Archive for April, 2009

30
Apr
09

Tips On Buying Used DJ Gear V.1

I teach a ton of private lessons to beginner DJs who are either looking to try DJing for the first time, or are interested in buying their first set of turntables. I am working on putting together a video series to help my students (and anybody else out there) with common questions regarding buying used gear…..but FOR NOW, here is some quick advice on buying used DJ equipment (turntables, mixer, etc)

With the economy in a slump now is a great time to pick up used DJ gear for cheap. Remember: to get started you are going to need the following:
2 Turntables
1 Mixer (2 channel, designed for DJing)
2 needles (either mounted to cartridges and a headshell, or self-contained all-in-one unit)
1 pair headphones (any will do to start)
and a home stereo unit (any stereo that has an input channel for red/white RCA cables)

This is the bare bones setup and will get a first-timer on their way.

For turntables: buy technics, vestax or Direct drive Numark……nothing else!! If you buy crappy turntables they will hinder your learning and mixing will be much less fun…..PLUS the resale value on cheap turntables is almost zero. In short, don’t skimp on your tables. Used technics are generally $200-$400 each (depending on condition), but if you check your Craigslist postings pretty frequently, you might be able to grab a package deal for much less.

Mixer: Almost any inexpensive two-channel DJ mixer should be just fine. In fact, I recommend getting a really cheap mixer (used or new) at first. A beat-up mixer won’t really inhibit your learning, but it will break relatively quickly. Luckily, you only need it to last long enough for you to find out if you actually want to spend money on DJ equipment and decide what kind of mixer features you will need. There are so many different kinds of DJ mixers out there, it is very hard to tell which one will suit your particular style the best. Therefore, get the crappiest one you can find!  Just make sure it has these options.

-Loose crossfader
-Crossfader curve adjustment
-EQs for each channel (hi mid lo knobs, or just hi lo)
-Headphone or cue channel switch (usually a fader)
-Headphone volume

Here are a few guidelines to go by when looking at used gear:

Turntable Motor: Turn on the power and start the table – adjust the pitch until the center row of large circles (on the platter, where the strobe hits) is holding still…..as long as you can get them to hold still and they are not wavering around like crazy this is ok. Also, make sure the table gets up to speed quickly (under two seconds) after you press the start button.

Plug in the turntable to the mixer and wiggle the phono cables to check for crackling.

Put the tone arm weight close to zero (rotate the weight on the back so the needle is almost weighless) and see if you feel any resistance when moving around the tonearm. (Ideally there is none and it should float around freely, some resistance is ok, just not a HUGE amount)

Look at the surface of the turntable and mixer. If there is a ton of dirt and grime on the outside then there is probably dirt and grime on the inside. Fiddle with all the knobs to listen for dirty connections (crackly).

Play a record and look closely at the needle sitting on the record. The cartridge and headshell should be square with the surface of the record, not rotated (clockwise or counterclockwise).

Ok, more advice on buying used gear to come. Post in the comments if you think video footage would be helpful and I’ll get it moving a bit faster.