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How To Return To DJing After A Long Hiatus

There was a time when DJs performed using turntables, a two channel mixer, a pair of headphones and a box of records. DJs lived and died by two things; their ability to mix and their choice of records. Over the years many of our original players took the needle off the record and walked away to get a “serious job”, to focus on their family or simply felt the need to do something different. The good news is that they are coming back, and in droves; if you’re one of that number, then DJ TechTools is here to offer a few pointers.


We’re delighted that the nagging voice inside your head has finally reached fever pitch and pushed you into reclaiming your musical soul. The good news is that you are not alone with increasing numbers of previously self-exiled DJs (including this author) returning to the decks.  There’s as much or as little to learn as you want there to be, and getting advice and feedback has never been easier.  Let’s take a look at what has changed over the last few years as well as what hasn’t.

Check out a DJ booth today you’ll run into a myriad of computers, controllers, effects units and equipment that might look less out of place at an Xbox gaming party. While most venues still provide the basics,  more and more DJs are taking along their own equipment, ranging from small portable controllers to hardware capable of running Google.  It’s worth noting that complex setups guarantee nothing, as what counts is what the crowd hears, not what the DJ uses. Your ability to read the crowd and drop the right track at the right time remains as your most valuable asset.


Head down to the basement, step over mother’s collection of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Fantasy Flans Cookbook Collection and dig out those turntables or CDJs. It’s time to dust them off and put them back to work. Even if you plan on going digital there are countless configuration options that will enable you to take advantage of what you might already have.

OUR ADVICE:  If, like many of us, you sold your turntables during those dark days then take advantage of tools like CraigsPal (US) to track down used equipment. Be prepared for some head shaking and self-beration while you scan through today’s prices. For more information on buying used Technics check out this buying guide from DJTT regular, Xonetacular.


Now you’ve made the conscious decision to re-ignite your love of playing music, it’s vital that your playing experience is as satisfying for you as it is for the crowd. Our returning heroes frequently dive head first into complex, controller-driven setups only to find that pressing buttons and twisting knobs is no match compared to some good old fashioned platter thrashing. Taking the DVS (a.k.a. timecode) route, whether it’s turntables or CDJs, Serato, Virtual DJ or Traktor, will give you the best of all worlds, providing your wallet’s up to the job. Conversely, if you always wanted to move into production or bring some of those elements in your sets, Ableton is worth a serious look.

OUR ADVICE: Take a modular approach to developing your set up. Don’t buy more than what you initially need, but ensure that the hardware and software you select will support you as your requirements evolve. For instance, the new Allen and Heath DB2 is an undeniably stunning mixer, as long as you won’t be looking for DVS support later on. Make an assessment of what is important to your individual workflow, and add those things to your setup.


If the plan is to stick with vinyl or CDJs, then this section need not worry you. If you intend on going down the controller and/or DVS path, you’ll be introducing software into your setup. There are few shared standards amongst the DJ software vendors today, so a rash decision on a platform now can lead to a great deal of headache should you decide to switch in the future. Personally, I made my buying decision based on the tried and tested model of ‘most shiny wins’. The winner was the Kontrol S4 which provided 37% more shiny than 83% of other controllers on the market at the time. This is a great example of how not to select your gear.

OUR ADVICE:  There are multiple platforms to choose from but as far as the three leading platforms are concerned, the general consensus among DJTT readers is:

  • Serato: Ideal for DVS DJs looking for a clean and simple interface with options for Ableton Integration and video support. Critics are less enthralled with the lack of hardware options and limited effects and sampling capabilities.
  • Traktor: Platform of choice for both controller and DVS DJs looking for extensive options and granular control of effects, samples and flexible MIDI. Traktor hasn’t always delighted users with its busy interface, occasional driver issues and new software features that are only supported by their own controllers.
  • Virtual DJ: Frequently bundled with controllers (also supports DVS and video) and considered by some as highly capable yet somewhat underrated. Virtual DJ is frequently cited by members of our community as a gateway platform with DJs ultimately transitioning to Traktor or Serato.
  • Ableton: Digital Audio Workstation turned live performance tool, Live has a large learning curve for getting started right away and involves a significant amount of prepwork before playing live. It’s great for intense projects and playing out your own productions, but could be too much to consider starting on if you’re looking for a familiar workflow to times past.

Take a look how Scratch Live and Traktor Scratch stack up here.


Your humble author’s Saturday record buying expeditions used to consist of a 20 minute drive, half an hour on a ferry and a further 30 minutes trudging uptown to the local vinyl emporium. 30-40 records later and job done, half a dozen pieces of sweet, sweet vinyl to take home and work into the next set. Record shopping used to be expensive, time consuming, regularly frustrating and we loved every minute of it.

Today, the ferry port has been replaced by Beatport. Travel time has given way to boot-up time, and 30-40 records represents our ears just getting warmed up in the selection process. DJs can eat their way through a Virgin Megastore’s worth of tunes without getting off the sofa and yet, there are seemingly more people complaining that they “can’t find any music.”  That’s because unlike building that relationship with your local record shop where the guys behind the counter could make educated recommendations for you, you are well and truly on your own.


