DJ Techniques

Turntables get worn over use and components can be damaged by DJ use (or misuse), and the turntable will eventually need servicing to keep them going. This page is a summary of all the techniques that have been tried and recommended for servicing turntables by top DJs, and even those that can be reccomended but are really not that good. Skip to the section about the component you wish to find out about servicing.


Slipmats need to be thin and slippy for scratching, and so DJs have come up with many ways to get slippier slipmats over the years.

Record sleeve technique[]

One cheap and quick way to create slippy slipmats is to find a record with a plastic inner sleeve for protection, and then cut a record shape out of it. Using a knife is easiest as it means cutting can be done around a record as a template (careful...), and the hole in the centre can be pierced with the tip of the knife. Plastic slipmats are generally quite slippy and their thinness means that the drive from the platter transfers to moving the record faster than with thicker mats. This method is an easy way of making slipmats - especially if you need to do it quickly because you have forgotten your scratching ones at a gig!

Polish technique[]

By applying a small amount of polish (e.g. furniture polish) to the underside of the felt slipmats provided with your turntable, the slippiness can be increased a large amount. Make sure it is evenly spread (the sprayable polish is best), and that you re-apply regularly as the effect wears off.

Butter rugs[]

The butter rug slipmat packaging

Butter rugs are a product by Thud Rumble, and are designed to be extra slippy and strong especially for scratching. The name butter comes from their apparent slippiness like butter.

Tone arm[]

The tone arm on the turntable needs adjusting for scratching in terms of the level of counterweight being applied and the arm's height relative to the record.


The counterweight should be placed at a level that keeps the needle down with enough force, but beware that too much downforce damages the record by wearing it out. However, many turntablists recommend setting the counterweight to maximum and even taping extra weights (such as a small coin) on top of the headshell to make sure the needle stays in the groove during scratching. On Technics SL-1200 turntables, and others, the weight on the needle can be increased further by reversing the counterweight.

Tone arm height[]

If there is tone arm height adjustment, the tone arm needs to be serviced every so often to check it is at a height and level that makes it parallel to the platter. This reduces skippage and makes the tone quality the best.

Brake button[]

The brake button on (older models of) the Technics SL-1200 turntables is easy to hit as it is the twist power button - very easy to hit accidentally, especially when scratching. One way to protect against this is to take the 'rubber band' off of the counterweight and place it over the power button, protecting against it moving too easily.

Internal components[]

There are internal controls within some turntables that can adjust their behaviour, though electrical knowledge is necessary to adjust them and on most models you will void the warranty by opening them up. For example, on technics sl-1200 turntables, there is an internal potentiometer allowing the adjustment of the pitch control range (changing from the +/-8% to +/-16% or +/-4%%).

Stylus/Cartridge/Headshell replacements[]

New styli can be added in easily on most headshells as the old one will slide out of the cartridge and the new one will slot in just as easily. The headshell unit can be switched easily as it simply unscrews from the tone-arm, sliding out nicely. However, some cartridges on some headshells need more work to replace as they need un-screwing, disconnecting from the wires and sliding it out. Then the new one must be screwed in and re-connected to the correct colour wires... getting this wrong could damage your new cartridge

See Also[]