You go to a club. You listen to the music. You like the music. You wish you could entertain hundreds of dancing people. Be in the spotlight. Be the star.

So you want to be a DJ?

If you've ever considered this profession, this node is for you. Any other DJ's who stumble upon this node, please feel free to add to the wealth of knowledge I intend to distow upon music lovers.

Things you will need:

1. knowledge of music and vinyl
2. a pair of turntables
3. a mixer
4. a quality amplifier and speakers
5. skill

DJing is very expensive. I'm not going to lie to you or beat around the bush here. Your bank account will be heavily dented by the time you are prepared to begin this venture. No one said this was going to be easy... or cheap.

knowledge of music and vinyl

There's nothing worse than going to a club or a rave and hearing the DJ play the absolute most shitty music you've ever heard. Before you consider anything further, make sure you know the genre you wish to spin. If its techno, start grabbing some tunes from Napster or buy some compilation cd's from your local music store. Learn the songs. Learn the artists. Or else you will end up wide-eyed, lost in a music store, wondering what kind of music is good, and what kind of music makes people go, "Bleh."

Good, quality vinyl is around $10-$15 a pop. One vinyl usually contains 2 or 3 songs: 1 at the minimum, 4 at the maximum. So, right there, you're up to around $100 or $200 for enough vinyl to mix together. Feel your wallet getting lighter, don't ya?

a pair of turntables

These aren't your mother's belt-driven phonographs, man. These are high-quality, magnetically driven turntables, both with pitch and weight control. Now, these will probably punch the biggest hole in your finances. A good beginner turntable, like the Gemini series, will cost you around $325 each...

Pick up your jaw and let's keep going.

Gemini's are good to start off with because they seem to be tuned for the beginner. Their control is very simplistic and they are easy to handle and work with. If you're looking for better quality tables, I would suggest Panasonic's brand of Technics. These could easily run you almost $450 each, but you will definitely know where the extra money went.

The Technics have more torque than the Gemini's, meaning the platter will spin at an almost constant rate when you are holding the record itself still. This is good if you have mastered the skill of beatmatching and would like to start off a new song at the exact beat at the drop of a hat. The pitch control is also a lot sharper than on the Gemini's and you will also know the difference when using them. However, if you aren't sure if DJing is for you, I would suggest NOT to spend almost a grand on tables that are just going to sit in your closet after a few months.

What are turntables without needles? Add about $100-$150 per needle and/or cartridge and you're already reaching to the $1,000 level. You can usually purchase needles at the store where you buy the turntables. Ask a store associate to assist you in picking out the right needle for the type of music you wish to play. Some needles are good for scratching, some are better for hi-fidelity, others are just general.

a mixer

Probably the most easily accessible item. A simple two-channel mixer will please the beginning DJ. Numark's line of mixers are one of the most reputable in the world. Chances are your turntables will come with the necessary wires to complete the table-to-mixer connection. Be prepared to spend an average of $150 for a standard mixer (and an extra $40 or so for gold-plated wires if they don't already come with the tables.)

a quality amplifier and speakers

Amplifiers are expensive, just about as expensive as the tables themselves. Depending on how loud you are planning to be, you should talk to a music store associate about how many watts of power you will need. Then after deciding that, you must find a pair of speakers that will be able to handle that without blowing up or distorting the sound. The speakers usually tend to be unpowered, which is way you need the amplifier.

If you choose a weak amplifier, that will also distort your sound, espically when there is a lot of noise going on at one time. So make sure not to get one that's too weak and one that's not too expensive. Remember, if you're just beginning, I seriously doubt your first show will be in front of hundreds of people... so go easy with the wattage.

skill

This part's not easy. There's nothing that pisses me off more than a DJ who pretends he/she knows what the hell they're doing, but is really a cocky beginner. You can usually tell who these people are by how much they suck in mixing and beatmatching the records. Trust me, its not pretty to listen to.

see also: People who pretend to be DJs

Don't get me wrong. Beatmatching and mixing aren't a piece of cake, by any means. It takes time, determination, and PLENTY of practice. Don't expect to get your tables home and all set up, then become an overnight Paul Oakenfold or Fatboy Slim. Its just not gonna happen.

Now, once you start getting good at matching the tempos of the two vinyls together, you're halfway there. The other half consists of actually sliding the mixer bar from one record to the other, trying to be as seamless as possible. Adjustments of the bass, treble, and middle controls on the mixer are an almost must because if you start the transition and you have too much or too little of each, its going to sound a bit funny.

Don't worry if your mixes are dead on perfect or if your levels are a bit off. No DJ is perfect. If you've ever seen someone mix records live, you'll notice the occasional mistake. Don't let this get you down. The best and only acceptable thing to do in this case is to quickly fix the mistake and keep going. If you're performing in front of a large audience, trust me, no one is going to care if you mess up a couple times. Most everyone understands what kind of a job this is and most are forgiving. I've noticed, from experience, that most ravers tend to respect a DJ more who can quickly correct a mistake, than one who lets the mistake lay there for too long. We're human. Everyone makes mistakes.

Any input by other DJ's out there, please feel free to add to this node. I'm not the best DJ in the world myself, so some of my information may be a bit inaccurate, but hopefully in time we can gather up a cornucopia of information to assist future DJ's.

You can normally find good nearly new kit at about half retail price. The SL 1200 and the SL 1210 are particularly good second hand because they contains so few moving parts.

Here is a checklist of common things that can go wrong with the 1210, and some tests you can do before you buy:

  • First switch it on and off a few times. The power knob should turn almost silently but you will feel a comfortable solid click as the power switches. Under extreme circumstances, the spring-loaded switch can loosen up resulting in a turntable that switches itself off when you least expect it.
  • A bright red strobe light illuminates the side of the rotating section. On this there are a number of black and white marks. When the machine runs at normal speed (+0) at least one of the sets of marks should appear to be still. If that’s the case then the speed control is fine.
  • Before you do this test, switch the machine off from the power socket. Doing this with the power on can ruin the magnets in the induction motor. Remove the slip-mat and gently raise the platter section by grabbing it through one of the circular holes.
  • Beneath the platter is a space that contains half of the motor (the other half is stuck to the platter). The motor and its surrounding area should be free of dirt, obstructions, vomit, sticky beer-residue and burn marks. Make sure you restore the platter before switching the power back on!
  • A 1210 should be at playing speed in less than 1/4 of a turn of the platter. When motors become worn out it can take longer to start – try playing a record, make sure it’s a good one! If it sounds right, the chances are that the machine is okay.

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