  • Put some hours on those ears. While it may be easier to reference old label favorites, published DJ charts or friends recommendations, the most effective way to re-engage your sound is to listen to everything in your chosen genres.  While this process will no doubt expose you to a litany of ear-crushing audio waste, it will also uncover music you would have never otherwise found.
  • Don’t check out right away. Look through your vinyl collection and you’ll no doubt wince at the amount of cash you’ve wasted on terrible records that sounded great at the store.  Buying online gives you more choice than ever, and it means you can avoid having to make snap decisions. Load up your shopping cart and walk away for at least 24 hours.  Come back later, review your selection and you’ll be surprised how many tracks don’t make the cut. This advice is especially useful for late night, judgement-impaired shoppers with a history of inexplicably finding ladders, inflatable sharks and $300 juicers showing up on their door step each week.
  • Shop at Artist, Label, and Distribution sites. Sites like Beatport and Juno make for an easy listening and buying experience but that can come at a premium. This is especially true when artists release full length albums. Check the artist’s site first and you’ll frequently find the release for much less. In some cases you can also buy the music on vinyl with the MP3 versions being included at no extra cost.
  • Don’t download music you haven’t paid for.  Especially when you find a new and exciting independent artist who’s just getting started – these are the guys who might not sell enough records and never go on to produce their magnum opus.


If there is one area of this business which literally transcends music preference, budget and skill, it’s the ability to elevate the crowd to a higher plane. For centuries scholars, theologians and Goldie have sought to quantify the conditions needed to trigger this shared experience. Many books have been written yet none published on the secrets of the recently termed “Jesus Pose.” For some DJs manifesting oneself as the Son of God is just another day at the office. For others it’s considered egotistical and unnecessary. Whatever the truth is, the crowd generally goes in the direction of the bananas when it happens.


We think that in this instance, the best advice we could offer would pale in comparison to the insights shared by visionary producer and DJ Amon Tobin in the below video:

Are you a former DJ who has come back from the long hiatus and made it in this new era of DJing? We want to hear your story! 

  • Godfather

    This is fascinating. I’m loving reading all of the stories so I’ll share mine.

    I worked security in a hole in the wall bar in the Ft Worth Stockyards. I’d work a few months then take a month or so off knowing I could go back anytime I wanted to and I had a day job that paid the bills. So one night I’m in the club hanging out with friends and the owner comes up to me and says ‘do you know country music pretty well?’ I told him ‘sure’ so he asked me to go help his new DJ with the country sets because he was from Dallas and country wasn’t part of his normal bit (this club played country early then gravitated towards dance later in the night when the party crowd showed up. Now most good DJ’s would hate having a civilian in the booth but this guy was grateful and he was a HELL of a mixologist. By the end of the night we were on our way to being friends so I told him ‘I’ll make you a deal. You teach me how to do this shit and I’ll play your country sets’. He was on board hell playing country aint that hard and it meant he wouldn’t have to come in until 10 when we started dance sets. Over the next two years we were a good team and had a lot of fun. He taught me how to mix right and work the music and I grew into being the entertainer and the mic guy. When he got a job in Deep Ellum and was ready to leave I got an offer at another club so we left together. We did it right and gave the owner time to find our replacement and we went our club separate ways. We stayed in touch though and I’d occasionally run over to his club after mine closed just to hang out and hear a master at work. My son is actually named after him.

    That guy was Rob Vaughn. One of the best DJ’s I’ve ever known. He could work a crowd into a frenzy and never touch a mic. I relied on my craziness and entertainer persona to work a crowd.

    A few months after we had left the owner of the first club begged me to come back. Revenue and attendance was down and his club wasn’t filling anymore so I negotiated a really nice deal for myself and returned. The first weekend was pathetic. The club had lost his vibe but a couple players from TCU wandered in and I got to be friendly with them. I told them that if they could get more of their friends and team in the bar I’d buy them drinks off and on through the nights. Fast forward a month and the club was packed every night. The owner was happy, I was having fun, and all was well with the world. I’ll spare all the boring details but I got known as a guy who could resurrect a club from the graveyard and there was always a manager or an owner in my ear begging me to come save their clubs. An argument with the knucklehead manager one night later and I was down the street with my crowd.

    Fast forward sparing the details. Laid off from day job, new baby, lazy wife who wouldn’t work, needing insurance and benefits, and I got an offer to run Marlboro’s nationwide contest as the National Even Coordinator. Moved to Nashville, did that for two years, got divorced, got custody, and went to find a real job (impossible to raise a child when you spend 6 months of the year on the road. And my history in music was over.

    That HURT. Music and entertaining had been a huge part of my life for 15 years. It hurt so bad that I couldn’t listen to music on the radio and haven’t since. So here we are now. My fiancee moans all the time about the fact that she wasn’t there when I was DJ’ing so I thought ‘what the hell’ and downloaded the free version of Virtual DJ. I thought it might be fun to run through a typical night at PR’s so she could at least hear what it was like and now I’ve go the bug again big time.

    So I’m downloading and practicing and it’s funny how fast your ‘ear’ comes back. I’ll probably stick with weddings and events when I’m comfortable I can get my mixes right and up to date on the music I’ve missed through the years.

    TL:DR – DJ’d, Loved it, Got good at it, had to quit to raise a kid, now I’m back with the bug.

  • J.f. Wildwind

    I’m a old time DJ from the 70s and 80s. The best era of all. I’ve Ben on the air with the best vinyl spinners of all time. I really miss it. I’ve spun light rock, hard rock. And in-between rock, country and disco. I’ve kept late night party’s dancing and afternoon lovers loving. It’s the voice behind the studio mic that put the life into radio and the listeners. That’s gone now. It’s now ran by computers and prerecorded DJs. There’s no party animal behind the mic anymore. I can’t find a good old fashioned rock radio station that can us a still good DJ . We are now obsolete. I have my turn tables, mixing boards, wall’s of vinyl, amps, speaker systems, about everything needed to for radio station set up in my man cave, the way it used to be in the studio. I long for the old days of jamming out in the studio and talking to the listeners on our request line’s. I long for the days when the DJs were the life of all party’s in our range of listeners. It was a great era. If I had the cash I would bring it back to my town and surrounding area. The voice in the studio behind the mic would be once again live on the air, all night, all day, and all vinyl. Wishful thinking from a over the hill old time DJ.

