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I am new to the air brush. I will be purchasing one soon. What are your recommendations for a make and model that is sufficient for an air brush with good air pressure adjustment and won't scare me, my wife, my cat and the people in the graveyard 2 blocks away with the noise it makes to maintain its air pressure?

Thank you.

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You pretty much answered your own question.  General use air compressors are noisy.  Compressors specifically made for air brush use are quiet.  I recommend one with a small air tank.  Compressors without a tank can result in pulsing of the air flow, which is not good for painting.  A pressure regulator and moisture trap are also essential.  This one is similar to the one that I use.

@Richie C. posted:

If you intend to airbrush a mural on the side of a building, than that’s the compressor for you,….a wee bit overkill for just starting out,…..Iwatta has the compact Neo air compressors similar to the one Alan pointed out,….Alan’s suggestion might be cheaper, but same principal,…….start small and work your way up,……I have this small Iwatta I use for small jobs,…..graphite work on boiler shells, etc….

Pat D059ECF5-AA93-4AFE-A922-5958150AADCD


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FWIW, the Micro-Mark tool catalog (a great read, in any case) has what looks to be a very nice compressor with tank for under $200. And if you get on their email list and catalog mailing list, you'll find occasional discounts that will bring the price down further. I've been waiting for the next discount offer to buy one of these compressors for myself as an early Christmas present.

@Richie C. posted:

Master Airbrush compressors are a good economical choice. Like any compressor, you want to get it properly sealed before use. If air leaks, the compressor will run more often to fill the air tank. The air hose that comes with the MA compressor is usable, but you will want to upgrade it as quickly as possible. The one pictured below looks similar to the one I use. (Harbor Freight has one on clearance, different brand name.) Whichever brand you choose, you will want an air compressor that has an air reservoir, pressure gauge, and moisture trap.


The Neo compressor mentioned above by Alan is useful for short applications, but will turn off after 10 minutes of continuous use. You will need to consider how often and for how long you plan to use an air brush before choosing the Neo. DO NOT BUY air compressors marketed for makeup and nails.

I don't recommend Master air brushes though and would recommend staying away from the kits. The Master air brush I use has been serviceable. It's a top feed, dual action with atomizer, and that is what I will look for in a new air brush. It's been fun to experiment with different settings. Don't be afraid of dual action air brushes. It took me about half an hour of practice to feel comfortable with one. However, it's a cheap knockoff of an Iwata and constantly gives me fits. Save your time money and get a quality air brush. Iwata and Badger would be a good brand to stick to.

When you are shopping for an air brush, don't forget to get a cleaning kit (brushes, etc.) and cleaning solution. You need to keep the needle tip clean as you use the air brush. As paint dries on the needle, it will build up and cause problems. Also, strip down and clean the air brush after every use. If you can afford it at the time, buy needles of various sizes for different spray patterns. A larger diameter will cover more area, and a smaller diameter is better for detailing.

EDIT: Don't forget to get a couple of mixing cups to mix your paint in. You will get a better mix if you prep it before use rather than in the air brush cup.


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Last edited by ChessieFan72

My $.02, I have an older Craftsman mini tank compressor similar to MikeCTs but with a single tank. Works well. I also have a very old diaphragm compressor similar to the Master. Nice thing about diaphragm compressors is there is no oil to worry about and they make very little water as pressures don’t get much higher than 40 PSI. Disadvantage is they are only good for airbrushing while my Craftsman can be used to power pneumatic tools. Lots of choices out there. No need to get hung up what is best.

BTW Mike consider replacing that regulator. Mine blew off and put a hole in the ceiling drywall when I was using it with my brad nailer.


Last edited by Norton

I have used the Master air compressors for several years.  You can buy through Amazon from TCP and get a 5 year warranty.  I just upgraded my tankless model, after about 4 years usage to the new tank model:

Master TCP-326T

I have had it a couple of months and it is a big improvement over the tankless model.  Very smooth, quiet and it is nice having the motor only run occasionally to refill the tank. Not too expensive at $140 with free shipping, (Prime member).



Last edited by Geary
@CA John posted:


What was the root cause of the regulator separating from the compressor?  That is a serious failure.


All I know the base is plastic and I was running at max PSI around 100 and it gave out with a loud bang. Needless to say I didn’t replace it with the same part but found a brass one on eBay. I paid less than 100 bucks for it new so it looks like compromises were made.


Last edited by Norton


Know what you mean, my hobby air compressor is around 50 years old and still works. Wish I got to use it more.


Consider a single action air brush as they are easier to learn. I have seen museum quality 1/72 models(aircraft) that were done with an entry level kit airbrush.

Paint thickness is also critical with airbrushing. Anyone old enough to remember straining paint through Moms nylons?

Also consider your ventilation when setting up your spray booth while new water based paints are less toxic there’re still not great to breathe.


Steven T

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