Are you ready to take your DJ skills to the next level?
Using a turntable to DJ can be a challenging and rewarding experience, but it requires some practice and the right gear.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced DJ, mastering the art of turntable DJing can open up new creative possibilities and give you a deeper appreciation for the craft.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the essential steps of using a DJ turntable, from setting up your gear to practicing mixing and scratching techniques.
So grab your headphones and let’s get started!
How To Use A DJ Turntable
The first step to using a DJ turntable is to make sure you have the right gear. You’ll need a reliable turntable, a mixer, a pair of headphones, and of course, some vinyl records.
When it comes to turntables, there are many options available on the market. Look for one that has a sturdy build and a good motor to ensure smooth playback. You’ll also need slipmats, which are felt mats that go between the record and the turntable platter to reduce friction.
Next, you’ll need to set up your mixer. Connect your turntable to the mixer using RCA cables and adjust the levels so that the sound is balanced. Make sure your headphones are plugged into the mixer so you can cue up the next song and hear it before it plays out loud.
Once your gear is set up, it’s time to start practicing mixing and scratching techniques. Start by selecting two records with similar BPMs (beats per minute) and try to mix them together seamlessly. Use the pitch control on your turntable to adjust the speed of the songs so they match up.
Scratching is another important technique in turntable DJing. To scratch, use your hand to move the record back and forth while it’s playing. This creates a unique sound effect that can add flair to your sets.
It’s also important to keep your records clean so they don’t skip during a set. Use a record cleaning brush or cloth to remove any dust or debris before playing them.
In the beginning, using a turntable to DJ may feel awkward, especially if you’re used to using a laptop and mixer setup. But with practice, you’ll find your groove and may even prefer the traditional way of DJing with vinyl records.
Setting Up Your Turntable And Gear
Before you can start using your DJ turntable, you need to set up your gear properly. The first step is to make sure you have a DVS (Digital Vinyl System) compatible sound card. This can be an external sound card, a sound card built into a mixer, or a controller.
Connect your laptop to the sound card using a USB cable. Plug your turntables into the sound card’s input and make sure you’re using the PHONO input, as most sound cards don’t have one. If you’re using a mixer with a built-in sound card, plug the USB cable into the mixer and connect your turntables to the PHONO channels.
Next, put the special timecode vinyl on your turntable. This vinyl will control the position of your music in your software. By playing them normally, you would only hear a constant beep, but the sound card converts this into a digital signal, so the software will play the music exactly as if it was read from the vinyl.
Make sure to check for further settings within your software and adjust them accordingly. If you’re using a mixer with a built-in sound card, be careful not to select LINE as the input source on the channels where you have the turntables plugged in, as you will only hear an annoying beeping noise. Always select the USB as the source signal, as the sound is coming from the laptop via USB cable.
It’s also important to connect the ground cable for both record vinyl turntables. This cable is coming out of the record vinyl turntable and is used to connect to the ‘Signal GND’ just above the channel PHONO connection. Make sure to connect both and tighten the knob to hold the thin cable in place. If you don’t, you will hear a humming sound when playing audio.
Lastly, assign crossfader to correct channels and check for further settings next to the crossfader such as assigning the channel to the left and right side of the crossfader. This allows you to mix from the channels that you are playing music from and which the record vinyl turntable or CDJ is set up.
By following these steps, you’ll be able to set up your turntable and gear properly and start practicing mixing and scratching techniques like a pro!
Understanding The Basic Components Of A Turntable
To effectively use a DJ turntable, it’s important to understand the basic components that make up the device. The two most important parts of a turntable are the platter and tonearm. The platter is the surface where the vinyl record is placed and rotated at a constant speed by a motor. The tonearm is the long, thin arm that holds the cartridge, which reads and plays back the music on the record.
There are two types of motors that can power a turntable: direct drive and belt-driven. A belt-driven model features a motor that’s offset from the platter and connected to it using a belt. A direct-drive motor sits directly below the platter, eliminating the need for a belt and leading to more consistent speed. However, even with a direct-drive turntable, there can still be some fluctuation in speed due to imperfections and fluctuations stemming from the needle or vinyl record.
Another important component of a turntable is the cartridge, which attaches to the tonearm and reads the music on the record. Different types of cartridges are available to suit different performance styles and preferences.
It’s also important to pay attention to other components of a turntable, such as the platter mat, circuit board, and feet. The platter mat material can affect turntable functionality, with rubber mats providing grip and felt mats allowing for easy decoupling of the record from the platter. The circuit board controls the electrical supply and functionality of the parts of the turntable, while adjustable feet help isolate the turntable from external vibration.
Understanding these basic components will help you choose the right turntable for your needs and use it effectively in your DJ sets. With practice and attention to detail, you can master traditional turntable DJing techniques and elevate your performances to new heights.
How To Cue Up A Track
Cueing up a track is an essential skill for any DJ, and it starts with setting cue points. Cue points are markers on your tracks at various points of the song that you can use to jump to specific parts of the track quickly. In most DJ software, they are color-coded and marked as arrows over the song’s waveform. They also are shown in rectangles along with the song title.
To set a cue point, simply click the plus button in a rectangle near the song title when your desired point comes up in the song. If there is not already a cue linked, you can also press the button on your console when the desired cue point comes up; a cue point will automatically be created.