  • Manuel A Munet

    i’m 56 still working hard in the club scene (work every saturday night) and my radio show on iheartradio mia 92.1fm and i keep up with technology (my set up is all traktor) once you still have that drive to play music keep doing and if you went lost in the transition from vinyl to digital.hey everyday you learn something new

  • plymbuzz

    soon to be 64 and just about to be funking up Plymouth after a 12 year break…! USB, OTS AV and maybe a few CDs …… 🙂

  • Mario Pelly

    Funny i had to land on this article…
    After dropping out 5 years ago, it’s slowly growing on me again. Played my first record in 92 on some old beatup sl1100 (rotary pitch anyone?).. Been looking for myself since i dropped. And.. altho the way things get done did change, in the end all i want i feeling alive while i play. This just gave me an extra boot up the rear to get moving. Thanks DJTT

  • Like other DJ’s who left inspiring come back messages, I’m one of the same who has come back. Hi, my name is Ray (DJ Corsican) I’m 42 now and I was DJ’ing in clubs in South Florida in the late 80’s then turned to mobile DJ for several years both in Florida then in New York City. I left the business but never the passion for mixing. I continued to do so privately for myself and for my close friends and relatives who wanted a mix tape (yes, that’s tape as in cassettes, remember those things) My first and only turntables were the Technics MK 1200’s, God’s gift to DJ’s. Several years later, lost my equipment to a fire. Equipment was replaceable, but the records will never be replaced. Some had special meaning to me, others had autographs of the artists who played at the clubs I had DJ’d in. This left a huge hole in my heart, not to mentioned a difficult time to re-invest in all the lost equipment. Then by accident came across a software to DJ without all the necessary needed equipment. At first, I was laughing how a laptop and a software could replace my Technics. Took a few to get use to it, then decided to take the plunge and invest in a controller. Did some serious research as to which controller to get, at the end, I decided on the Numark NS6. I chose the NS6 for several reasons. First, I recognized the name as being an integral part of the DJ world. Second, the build quality. I’m not knocking other equipment out there but coming from the Technics MK 1200’s, I wanted to match the durability I was accustomed to. And finally, I absolutely love the way it lights up. Of course, there are other reasons, but those are my top reasons why I did. Now, I’m not back in the game of mobile DJ or club DJ, too busy with my family and my career. However, I still do mix and mix live on the internet on VirtualDJ Radio on the ClubZone channel 1. It’s amazing how many DJ’s out there around my age are still mixing up a storm and feels good that I’m not alone in my passion for mixing and playing music for others to enjoy.

    Ray (DJ Corsican)

  • DJ Roman J

    I really needed to read this article. I’m 27 years old and I started DJ’n when I was 20. I stopped DJ’n in the club scene since late 2010. I was put off with the promoters here, always wanting DJs to bring in people and never cared about the music. Owners/promoters only cared about the number of people I could bring in, never about the music I played,which killed my passion. On top of that I graduated college at that time, and started working on my other career. After almost 2 years of a hiatus, I want to get back into the scene after reading this article. I started DJ’n for fun and wanting to make cool mixes. I never thought I would be playing in clubs before; I need to get back to the passion and keep it real. I always updated my music and followed the dj scene and downloaded mixed tapes, but havent produce my own. After reading all these comments and Djs who have been gone for 5-20years; I know I can make it back and make it a career. great article, awesome comments and stories. Thank you djtechtools

  • Erik Mitchell

    If you’re looking to play out, be careful! The “scene” is even more vicious and shady than ever. Especially with the over-saturation of “DJ’s” a la the sync button…

  • Darle Desmond

    I’m in a Dj  Institute after a long absent. My old touring crew are gone frome high school now it’s just me solo with new equitment and new look & sound.2012 is now,By next year I’ll be ready to do an album, it will be hard at first but with my passion & all new fans my come back will be amazeing !!!! 

  • atxruckstar

    I started mixing in 1999, quit a few years back & just can’t take not having decks. I miss my 1200’s like crazy, but I just jumped in the digital age & ordered an NS7.  It’s clearly not the best controller for everyone, but it covers everything I want/need, even with some future looking. I can’t wait for it to arrive. 

  • Dollar Bill

    I specialized myself out out of the club market about 10 years ago and though I kept playing, it was less and less and all on my own musical terms.

    I also opened a vinyl only record shop and now that I am back in the clubs, feel like a right hypocrite, “Analog Man” by day, “Dirty Digital Boy” at night.

    I was a early adopter of digital, (still)using PCDJ RED on gigs with bands or where space and selection, didn’t allow for the turntables.
    Serato probably is the best solution for me now, but still have bitter feelings about them killing my DJ market at the record shop.LOL
    PCDJ doesn’t have many(any) of the features of newer programs, but it is rock solid, however would love to rock vinyl(timecode) and seeing a waveform would probably save my neck some wear and tear.

