Vinyl DJing Tips (Plus Mixing Advice) | Beatmatch Guru

Vinyl DJing Tips (Plus Mixing Advice)

If you’re like me and you love the idea of DJing with record vinyls then hopefully you’ll benefit from some of the Vinyl DJing Tips below. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned vinyl DJ, there might be a DJ tip or two lurking that will benefit your DJing skills.

Add small sticker(s) for Cue Points

Knowing where to start cueing up with the first beat (e.g. the kick drum) can take a little bit of time to find sometimes on a record vinyl.

A little tip that I picked up from watching the old school turntablists online and in the DMC championships is the use of stickers.

The stickers are put onto the artwork or just slightly outside of the artwork in the middle of the vinyl. What you can do is catch the first beat of the phrase and then place the sticker where that first beat starts. So when you’re swirling around the record vinyl, you can anticipate when and where the first beat is going to be much more easily.

Tip: You don’t have to do this for the first beat, you can use it to identify a cue point half way through the introduction or beginning of the break down section for example.

Use direct drive not belt drive

Belt drives might not be around anymore, but it’s worth pointing out that if you’re in the market for brand new or second hand turntables, then simply don’t buy belt drive turntables for DJing purposes.

Belt drives are very slow from the point you press the start button or when you are cueing up a record vinyl.

I learnt on belt drive turntables when I was first learning at the age of 15, which was a struggle to say the least. I would of progressed much quicker if I’d learnt on direct drive turntables, especially with my beat matching.

Invest in a DVS setup

DVS stands for Digital Vinyl System. It’s a fantastic hybrid solution for the modern DJ, who wants to keep DJing their record vinyls along side a digital music collection for example mp3s and wav files.

Tip: DVS technology has progressed massively, instead of having DVS audio interfaces separated out from a DJ mixer and DJ turntables, you can get hold of a DJ Mixer with built-in DVS compatibility.

You don’t need to buy separate DVS audio interfaces anymore, DJ mixers such as the Pioneer DJM-S3 or Numark Scratch. Trust me these new mixers save so much physical space for setup, it’s so much more tidier too, a lot less cables floating about. A lot of scratch / turntablist DJs use the DVS built-in mixers.

On that note, a DJ that I always enjoy watching or listening to his DJ sets is DJ Marky. He appears to be using the Phase DVS wireless setup these days. Check out the Phase DVS wireless setup here.

Keep vinyls in their correct sleeves

I know it’s a small point to suggest here, but a valid point none-the-less. It makes a massive difference especially when you’re crate digging for some quality tracks to play next.

Not only will record vinyls hold their value to some extent, but being organised with which vinyls go into which sleeves are so useful for when you’re crafting DJ sets and trying to find your music.

Some vinyl covers and sleeves are way more protective than others, so the quality of your records will certainly be maintained a lot more.

Use the groove lines for cueing up or catching a beat

On record vinyls there are some lighter and darker tones that you can see grooves. This can help DJs like you understand where there are sometimes breaks in the tracks.

It’s something I used to do a lot to figure out where the ending of a section is or a change in the music structure. It’s a great way to either cue up a track at the beginning of a phrase or section. Also it’s a great way to identify when a track is coming to the end of a music section of a track.

Are you done with DJing vinyls or DVS DJing? Moving onto Digital DJing?

Check out the latest DJ course here with Beatmatch Guru.

Don’t use the platter to adjust the beat match

One massive mistake that I used to make when starting out DJing record vinyls was touching the platter when beat matching.

Beat matching is hard enough on it’s own when DJing vinyl, so I can not stress this DJ tip enough, don’t pour your effort into getting used to touching the platter at all when beat matching vinyls.

Instead, focus all your efforts on using the pitch shift only, the quality of your beat matching will sound so much tighter.

When you use the platter or the pin in the middle of the record vinyl, the mix usually sounds really swirly with the pitch dipping in and out and sounds amateur. Using the pitch shift to rapidly move up or down and back again to the original point can achieve a swifter and quicker job of aligning those beats.

My mate and I DJ’d a few weeks back, a UK Garage mix, which is quite hard to mix sometimes on vinyl. I was teaching him and telling about this technique, but you can’t always teach an old dog old tricks. Oh well! haha.

If in doubt take it out (of the mix)

One tip I learnt, which you can apply to any DJing really, is “if in doubt, take it out”.

Because sometimes with mixing record vinyls the mix might not be in sync or beats aligned properly yet (mainly because you’re mind is off the ball for bit or you’re rushing to get the mix in).

I went to DJ workshop when I was around 18 once, a radio DJ there called Dev was explaining that DJing should be stress free to a degree.

Tip: If you feel the mix is not right or beatmatched when you put that crossfader in the middle, take it out of the mix and start again.

Select easy beats to practice beat matching

When you’re starting out DJing with record vinyls pick a genre of music that has simple beat patterns.

Some genres can have complicated beat patterns that don’t match up that well in the mix. There’s nothing wrong with mixing these types of beats together, it’s just when you’re starting out learning to mix it can help.

Practicing with two tracks that have two beat patterns the same will help you focus on improving your craft of beat matching.

Check out these articles ‘How to Mix Drum and Bass‘ and ‘How to Mix House‘, I’ve included some diagrams in there about the beat structures within both of these genres.

Train your ears to hear two beats

One tip that really applies fully to DJing record vinyls is using your headphones and listening skills to really focus on your hearing and mind on two separate beats.

The way to do it is by moving your right headphone to the side (allowing you to listen to the music from the speakers) and cueing up with the left ear (preparing to mix in the next track). Or vice versa, depends what you prefer.

This is how I’d recommend getting used to hearing whether or not two separate beats are hitting at exactly the same time.

If it helps you, try visualising the two individual beats either the kick drum or the snare. Visualise what the two individual beats look like and really focus your mind on the two beats. You’ll definitely find it helps knowing when those beats are aligned and in-sync or not.

Related Questions

Is DJing bad for vinyl?

The more a record vinyl is played the more it will wear out, especially in the long term. Protecting and caring for a vinyl can help improve the longevity of it, read more ‘Tips to Maintain Your Vinyl‘.

How do you beat a match on vinyl?

Whilst one record vinyl is playing e.g. on channel 1, a DJ needs to match up the tempo of a new record vinyl using the pitch shifter e.g. on channel 2.

How long does it take to learn to mix vinyl?

Practicing with the correct knowledge and techniques is really important. This coupled with time and dedication will help speed up learning to mix vinyl. Daily practice can see some DJs learn within a week or two, continuous practice is required for really tight beat matching.

Dan Dracott

I'm Dan Dracott from Beatmatch Guru. I love DJing and have done since I was 15 years old. I want to share my knowledge and love of DJing to help you guys get better at DJing.

Recent Posts