Simple vs. Complex Dab Rig Designs

Simple vs. Complex Dab Rig Designs

The design of your dab rig should have a purpose—it shouldn’t just look pretty. Some pieces are too busy, while others emphasize aesthetics more than functionality. That being said, simple can sometimes mean boring, so there is also room for creativity when it comes to the design.

For many people, dab rigs with complex designs can appear confusing. But it’s important to understand that any well-designed rig will offer functional value, no matter how intricate it appears.

While simple rigs are great starter pieces, complex designs can be exactly what experienced users are looking for in a dab rig. Here's how to tell the difference between them and choose one that's right for you.

Why Are There So Many Designs Out There?

The countless designs available are all made to cater to people with different preferences. Glass dab rigs can be very personal devices, and with a wide variety of percolators, chambers, and design elements out there, you can definitely find the perfect rig for you. 

Rigs can have a single-slit stemline perc or a slotted tree perc. They can have a recycler or be incyclers. The chamber shapes, sizes, and designs vary across the board. Some users just want a small dome with a carbon top, while others prefer a huge showerhead perc in their rig.

Sometimes rigs are made of different materials like ceramic or even hard plastic. Silicone dab rigs and titanium parts are also out there. You can even get electric dab rigs that automatically heat your concentrates.

However, if you want a perfect dab rig experience, there's nothing better than borosilicate glass from MJA.

The complexity of a design doesn't necessarily enhance a rig’s function. However, it's worth knowing that simple mini rigs are generally easier to keep clean and maintain. On the other hand, complex pieces may be harder to clean and will take beginners some getting used to.

Key Features to Look for in a Design 

So what's better—something simple and straightforward, or something complex and feature-filled? That's up to you, your budget, and your style. MJ Arsenal mini rigs are compact and affordable so you can try out an action-packed rig with complex features, or you can stick with the basics and save even more. 

Feature #1: Percolators

Percolators come in all different shapes, sizes, and designs. Some are extremely intricate with hinges and additional chambers, while others might be as simple as a single slit at the end of the downstem (a diffused downstem).

The more percolators a rig has the more filtration that will take place. That can lead to better flavor, smoother hits, and cleaner smoke. On the other hand, having more percs also results in more places for the residue to collect, making it harder to clean.

When comparing pieces, keep in mind that diffused downstems are generally easier to clean than non-diffused pieces that have slits or tiny holes all over the place.

Simple designs usually involve clear glass with a single slit diffuser at the bottom of the downstem. They're the easiest to keep clean, won't break your wallet, and are suitable for beginners. 

On the other hand, more complex percolators might be more delicate and difficult to clean, but they offer even more filtration and can produce some incredibly pure, flavorful hits.

Here are a few of the most common percolator designs, some of which are more functional while others are more fashionable:

Disk Percolators

One of the simplest percolators you can find is a disk perc. Disk percolators are disk-shaped plates of thin glass with a network of holes designed to generate bubbles. 

Because they are small and compact, they pair with practically any rig design. They're built right into the base, so there aren't any extra hanging glass pieces inside the body of the rig. 

Honeycomb Percolators

Honeycomb percs are similar to disk percolators—they're small glass plates with tiny holes. The difference is that honeycomb percs have fewer of them, making the individual bubbles larger and creating more filtration.  They work well with large, wide rigs. 

They're not really any more complicated than disk percolators, and they don't take any special care compared to other types of percolators.

Tree Percolators

A tree perc starts out as a vertical tube that narrows into three, four, or even more small tubes at the end. Each of these small tubes has slits in them to diffuse the smoke and maximize flavor. A tree perc also tends to be longer than other percolators, so they fit better in taller rigs.

Tree percolators are a little bit more complex than disk percolators. They have slits all over the place so they can be tougher to clean without a pipe cleaner, but they do provide some of the best filtration out of any perc.

Fab Egg Style Percolators

Now we're getting fancy—fab egg style percolators are some of the most complex pieces around. The base is similar to a disk percolator, but the body of the rig is split into two sections shaped like an egg. The connections between the upper and lower halves create more turbulent water action in the rig, allowing for more cooling action to take place during your hit. 

If you're new to dabbing, look for percolators that can be easily cleaned.  You can always upgrade later down the road if you find that you really enjoy dabbing. 

Feature #2: Splash Guard

A splash guard is a small cylinder molded into the neck of your rig to block water from entering your mouth.  They're a key feature in any rig design these days as they help keep your hits (and your mouth) clean. Most water pipes and rigs have some degree of splash protection built-in, but sometimes you'll see very cheap glassware with no splash protection at all.

Splash Guard on a Jammer Mini Dab Rig

Every MJ Arsenal design includes a splash guard to keep your hits clean and your session comfortable. It's a basic feature with a substantial impact on your experience.

