Does DJing Damage Records?

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DJing with records is undoubtedly “old school,” as new and innovative digital musical equipment has been invented. But nonetheless, many people still prefer to DJ with vinyl records. It’s much more complicated and almost unique to master, and for others, they’re just stuck in their old ways. As a passionate player of both, I thought it would be a good idea to express my knowledge on the following question, “Does DJing damage records”?

DJing and performing scratches on your vinyl records does damage them over time. Meaning, your record’s sound quality will eventually reduce, and the audio may even start to skip. However, from taking care of them and scratching the records correctly will dramatically increase their lives.

As you can see from the above, DJing on records can damage them over a period of time. This is expected for all vinyl owners, and that’s one of the main reasons why decks were invented.

Though I still understand why many people want to play records over a digital option. It’s a feeling the digital options just can’t recreate. Because of this, I wanted to create a comprehensive guide on how to take care of your records and reduce the chances of damaging them.

How to Take Care of Your Records

Since the utter ground-breaking phonograph record (vinyl record) was released in the 1930s, there have been many tried and tested methods for taking care of them. But don’t get me wrong, they for sure weren’t DJing with these back in the early 1900s, so the usage wasn’t so tough. Anyways, these are the four main ways to minimize the risk of ruining your records.

Storage

Something you want to avoid when storing records is poor humidity control, warping, and also any direct sunlight. Although humidity and direct sunlight are relatively easy to avoid, warping isn’t.

Warping is when the record bends out of shape, this will lead to them being unplayable. Something that has proven itself to work effectively to avoid this issue is to store them vertically. Never, I repeat never store them horizontally as this will be the main reason for them warping. There are plenty of specialist racks available, or you could keep them on a bookcase if it’s a suitable size.  

Handling

As you’re probably aware, records are rather delicate, and it’s best to treat them with care when you’re handling or transporting them. When handling, either hold gently on the outer rim with your fingertips or with the center label.

Beforehand, please make sure your hands are clean. Any oils, dirt, or anything that is a micronized solid object, can completely destroy the record when you go to play it. You should also never handle your record with your fingernails. This is because they’re extremely easy to scratch, and even something like a fingernail can have devastating outcomes.

Sleeves

Of course, you’ll have to store your records in a sleeve. In the industry, they’re three sleeve types. These are:

  • Paper – This sleeve type was the first to be introduced into the market and the cheapest option. Although cheap does sound lovely, not everything cheap is good quality. Paper can quickly deteriorate over time, and they have commonly been known to scratch the record when you pull them out.
  • Poly – Unlike the above, the poly sleeve is much more durable. But of course, more expensive. If you’re serious about keeping your records in good condition, I really couldn’t recommend these enough.
  • Paper with poly lining – As you can imagine, both poly and paper have their disadvantages and advantages when it comes to protecting your record. However, with paper sleeves and poly lining, you get the best attributes from both of them, making it the ultimate record holder.

Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning records, you need to be careful and follow the correct guidance. Failing to do so can cause some severe damage to your records. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Dry cleaning – With a carbon fiber brush, gently brush within the grooves and remove any dust or small particles built up in there. After, because the carbon causes the vinyl to become static, you’ll need to wipe it down with a clean cloth.
  • Wet cleaning – This method is considered the best and is also known as the deep cleaning method. Here you’ll want a 50/50 mixture of both record cleaning fluid and distilled water. Once acquired, dab a micro-fiber cloth into the mix and begin cleaning the record.

How Does Record Scratching Work?

If you’re trying to learn the skills of scratching, you’ll need to practice a lot before you can get the hang of it. But before you get into practicing, it’s probably best to understand what some of the main scratching techniques are.

  • Baby scratch – The first and most basic scratch is the baby scratch. To perform it just requires some basic back and forth wrist action.
  • Forward scratch – To execute the forward scratch, you’ll need to scratch the record backward while closing the crossfader.
  • Backward scratch – This is similar to the above, just opposite. Here you’ll need to scratch the record forward while the crossfader remains shut.
  • Scribble scratch – This type of scratch is commonly known within the industry, and it consists of numerous scratches in a short period of time.
  • Tear scratch – A tear scratch is like a level up from the baby scratch. To perform this, you’ll need to use a push and pull motion on your wrist to stop and start the platter from tearing.
  • Chirp scratch – This involves you performing a forward scratch while coordinating it with the fader.
  • Flare scratch – To chop the audio, otherwise known as a flare scratch, you’ll want to move the fader side by side while scratching the record rapidly.
  • Backspins – This scratching technique is a must-learn for any beginner scratcher. By performing a backspin, you’ll be able to cue up the same part of the song on both turntables and then crossfade them, which will ultimately lead to a looping effect.

Conclusion

As you can see from the above, damaging your records is possible from DJing or scratching them. However, with pristine care and attention, this can easily be avoidable. If you genuinely care about your records, it’s best to invest in good quality equipment to keep them safe. It would help if you bought an ideal storing rack, sleeves, and the appropriate cleaning solutions. Once you’ve equipped these, you will undoubtedly be on your way to correctly taking care of your records.

We also spoke about how scratching works and the most common techniques that many scratching professionals perform. Scratching, just like any musical profession, is challenging to learn. But by watching plenty of guidance of the above common scratches, you should be on your way to mastering them.