    Unlike most newer DJ’s, don’t mind carrying the weight, whether tables, crates, non powered speakers, amps, etc.
    The need to go deeper into digital, is more to have a updated selection of crap music I can’t stand to keep the punters(and owners) happy.LOL

  • GRAV

    Wow, Before reading the comments, I thought my story was bad..LOL,   I have been DJing since 94 up and down the east coast (U.S.) and about 6 years ago..I had to work more than play. 4 years ago I had relocated to Germany and had twin daughters.
    Since moving to Germany , I had found more time to produce but my turntables were from the U.S. and had stalled me on DJing.  About a year ago i had bought some CDJs and a new mixer …especially great for the price of tracks compared to vinyl. Now i try to get back to where i was in the scene..  Better techno scene here in Germany than the U.S. 

  • Tressor5

    There are few Australian DJ’s, who  when’s name is mentioned can cause such debate  in Australia’s Dance Music Scene Garry Hughes, AKA: DJ UZI is one of these DJ,s  and rightly so With 31 years on the decks under his belt, there are many around who comfortably refer to him as the Godfather of Australian Techno Djing nearly half his life since first hitting the turntables at the incredibly young age of 13 Uzi went on to carve out what could only be seen as a most remarkable careers, His Hometown of Adelaide compared to the much larger cities of Melbourne & Sydney would put most people off visiting  Yet this was all about to change and in a way that no one could have ever foretoldAdelaide (the city of Churches) was on the path in becoming, Australia’s Dance Music Capitol And DJ Uzi was there from the very start literaryWhat started off as something others might brush off as a weekend hobby, rapidly advanced into a full blown fascination that would see Uzi propelled into one of those once in a life time eventsThe Birth Of dance Music and the introduction of the super star DJ’s we see toady Adelaide was the birth place of a musical movement that was soon going to change the way people thought about music, clubbing and most importantly Changes where about going to propel the common house hold Dj who at this stage was just a guy who spun some tunes from his massively expanding record collection at a21st birthday into the Super star DJ’s that we see today It was hard to imagine that we would soon be seeing masters of the decks playing to packed venues and whose   reputation could make or break a club with the flick of a tune from a faraway landSince first cutting the vinyl way back in early 80’s Uzi has seen many developments in the Dj movement, from the revolutionary introduction of the TECHNICS SL1200’s to the growing demand of extended mix 12 inch recordspioneer Djs and promoters in the 80’s through to Y2K after spending many years learning and refining his skills as a teenage kid working in skating rinks and regularly Djing at Clubs while under the legal age of 18yrs. Known for his high impact, in ya face techno sets with seamless mixing, his high performance sets with his original style and clean delivery stood him as a DJ who pushed boundaries and broke new music rather than conforming to the the norm and being just another crowd pleaser. then the introduction of the digital CD’s and today with the introduction of the internet , cell phone technology & the introduction of software based delivery systems replacing records and cds completely and bringing a new era into play and that being contollerism.“In the year 2000 he took up a new career working in Television with ” The FOX Cable Network ” in Australia, Coordinating and Broadcasting Digital Music Television, from what started out as a dare 30 years ago and a bit of fun he has definitely left an impression on the Adelaides dance scene and been the inspiration of several current artists.During the later part of his career he had the opportunity to work alongside various local and International Djs / Producers and Performers. Listed below is a brief rundown of some of those respected Djs he has had the fortunate chance to appear with and respect.  Underground Resistance, Kevin Sanderson, Claude Young,  Derrick May,  Joey Beltram ,                             C J Boland, Carl Cox, Lenny Dee, The Shaman, The Prodigy, Dream Frequency, Pee Wee Ferris,            Brian St James,  Ollie Olson, Andrew Till,  HMC,  Paul Oakenfold, Ezy Groove,  Kid Vaga$, Joe 90,              Chriss Lee, Frank De Wolf, Dj Brendon,  Dj Dag , Sasha , WestBam ,GT,  Sven Vath,                                        Dj Angus, Resistance D, Jeff Mills,  T1000, GrooveRider,  Njoi,  Derick Carter,  Richie Rich, Mental Theo,Charlie LownoiseCurrent:Since moving to live in California USA back in 2005 Garry Hughes had managed to find himself back in the studio agian after a ten year break away from his roots back in Australia. He has himself setup in a new studio and is pumping out some new music under the name ” Uzi Spin Laiden”  he is also available and looking for opurtunities abroad to take his stand back to the stage performing live with a fresh perspective of the current techno he is getting his hands on and looking forward to living up to his reputation in deliverying powerful cutting edge dj sets and pushing the boundries even further than ever

  • DJ Retro Blaze

    I returned to DJing this year after a near 20 year absence.  I started DJing in the early-mid 80’s, during the growth of House music movement, and stopped 10 years later to focus on education, career and other music goals.

    I presently use turntables with DVS software to spin Deep, Soulful and Tech House music. I love it! Luckily, I still have my old record collection, as well, for vinyl sets.

    It is also good to see other avenues available nowadays to become and remain active in DJing besides the club scene, such as online radio stations opportunities and posting mixes for podcasts.  I no longer live in my hometown area near Detroit, where I started DJing, and my present location does not have a strong market for the genres of House music I enjoy and love.  Furthermore, due to my career in Engineering, the club scene is not feasible on workdays.  Therefore, having these other options available is very beneficial, at least for me.

    • Dlesaner

       Got something for you.Check out can upload and download stuff.I use it to get reactions on my work…

  • This article couldn’t have been timed better, I sold my decks a few years back but hadn’t actually regretted it until this week after seeing my (24 year old) nephew’s DJing set up, he pointed me to this article.

    I already have Traktor 3 and a Hercules controller, but I’ve never really got to grips with either, but now the time has come to bite the bullet, dance music’s never been better or more varied than it is now and my kids are old enough to be told “go and play in your room, daddy’s mixing!”

