• riding the pitch control (a.k.a. pitch bending)

    This tutorial is intended as a guide on how to beatmatch using only your turntable's pitch slider. This guide isn't ment to be the end all be all of this technique, it simply outlines how I go about mixing in this way. There are countless ways that you can beatmatch, not only using other methods, but even different ways to apply this single method, so don't take this as gospel. Also, this guide is intended for those who are already comfortable with beatmatching in general. Riding the pitch control, or pitch bending, involves being able to identify whether a track is too fast, or too slow, and then making fluid adjustments. Without that fundamental knowledge, this guide will be of no help and may even make your learning of beatmatching more frustrating.


    So, first thing you'll need is a record playing, so that you have something to mix out of. Having two very simple records that you can practice with helps ease the learning curve. On the other turntable, go ahead and queue up the track in your headphones, with your pitch centered at 0% (if using a turntable with a Quartz Lock, such as the 1200 M3D, be sure the Quartz Lock is NOT enabled). When you're ready to drop the track in, go ahead and start it, while carefully monitoring the beat in your headphones.


    Now, identify as quickly as you can whether the track is going too fast or too slow. If you're going too fast, immediately decrease the pitch setting, -6% should do the trick (do exactly the opposite of this if the track is too slow, and increase the pitch to +6%). Now listen closely and see if the track begins to correct itself, which with a 6% change in speed, it usually will.


    NOTE: From this point on we'll assume the track was too fast. If the track was too slow, simply "reverse" the instructions.


    This is an indication of two factors:


    1.) To be beatmatched, this track needs to be slower than where you started out at.


    2.) Since you can hear it correcting itself from being too fast, it's safe to say the track is too slow now. Otherwise it would've continued to get further out of sync, or at least stayed at the point of being out of sync when you dropped the pitch to -6%.


    Now the hard part: Waiting.


    Instead of immediately trying to correct, you should wait until it gets to where the beats sound matched (and they will be, but only momentarily) and then wait just a hair longer for the tracks to "come apart" again. Now you zip that pitch-adjust 3/4 of the way back up towards where you started out. Generally speaking, this will be too fast, but not AS fast as it was before, and you'll hear the beats go from being too slow to being matched to being too fast. Again, push the fader down 3/4 of the way from where you were at LAST time you adjusted, and listen to see if it's too slow or too fast. If it's too fast, just repeat the process as listed above. If it's too slow, go ahead and slow it down further, but remember that there's no need to go as slow as you did the previous time, since we know that's too slow to be properly matched.


    At this point, you can keep repeating this over smaller and smaller intervals until you have your beats beautifully matched. Remember, though, that as you get closer and closer to having them matched, the length of time it is going to take before you can hear whether it's going too fast or too slow is going to get longer, so you'll need to have a little bit of patience. This is the hardest part of beatmatching using this method, and the most tempting time to just grab the spindle and give it a good hard pinch to immediately correct it to where you want to be, but I find that when I do that, it throws me out of the groove I develop during the beatmatching I've already done, and just makes those final 1mm tweaks to the pitch even more difficult.


    This is a technique I like to call "pinging the pitch-adjust." The word "pinging" is in reference to the ping-pong, and repeatedly going back and forth. To aid you in the visualization of this concept I've included some ASCII diagrams below to give you a better mental image of what is physically happening in the process I've outlined.


    To take up less space, I'm going to display your pitch slider sideways, instead of trying to do vertical diagrams. The '|' in the diagrams is the actual position of the pitch slider. The FAST/SLOW is the speed relative to the track playing over the sound system.


    -8%........................|....................... .+8% FAST
    -8%......|......................................... .+8% SLOW
    -8%.....................|.......................... .+8% FAST
    -8%.........|...................................... .+8% SLOW
    -8%..................|............................. .+8% FAST
    -8%............|................................... .+8% SLOW
    -8%.................|.............................. .+8% FAST
    -8%..............|................................. .+8% SLOW
    -8%................|............................... .+8% FAST
    -8%...............|................................ .+8% MATCHED


    Notice how the adjustments being made get smaller and smaller as you approach the point of having it perfectly beatmatched. Now your tracks are beatmatched. Woo! Once you get the hang of this method, and what you need to be listening for to use it successfully, you'll find that this process gets faster and faster until you get to where you can have a new track beatmatched in 32 beats (or less!) with very little effort. From this point on, it's just a matter of KEEPING the tracks beatmatched, but you should have an accurate enough match to start out with, now, that you can do very minor (1mm) corrections and never really need to do them more than a couple of times during a nice, long mix.


    written by Jeigh Baldwin
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