Top DJ Accessories For Playing On Turntables
There’s more to a vinyl DJ setup than just two turntables and a mixer. We’ve compiled all of the turntable accessories you need to control vinyl records during a mix.
As a DJ, you already know your DJ equipment is essential to a successful gig. If you want to deliver the best possible show for your audience, you need the right equipment by your side.
If you’re getting into DJing on turntables, your gear becomes even more important than if you’re using a CDJ setup or DJ controller. To start DJing on vinyl, there are several accessories that are absolutely vital.
From styluses to slipmats and vinyl cleaning products, these are the accessories a DJ needs to spin vinyl in the club.
Your DJ stylus is the needle that makes contact with the vinyl grooves and transmits the sound when you’re DJing.
There are many different types and brands of stylus, but the main thing you need to know is that they wear out over time and should be replaced periodically. This is important because as they wear out they will damage your vinyl records.
It’s always worthwhile having a spare couple of needles with you when you’re gigging. If they break or don’t sound good during your set, you want to be able to change them.
The cartridge is what holds the stylus and is mounted onto the headshell - an essential part of your turntable setup.
A cartridge converts the mechanical vibrations of the stylus into electrical signals that can be amplified and sent to speakers.
Cartridges can vary greatly in price and quality. Generally speaking, a higher priced cartridge will have better fidelity.
The most expensive cartridges can cost up to $1200. Lower end models can be found starting at $20.
There are a few important things to look out for when purchasing a cartridge:
- Make sure you purchase one with the correct type of stylus (shibata or elliptical).
- Make sure the cartridge that you’re buying is compatible with your headshells.
- Remember all of these elements make up a system and you don’t want any weak parts - that’s why it is also very important to purchase a quality headshell to ensure maximum performance from your cartridge.
Headshells are a simple but important accessory for DJs. They attach to the end of your tonearm and hold the cartridge in place.
Some headshells are universal, while others are designed specifically for certain cartridges. If you want to upgrade your headshells, be careful not to choose ones that aren’t compatible with your cartridge type.
There are several different types of headshell available – they vary according to weight and materials used (including carbon fibre). Generally speaking, lighter headshells can improve sound quality and reduce record wear, but some heavier ones can be more durable.
If you’re not sure which headshell to go for, try bringing a picture of your decks and cartridge into your local record shop and ask for advice.
The purpose of a slipmat is to help you manipulate the vinyl on the platter. This is particularly essential if you want to learn how to scratch. Without a slipmat, you can still scratch, but it won’t sound as good or as smooth.
However, not all slipmats are created equal. There are three main types of slipmats. A standard slipmat is made from felt, a material that provides good grip and control for cueing up your records - this is likely the type of slipmat that will come with your turntable when you buy it. These are great for standard mixing techniques, but won't hold up for more advanced techniques like crabbing or chirping.
For more advanced scratch DJs, you need a slipmat that offers more traction. At this point you have two options: a butter rug (made from polyester), or a high-grip slipmat (made from rubber). Both of these materials will allow you to perform advanced techniques with greater precision than a traditional felt slipmat will.
Slipmats come in many different styles. Some have logos or designs printed on them while others are plain black. You can find something that matches your personal style or even customise your own if you’re feeling crafty.
Customisable slipmats also make great gifts for DJs - especially if they have a label or promoter - then you can print their logos on them and they can display them when they’re DJing.
DJ headphones are one of the DJ accessories that you need, no matter what you’re DJing on. Even if you’re learning how to DJ on a laptop in your bedroom, they’re a vital piece of kit, and they only become more important as you start getting DJ gigs in clubs and at festivals.
Headphones allow you to hear what’s going on in your music and see how it sounds before playing it for your audience. Though there’s a huge range of headphones on the market - ranging from extremely cheap to extremely expensive - make sure you get a pair of professional headphones so that you can hear precise details of your music.
Having quality cables is vital to a smooth performance as a DJ. Whether you're mixing with timecode vinyl or using turntables, you'll need quality cables if you want to play without experiencing any technical difficulties.
Venues should have all the cables you need, so you won’t typically have to bring your own cables to gigs, but you’ll definitely need DJ cables for your home setup.
While it might be tempting to go with cheaper options when buying cables, it's worth the investment to spend more on reliable products. Look into brands like Mogami and think about how much sound quality matters to your sets before making a purchase decision.
You'll want at least one set of RCA cables for connecting your turntable outputs to your mixer inputs and two sets of 1/4" mono cables for hooking up your decks.
Turntable Dust Cover
This is one of the most important accessories for your turntables - especially if you’re moving them around, but they’re also worth having and using if your turntable setup is permanently static.
A turntable dust cover protects the tonearm and vinyl from being damaged by dust or liquid.
This is a pretty simple piece of kit, the only thing to look for when you’re buying a turntable dust cover is that it has a firm way of keeping it in place such as hooks or Velcro straps.
Vinyl is built to be durable, but it's not invincible - especially when it comes to scratching and scuffing.
Your records are your tools, so take care of them. Regular cleaning is essential, especially when you play out in nightclubs with lots of dust and smoke. With vinyl cleaner and a good record brush, cleaning your records takes only a few seconds per side.
There are various products on the market for cleaning your records and extending their lives. The best thing about this is that many of these record cleaning products are eco-friendly, so they won't have any negative effects on the environment and our planet.
Here's a short list of vinyl record cleaning products - you’ll be able to find these or great alternatives at any good local record shop you pop into:
- The Vinyl Vault All Natural Record Cleaner (this one is great because it doesn't produce any residue or leave streaks on the surface of your records)
- Disc Doctor's Miracle Record Cleaner (a popular choice for getting rid of dust and debris on your records)
- SPINCARE 5-In-1 Vinyl Record Cleaning Set including Anti-Static Record Cleaning Solution, Velvet Cleaning Pad, Drying Rack and Carbon Fibre Stylus Brush
- Vinyl Vac Record Cleaner Vacuum Wand (attaches to your vacuum cleaner so you can hoover the dust away)
Making sure you have the right accessories can be the difference between a great performance and a bad one. As well as buying all of these DJ accessories in the first place, it is also worth getting duplicates so you can have backup styluses, cartridges and slipmats at gigs - just remember that if anything goes wrong with any of these elements, you won’t be able to DJ.
Any of these turntable accessories could also make for great music gifts for the turntablist in your life. A record brush or customised slipmat might not look like much to a non-DJ, but for a record fanatic, it’s about as thoughtful as gifts come.
If you’ve got a vinyl DJ setup at home, but want to record a mix or practice DJing on CDJs, there’s no need to go out and buy a new set of decks. With Pirate, you can book a DJ studio with industry-standard Pioneer equipment across the UK, US and Germany. Plus, you can pay by the hour and book 24/7.