  • Darle Desmond

    DJ Dub.L.D here ! and iam back, well in 1985 i was in a group called STARALANTICE SOUND CREW ! man we were good now iam solo and it feels so good but things are not the same,but my dancing people just love.I’m 48 and i still beleve in at the right places and who you meet. Right now i’m working on dj school and a fan base.

  • This article is EXACTLY what I needed. I always wanted to be able to gig full time but I just couldn’t do it. Now I’m back with the ability, the tools and the motivation but this gave me that extra edge.

    Thank you for writing it.

  • Onemanarmy77

    Comming back is not so hard but staying with the music you love is hard. I play mostly nuschool breaks nad dub – psy chill – breaks which most people in the clubs do not feel at all. Clubs right now want a dj who plays this commercial house and mush up’s. I often speak with club managers and when they hear breaks it is always big NO! So finding right club thats the thing, comparing that to comming back is easy:)

  • “Mix Masher”

    WOW! Timely piece…fits me to a tee…been away from DJing some 25yrs but never stopped luvin my music…I spent the last two and a half yrs preppin for a return. I been creepn back with a gig here and there. Rehoned the skills by studying jocks I like, Mike Dunn, chitown, The Dizz, etc, and Virtual DJ. Gotta say, I am not bad for being away so long. Nows the time for my full return. Lookn to strt investing in my gear, besides my laptop, 2channel mixer and usb sound card. I agree 100%, impressive setups don’t make a good DJ just like Jordans don’t allow you to dunk…one has skill, creativety and an ear, or one doesn’t…I like to think I do…DJTT is soooo helpful to me. Great work guys!

  • hahahaha…that amon tobin video is brilliant! :p

  • Tekno

    I’m 45 now, played my acid house sets many years ago. 4 years ago, my gf arranged a one time club gig with some “youngsters” (they’re around 28) They were getting sick and tired of my criticism on their choice of tracks. Oh bugger, no 1200s, just CDJs? Sleepless nights, I couldn’t do that (had no way to practice). So I bought some simple software, even though there was nooo waaaay you’re can successfully mix live. Then started dreaming my set, the energy and style, beatporting day and night (gf: ehm did you sleep or you’re awake already?). I could only hope to choose the right stuff for the right place and start praying….

    Gig-night, about 300+ people, wetted my pants, young girl asking me if I’m going to play the biggest hits of the 70ies. But hey, I started, I sucked at mixing, no effects, but after 20 minutes the roof went off, old times revived. Since then, the guys ( I call them floor-scrubber and floor cleaner if I get prime LOL) ask me to fill slots and ask for advice. I play the last 4 years about once a month, bought some decent gear and got deep into tech house. I love doing live mashups, make them dirty on purpose and only focus on that old underground atmosphere. I make mistakes, get a little in and out of sync to “emulate” old times. I loved my vinyl, but digital is a dream. 

    Often I wonder why I stopped, but then I remember that I probably wouldn’t have made it till 40 if I had continued. Bottom line, whatever you play, play with your heart and get the energy going. Feel the floor, forget what you think, drown yourself in sweat and most important Dance. 

    I’m proud that I still know how to kick ass, that I know I will make mistakes, that I have nothing to prove and that I accepted that this will remain my hidden life due to my career…. but guys, was I lucky to get this second chance.

    • Godfather

      That’s awesome. Good luck

  • Asignorelli

    nice one.
    I´m a new Dj, like 3 years behind the tuntables.
    I started this for hobby, 14 years ago y was into computers sound but nothing serios to day a get paid for wat i do and i started as a dj whit turntables no cd.
    to day i use two sl.1200 and a xone 22. nothing more. no cd, no pc.
    just vinyls.
     My colection of records to day are around 2000 records and they come every day more records to the colection.
    The crowd, see the diference of a vinyl dj vs a controller dj or a cd dj.
    and thei know that vinyls are real, hard working and sound better.
    so please go on whit this…..

  • Simon Small

    I started DJaying back in the 80’S doing Reggae parties using a single deck. The trick back then was being to flip a disc or change in disc in the blink of an eye, often with no centre spindle on the 7″. The 90’s saw me get a 9 to 5 and a family. Now for the past 3 years I’ve been buliding my collection back up, doing small parties and slowly upgrading my set up. I started with a Vestax vci 100 after coming acroos this site and now have some cdj900s and RMX 1000. Also my perosnal preference in music genre has changed from Reggae to Soulful House although I tend to throw various House stlyes in to my mix. I’ve been playing out at parites for about a year but it always been Reggae as that what I was known for. Not being known as house DJ or having a following makes getting a gig difficult but mountains are there to climb and conquer one step at a time. I’m at a point now that I’m confident I can hold my own in the mix and the mix for me is about fun not money. I have own vlog chanel and a slot on a shoucast station. I’m 50 next year and loving every moment

  • Markbfresh

    Love this article!  I’m returning to DJing after a 15 year hiatus.  I tried CD turntables & Serato but neither worked for me.  I finally got Traktor & the S4 and am more than happy.  Now if I could just find the old jams I want to play instead of having to record the vinyl myself!  Where do you buy 80’s / 90’s underground dance music?

