How to Scratch as a DJ

So, you’ve got the itch to scratch, and you’re ready to dive into the world of DJing. But where do you start?

As you stand at the crossroads of turntables and mixers, wondering which path to take, it’s essential to understand the foundational elements of DJing and scratching.

But fear not, because with the right guidance and practice, you’ll soon be creating mesmerizing beats and rhythms that will leave your audience in awe.

But first, let’s unravel the mysteries of scratching and set you on the path to mastering this art form.

Key Takeaways

  • Mastering the basic scratch technique, known as the baby scratch, is crucial for beginners.
  • Experimenting with different styles and techniques can help develop a unique scratching style.
  • Selecting the right music for scratching involves choosing tracks with clear beats and distinct instrumental sections.
  • Advancing scratching skills requires practicing a variety of advanced scratch techniques and investing in high-quality DJ equipment.

Understanding Scratching Basics

Understanding the basics of scratching involves mastering fundamental techniques that allow you to manipulate a record on a turntable while it’s playing, creating distinct and dynamic sound effects.

As a DJ, learning the basic scratch technique, known as the baby scratch, is the starting point for your scratching journey. This technique involves moving the record back and forth rhythmically, creating a ‘chirping’ sound. It’s essential to understand the nuances of this technique, such as controlling the speed and pressure applied to the record.

To truly master scratching, you need to embrace the practice of honing your DJ techniques. This means dedicating time and effort to refining your skills, understanding the intricacies of hand movements, and the coordination required between your hands and the turntable.

It’s not just about the physical act of scratching, but also about understanding the timing and rhythm to create seamless transitions and innovative soundscapes. As you learn to scratch, experimenting with different styles and techniques is crucial to developing your own unique sound as a DJ.

Essential Equipment for Scratching

Mastering the basics of scratching involves understanding the fundamental equipment required for this technique, essential for creating dynamic sound effects on a turntable.

For vinyl scratching, two turntables, a mixer, and a collection of records are essential. Popular turntable choices for scratching include Pioneer PLX-1000s, Technics, or Denon models. A quality mixer with a responsive crossfader and basic effects is crucial for executing scratching techniques effectively.

When starting out, it’s recommended to practice scratching with records from various genres, but not overly fast-paced or complex.

Alternatively, digital DJ controllers offer a modern approach to scratching, using software like Serato, Traktor, or Virtual DJ. These controllers feature jog wheels that mimic the feel of vinyl, and the crossfader curve can be adjusted to suit different scratching styles.

Whether opting for a traditional DJ set with turntables and a mixer or a digital setup with a DJ controller, having the right equipment is vital for aspiring scratch DJs to hone their skills and develop their unique style.

Selecting the Right Music for Scratching

When selecting music for scratching, it’s essential to choose tracks with clear and defined beats that provide a strong rhythmic foundation for your performances. Look for songs with strong rhythmic elements and distinct instrumental sections to create impactful scratching performances. Avoid tracks with complex or cluttered arrangements that might hinder your scratching abilities. Experiment with various genres to find tracks that inspire creativity and complement your scratching style. Pay attention to the tempo and structure of the music, ensuring it aligns with your scratching techniques and allows for seamless transitions.

Here’s a helpful table to guide you in selecting the right music for scratching:

Beat ClarityClear and defined beats“The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow
Rhythmic ElementsStrong rhythmic elements“Apache” by Incredible Bongo Band
Instrumental SectionsDistinct instrumental sections“Funky Drummer” by James Brown
Tempo and StructureAligns with scratching techniques“It’s Like That” by Run-DMC

Mastering Fundamental Scratch Techniques

To develop a solid foundation in scratching, it’s essential to practice and perfect the fundamental scratch techniques.

  • Baby Scratch and Chirp Scratch: Start with the basics, mastering the baby scratch for its back and forth motion and the chirp scratch for its rhythmic staccato sound.
  • Flare Scratch and Transform Scratch: Progress to advanced scratching by mastering the flare scratch, known for its complex sound manipulation, and the transform scratch, which involves quick, rhythmic movements.
  • Familiarize with Equipment: Get familiar with DJ equipment suitable for scratching, such as vinyl setups and recommended turntables. Understand the limitations and alternative scratching options for CDJs, as they aren’t primarily designed for scratching like turntables.
  • Utilize DJ Controllers and Software: Utilize DJ controllers and DJing software like Serato, Traktor, or Virtual DJ for scratching. Consider adjusting crossfader settings for better control over the sound manipulation. DJs use these tools to add innovation to the art form of scratching.
  • Inspiration from Grand Wizard Theodore: Study the techniques of Grand Wizard Theodore, who’s credited with inventing the scratch, and draw inspiration from his revolutionary contributions to the art form.

Advancing Your Scratching Skills

Ready to elevate your scratching skills to the next level? Advancing your scratching skills involves delving into more complex techniques to enhance your DJ abilities. To take your skills to the next level, it’s essential to practice a variety of scratch techniques such as Orbit Scratch, Flare Scratches, and other advanced methods. These techniques require precise hand movements and coordination, pushing your scratching abilities into new territory.

Investing in high-quality DJ equipment is crucial for advancing your skills. Consider vinyl setups with recommended turntables and mixers, or digital DJ controllers with software like Serato, Traktor, or Virtual DJ. Understanding the limitations and setup requirements of different equipment, such as CDJs, is also essential for effective scratching.

Additionally, utilizing DJ controllers, adjusting crossfader curves, and practicing with software like Serato Lite and Virtual DJ can help you refine your scratching skills. Engaging with the scratch community, accessing tutorials, and recording your mixes for self-assessment and improvement are also valuable steps in advancing your scratching abilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Hand Should I Scratch With Dj?

When scratching as a DJ, you should choose the hand that feels most natural and allows for precision and control. Experiment with both hands to find the best fit for your style. Practice and creativity will help you master your techniques.

What Does It Mean to Scratch as a Dj?

To scratch as a DJ means using various scratch techniques to manipulate music, like baby scratch or chirp scratch, with vinyl setups or digital DJ controllers. Explore scratch tutorials, effects, competitions, and the rich history of scratching.

What Are DJ Scratches Called?

DJ scratches are called scratching techniques. Famous scratch routines like the chirp, flare, and transform showcase different scratching styles. Advanced scratching tips and tutorials can help you master the art. Equip yourself for scratch battle championships.

Who Was the First DJ to Start Scratching?

The first DJ to start scratching was Grand Wizard Theodore. He pioneered the scratch technique in turntable history, influencing hip hop and turntablist culture. His innovation with vinyl records led to DJ competitions and the rise of DJ pioneers.


In conclusion, mastering the art of scratching as a DJ takes dedication, practice, and the right equipment.

Whether you choose to use traditional turntables or digital DJ controllers, honing your skills in scratching techniques like the baby scratch, chirp scratch, and transform scratch is essential.

With time and effort, you can elevate your scratching abilities and become a skilled scratch DJ, ready to impress audiences with your unique and creative mixes.