The Turntablist

Written by: Headsnack

The Turntablist needs to learn beat matching skills as well, but also needs to focus on the arts of Scratching and Beat Juggling. Scratching is producing percussive and rhythmic sounds, or sound effects by moving a vinyl record back and forth on an analog turntable. This same action can be created with digital vinyl (such as Serato Scratch or Traktor Scratch), or by using CD players that physically spin with the torque of a turntable.

Beat Juggling usually involves using 2 copies of the same record, or multiple samples to create a whole new musical composition.

Both artists will want to purchase the best equipment their budget will afford to get the most out of the experience, but a beginner need not break the bank to get started. There are a few key areas on which to focus.

The Mixer: The Turntablist should look for features like a user-replaceable crossfader and possibly built-in sample pads. The Mix DJ might like a more advanced EQ; perhaps to cut specific bass frequencies of one song while a new baseline is introduced. Both DJs should look for something rugged with cue buttons that allow practicing and previewing the sounds in your headphones without the audience hearing. This will make you performance ready every time. Brands like Pioneer, Allen and Heath, and Rane make a variety of products worth checking out.

The Decks: Will you use a Turntable to spin Vinyl? Look for a direct drive turntable as both Turntablists and Mix DJs will prefer the response over belt driven tables. For the Mix DJ who is just getting started and doesn’t already have a ton of Vinyl Records, this will be a more expensive place to start. Many great digital features are available, including time code vinyl as well as control surfaces designed for Turntablists and Mix DJs. Check out Native Instruments Traktor Scratch and Rane Serato Scratch Live for a couple of options. You can also consider an “all-in-one” system if you don’t want to go modular (piece by piece). Pioneer, Numark, Denon and others make great “all-in-one” systems worth checking out.

If you are going to play vinyl, you are going to need a good Turntable Cartridge. The stylus (needle) is the most important part of the cartridge. It moves horizontally and vertically as the groove of the record travels underneath it. A coil of wire and magnet at its other end generates a small audio signal. These days there are two main types of turntable cartridges: moving magnet (or MM) and moving coil (MC). MM cartridges have a user replaceable styus, and are best for DJ purposes. MC are usually used by audiophiles.

Almost all styli have industrial diamond tips. There are two needle shapes: elliptical and spherical. Elliptical needles pick up more information from the record groove and are typically the choice of audiophiles. DJs choose spherical needles because they sit higher in the groove and result in less record wear. Turntablists might need to invest a few more dollars on a cartridge that has a stylus designed optimally for scratching. Ortofon and Shure are great brands to check out.

Whether you decide to create original musical compositions as a Turntablist, or want to keep the party flowing as a Mix DJ, you’re on a wonderful path to having great fun and entertaining people with music.

Take a look at the great assortment of products on americanmusical.com and check out the features and benefits on these and other DJ equipment.  You can also call 800-319-9043 to speak with one of their experts.

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