end of the purchase, I had invested about 800 euro. Not a cheap tattoo machine. In addition, the price is regularly raised, as Dan Kubin wants to keep it exclusive.
In addition, each Dan Kubin is made by hand and there are very limited numbers available. Every week the new batch is put online and you will, if you are fast enough (because man, they get sold out quickly) be able to purchase one yourself, only at that time!
A negative point when unboxing the tattoo machine is, even if you have paid quite some money, the tattoo machine is not stored in a custom box. Neatly wrapped in bubble wrap nothing will happen while being deliverd, but you will then have to find a box to keep it in next to the rest of your machines. Bit of a shame, but not the end of the world.
If you unpack the machine, you might feel like not having much value for your money. In comparison with other machines, the Sidewinder is much smaller and lighter. Yet you do not feel that it would fall apart, it is compact but sturdy. The Sidewinder is some kind of hybrid between a coil and a rotary. It has a motor like a rotary, but uses an armature bar like a coil. The needle is easy to fixate and the tube is easy to tighten with a firm turn.
Once you have set up the machine and start working with it for the first time, you will notice what kind of gem you have in your hands. My first intention was to buy this machine for large needle grouping for lining like 18’s, and oh boy, the lines are there before you even noticed ! The sidewinder is incredibly powerful and does not need much to allow each needle grouping to slide neatly over the skin. Never have I been so happy about a power liner as this sidewinder. From day 1 I had forgotten the money I invested and I wanted a Dan Kubin plantation to exist.
Dan Kubin advises the Sidewinder V4 not to set higher than 6.5 V, but knowing that you can easily set high needle groupings at 6.0 V, this is not necessary.
A disadvantage (if I may call it this way) is that the machine beats so powerful that normal grommets / nipples are not sufficient since they are torn apart after about 10 minutes. Dan Kubin sells nipples on his website that are extra strong, but since this would be too expensive for me to order, I decided to use the Cristal Nipples (available on tattooland) and they also work fine. Also elastic bands can not be set too tight, even these will be destroyed after 10 minutes or less.
After a while I started to try the Sidewinder v4 with other techniques (thin lines of 3s, soft shading, peppershading, dot work, whipshading, color packing …) and to be honest, god damn this machine is really the best machine I’ve had in my hands so far. Actually you can use it for everything, always with equal quality.
Conclusion, the machine is expensive but really worth more than every penny. I would buy 200 and more, if I only had won the lottery! It is highly recommended and the minuscule minuses are only a fraction of the extreme amount of positive points. If you can afford it, then be sure to buy one, I can assure you that you won’t be complaining!