If you’re a vinyl enthusiast or a DJ, you’ve probably heard of slipmats. But what exactly are they and why are they important?
A slipmat is a circular piece of material that sits on top of the turntable platter. Its main purpose is to allow the record to spin freely while the DJ manipulates it, making it easier to scratch, cue in a particular track, and improve overall performance.
Slipmats also protect vinyl records from scratches, reduce static and vibrations, and add a touch of personal style to your turntable.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the world of slipmats and explore their different types, materials, and uses.
What Is A Slipmat
A slipmat is a thin mat that covers the deck plate on turntables. It is placed between the vinyl record and the deck plate, allowing the DJ to stop the record while the deck plates continue to turn. Without a slipmat, stopping a record could damage both the vinyl record and the deck plate underneath.
Slipmats are made from various materials, including felt, synthetic fabric, and rubber. Felt slipmats are the most popular among DJs because they allow for the most freedom of movement when scratching or back-cueing a record. Synthetic fabric slipmats are also popular because they do not collect static like felt mats do. Rubber mats, on the other hand, are made to hold the record in sync with the platter and are not recommended for DJ use.
Slipmats come in different thicknesses and weights, which affect their performance. Thicker and heavier slipmats weigh down the deck platter, slowing down rotations. Thinner and lighter slipmats are easier to use but deteriorate quickly. The size of a slipmat depends on the size of the records being used by the DJ.
The History Of Slipmats
The history of slipmats can be traced back to the early days of turntablism in the DJ circles. The traditional rubber mat was designed to hold the record firmly in sync with the rotating platter, which made it difficult for DJs to manipulate the record on the turntable while the platter continued to rotate underneath. In order to solve this problem, hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash invented the slipmat.
Flash experimented with different materials and settled on felt as the best option. However, he encountered another issue – the felt was limp and draped over the platter. To solve this problem, he used spray starch to stiffen the felt and create a wafer-like slipmat that allowed for easy manipulation of the record on the turntable.
Since then, slipmats have become an essential tool for DJs, allowing them to scratch, back-cue, and make minute adjustments during beatmatching and mixing. Slipmats are also commonly used as decoration when a record isn’t on the turntable.
In home audiophile environments, slipmats are used to absorb extraneous vibrations and static, improving the overall listening experience. With a wide variety of designs and personalization options available, slipmats have become a way for DJs and music lovers alike to express their individual style.
Types Of Slipmats
There are various types of slipmats available on the market. Felt slipmats are the most common and popular choice among DJs. They are made from a soft and durable fabric that allows for smooth movement of the record on the platter. Felt slipmats also provide a good grip and are perfect for scratching and back-cueing.
Synthetic fabric slipmats are another popular option. They are made from a blend of synthetic fibers that are resistant to static and provide a good grip for the record. Synthetic fabric slipmats are also more durable than felt mats and do not deteriorate as quickly.
Rubber slipmats are designed to hold the record firmly in sync with the platter. They are not recommended for DJ use because they do not allow for free movement of the record on the platter.
Cork slipmats are a less common option but still have their advantages. Cork is a natural material that is lightweight and provides a good grip for the record. Cork slipmats also help to reduce vibrations and dampen resonances, resulting in better sound quality. However, cork mats do not allow for free movement of the record on the platter, making them less suitable for scratching and back-cueing.
In addition to these materials, slipmats can also be customized with various designs, logos, and artwork. DJs often use customized slipmats as a way to promote their brand and add a personal touch to their equipment. Overall, choosing the right type of slipmat depends on personal preference and intended use.
Materials Used In Slipmats
Slipmats are made from various materials, each with its own unique properties. Felt is the most commonly used material for slipmats because it allows for the most freedom of movement when scratching or back-cueing a record. It is also the material that was originally used by Grandmaster Flash when he invented the slipmat. However, felt mats can collect static, which can cause issues when swapping records.
Synthetic fabric slipmats are also popular because they do not collect static like felt mats do. They are made from materials such as polyester or nylon and are often coated with a thin layer of plastic to make them slick. This allows for smoother movement when manipulating a record.
