How To Set Up A Turntable For Scratching – A Step-By-Step Guide

Are you interested in learning how to scratch on a turntable?

Whether you’re a seasoned DJ or just starting out, setting up your turntable properly is crucial to ensure that you don’t damage your records or hardware.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of setting up your turntable for scratching, including the different types of turntables available and the key features to look out for.

We’ll also cover the basics of scratching and introduce you to the baby scratch technique, which is the perfect starting point for beginners.

So, let’s get started and take your DJ skills to the next level!

How To Set Up Turntable For Scratching

Before you start scratching on your turntable, it’s important to set it up properly. Here are the steps you need to follow:

1. Choose the right turntable: The first step is to choose the right turntable for scratching. Most scratch DJs prefer direct drive turntables like the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-SV and Technics SL-1200MK7, as they provide superior start-up speeds. However, belt motors can also work well, especially with budget-friendly tables.

2. Check the pitch control: The best turntables for scratching will include pitch control, which allows you to adjust the speed of playback. Look for a turntable with a wide range of options for both pitch and speed control.

3. Look for USB ports and cables: If you want to transfer your vinyl to a computer or external device easily, look for a turntable with USB ports and cables.

4. Consider optional features: Optional features like dust covers and slip mats can make life easier when setting up your turntable for scratching.

5. Adjust the tonearm: Once you’ve chosen your turntable, it’s time to adjust the tonearm. The tonearm should be parallel to the record when it’s playing, so adjust it until it’s level.

6. Set the tracking force: The tracking force is the amount of pressure that the stylus exerts on the record. It’s important to set this correctly to avoid damaging your records or hardware. Check your turntable’s manual for instructions on how to set the tracking force.

7. Adjust the anti-skate: Anti-skate is a mechanism that helps keep the stylus in the groove of the record. Adjust it until it’s equal to the tracking force.

8. Check the cartridge alignment: The cartridge is the part of the turntable that holds the stylus. It’s important to align it correctly to ensure that you get good sound quality and avoid damaging your records or hardware.

9. Set up your mixer: Once you’ve set up your turntable, it’s time to connect it to your mixer. Follow your mixer’s manual for instructions on how to do this.

Key Features To Look For In A Turntable For Scratching

When choosing a turntable specifically for scratching, there are certain key features to look for. First and foremost, you’ll want a direct drive motor, as this provides superior start-up speeds and torque. The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-SV and Technics SL-1200MK7 are both popular options for scratch DJs.

Additionally, pitch control is crucial for adjusting the speed of playback and creating the desired scratching effects. Look for a turntable with a wide range of options for both pitch and speed control.

USB ports and cables can also be helpful if you want to transfer your vinyl to a computer or external device easily. Optional features like dust covers and slip mats can make life easier when setting up your turntable for scratching.

It’s also important to properly adjust the tonearm, tracking force, anti-skate, and cartridge alignment to ensure good sound quality and avoid damaging your records or hardware. Follow your turntable’s manual for instructions on how to do this.

Ultimately, the right turntable for scratching will depend on your personal preferences and budget. Consider these key features when making your decision.

The Basics Of Scratching

Now that you’ve set up your turntable for scratching, it’s time to learn the basics of scratching. When you’re first starting out, it’s important to position your fingers and push the platter in a specific way to avoid damaging your records or hardware.

First, split the jogwheel or platter in half vertically and use the half facing away from the mixer. Place your fingers on 9 o’clock/3 o’clock (left hand/left deck or right hand/right deck) and use three fingers for the best traction – pointer, middle, and ring finger for scratching. If you have a smaller jogwheel, use the pointer & middle finger.

When scratching, keep your fingers and palms straight during the process. Press your fingers down flat on the platter and rotate your wrist side-to-side to create the scratches. Pull the platter towards you, then push it away from you to complete a full scratch starting at the 9 or 3 o’clock position. Don’t release your hand until you are finished with the scratch as releasing the platter will cause the sample to begin playing.

The baby scratch is the most basic of all scratch techniques. To do a baby scratch, keep one hand on the record and move your other hand up and down its side (as if you were scratching). The thumb should be pressed against the record during the entire time, while the index finger only touches the record when you want a sound to play.

Another basic scratch technique is called chirp, which involves moving your hand on top of the record as if you were scratching with both hands at once (similar to how a crossfader works). The transform is an interesting variation on normal scratching. When doing it, you’re supposed to let go of the record with your hand and let it spin freely for a second or two before grabbing it again. By doing so, you’re able to change up the tone/pitch of your scratches.

Remember that there are many scratch techniques that you can learn, and each one has its own purpose in helping make your DJ set more interesting. Start with these basics and practice consistently to improve your skills and develop your own unique style of scratching.

Introduction To The Baby Scratch Technique

Now that you have your turntable set up, it’s time to start scratching! One of the most basic scratch techniques is called the baby scratch. Here’s how to do it:

1. Set your marker: Start by setting your marker in the center of the vinyl or jog wheel at the beginning of the sound you want to scratch.

2. Open the crossfader: Make sure the crossfader is open on both channels.

3. Start scratching: Move the vinyl or jog wheel back and forth over the starting position to perform the baby scratch on one beat. Start with a slow and steady rhythm, and introduce accompanying music when you feel confident with your technique.

Remember, practice makes perfect! Keep practicing this technique until you feel comfortable with it before moving on to more advanced scratches. With time and dedication, you’ll be able to master the art of scratching on your turntable.

Tips For Improving Your Scratching Skills

Now that you have your turntable set up for scratching, it’s time to focus on improving your scratching skills. Here are some tips to help you become a better scratch DJ:

1. Practice regularly: Like any skill, scratching requires practice to improve. Set aside time each day to practice your scratching techniques, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

2. Start with the basics: Before you can master advanced scratching techniques, you need to master the basics. Start with simple scratches like the baby scratch and work your way up.

3. Use a metronome: Timing is crucial when it comes to scratching. Use a metronome to help you stay in time and develop your rhythm.

4. Experiment with different sounds: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different sounds and samples when scratching. Try using vocal samples, instrumentals, and even sound effects to create unique scratch patterns.

5. Use the crossfader: The crossfader is an essential tool for scratching. Practice using it to cut and blend between different sounds and samples.

6. Relax your hand: Tension in your fader hand can hinder your ability to flow smoothly and stay consistent. Make sure to relax your hand and avoid gripping the fader too tightly.

7. Record yourself: Recording yourself while practicing can be a great way to track your progress and identify areas where you need improvement.

8. Watch tutorials: There are countless tutorials available online that can help you improve your scratching skills. Watch videos of scratch DJs performing advanced techniques and try to replicate them in your own practice sessions.

By following these tips and practicing regularly, you can improve your scratching skills and become a better scratch DJ over time. Remember, mastering scratching takes time and dedication, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Keep practicing and you’ll get there!