  • Gon

    I´m 37 now, and I´ve just returned from a 8 year hiatus. I was Djing from 1992 to 2003, first in musical bars, and then at bigger venues. My last 3 years were a residency an a big club (2000 people), and once a month my club was “on Tour”, so I had the chance to play at the best venues in MAdrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Ibiza, sometimes as leading Dj, sometimes as opening act for a superstar Dj (I did warming ups for Erick Morillo, Martin Solveig, and other EDM Stars.
    I got a full time contract in my other passion, the sail racing scene, as project manager and tactician with a very strong sailling team here in Spain. At the same time I got married and had a child….BUT….
    THe economic situation in Europe have finished with most of the profesional sailing team, and I started to think how to compensate my incomes…
    Chatting with a close friend, He told me: Why not to play music again?? I made some calls, and the next weekend I had a gig at a new venue in my town, (about 400 people) It was a success, the owner (the same person who owns the big club where I used to play) made me an offer that I couldn´t refuse.. To be the resident Dj in my “Off the boat” season.

    So here I am, Playing again. I play Cds and a music form a HDD in my brand new CDJ 2000´s…. They are amazing!!! When I retired, the CDJ500 where the latest. Imagine IT!!

    Thanx for your attention and forgime my poor english….


    • Godfather

      Nothing wrong with your English brother. Damn good read 🙂

  • If you already have the basics down, it’s like riding a bike. Today’s tools can also allow you to do the things we only dreamed of back in the day!

    • Marc A.

      Hear, hear….but to be honest…in the old days it was way simpler technical wise. Just 2 sl’s, 2 cdplayers (yep, not even pitch in those days) and a shitload of records and cd’s because you never know if they gonna ask for that one record 😉
      But that was it. Just straight mixing and playing around with the pitch faders.
      Now you bring a lot less gear but more buttons and possibilities you can imagine but I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!

      But I’m I the only one that gets nervous at the start of a gig by the thought of the laptop, software or harddisks crashing. In the old days if one of the players failed you still had the other.

      Keep “spinning” those records out there…

  • TardisNoise

    I really hope all these older DJs get to play out and show the younger generation who’s boss! I feel like what you were doing on turntables was a lot harder than pressing a sync button or playing clips. Expose the posers and show them up! Use your experience and seniority!

  • djskratchworx19

    one of the best articles ive ever read!…nicely done SmiTTEn..keep it up!

  • Deejaygee

    Yes I am one of those 50 yr old Dj’s who love music . I started back when i was 17 . Played drums for 8 yrs in a band my love for music is great .Those saturday’s  in the city to record hunt where the best time, a group of us would go it would be an all day thing . Yes the clerks back then knew What was hot and what was not.My setting back then was @ 1200,s Bozak mixer couple preamps and amps and 4 of these huge homemade speakers  .My reason for stopping was  i had a fire lost everything turntables about 100 crates of records speakers everything. I was devastated . It was like loosing part of my family . Well marriage and kid came along and time went by .I still had my love for music went to clubs had a nice cd colection but never could bring myself back into djing. Now to the the Present .While  surfing the web one nite I found this place and started reading and reading the next thing i know i have a vci 100 couple pair of speakers and was doing gigs . But the gigs where mostly parties and the music i like does not go well in parties the want to hear top 40 ,clasic disco and particapation songs thats not me. Love my house be it electro ,tribal, progressive ,club ,vocal ,dutch ,hard pumping .You get the idea . So stopped giging and set up my basement ,now im just a bedroom jock who loves his music .I also moved on with my gear now running S4 ,midifighter (love) ,and abelton with novation launchpad and remotezerosl. Never was a technical kinda guy (house painter) so all this tech stuff is greek to me but learning trying to learn to do my own mappings ,alot of reading . Thanks djtt you brought my passion back

    • SmiTTTen

      That’s the great thing about the bedroom. You can always get away with things that just aren’t acceptable in public 🙂

  • emra emra

    Awesome article! Glad to see I’m not alone. Im 26 and been into bedroom DJ’in/producing since I was 14. Unfortunately while I was in college I had to sell my beloved equipment piece by piece to pay for tuition. Selling my Techs was one of my darkest days. I continued using software based DJ tools to keep up with mixing. After falling off hard for over 3 years I finally got back into the swing of things using my old CDJ 1000’s and recently purchased a DJM 2000. Even though I never played an actualu gig i took pride in creating original mixes for my friends. When i saw someones head bopping back and fourth to a mix i created that fueled me to keep doing it. At the end of the day even if 1 person ejoys a mix of mine, Im happy. Getting back into my music has been so rewarding. Luckily I am very well connected and can play gigs whenever I want. Before that happens I want to sharpen my mixing skills before I can share my passion with listeners. Looking forward to the rest of 2012! Good luck to my fellow DJ’s, bedroom and pros!

  • DJ KIO

    This a 1:1 copy from my Mixcloud page:

    I started DJ-ing in the late 90’s playing Dutch hardcore gabber house
    from vinyl on my set of Vestax PDXd3 turntables. Later I explored a few
    other genre’s preferring Techno while standing at the decks of my
    student fraternity. With the rise of CDJ’s and consequent fall of vinyl
    outlets also my DJ-ing fell to an absolute low since I never liked the
    CDJ thing. Recently though I again found my passion for DJ-ing, this
    time spinning my tunes from my laptop (and NS6). Currently I’m the best DJ of my
    living room 🙂 and playing Electro House (as broadcasted in my Electro
    Cloud); Chill Out (as broadcasted in my Cloud Nine); and I am still spinning my old early Hardcore records (in my future cloudcast Thunder
    Cloud) and finally, I have plans for uploading a cloudcast of 90’s dance

  • FreddyMac07

    Celestial alignment?  Divine intervention?  Fate?  I was mapping out a strategy to consistently spend time with my music after being away for almost 5 years; been busy with school, work, new career, life, etc.  I started randomly surfing the web about keys and landed on this site and article.  Such a trip, great info.  I’ve still got my Techs, still have the phones, still have all the wax and don’t plan on parting with any of it, but I’m bummed I didn’t get to check out the equipment on craigspal!  The site is now off-line…  I’ll Google around, but anyone have recommendations on best sites to go for used equipment? 

