How To Scratch: Beginner DJ Tips


For many modern DJs, the art of scratching has been lost. A lot of people see this as a difficult DJ skill, and they wouldn’t be wrong. But this doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be a priority.

Learning to scratch properly will give you an incredible step up in your career because not many people are familiar with this skill, at least not enough to be able to perform in public. Having this skill under your belt will set you apart from your competitors and get you much more work.

In this article, we are going to be looking at some essential beginner DJ tips for scratching – you already know how to mix, so why not take it up a notch?

Many DJs use scratching as a way of adding a little energy to their set and getting the crowd going. You might think of it as a way of upping your communication with the crowd, without having to use your voice.

When you scratch over particular words in a song, it causes them to break up and stutter – this is an excellent effect and can add a whole new layer to the music.

Furthermore, people would rather listen to a DJ that can scratch because let’s face it; it makes a much more interesting performance when you can show off your skills!

Tips For Scratching

Learning to scratch might feel a little overwhelming but chances are that you will pick it easily if you are well-prepared and ready to get started.

Invest Some Time

If you have been considering learning to scratch, one of the first things that you need to remember is that this is not a skill that you can learn overnight; you need to be willing to invest some time. Many people are under the impression that scratching looks easy; therefore, it must be – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Read: Learn To DJ Online

Get The Right Equipment

You will likely already have a lot of DJ equipment, and that is great, but you will need to make sure that your mixer has an excellent crossfader. What’s more, you will also need some scratch sounds, and there are plenty of excellent samples available which can be obtained on either vinyl or on CD and digital, so this is a versatile skill.

Consider Your Genre

One of the major reasons that a lot of DJs don’t bother to learn to scratch is that they feel like they don’t need to. Hip-hop music is closely associated with scratching, and many hip-hop DJs will take great advantage of the technique. However, other genres don’t tend to use it as much.

Read: Where do DJs get their music?

However, different types of scratching can work well with different genres, so it is worth thinking about whether you specialise in trance, rock, pop or anything else. You might use a less is more approach and add just a few scratches in each set to complement the music. But if you want to learn a new DJ skill, this is a great one to have under your belt!

Types Of Basic Scratches

Pro DJs will have a lot of tricks up their sleeves and you can, and will get to this level. But to begin with, you must be prepared to learn the basics. We have put together some information on three of the easiest to master scratches to get you off to a flying start:

  • The baby scratch is used on a single sound, and you move this back and forwards as you would like. It can be done on CD by using the on-screen marker and on vinyl by marking the centre to reference where the sound starts. This is the easiest to learn and an excellent place to start.
  • The drag scratch is done by moving from a 9 o’clock position up to a 12 o’clock position. When the sound starts, you should open the fader and then move the sound back and forwards.
  • The scribble scratch is a take on the baby scratch, but it is much faster. This can be done in the same way as the baby scratch but gives you a little more opportunity to play around with the sound.

When practising any of these scratches, it is important to keep in mind that you should do so without music in the first instance. This will give you a far more clear understanding of how each scratch sounds and whether or not you are getting it right. Once you are confident, you can then add in the music and practise scratching to a beat.

As we mentioned, this might take some time, but with dedication, hard work and practice, it will come good in the end.

Mike is a Mobile DJ company owner, providing entertainment services for Weddings, Birthdays and other events for over a decade.

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