April 07, 2019
Stamped vs. Unstamped d20s:
Tat Bro Rumor Mill Debunked, The Longwinded Version
While I take pride in the fact that my machines hold a high resale value, it seems that this hearsay has driven up prices on used machines to a point that a lot of people are being taken advantage of. So to squash this rumor that got started years ago by someone trying to sell an old and well used machine on instagram, I will now officially clarify.
Admittedly, I probably should have done this sooner, but I figured most people would have figured it out by now. I now believe that the perpetuation of this rumor stems from mostly either people not wanting to be embarrassed about buying a well used machine for way too much money, some people having a way to inflate prices and take advantage of the ignorant, or so that some can have trumped up bragging rights.
The facts about me and my business:
Unlike a lot of my current competition, I actually tattoo, and have been doing so for 23 years now. I also have a 20 year background in hand building coil machines and started building rotaries in 2007. I believe this makes a big difference as I actually know what I am feeling when I use the machine and where I want it to be. This means I don’t have to rely on a “pro team” or someone else to do that for me.
In case you didn’t know, I do all the CAD (computer aided design), prototyping and testing myself. I work closely with an engineer to ensure correct tolerancing and function of my parts, and work with a machinist whom I have known personally for 25 years and who is in the workshop next door to my own.
My machines are made in Phoenix, Arizona in the USA and I work on every single one of the machines that go out the door. If you have a Shagbuilt, rest assured I have had my hands on your machine. All of the improvements I have made to the d20 in the past have been thoughtfully added and closely monitored in testing before being released to the public.
I state all of this as I simply want to impress upon you that I have full control and oversight of all of the processes, from design to manufacture to assembly and shipping. I take great pride in my good reputation and would not make something that works less well or is of a lower quality for any reason. That would be bad business and is the opposite of what I have built my reputation on.
Nitty gritty on the serialization of the machines a.k.a. “stamping”:
The “stamping” (technically they are engraved) of the backplates and the d20 logo on the front of the machines ARE NOT a mark or indication of any design changes, improvements, or generation or versions that took place at that time, despite what you are being told. While I have made some changes to the original machine it was not at that exact time. I simply started engraving my machines in 2013 to help my distributors and I keep better track of any warranty issues and sales overseas. In fact, there is actually some overlapping in the time from when they first got serialized and when the improvements I made to the original machine took place. The little logo on the front of the machine was added because it looked cool, plain and simple and there is nothing more to read into about it.
At the time of both the changes and serialization, I did not feel it necessary to talk about them, and I don’t really at this point either. Why not? Because my machine innovations and aesthetics have been blatantly copied so many times, that I have tired of sharing any information I don’t need to. The old “loose lips sink ships” adage applies here. Sorry if this disappoints somehow, but I hope you understand.
I just want you to be aware of the fact that if you buy an “unstamped” machine, it is at least six years old, and it is more than likely the “old tech”, so to speak. Logically, at that age, it’s realistic to think that it’s maybe not as “hardly used” or has as “low hours/mileage” as might be being stated.
Now, I am not saying that’s always the case, and I’m also not saying that those machines don’t or can’t work great. I know they do, I made them. I just think you need to make an informed decision about a high priced used item. I have had way too many people hit me up about fully rebuilding their newly acquired “slightly used” machine, adding to the already inflated cost. This ends in taking the sweetness out of the deal and with buyer getting seriously bummed on the person that sold them the machine.
The “hit” vs. noise debate:
Even though all the changes won’t be discussed here, I will let you know what the main difference in the machines you are debating is. The one thing that really pertains to the discussion here, and it’s pretty simple actually: The tightness of fit of the slide. This originally came about due to the fact that European customers are way ahead of us here in the States in terms of time spent using rotary machines. They were also used to more quiet machines and introducing a “noisy” machine with a hard hit was a tough sell to a lot of them. It was then that I decided to tighten up the slide tolerances to get a bit more quiet of a machine. This was what most people were asking for and what seemed to be of more importance to most customers. This, of course, added a bit more resistance and resulted in a little bit softer hit.
