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MAX-4 Airbrush


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MAX-4 Airbrush
Sparmax via the Airbrush Company


Sparmax are a huge producer of airbrushes and compressors under other brands, but as you'd expect they also produce products under their own brand, and the Airbrush Company sell their range from their website. The MAX-4 is designed to be a budget airbrush, although there is very little about it that feels budget. It arrives in a small poly clamshell case inside a card sleeve with the Sparmax logo and colour scheme, and a choice of either MAX-3 or MAX-4 noted on the side. As you may have guessed, the number relates to the needle/head size, and in this case we have the MAX-4 with a 0.4mm needle.


Sliding the box out of the sleeve you are greeted again by the logo, and a view of the airbrush through the translucent box, which is held firmly closed by a flexible clasp. The airbrush is cradled in a precision cut foam insert, with another thin layer beneath along with the instruction manual and exploded parts diagram. There is also a nylon cleaning brush with a chisel-point hidden away in the rear, which I missed initially until I read the side of the box properly. Also included is a choice of a solid or crown-shaped needle caps, a small spanner to undo the air-cap, and a strange straight-through replacement piece for the air-valve that bypasses the trigger and leaves the line always on. While you have the compressor on, your 'brush will emit air. I've seen this before on other 'brushes, and don't really see the need for them, but what do I know? If you agree, just ignore it like I do, and leave it in the box!


Without that odd accessory, you have a top-fed dual-action airbrush of standard construction , with a 7ml colour cup and an adjustable pre-set knob on the handle that is usually only present on my expensive 'brushes. Breakdown is pretty standard, and cleaning is easy too, as the integral paint cup has a nice flat area at the bottom, which makes it easy to keep clean. Tension on the trigger's pull-back can be adjusted by screwing the internal adjustment screw that you'll find inside the handle in or out. I prefer mine with plenty of resistance, so I screwed that straight in as soon as I re-assembled it. The needle is held in place with another knurled screw inside the handle, and other than choosing whether you want a crown-shaped or solid needle cap to protect your needle, that's all the set-up you need initially. I prefer the crown needle cap purely because you can see the state of the needle a little easier through the gaps in the sides.

In-use, the trigger has a nice positive actuation to begin air-flow, and slides easily back and forth within its machined slot even at maximum tension, backed by a needle-stop that is captive to the piston on which the needle is secured. That's a handy feature, as non-captive stops sometimes either get lost during cleaning/fumbling, or can be tricky to get back in place until you are familiar with how it fits. The preset handle has a knurled knob on the end that you wind in or out to control how far back the needle can travel. This is especially handy when you are attempting squiggle, mottle, or any other task where you will need a continuous paint pattern, but it doesn't have the click-on/off that more expensive 'brushes have, which permit you to switch the effect on and off at a whim. Under normal airbrushing conditions, it's worthwhile checking travel of the needle before you start a session, to ensure that you aren't going to run into the stop at an inconvenient point.

The needle is 0.4mm, which is about as wide as you would want to go for an all-purpose airbrush, but it gives a good spray pattern with excellent atomisation at around 1 bar/15psi with correctly thinned paints – the consistency of semi-skimmed milk is a good guide. The colour cup has a slightly domed cap which is a friction fit, and has a small air-bleed hole in the top to avoid build-up of vacuum as paint is drawn through. The cap is easily removed with light finger pressure under the rim, but this gets more difficult if you leave paint to dry around the rim like I did. As previously mentioned, clean-up is a breeze due to the easy break-down, although I find the tiny paint nozzle used in this brush a tad annoying purely due to the ease of loss, and the fact that my fingers aren't as nimble and my eyesight as good as it used to be. Practically, they are no more or less efficient than other designs, and the spanner fits perfectly with no slop that could result in burred flats over the long-term. If parts loss bothers you, the Airbrush Company sell a nice cleaning mat with a raised edge that should allow you keep all your parts safe from loss or damage due to dropping.


The needle is sturdy and easy to insert/remove, with spares available from the Airbrush Company, as are the other consumables, such as the o-ring that paint-proofs the trigger area and sits in front of the brass needle-guide. The needle-guide is removed by inserting a small flat-bladed screwdriver into the groove in its top and unscrewing it. Tease out the old o-ring and push the new one in, being careful not to cross-thread the guide as you re-insert it. A new paint nozzle will cost you less than £10, and a new needle will be under £8 at the time of writing, while the o-ring is a reasonable £5.29, and made of a chemical resistant PTFE mix.

My usual airbrush is an H&S Infinity 2-in-1 so you might expect a bit of snobbery, but this is a great little 'brush that should give you good service without breaking the bank, without seeming cheap in any way. They are also available in bundles with compressors, starting at very pocket-friendly prices, with a choice of colour of compressor body!

Highly recommended.



Review sample courtesy of

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