    Quality over quantity, any day.

  • Bcrogan

    wow amon tobin is a real douche! 

    • nah, just real.

      if you think any of the poser wankery he’s making fun of is seriously important to the art of dj’ing, you are sadly mistaken.

    • naks

       Methinks you misunderstand – its called a dry sense of humour, sarcasm etc.

  • pwebb

    just an fyi, craigspal received a cease and desist order from craigslist yesterday, and decided to shut down. you can read the guys announcement on the link you posted

  • pizurp

    yes… I am one of these DJs! I didnt realize i was part of a movement, ha. I used to be a hip-hop type dj during the 90s… (all this MIDI stuff would be considered sinful back then!)… but I’m loving it. A lil less than a year ago I got another 2-channel set-up for cheap from a friend, and have become re-hooked. Great article, great site… i’d be lost without DJTT right now!

  • dj Arnie

    I left for 8 years and was working on denon dns5000. I started back this year nd have to say that djtechtools has been my best learning platform on gear and some cool techniques. I am now running tractor S4 with maschine and midi fighter. I want to get into Abelton as well live. I think the new ways are amazing but get fed up off old school djs saying oh it takes all the hard work out of it if you don’t have to beat match lol. Im guessing they haven’t spent days griding and priming all there music. I have just added my iPad to the set up but i think this is a bit faddy for me as i prefer buttons and knobs, (not in a gay way). All i want now is a couple of F1’s and 2.5 at the end of the month and a midi fighter 3d.

  • Sugardaddy

    I started DJing in 1991 as a Hip-Hop DJ. Over the years got more an more into D&B, Breakbeats, Electronica, Dubstep. When my kids came into my world, I stopped DJing. The family became more important. But I never stopped listening an collecting music. Now, after 6 years…..don’t call it a comeback 🙂 (As you see i go digital now). Booyaaaa!

    • SmiTTTen

      Great Photo! 

  • Safadao

    Great article and great to know at 50, I’m not alone!

  • Durtyjerzy609

    well done smiTTTen…. when i lived in the US i had a lot of regular gigs doing bars and clubs battles and even DJ’d for PUMA, but then I moved to the UK and had to start all over and it was (and still is hard) Every one here is Traktor and controller or CDJ based while im a Serato fiend and TT addict, so it was weird coming to terms. My old gigs were all about hiphop funk sould dancehall party rocking, where as here in the UK it is mos def EDM based. For the last 3 years I’ve been here, I’ve def had to come to terms with not only the style of DJ’n here but the technology. So I’ve stepped up my game, got a TTM57SL and an Akai LPD8 and some Dicers, but still on my TT’s. Its opened up new realms I hadn’t explored before. I’ve had to find the love again inside myself, and remember I didn’t start DJ’n to be a super star or a celeb, but as acreative outlet for what’s inside me.  I still get a massive kick in the soul when I play in front of a crowd and have to remember how blessed I am to do so. I’m evolving and I like that, but one word to those coming back into the love. Keep strong to your roots, it’s whats made you who you are, don’t jump on the new shiny rocket headin for the stars with out taking a momento of your past. Like me, I was suprised when i got in front of a crowd here and starting cuttin vinyl to James Brown, the crowd loved it and my soul soared. One love. and smiTTTen, you’s a bad azz pimp azz dynamite dicen mofo! Peace 

    • SmiTTTen

      Need more Americans playing in the UK and the more Brits playing in the US 🙂

  • Wonderful article, loved it and reminded me of when I first started, 20 years ago! Also loved the video with Amon Tobin:

    – I learned this from Paul Oakenfold!- Who?!


  • Jeesus

    I’m 52 now and still mixing for pleasure,music is a love of a life! I still own a pair of technics and just bought me a vestax for traktor pro.It’s amazing to hear the possibility it gives you to turn the sounds upside down instead of spending your attention to keep the beat in time but i do agree with one thing: no matter the amount of technology you have ,your next tune will make the difference.
    I used to dj in clubs and every week ends in a musical bar in france,it was the beginning of a new era,and had my radio show during 10 years.It was called “1999” (i’m a huge fan of prince) but don’t laugh,it started in 1986 !!!
    Life passed by and i grew old,had 2 kids and took a good job to live with my family but the knowledge of music is deep down in me so i keep on spinning my records and my mp3s…in my basement.
    The best part of the story is my oldest son organising nights in clubs.He is 24 and mix regularly with his macbook.So i dig in my 15000 records collection and make loops for him.Like we say in france “les chiens ne font pas des chats”
    That’s “dogs don’t give birth of cats”
    Sorry for my english writing…and keep on mixing !

    • I have immense respect for you DJs like yourself. You still have the passion and not intimidated by technology. I’ve noticed DJs who’ve been gone for a long time tend return with a stronger BANG! Especially if they were producers. Respekt!

    • Dlesaner

      Moi aussi j’ai 52 ans,j’ai l’impression que ma carrière commence maintenant…j’ai du m’adapter,aprés une longue absence,aux nouveautés téchniques.Mais ça fait plaisir de faire découvrir aux jeunes sur ce qu’on dansée nous à leur age.J’ai deux Denon DN-9000,ça me suffit largement pour assurer une soirée.

    • I’m 38. Mobile DJ during high school. On-and-off basement DJ since university. 3 kids now. I must have been nice because Santa brought me a Hercules DJ 4Set last christmas. Then I found a Denon DN-HC1000S on sale quite cheap. I am not crazy about Virtual DJ (included with my Hercules) and am trying (and loving) Traktor.