Feature #3: Oil Catch

An oil catch is a small cup that's built into the rig, right beneath your dab rig's nail. It's used to catch all of the excess residue that seeps through the airway in your heated nail. This makes it extremely easy to keep your oil rig clean.

Oil Catch on a Borosilicate Glass Dab Rig

You can also reclaim unused oil from the oil catch and then vaporize any that the rig water hasn’t dirtied.  

Oil catchers are convenient, but they add another layer of maintenance to your rig. You need to regularly clean out the oil catch—and when you do, it's a good time to clean your entire rig. 

Feature #4: Recycler

A recycler refers to a second chamber built between the mouthpiece and the downstem chamber. This mechanism gives the vapor and water more space to swirl around.

Recycler on the MJ Arsenal Claude Mini Dab Rig

Claude Mini Dab Rig

Having this extra space prevents vapor from standing still in the rig, which causes it to go stale, lose flavor, and re-condense around the sides of the glass. As a result, you get a cooler, smoother, and more flavorful hit. From a user standpoint, a recycler doesn't add any extra steps to your dab sessions. While they make your rig look fancier and work even better, they're simple to use. 

Feature #5: Incycler

An incycler is almost the same thing as a recycler, except that the second chamber is housed inside of the first. This allows for a much more compact form, though it ends up being a little harder to clean.

Water Bubbling in the Incycler of an Ursa Mini Dab Rig

Ursa Mini Dab Rig

As a result, they're a bit more complex—you may have to use pipe cleaners or more abrasive cleaning solutions to reach all the way inside and clean out tough gunk. The solution? Clean your rig after every session, and it'll never accumulate all that junk.

Feature #6: Uptakes

Uptakes refer to the stems (or "arms") that connect the intake chamber to the recycler chamber. The arm can go straight, or it can loop up and around the rig.

This is largely an aesthetic design choice, but it can affect how your rig performs. Generally speaking, straight arms are easier to clean, while loops provide more air movement. 

Uptake Stems on a Glass Dab Rig

Oil rigs are typically sold as either a single-uptake or double-uptake design. This refers to the number of arms on the intake chamber.

Single uptakes are lighter and more affordable but less durable. Double uptakes provide a larger surface area, helping to cool off more of the vapor. They're also a bit more stable and durable than single uptake designs.

Like anything else, more parts mean more cleaning, so double uptake rigs are more complex to care for. However, uptakes don’t make it any more complicated to use your rig—they make the experience even smoother.

How to Choose Your Next Dab Rig Style

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing your next dab rig. Dab rigs sort of work the same way as traditional waterpipes, but the style and design of your glass dab rig can have a profound impact on its functionality.

Borosilicate Glass Construction

MJ Arsenal only uses premium borosilicate glass to craft our rigs. Cheap dab rigs made from soda-lime glass are lighter and easier to break.

Borosilicate glass is more durable, which means your rig will be less likely to break from a drop or fall. Quality glass can help guarantee your rig will perform consistently even after years of use.

Colors, Shapes, & Styles

Once you've decided which material is right for you, the next step is to choose a style and color that appeals to your senses.

Colored glass can make your rig strikingly beautiful. Some smokers appreciate the aesthetics, while others are only concerned with function.

Color doesn't have any real impact on the functionality of the rig, so feel free to choose the color of your choice without impacting your experience. If you like something flashy and you have the cash, go for it!

Cleaning & Maintenance

Rigs with simple designs are generally more affordable and easier to maintain. They're great for those who want something eye-catching but don't want to worry about getting their dab rig dirty or keeping track of multiple percs.

Complex designs may be harder to keep clean and maintain, but they also provide a luxurious experience for experienced dabbers. They're great for those who want something that can't be found elsewhere and understand how to take care of their rig.

Keep in mind that there are other factors to consider when choosing a piece for yourself, such as the size and weight of the rig. However, it's important to understand, when it comes to simple and complex designs, one is not better than the other. You should always choose a rig that makes sense for you as an individual!

If you're still not sure what you need, you can learn more from our complete guide to dab rigs. The sky's the limit when it comes to percolators and dab rigs. The only thing holding you back is your imagination.


If you’re new to dabbing, you might not know a lot about rig designs, but it’s essential to understand the impact of different features before choosing a dab rig. You also want to be aware of the benefits that come with each style so you can find the best dab rig for you.

Also, rigs can range dramatically in price depending on multiple factors, including size, perc quantity or quality, and the type of design.

You can find plenty of examples in our mini dab rig collection—MJ Arsenal offers a wide range of quality dab rigs that come in a variety of designs, colors, and sizes. With so many options to choose from, it's easy to find a piece that perfectly fits your tastes and makes you feel like royalty.

Dive in, explore your options, and choose a rig that satisfies your unique needs as well as your aesthetic preferences.