Once you have set your cue points, it’s time to cue up a track. Start by selecting the track you want to play next and listen to it through your headphones. Find the point where you want to start playing the track and set a cue point at that spot. This will ensure that when you’re ready to mix in the new track, you can quickly jump to that point.
To cue up the track, listen to the current track playing through your headphones and count the beats until the end of the phrase. As you approach the end of the phrase, start playing the new track through your headphones, making sure it’s in sync with the current track. When you reach the cue point you set earlier, hit play on the new track and fade out the old one.
It’s important to practice cueing up tracks until it becomes second nature. With enough practice, you’ll be able to seamlessly mix tracks together and keep your audience dancing all night long.
Beatmatching Techniques For Seamless Transitions
One of the key skills in DJing with a turntable is beatmatching, which involves matching the beats of two songs so they can be seamlessly blended together. This can be done by adjusting the tempo of one song using a DJ controller or software. However, before CDJs came into the world, beatmatching with records was a harder task that required using just ears and hands.
To create a smooth and seamless mix between two tracks of any genre, you first need to make the tempos of both tracks match. Usually, this means speeding up or slowing down the tempo of the track you want to introduce into a mix. You do this by adjusting the speed of the track until both sound perfectly in tune. Depending on the genre, this will mean the kick drums of both tracks hit at the same time, or the percussion loops of the 4 beat format on both tracks are perfectly aligned.
To transition between two tracks seamlessly, there are some beatmatching techniques you can use:
1. Let the mix stretch over more than one musical phrase. One of the main issues that might stop you from mixing two tracks for more than one phrase is the bass clashing. Since you want to avoid it, you will let the tunes play together for just a couple of seconds. Learning the bassline swap technique allows you to remove a bass, leaving the other one playing. With this skill in your arsenal, you can mix the tunes for longer, having no fear of ugly clashes.
2. Turn the incoming tune’s bass down. Once you bring in the incoming track, switch its bass off using the EQ knob. This will make the tune sound thin and be obscurely heard in the background of the first song. Apart from disabling the bass, the EQ control quiets down the drum and other musical elements making sure the incoming tune will not interfere with the outgoing one.
3. Swap the basslines. When a clash of basses is going to occur, swap the basslines so that the outgoing tune’s bass smoothly flows into the incoming track’s bass. To swap, turn off the Bass knob of the first tune and turn on a similar knob on the second tune simultaneously. In this way, you switch from one track to another very subtly and naturally.
By mastering beatmatching techniques and transitions, you can create a seamless mix between two tracks and keep your audience dancing all night long. Remember to practice regularly and experiment with different techniques to find your own unique style as a DJ turntablist.
Introduction To Scratching
Scratching, also known as scrubbing, is a popular technique used by DJs and turntablists to create percussive and rhythmic sounds by moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable. This technique is commonly associated with hip hop music, where it first emerged in the mid-1970s. However, it has since been used in other genres such as rap rock, rap metal, and nu metal.
Scratching is considered one of the measures of a DJ’s skills and is often featured in scratching competitions such as the DMC World DJ Championships and IDA (International DJ Association). To scratch, DJs use scratch-oriented gear such as turntables, DJ mixers, digital vinyl systems, or vinyl records only.
If you’re new to scratching, it’s important to start with the basics. You’ll want to position your fingers on the platter in a specific way and move it in an exact direction. While professional scratch DJs can use any side of the platter in any direction to scratch, beginners should start by placing their fingers at 9 o’clock or 3 o’clock on the half of the jogwheel facing away from the mixer. Use three fingers for the best traction and let your wrist do the work.
There are four basic movements in scratching: increasing the volume, taking your finger away from the record while following it at the same speed and point, reducing the volume down, and pulling the record back to its initial position. These movements form the basis for starting to learn scratching.
To master scratching, you’ll need to practice consistently and develop your own style. You may also want to acquire interesting samples, an amplifier, and some DJ stickers for your music gear. With dedication and practice, you can become a skilled turntablist and add unique flair to your DJ sets.
Advanced Scratching Techniques
Once you’ve mastered the basics of scratching, it’s time to move on to more advanced techniques. One such technique is the scribble scratch, which involves making a spasm-like motion with your hand over a short distance to create a quick scratching sound. This technique is performed with your fader on and can be combined with other scratching techniques to create scratch combos.
To execute the scribble scratch, start by setting a cue point at the beginning of the sample. Then, make a fast, erratic motion with your hand over a short distance while the fader is on. Practice this technique until you can perform it smoothly and quickly.
Another advanced scratching technique is the crab scratch, which involves using all three fingers to manipulate the record. To perform this technique, place your thumb on one side of the record and your index and middle fingers on the other side. Then, move your fingers in a crab-like motion to create a scratching sound.
The flare scratch is another advanced technique that involves using the crossfader to create a stuttering effect. To perform this technique, start by executing a baby scratch with your hand. Then, as you move your hand back across the record, quickly cut off the sound using the crossfader. Practice this technique until you can execute it smoothly and quickly.
Finally, the transformer scratch is an advanced technique that involves rapidly cutting off and re-engaging the sound using the crossfader. To perform this technique, start by executing a baby scratch with your hand. Then, as you move your hand back across the record, quickly cut off the sound using the crossfader and immediately re-engage it to create a stuttering effect. Practice this technique until you can execute it smoothly and quickly.
Remember that mastering these advanced scratching techniques takes time and practice. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right away – keep practicing and experimenting until you find your own unique style.