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How To Scratch

Scratching is a hip hop DJ technique, typically the manipulation of vinyl records on a turntable with one hand and the manipulation of mixer controls with the other. Learn scratching basics.


  • Step 1: Buy a conical turntable stylus. This type of stylus stays out of the record’s groove, making for smoother record manipulation.
  • Step 2: Enroll in a school with a turntablist program, such as Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, to learn how to scratch like a professional.
  • FACT: Legendary DJ Grand Master Flash, widely credited as the first DJ to record scratching, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
  • TIP: Crossfaders get a lot of wear and tear. Use a mixer that has a field-replaceable crossfader, allowing the you to replace a worn-out one.
  • Step 3: Learn to use the crossfader, a horizontal sliding control on a mixer that allows the you to play music from one turntable, then another, or from both at once. Crossfader manipulation is an integral part of scratching.
  • Step 4: Use an electronic two-channel mixer. Turntables and speakers are plugged into the mixer, which allows a you to transition smoothly from one turntable to another.
  • TIP: DJ mixers can have six channels or more.
  • Step 5: Learn basic scratching moves. Baby Scratch is the rhythmic manipulation of a record by hand or fingertips; Drag is a Baby Scratch slowed down by hand; a Scribble is a fast scratch; and an Uzi is even faster than that.
  • Step 6: Use the right turntables for scratching. Although some professional DJs use up to eight turntables, newcomers should start with two. For rugged use, a direct drive turntable is better than a belt drive turntable.

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