I get asked this a lot - What kind of Machine do you have? And What should I get?
First off - if any of you have heard me talk at guilds, you will know that I NEVER seem to do things the "right" way..... so I am not sure that the way I went about purchasing my machine is the best.
But I do know - that I LOVE it!! I have a Nolting Pro 24 - and it is a workhorse - seriously! It just keeps going and going!
As with every machine, maintenance is required, and recently my baby had to go get maintained. While it was out, I had a chance to quilt on a different brand of machine. This one was different. Not wrong, and maybe perfect for someone else....
But I do have to admit - you sort of get into a routine with your machine, and anything different - is , well, different.
I did like the other machine. It was easy to run, it had great buttons. The handles were not set the way I have mine set, and because it wasn't my machine I was not going to move them. I did decide this was a great feature though. One I would make sure every machine has - the ability to move the handles they way you need them.
It was actually a larger machine - it had a 30 inch arm, and I thought - Wow - I bet I will really like this, and be able to quilt so much faster... truth is - Nope... still took me the same time. I also found out, that I am not a fan of that much throat space. Even being tall - I had a really hard time reaching out that far, so I didn't- I only rolled the part of the quilt I could reach.
My recommendation about buying a longarm machine - go try them out - seriously. It is an investment, and you do want to make sure the thing fits you, and you like how it runs.
Ask questions. Check the throat/arm space - see how far you can reach - comfortably. Make sure you can adjust the things like the handles, lights, speeds etc - anything you think you might use when quilting. Check the thread guides, make sure you can reach them.
Do you think you will be changing thread a lot? - then you want this to be easy and user friendly. My Nolting is so easy to change threads - its crazy easy. I love it.
Have fun looking, and trying them out. You might even look into renting time on some different models, this way you would get the real *action*. You might find out - you like sending quilts out to be quilted better. You might find you Love the Longarm part of it just as much.
It's an open world out there - have fun exploring!