The ghost of the a-bar is based upon a few things: the human
eye’s interpretation of the reflection of the light off of the a-bar,
the speed of the a-bar, and the actual light source that you have
in the room. When the tattoo machine is set-up, meaning it has
a needle in the tube on the frame, and it is running – then you
should be able to see the ghost. Hold the tattoo machine up
against a white background (like a piece of paper), and step on
the foot pedal. You will notice the a-bar moving rapidly up and
down. If your machine is running at 50% (meaning it is on half
the time and off half the time) then you will see 3 a-bar nipples.
A smooth flowing ghost is what you are looking for. If you watch
close enough it will look like a steady a-bar moving in slow
motion. This is very difficult to describe, and you really have to
have the person you are learning to tattoo from show you what
a proper ghost looks like in order to appreciate the beauty of
a perfectly running machine. But just because the ghost can
show you quickly if your machine is running at a proper duty
cycle, doesn’t mean this setup is perfect for your job or your
tattooing style. This is simply a benchmark that is used by many
artists out there. Some people say that you can only measure
the ghost if you have lights that run at 50hz. The reason is that
some fluorescent lights will run at a different cycle and make the
ghost look a little off kilter because the eye cannot see anything
other than what the light source reflects. Regardless of exactly
how accurate
the ghost is, it is
a good way to
visually tell how
the machine is
running.

2 Comments
  1. RILEYKNOBLAUCH 8 years ago

    AS TO SETTING THE GHOST OF MY MACHINE SHOULD IT HAVE A NEEDLE? RESISTANCE ON IT FROM ONE OR TWO ELASTICS? OR JUST THE MACHINE WITH NOTHING ON IT WITH NO GRIP TIP OR TUBE OR NEEDLE?

    Yes, have a needle on the machine. Yes 2 rubber bands is recommended. Always tune your machine with a needle and tube is my recommendation.

    • Author
      admin 8 years ago

      I always “tune” or setup my machine with a needle and a tube – as well as elastic. If you are having problems – then you should check out your power supply. get a GOOD power supply – best i have seen is PULSE, 2nd best is Eikon… the rest are kind of junky! but you will see a huge power increase with the good supply… if you think your ghost is going to change that much from the elastic bands – then you are probably running your machines too low of voltage or too low of amps. hope this helps! check out the forum for faster response – make sure you say “hey I own the book” ect. ect. when you post in the forum – best of luck

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