In the mix
Creative Commons License photo credit: VMOS

Beginning the Vinyl Fantasy

I’ve divided the Online DJ Tips site into two main sections: this is the first section, and here I’ll be looking at what gear you’ll need to get started as a traditional vinyl DJ.

The other main section will deal with how to be a digital DJ, but many of the techniques and skills covered in the vinyl DJ section are also used when DJing in the digital domain. The main difference really is in the equipment you use – so even if you plan on being a laptop, CD or timecode vinyl DJ, you should read the info in this vinyl section anyway.

If you’re thinking about spinning some vinyl, chances are that you know someone who is a DJ already. If you do, then make sure to try out their gear (as often as they’ll let you) – get a feel for it, ask them how they feel about it and if they have any regrets or noticed any annoyances about those particular models. Experienced DJs often have a few favourite brands and models, but what suits one DJ’s style may just not be right for another.

Start With Your Decks

The art of being a DJ is just that – an art. As such, there is no right or wrong way to do it – over time you will develop your own techniques that fit in with your style, but may be completely unsuitable for a different type of DJ. However, there are some basic competencies that every DJ needs to master before moving on to develop their own unique moves.

The best way to figure out what’s best for you is by playing and learning – but if you’re just beginning then you need to make sure that you’re not starting at a disadvantage by using a deck that just isn’t good enough.

So what isn’t good enough? Well, in word (or two words): belt drive.

If you want to do anything with your records beyond putting the needle down at the start and playing the track right through to the end, then you need a direct drive turntable.

Vinyl Is A DJ’s Best Friend

Of course, to be a successful vinyl DJ, you’ll also need to get yourself a fairly sizeable collection of records to build your sets from. Fortunately, the worldwide DJ community is growing daily and there are a lot of places both online and in the ‘real world’ where you can pick up quality vinyl in pretty much any genre you like.

Remember, a DJ doesn’t have to spin hardcore techno, euphoric trance or deep house – everything will be much more enjoyable if you play the style of music that you personally enjoy listening to, whether it’s ska, dub, indie or hip-hop.

Always DJ The Records You Love

If you’re just going through the motions and not really paying attention to the music or the vibe of the crowd, you won’t be able to give them what they want – a crowd can sense when a DJ is truly passionate about what they are doing (this is particularly true of hardcore rave events, but applies to other genres too). So, if you haven’t started already, you’d better build up a collection of vinyl that will allow you to spin your favourite tunes whenever you need them.