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Before I ask my question let me tell you the position I'm in so I don't get a bunch of negative responses. I want to start tattooing but there's only one shop in my area that I can get an apprenticeship from and the shop owner said I can get an apprenticeship but unfortunately not for another 4 - 5 months because at the moment he has and will have a lot on his plate. I'm very eager to learn so I went and got a starting kit and for the last month or so I've been watching and reading as much tattoo information as I can because I want to be ahead of the curve when I do get into the shop. For about two weeks now I've been practicing, only on grapefruit, to make sure my line work is solid. I've also worked on some coloring with round shaders with no problems but yesterday I began to color with magnums which brings me to my question. When shading with a 5 round magnum needle my machine starts to sputter. I believe I have my 10 coil machine tuned properly using a nickle's width as the coil/spring gap and I have the machine running smoothly at about 8.5 volts. When trying to fill in areas I've been trying to hold the machine at about 45 degrees and to use tight circles. I also try to be very conscious of just using the tip of the needle and to not ride the tube. So any ideas on what can be causing the sputtering? Do I have something tuned incorrectly or is the technique i'm using wrong? Or could the thickness or the grapefruit's skin be affecting how the machine is running? Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any feedback.