These slides wear a bit in time and naturally get looser and run a bit louder which results in hitting a bit harder. My thought was I would tighten the slide in the beginning, and let people wear it in on their own over time. In time, the increased noise level and hardness of hit would be gradual and allow people to adjust to it, which is exactly what happened.
People seem to be ok with the noise at this point, many telling me they prefer the audible feedback, and a lot of them now want looser slides. The “unstamped” machines were simply that: looser and more noisy from the get go. That is what I truly believe people are liking about the old machines: a looser fit and harder hit. I have tattooed extensively with both and feel like my (personal use)old machines hit a bit harder and attribute that to being broke in more. Of course, my really old machines also sound like a coil machine at this point, but thats the tradeoff, and I still use them.
Luckily for you, if you want a looser/harder hitting machine, thats smoother than the old machines, all you have to do is ask for one.
I can make the slide looser from the beginning if you desire, just add it in the notes of your order request. As an added bonus, you will get a warranty from me, get whatever color you want and have it built just for you, all the while actually supporting the business who is continuing to bring you the equipment you love to use.
Look, I am not trying to discourage anyone from selling or buying a used machine. I’m sure there are plenty of people who are genuinely happy with their purchase and that’s great! My goal here is simply to inform people as some of you seem to have become victims of the tat bro rumor mill and are shelling out your hard earned money for overly used machines. If you purchase an “unstamped” machine, you are buying a USED machine and the price should reflect that, and if you are selling one, be honest about it how it’s running, how much use you have on it, and price it accordingly. I understand it’s a seller’s market sometimes, just don’t take blatant advantage of your fellow tattooers. That’s the kind of shit the interlopers do to our industry and it’s pretty lame.
As a consequence of this getting way out of control and having so many people getting burned with their instagram buying experiences, I am now being forced to raise my rebuild pricing on any machine not bought by the original purchaser. I have kept very in depth records and will look up purchase information on any rebuild requests I get. Sorry to have to do this, but it seems to be the only way to slow this nonsense down and save some people from themselves. It is the only thing I can think of to deflate the market on these and bring them back to a realistic price tier.
With all of the facts I have given, if you are still in the market for a used machine, here are a few common sense questions to ask yourself and possibly the seller so you don’t end up experiencing “unstamped buyer’s fever blues” and can be happy with your purchase:
-Why is this “low hour/hardly used” machine that works so well up for sale in the first place?
-Why are they not keeping it for themselves if it’s so much better?
-If they are the original seller, did it really take 6 years or more for them to figure out it “wasn’t for them”? Why didn’t they sell it years ago?
-If they aren’t the original owner, why are they passing it along as well?
-Why do I want to pay that much for a used machine and possibly have to have it rebuilt, when I could get a new one with a warranty for the same price or less?
-Why would the manufacturer make new machines not work as good as his old ones? Especially when he has the ability to make them like he used to at any time?
If all checks out and you have a good feeling about the deal and its priced reasonably and well treated, go for it! If its seems too be good to be true or seems to be overinflated hype…then you know the rest.
It has been put to me multiple times that some people think my machines are hard to get ahold of for some reason. If you can wait about two weeks, I can make one for you, built to suit. All you have to do is fill out a contact form on this site (link is above in navigation) to get the process started.
Admittedly, this might be somewhat of my own making as I usually don’t respond to DM on Facebook or Instagram. I apologize ahead of time if you have DM’ed me and I didn’t get back to you. I don’t respond to DM not because I don’t value you as a customer, but as it makes my job exponentially harder trying to keep all of my orders and conversations straight, and in fairness, I DID list in my profile how to properly contact me. I am a small business and like to be involved in all aspects of it. This means I have to limit some of my time and the way I communicate with customers, so I rarely check them and I much prefer direct email. So hit me up at shag@shagbuilt if you have a questions or please fill out the contact form if you want to get the ball rolling on a machine.
Also, while I (hopefully) still have your attention, I want to take this opportunity to thank every single one of you who have supported me and my business by any means throughout the years. I really value your trust and business and look forward to making many cool new tools for you and our craft.
I understand most tattooers probably won’t take the time to read this long winded essay, but I wanted to make sure that all the facts were there for those that do. I hope you are enjoying the machines!