DJ Tips: How To Mix With Vinyl

Article by DJWorkshops

So here it is, the basic steps to follow to learn how to mix with Vinyl.

First you’ve got to have your decks set up correctly. Check your manual, check the posts on equipment, search youtube tutorials, do whatever you want but dont try mixing and fail and then put yourself down as rubbish when it’s the equipment set up at fault.

Now I guess we’ll put the headphones to one side for now. We’ll use them later. For now just get a piece of vinyl on the deck.  I would do this with the tone arm safely tucked away in its clip and the platter not moving until you’ve got used to it.

So the vinyl is on the deck. Lets sound check. Put the needle on the vinyl somewhere in the middle of the disc. Keep the volume fader on your mixer down for now. Press start on the deck and you’ll see the platter turn round and you’ll prob hear the tinny sound the needle generates on it’s own when it’s reading a disc.

Slowly turn up the volume on the relevant volume fader on your mixer. You want the volume level to be clear, comfortable and to be showing no red lights in the level indicator screen. You’ll be able to turn up later on, for now go steady.


So you know the sound is coming through and it sounds O.K. Now you need to stop the platter, pick the needle up and place it the outer edge of the vinyl. It is probably shiny and a slightly darker colour than the rest of the disc.

Now your needle is at the very beginning of the song on your vinyl. Place your finger on the sticker in the middle of the vinyl and slowly rotate it clockwise. You should hear when the needle reaches the first sound on the vinyl as it will play through the speaker. It wont sound right as you are manually rotating the disc. To hear music properly you would need the speed of the platter to be maintained exactly which is pretty hard to do with your hand when you’re just beginning.

The reason you are rotating until you hear the first sound is because this is cueing up the track to prepare it to play. Keeping hold of the vinyl where it is so the needle is exactly at the first sound on the vinyl, press start on the deck. You should be pressing down hard enough so the disc doesnt start turning with the platter, but not so hard that the platter cant turn too. This only works if you have a slipmat but you set your decks up properly didn’t you?

So the platter is moving but you have hold of the vinyl with the needle at exactly the point the music will start.

If you are on a direct drive turntable all you need to do now is let go gently. The disc will start to spin with the platter and the music will start to play through the needle.

If you are on a belt drive turntable you may need to give the disc a little push so it gets up to the speed of the platter quickly.

Did it sound as you expected? Practise rotating the vinyl back to the cue point (beginning of the song) and letting it go again. While you have it held in cue why not try pushing and pulling it back and forth and see if you recognise the sound of basic scratching. Keep your eye on the sticker in the middle of the vinyl as a visual clue where the cue point is. You can even count how many rotations the disc goes through when you’ve let it go, that way you can turn it back exactly the same number of rotations to arrive back at the cue point quickly. Did i mention practise yet? If the needle is flying off, if the music is sounding slurred as it starts, if you are not hearing the whole of the first sound when you let go, or if you have to wait for even a fraction of a second after letting go before you hear a sound then you need to practise. You must be able to control that cue point and clearly and reliably let go of it so the music plays exactly from the point you want it at the time you want it.

Once you’ve practised this try counting yourself in. If your song doesnt start with a clear kick drum you should rotate the vinyl clockwise until you find the first kick drum. This should be the be first beat of a bar of four beats. A bar of four beats can be counted 1,2,3,4 it’s the beat you nod your head to. Check you are at the first beat of a bar by counting yourself in. get nodding to the tempo of the song, get your first kick drum ( on the 1st beat of a bar) cued up and then count 1,2,3,4…. as you are holding beat 1 of the song just release it in time with when you would have said the next 1 if you have counted 1,2,3,4,1… that way the music should continue playing beats in time with the count in you did. Practice this.