      “Les chiens ne font pas des chats” Si c’etait vrai! I arrived from work before my 2 boys (7 and 5) last Friday, and took out the gear. I had 2 songs they like loaded on each deck. Suddenly they arrived, and started spinning the wheels just to make noise and annoy me.

      I decided to give them some basic background and leave them to play. André (7) quickly understood cue points and started playing around, making his own crazy remix of the song on deck A, while Bernardo (5) understood faders and put his brother on and off the mix while “scratching” all over. The most awesome part was looking at them bang their heads to the beat and put their hands up in the air and back to the controller with all that DJ attitude, so natural!

      It’s good to be back, and the technology has so much to offer. My wife supports me and has no objection on letting me buy my gadgets and making noise (just don’t leave mess at the end of the session). Now that my kids seem to have a vein for this, some teaching is in order…

  • Philip

    Great article! Glad to hear you’re coming back, Steve! The collective intelligence of the DJ industry just got an upgrade!

  • djlotus

    Written more as a “beginner’s guide” than a welcome back. 

  • Iamaliv

    Ok, I’m not really an old timer and can’t claim any extreme amount of talent, but I learned on super old tables a little less than 10 years ago from an amazing DJ mentor. I spun nothing but old cheesy house, and never really had any tricks up my sleeve, but I loved every minute. Since leaving that job at that club, I kind of gave up because I felt like it was some sort of humungo deal to be a DJ that I didn’t have the high level of coolness to do it. But after years of thinking about it, admiring my favs on the stage, dreaming of what I would differently, I’m finally going to conquer my fear of not knowing all this new technology, and just have fun with it. Reading this article just confirmed that for me. I just wish I wasn’t a girl so people would like what I do *not* based on how sexy it is to see a girl DJing, but based on whether or not she has any skills. 😉 We shall see…  

  • Do not rule out CDs as a media; in fact I prefer getting media I know will not be lost (permanent backup solution) or deleted, or fair use rights removed due to some copyright/DRM mess. Trading the CDs I do not like (such as and gives me the opportunity to screen music at a price point I can afford, and if I do not like to for myself or to spin then I trade it back out. Additionally, searching music/record fair/swap meets for possible trading fodder or additions to the collection is another way I have found to enjoy the hunt for new music, meet other music lovers and DJs, and see parts of the country I have not seen before. 

    If I do like it, then I can rip to my collection at the sample rate I want with the correct ID3 tags and add it to my collection. All with having the physical backup media and the artistic album art/inserts the artists intended. 

    I may not be actively DJing right now, but as a lover of music I am always updating my collection. I find this key for when I do start again, my collection and set lists are ready.

  • 16b441khz

    lol at the amon tobin video where he said he could do his “salute” to the crowd in any direction but only in surround sound. fuckin top stuff 🙂

  • DJ Irvin Cee

    I stopped DJ’ing about 25 years ago and started again (rather prepping to) about 6 to 8 years ago. The main reason why I restarted, was 1: My love for music came back and 2: I finaly saw that DJ’ing was gooing digital and fun stuff was gooing to happend.
    Now I’m a bit disapointed that it still took pretty long before digital DJ’ing reallytook of and we see a lot of very good gear coming in to the shelfs. Like 2 years now?
    And I strongly believe we ain’t seen nothing yet. The real fun gear will be showing up in a year or 2.
    Still also waiting patiantly for light gear to follow… lots of crazy stuff out of there, but no one seems to bother to run those light REALLY in sync with the beat. He I got MIDI on my laptop, USE IT!

    •  Yeah with you there… stopped like 20 or so years ago and always had this love for music…. have a lil more time now… and its back and I am heavy into producing and DJ’ing again.. using Traktor DVS and Acid Pro and FL Studio… and having the best time with it 🙂

  • I’ll be 39 this year, and I took a 13+ year hiatus from mixing Hip-Hop and R&B on wax. For years I wanted to invest into mixing again and when the Kontrol S2 came out it was the right price point for me to start experimenting again. I have rediscovered the joys of mixing, and while the methods are somewhat different, there is still nothing like nodding your head to a hype beat and digging through the songs to find the next transition.

    Now I haven’t hit a club since my return, but I hope to by the end of 2012. Even if for some reason I can’t, I am thoroughly enjoying mixing when I can.

  • Xonetacular

    excellently written article smitten, nice work 

  • Right, here’s one to stump you then…

    What advice do you give to a DJ who’s been on hiatus for 3 years, and has been using Traktor since your acne made your early teenage life unbearable? (2001, to be exact)

    • define ‘hiatus’

      3 years since your last club gig? or 3 years since you mixed?
      if it’s the former, and your craft is up to scratch – start recording demos and get yourself known!
      if it’s the latter – fire up traktor and get mixing.

  • RockingClub

    Nice article even though I not one of the old-school generation. But it’s really interesting how the game has changed. What is even more interesting is that making things easier has not really led to higher mix quality in general!
    Maybe I will have to expand my digital setup with some nice turntables in near future…:)

  • I’ve left and come back to DJing three times, and I suspect it will happen many more times. I’m still able to get gigs at the bigger clubs in town without too much hassle – the owners and promoters understand and respect that DJing is my “3rd Hobby” (after work and art). The only downside I’ve experienced is that it is impossible to maintain a following even after just a years’ hiatus. Luckily, the club owners and promoters remember me as a professional, nice guy that can create big parties – so I don’t have to rely on a built in following too much.