How to Choose a Beginner DJ Controller for Scratching

As a beginner in any field, you first have to take it slow until you get a hang of all the ropes and feel comfortable enough to upgrade to the next level. If music is your passion and you want to create it as a DJ, you probably already know that scratching is a technique that you’ll eventually have to master. Choosing the right gear is the essential step towards becoming a better DJ, so as a beginner, you really have to pay attention to this important element if you want to improve and make a name for yourself.

When talking about gear, the controller is the centerpiece of it all. Therefore, you must use a high-quality DJ controller that allows next-level scratching. In the following, we will teach you what you must take into consideration and what you have to look for in order to choose the best beginner DJ controller for scratching.

What is a DJ Controller?

The realm of disc jockeying has seen a major change and revolution as the gear used by DJs has evolved. As a beginner, you need to be updated with the latest tech if you plan on making it in this field of work. An external device that you can’t go without is the DJ controller, it hooks up to the computer, emulating the setup and workflow of traditional DJ setups. What makes these controllers unique and highly desirable is the fact that they incorporate traditional turntables and mixers, making scratching, mixing, and controlling effects a whole lot easier.

Scratching Basics for DJs

Learning how to scratch is a long journey during which you, as a beginner, are going to need patience and ambition. It takes a lot of practice, but if you want to be the best, you’ll get there faster than you expected. Most people falsely think that scratching is exclusive to old-style DJs who work with vinyl. In reality, this ingenious manipulation of sound can be handled even by digital DJs as long as they have the right gear and take their time to practice.

What makes scratching a must-have skill for DJs is the fact that it changes the way songs play out, making them unique and spectacular, and enchanting the crowds. To make sure that you’re on the right track with polishing your skills, read the following lines to learn some basic steps of DJ scratching:

  • The baby scratch – You must master simple and effective scratching technique before you move on to anything else as it is the foundation of all scratches. To do it, you must place your hand on the turntable and use your fingers to stop the sound. Push forward and back in a smooth and rhythmical motion. The best moment to try out this scratch is before the first downbeat of the song commences.
  • The transformFor this technique, you’ll need to use the crossfader. The transform is the replication of the sound that Optimus Prime and other transformers used to make in the old cartoons. To mimic this sound and win the crowd over, click the crossfader open and closed in order to bring the sound in and out when moving the platter.
  • The tear – Move the platter underneath your fingers, making a stop-start push or pool motion that will cause the sound to tear into two or more pieces. By using this scratch you can get some quite interesting rhythmical variations, especially if you add in some sound effects.
  • The spinback – To achieve this scratch, you must quickly and smoothly flick back the platter when the end of the beat that you want to spin back from appears, or wind it backward rhythmically. It’s an oldie but it still has a major impact on crowds, so it’s important that you master it properly.

How to Make the Right Choice

Whoever said that picking a quality DJ controller isn’t hard has either not experienced searching for one before or is so professional that he or she doesn’t need any guidelines to figure out what must be done. But let’s face the facts, if you’re a beginner, you’re pretty much clueless when it comes to what you must look for to choose a quality DJ controller for scratching. In the following, we will give you some useful guidelines that will help you make the right choice.

What Are the Mandatory Features and Functions?

Modern gear includes a control surface and an interface. The control surface of the DJ gear features displays, knobs, performance pads, levels, jog wheels, faders, and buttons. The interface transmits MIDI and audio signals to the computer, laptop, or PA system. These are the functions and features that you must pay the most attention to as they have the biggest impact on scratch and mix quality.

Take the DJ Software Into Consideration

The role of controllers is to allow you to control the software more easily, the software being the one that does the mixing and mastering. The software loads the music library, providing the virtual transport controls, and adding the effects, samples, modifiers, filters, and other tricks that you use. Thus, it’s important that you check for the compatible software to provide everything that you need in order to deliver spectacular sounds with each and every gig.

Set Aside a Well-Planned Budget

Are you doing this because you want to make a career out of being a DJ, or because it’s your hobby and you want to do what you like in your free time? Take this aspect into consideration before you start to look for the right gear in order to more easily set aside a budget for the project. If you intend to make a career out of it, go out of your way and invest in a high-end controller that comes with the latest features, functions, and technologies. In case you’re only doing it as a pleasant way to spend your free time, set aside a realistic budget for the gear and don’t overspend.