Rubber mats are not recommended for DJ use because they are made to hold the record in sync with the platter. They do not allow for the freedom of movement that DJs need when scratching or back-cueing a record.
In recent years, slipmat manufacturers have started experimenting with new materials such as cork and leather. Cork slipmats are known for their ability to absorb vibrations and reduce resonances, while leather slipmats offer a unique aesthetic and can improve sound quality.
When choosing a slipmat, DJs should consider the material’s thickness and weight. Thicker and heavier slipmats weigh down the deck platter, slowing down rotations. Thinner and lighter slipmats are easier to use but may deteriorate quickly. Ultimately, the choice of material depends on personal preference and the specific needs of the DJ.
How To Choose The Right Slipmat For Your Turntable
When choosing a slipmat for your turntable, it is important to consider the type of music you will be playing and your personal preferences. Here are some factors to consider:
1. Material: As mentioned above, slipmats are made from different materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Felt slipmats are the most popular among DJs because they allow for the most freedom of movement when scratching or back-cueing a record. Synthetic fabric slipmats are also popular because they do not collect static like felt mats do. Rubber mats, on the other hand, are made to hold the record in sync with the platter and are not recommended for DJ use.
2. Thickness and weight: The thickness and weight of a slipmat affect its performance. Thicker and heavier slipmats weigh down the deck platter, slowing down rotations. Thinner and lighter slipmats are easier to use but deteriorate quickly.
3. Size: The size of a slipmat depends on the size of the records being used by the DJ. Slipmats are available for 7-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch records.
4. Design: Slipmats come in a variety of designs, from plain black to colorful graphics. While design may not affect performance, it can add a personal touch to your turntable setup.
Proper Care And Maintenance Of Slipmats
To ensure the longevity and performance of your slipmats, proper care and maintenance is crucial. Here are some tips to keep your slipmats in top condition:
1. Clean your slipmats regularly: Slipmats can collect dust and debris over time, which can affect their performance. Use a lint roller or a soft brush to remove any dust or debris from the surface of the slipmat.
2. Avoid using harsh chemicals: When cleaning your slipmats, avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the material. Instead, use a mild detergent or a specialized slipmat cleaner.
3. Store your slipmats properly: When not in use, store your slipmats in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight. Avoid folding or creasing them, as this can damage the material.
4. Replace worn-out slipmats: Over time, slipmats can become worn out and lose their grip on the record. If you notice that your slipmats are no longer performing as well as they used to, it may be time to replace them.
By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your slipmats perform at their best and last for years to come.
Creative Ways To Customize Your Slipmat
Slipmats are not just functional, they can also be a canvas for creativity. Customizing your slipmat can add a personal touch to your setup and make it stand out from the rest. Here are some creative ways to customize your slipmat:
1. Design your own: Use your artistic skills to create a unique design for your slipmat. You can use markers, paint, or even embroidery to create a one-of-a-kind slipmat that reflects your personality.
2. Use a favorite image: You can also use a favorite image or photograph as the design for your slipmat. This could be anything from a picture of your favorite artist or album cover to a personal photograph that holds special meaning.
3. Get a custom print: If you’re not confident in your artistic abilities, you can always get a custom print made for your slipmat. There are many companies that specialize in printing custom designs onto slipmats.
4. Laser etching: For a more subtle customization, you can opt for laser etching on your slipmat. This involves using a laser to burn a design onto the surface of the slipmat. The result is a durable and long-lasting design that won’t fade or peel off.
5. Glow in the dark: If you want to add some extra flair to your setup, consider getting a glow-in-the-dark slipmat. These slipmats absorb light during the day and emit a soft glow at night, adding an extra element of visual interest to your turntable.
Overall, slipmats are an essential accessory for any DJ or vinyl enthusiast. While they may seem like a small detail, customizing your slipmat can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your setup. Whether you choose to design your own or get a custom print made, there are endless possibilities for creating a personalized slipmat that reflects your style and personality.