View Full Version : How long does it take to actually scratch?
04-12-2012, 09:38 PM
I've been scratching for about 6 months now. I know it takes time to learn how to scratch, but I feel for the last 2 months, I haven't been progressing. I know 6 months is VERY LITTLE time. But out of curiosity, how long does it take to typically scratch well enough to be able to scratch in your mixes, live, etc. ? It varies from person to person, but how long did it take some of you on here to learn how to scratch? I feel like I was making progress and now I'm just doing the same old thing: Baby scratch, tears, and using the fader for comboes between baby scratch, and tears, and trying to learn faderwork.
04-12-2012, 09:45 PM
Have you learned any open fader scratches, and if so have tried mixing up the combos between open and closed fader scratches. Maybe some pitch bends or try making the records talk as opposed to straight juggling.
04-12-2012, 10:00 PM
After 6 months I would say that you should be competent enough at some basic scratches to be using them in your mixes, but everyone progresses at a different rate.
Record your practice sessions and keep them. Because you hear your scratching all the time, it can be hard for you to tell if you've got any better, but normally if you listen to a practice from, say, 2 months ago and compare it with where you're at now, you will hear the progression.
It could also be that you're not practicing enough, or you've fallen into a routine where you're literally doing the same thing over and over. A friend of mine tried to learn some scratching and every time he did it in a mix, it would literally be the exact same pattern - I can even hear it in my head now, lol. But he didn't learn the right way. The right way, IMO, is to start with the basics - which you are doing - and as you get to grips with scratches (even though you may not be great at them), try starting to learn some new ones, cos they're the building blocks you need to string together combos.
Another thing I used to do is try and copy scratch DJs from hip-hop records. It's not so easy to do today, cos the DJ isn't a big part of hip-hop music any more (in terms of being a main part of a group, or complementing an MC), but I used to mimic the scratches on tracks like this: -
The beauty of a track like that is that a lot of the scratching basics are covered. I would try and copy what C.J. Mackintosh was doing and then once I could do it I'd start to switch things around and try and come up with my own combos and patterns and it all builds from there.
EDIT - Oh yeah, if you can find someone to practice with, even better. I taught a friend of mine to scratch back when we were teenagers and he was just as into it as I was, so we'd have regular practice sessions and that helps a lot.
04-13-2012, 08:02 AM
I haven't practiced much, I play out a helluva lot more than I get to practice. Basically what they said, you're only going to get out of it what you put in (practice). I don't even know what most scratches are called, I just do what I think sounds good. I listen to other turntablists mixtapes and try to do the scratches in my head.
It's cool to me when dj peers say damn your chirps/tears are sounding really good. Or when did you learn flares? Like I said, I don't even know what I'm doing, I learned them from listening to other dj's and mimicking them.. Lol you can go 2 months or more without picking up a new scratch or combo but then sometimes it just hits you out of no where. That's a great feeling.
04-13-2012, 08:07 PM
The right way, IMO, is to start with the basics - which you are doing - and as you get to grips with scratches (even though you may not be great at them), try starting to learn some new ones, cos they're the building blocks you need to string together
How important is timing before moving on? My timing is horrid.
04-13-2012, 08:46 PM
actually timing is very important that both of your hands moving are in sync with the sound you are trying to achieve... while opening and closing the fader at the right time is important... the hand on the record i think is even more important because of the precise cuts and sound even how hard you push down on the record or slow it up can get a certain groove i love d style's techniques both hands are putting in work just work on the basics stabs/tears/chirp/flare then move on to combos
04-13-2012, 10:20 PM
How important is timing before moving on? My timing is horrid.
Timing is obviously very important, but it really depends what you mean.
For example, when I first learned how to do the chirp scratch, I couldn't always nail it. If I did, say, 10 chirps in a row then 1 of them might end up as just a tip because the syncopation of my hands was slightly out. But because I understood the scratch and had the basics of it down, I could then start throwing it in with other cuts and I'd naturally get better at it simply cos I'm doing it over and over. So I don't think it's worth just literally doing the same scratch over and over until you're super sharp at it, cos it's kind of a boring way to practice. Get the basics of it down and you'll get better at it over time just cos you're doing it as part of your combos.
There's also timing in terms of the scratching being on time with the beat. I've heard n00b files that don't even sound like the DJ was scratching to the beat that's playing, for instance. But again, as long as you're not way off all the time, you'll get tighter at that over time.
I suppose the main thing is not to run before you can walk and not to "forget" the techniques you learn. To me, the best scratchers use all techniques from simple to very hard. For instance, a stab is a fairly easy scratch to learn (but tough to master of course) and it sounds great when it's done with precision, but if you only get the basics of it down and never actually use it in your combos cos you're trying to rush ahead to more "flashy" scratches like crabs and what have you, then you'll never get better at it.
04-14-2012, 12:53 AM
Sigma: : +rep thanks I'm gonna try to do the Gangstarr - Moment of Truth scratches ! I love the smoothness of the whistle sound.
04-14-2012, 12:22 PM
depends where the itch is. those ones between my shoulder blades sheesh!!! nightmare.
seriously though i have had small attempts at scratching over the years and my hand rhythm is shocking. i keep meaning to just push on with it but end up giving up. if you have managed 6 months going at it then fair play to your patience, i say keep going cos you obviously have the determination and the lads/lasses on here will help you
04-14-2012, 01:36 PM
@ DJ Stu-C : I definetly want to scratch, it's been my goal I own a pari of technics that I bought to learn how to scratch on! Thanks for the encouragement.
04-15-2012, 11:34 PM
Shouldn't take too long to get the basics. This is me with 1.5 years of experience.
Also, I know the right channel doesn't audio. I'll reupload it later.
04-15-2012, 11:53 PM
wow, your good for 1.5 years . i gotta keep goin. lol
05-08-2012, 08:45 PM
Watching and learning DJ Angelo's tutorials in sequence in my opinion is highly recommended because he starts off with the basic and easy scratches and moves on to the more difficult ones. I would suggest you take a technique and master it and as you add on to your scratch vocabulary, mix up your techniques. Also, if you have a fellow scratch DJ around your area, have some scratch sessions together to learn different patterns. This will help you get over being stuck doing the same patterns all the time.
We should stick a thread of our scratch sessions and give each other feedback!
05-18-2012, 09:06 PM
i personally find scratching to be more difficult than playing a real instrument(i play keys, bass, guitar) and its taken me longer to get "good" compared to an instrument.
the key is separating your hands, something you dont really do with bass/guitar.
i wouldnt start worrying if you suck or not until youve done it for at least 2 or 3 years.
06-04-2012, 12:13 AM
This is the one area of DJing I'm severely lagging on. About 10 years ago, I knew this DJ that taught me scratching on a pair of 1200's. Just beginner stuff. Fast forward 10 years and I haven't touched a deck since. Started with dual deck CDs, then a couple various MIDI controllers before ending up with my VCI-300. I've seen youtube videos of djs scratching on a vci-300 so i know it cane done, but I've attempted to teach myself and I just can't get it. I'm guessing you really have to learn it on tables before adjusting to MIDI controller non moving platters. Has anyone else experienced this and learned scratching on non-spinning MIDI platters?
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