How to DJ
So you want to be a DJ?
Being a DJ can mean a lot of different things to different people - for some, he's the guy at the local pub playing classic chart hits; for others it's the world's greatest hamster scratch champion flipping vinyl on multiple decks. One thing is certain though, once you get the music started you're going to be the centre of attention, and hopefully the most sough-after attraction in the building...
If you want to learn how to DJ, you have a huge range of options in front of you, so you'll have to start making decisions pretty quickly - do you just want to play some of your favourite tunes at a friend's birthday party, or do you want to become the greatest vinyl pusher the world has ever known?
There are many ways to be a DJ
Nowadays, it's easier than ever to start down the path of the professional DJ; the latest electronic equipment means that you can be a DJ without lugging around those bulky LP records. For example, Final Scratch allows you to DJ mp3s as if they were vinyl by using their custom timecode hardware (more about this in the Online DJ Tips guide).
You can also DJ using compact discs; this is in fact an extremely popular alternative to using vinyl and most venues will have CD mixing hardware in-house, so you won't need to bring your own gear.
If you just want to dip your toe in the waters, then the very easiest way to get started (presuming you already own a laptop) is with a software package such as Traktor DJ. Just install the program, open up some of your mp3s and start mixing... you can probably learn how to DJ on Traktor yourself by just playing around with it, and it also has an automatic mode if you don't want to put in any effort at all - just soak up the adulation!
How to DJ with Decks...
If you're determined to go down the traditional path of using your own mixer and decks, then the first thing you need to do is decide is what equipment to buy.
Quick tip: get the best decks you can afford, and make sure they're direct drive.
How to Buy DJ Equipment - And Get It Right First Time
Some essentials for the aspiring DJ:
* Turntables (x2) * Slipmats (x2) * Turntable Cartridge (you usually get one with the deck, but get a few spares too) * Turntable Needle (you usually get one with the deck, but get a few spares too) * Mixer (x1) * DJ Headphones (x1) * PA System (clubs/venues have their own, you only need this if you're doing your own parties or events - amplifier and at least two speakers)
You can spend as much as you like on your decks, but obviously we don't all have unlimited funds. Remember that the decks are the one thing that has the most effect on your sound, so funnel as much of your cash into these as you can - you won't regret it.
You can always upgrade your mixer quite easily once you start earning a bit of money - and it can be much easier to get used to a new mixer than feeling out the behaviour of a new set of decks. This is a job where split-second timing is crucial; being completely familiar with the behaviour of your turntables is what makes the performance flow and is an essential part of how to DJ.
Once you have the right DJ gear, you can take your career to the next level...