Tips For Learning How To Scratch Using A DJ Turntable

Scratching Using A Turntable

Scratching Using A Turntable

Scratching is one of the primary weapons in the art of turntablism. While DJs drop the needle, Dj turntables make art. Getting the proper equipment with which to make DJ music can give you a chance to explore the full world of beat-making. Learning the techniques and aesthetics of the genre will help you perform your best!

While scratching is most associated with hip hop music, where it emerged in the mid-1970s, from the 1990s, it has been used in some styles of rap-rock, rap metal, and nu-metal. In hip hop culture, scratching is one of the measures of a DJ's skills. DJs compete in scratching competitions at the DMC World DJ Championship and IDA (International DJ Association, formerly known as ITF (International turbines Federation). At scratching competitions, DJs can use only scratch-oriented gear (turntables, DJ mixers, digital vinyl systems, or vinyl records only). In recorded hip hop songs, scratched hooks often use portions of other songs.

History of Scratching

A rudimentary form of turntable manipulation, which is related to scratching, was developed in the late 1940s by radio music program hosts, Disc Jockeys (DJs), or the radio program producers who did their technical operation as audio console operators. It was known as back-cueing and was used to find the very beginning of the start of the song (i.e., the cue point) on a vinyl record groove.

This permits the operator to back the disc up (rotate the record or the turntable platter itself counter-clockwise) to allow the turntable to be switched on. Come up to full speed without ruining the first few bars of music with the "wow" of incorrect, unnaturally slow-speed playing. This permits the announcer to time her or his remarks and start the turntable a scant moment before she or he actually wanted the music on the record to begin.

Back cueing was a necessary skill that all radio production staff needed to learn, and the dynamics of it were unique to the brand of professional turntable in use at a given radio station. The older, more extensive, and more massive turntables needed a 180-degree backward rotation to allow for run-up to full speed; some of the newer 1950s models used aluminum platters and cloth-backed rubber mats which required a third of a rotational turn or less to achieve full speed when the song began. All this was done to present a music show on air with the least amount of silence ("dead air") between music, the announcer's patter, and recorded advertising commercials. The rationale was that any "dead air" on a radio station was likely to prompt a listener to switch stations. So announcers and program directors instructed DJs. 

Announcers to provide a continuous, seamless stream of sound–from music to an announcer to a pre-recorded commercial, to a "jingle" (radio station theme song), and then immediately back to more music.Back-cueing was a key function in delivering this seamless stream of music. Radio personnel demanded sound equipment and manufacturers developed exclusive tonearms, styli, cartridges, and lightweight turntables to meet these demands.

Equipment needed: 

Direct Drive turntables, either 7" or 12" standard

Mixer (techniques, re loop, pioneer,etc.) with a right cross faded curve.

Some beats or music collection to scratch upon. 

However, digital controller and CDJs (CD turntables) have become increasingly popular, and many offer features that enable them to be used to scratch. Create beat loops on the fly, play tracks in reverse or at very fast or slow rates, and other functions that make them great fits for turntable.

How to scratch For beginner's 

Start with these three necessary scratch steps:  

  • Baby Scratch: The most simple search to learn is a baby scratch.
  • You're using CDs, a controller, or vinyl. The principles will be the same. If using vinyl, you will stick a marker on the center of the vinyl. This marker will be a reference point to where the sound begins. You can line this up with the tonearm, or anything else on the turntable.
  • If you're using CD decks, you may have a display in the center of the jog wheel will have a marker that will serve the same purpose. Most controllers should also have this, or you may be able to find it on screen in the deck section of your software.
  • The start of the sound and move it back and forth. Do this first without a beat, once you are happy, add some music. This scratch should be easy to perfect and does not need the use of the cross fader.
  • The scribble scratch. The scribble scratch is a modified baby scratch. Use the same technique but move the record faster, a second time, or triple time.
  • The drag scratch. With the start of the sound cued, open the fader. Move the music back and forth from the 9 O'clock position to the 12 o'clock position.
  • Do this without a beat first, and then add some music. This may seem very simple, but you'll need this skill to progress to more complex scratches.

Like I mentioned earlier, these are foundation scratches. Learn the basics of how to scratch using these. Perfect them, and then step up the ladder a little by learning scratches like 1 or 2 click flares.If you want to make sure your turntable is properly setup u can check how to setup a dj turntable.

Supplementary resources:

  • Buy some books related to DJ scratching and start working according to them.
  • Other than books, you can prefer YouTube videos of various DJ's and practice these scratches. The Art Of Turntable


As discussed earlier DJ is not the only field of enjoyment; it needs struggle and love for music. Scratching is the same here. It requires a lot of practice and experience. So keep practicing for scratch by learning and enjoying. KEEP PLAYING, KEEP LISTENING.

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