Josh recently asked:
I know you said you were right handed so your dominant hand is on the fader.
When I began, I started with my dominant (right) hand on the record.
But recently after I started watching your videos I wanted to learn how to crab scratch. To do this I had to switch it around and use my dominant hand on the fader and left hand on the record like you. I also had to use the hamster switch. It was like starting all over again using the left record. I’ve learned to crab decently but it’s the first scratch I’ve actually learned, everything else I’ve just done on my own (mainly on the right hand turntable).
My question is, should I continue to practice and learn scratches the way I learned the crab scratch with my dominate hand on the fader and hamster switch on? Is that the way you learned everything?
Otherwise, I would go back to using my right hand on the right record and left on the fader with the hamster switch off. I’m more comfortable that way but it will make it very hard to advance with my clumsy left hand on the fader.
The other option is to practice equally on both sides using different skills I learn on each side.
What do you recommend? Also, are there any tips to getting my left (less dominant) hand more coordinated? Sorry for the novel, thanks for reading!
Hey Josh, a simple enough question, but one that we can explore in much detail. I have aimed to break it down bit by bit below. For all my regular readers, this is a longer post than normal and contains a great deal of information, so my advice is to take your time and not let it overwhelm you. I hope that even the most experienced of you get something out of it too.
Let’s break this down into 6 mini sections:
- Should you scratch with my dominant hand on the crossfader or the record?
- Should you scratch with the crossfader hamster (reverse) or regular style?
- The way I learnt and why.
- Should you go back to what feels more comfortable?
- Should you practice equally on both sides?
- Tips for getting your weaker hand more coordinated on the crossfader?
1 – Should I practice with my dominant hand on the crossfader or the record?
Please understand that there is most definitely no RIGHT or WRONG way. It is all personal preference and what you feel is best for you. Beware anyone that tells you otherwise!
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each option:
Using your dominant hand on the record
- If your dominant hand is your right hand, this gives a more anatomically efficient, natural record movement when your hand moves backwards and forwards.
- Techniques such as tears, faderless scratches and record tapping /push techniques which require a finer level of control may be easier to learn.
- You will probably have a greater level of expression with the way you can control the record movements backwards and forwards.
- If using your right hand on the record, your thumb is positioned on the outside of the vinyl, which means you can use it for different scratch techniques such as using your thumb to touch the side of the platter to achieve various effects.
- Again, if using your right hand on the record, the distance between the the fader and the record is less which can make it easier to do crossover scratch techniques.
- The more complicated fader movements like the twiddle and crab may be harder and take longer to learn with your weaker hand which can be discouraging.
- When using your weaker hand on the crossfader, it may feel similar to learning to write with your opposite hand to usual; unnatural and awkward.
Using your dominant hand on the crossfader
- You are more likely to have a finer level of control, making the crossfader movements easier to learn.
- The more complicated fader techniques such as twiddles and crabs will be learnt quicker and easier.
- Using your stronger hand on the fader will most likely give you more immediate results which can be encouraging when you are starting out.
- Record control is easier to learn than fader control in degree of difficulty.
- If you are new to DJing, you may feel that using your weaker hand on the vinyl doesn’t actually feel much different to using your dominant hand as it is all new skills and techniques that are unfamiliar anyway.
- If your right hand is dominant, your fader hand is closer to the stop button on the left turntable (assuming you use tech 1200’s) which is handy for various scratch techniques and tricks.
- Vinyl control may be harder and take longer to learn with your weaker hand.
Other Scratch DJs Viewpoints
I previously opened out the question in this post here Beginner Scratch Questions and there are some really good real life examples and viewpoints. Here is a summary of the most useful comments:
5 – Should I practice on both sides?
I would say that generally, most accomplished scratch DJs do not train to scratch on both sides.
The exception might be people that beat juggle / enter battles (e.g. DMC) and perform routines where it is necessary to have scratch and record control skills on both sides. I would say that these DJs still probably prefer scratching on one side more than the other. Think of a surfer or skater, they have their preferred dominant foot at the rear of their board. Switch stance is possible but it takes a lot of practice to get good both ways.
I only have one deck set up at the moment and I never practice the other way round. When I was mixing out in clubs, I would practice the baby scratch and chirp scratch the other way as this helped me dropping in stuff to the mix.
Honestly, sometimes I think I would like to be able to scratch the other way round. However, at this point this would be a HUGE time investment for me, but who knows, maybe I will have a go one day. I could also choose to scratch with the crossfader regular instead of hamster! The ultimate switch challenge!
If you have the time, patience and inclination to practice on both sides then great! Go for it!