The Support of Friends and Strangers

Three colored turntable record players

I’ve been feeling really alone in my quest to learn to spin vinyl, as I say “Like an adult person” meaning I sound like I’m new (because I am) but at my ripe old age of 41 I feel like I should be much better, conveniently forgetting that I’ve been on turntables for 1/20 of the time many of my agemates have. And as the last member of the old guard to say, yah I want to spin records and learn I felt really alone… like I had no support because what is new to me is old hat to my peers and sometimes I’m embarrassed to ask basic questions so I’m left fumbling to figure out very rudimentary aspects of the art alone over what feels like much more time than it should take..

Well eff that.  I’ve been doing more thinking on the topic and have recently seen such generosity and faith in me, investments of time in me, even just simply including me in dj talk or letting me come up on someone else’s stage to watch… it’s actually crazy how lucky and supported I am.

Thinking back to when I very first wanted to play music, just for me because no one was playing the old school tunes I craved hearing in mixed sets so I decided I’d just play them myself, a friend gave me my first controller as he had upgraded.  We’re friends but not like talk every day or even week friends and he just gave me this perfectly good machine that he could have easily sold.  It was a Mixtrack Pro so pretty much exactly what I would have been buying as an entry level controller (because I wasn’t planning on gigging out yet) and I loved it so much and learned so much about music mixing on it (even in sync mode I was learning).  So to Dan, thank you.

I was soon showing interest in also learning to spin records.. kinda just because it seemed like a cool thing to know, bringing my little heart back to the old days.  A friend had a pair of unused tables in his basement and passed the on to me.  In the end they didn’t work well enough to use, coupled with the fact I had no idea what I was doing buying needles and monitor and those didn’t last long, but the thought of someone giving me tables that had been important enough to hang on to.. amazing.  This particular friend has treated me like family since the day we met but he is family to everyone so I have no idea why it was me he blessed, but Thank You Richie.

I eventually upgraded to a Numark N4, the first brand new big piece of equipment I ever owned… and here I finally was taking matters into my own hands for equipment but started to be gifted with other’s knowledge… I used it for about a year but I was making all the mistakes you see in pretty much every DJ who learns on a controller before learning cdj’s or turntables.  A very generous DJ started giving me some tips on things I should break the habit of because I was doing things that would potentially blow out a sound system if I did it on a standard mixer should I ever play cd’s or records, and more tips like that… always dropping me little breadcrumbs to follow, recommending articles and books (always worth reading) and pretty much becoming my go to go for questions on gear, technique, and even ethics then and now that I play vinyl.  So for being my Yoda, Thank You, Ryan.

The N4 went away in a trade when I got the vinyl bug again, traded for yet another pair of turntables and a nice chunk of old Techno vinyl.  The tables were pawned off in yet another trade because they weren’t quite there and i didn’t want to spend the money to fix them up, but the records were the start of my first crate, and my friend was no skimpy on which records he let me take in the trade, it was my pick (he gave me one he loved so much that i eventually felt bad and gave it back but that just proves he was giving me his gems).  He also spent a decent amount of time listening to me trying to put sets together on vinyl and controller, a very repetitious project for me, and never complained, so Thank You Ray.

And then there was a friend selling some gear I wanted DESPERATELY for more than I could afford who cut me the friend deal on the price even though we hadn’t spoken in a decade.  I got a nearly new S4 controller, a KRK 6 monitor, record bag and record box all for about 2/3 of the going price for the condition they were in.  Now the S4 wasn’t for me (I’m impatient and it was far more machine than I was ready for) but I managed to trade it and get a very nice return off it of 2 cdj’s (not sure the model, haven’t actually touched them yet) a DJM 500 or 600 (I forget, it’s since been sold as I upgraded and already have back up mixers), a Serato box (wasn’t for me so I sold it for 150 bucks and 20-50 records (I forget how many).  And those cdj’s that I got in the trade for the S4 magically became turntables as you’ll read, so to the long lost friend who treated me like a close buddy, Thank You Brian.

I still wanted tables that worked though, so yet ANOTHER friend blessed me with a pair, this one in good working order.  I think they were the Stantons.  I was TERRIBLE on them being both new to vinyl and also because they’d been set for scratching rather than blending with an internal adjustment, so I never settled in to get good at them, but this wasn’t a trade and this wasn’t a purchase, this was just “I have these and you need these” and my friend just wanted me to realize the old raver dream of playing records.  In the end I just couldn’t get used to the torque and they ended up sharing my room with Tech’s so my friend gave me permission to sell them for record money.  For your amazing generosity to a new friend, Thank you Bryan.

AND THEN, how’s this for support from your friends?  My friend wanted to learn to play CDJ’s and I had them.  I STILL didn’t have usable turntables and his business partner owned a pair he wasn’t using.  We met at a party in CT (he’s from Cape Cod) and long-term traded.  But here’s the thing, he had to fix up the cdj’s a bit (clean them maybe, I’m not sure) and then only used them twice to just get a general feel, but has let me hold on to his turntables for about a year and a half now.  Now the tables of his friend’s were in pretty rough shape and getting rougher by the month and I knew i was going to have to return them eventually, but I was spending the money I should have been saving for replacing the Technics with my own pair on record buying binges so I was always stressing that he’d call them back from me, but he never did until i finally did get a new pair of my own.  So for that, Thank You Jason.

So I was super grateful to have Techs to use, I kept saying that it was a dream come true to have the real deal RIGHT tables in my possession and it was true, but I also whined about the little issues with them… but obviously wasn’t going to drop a few hundred dollars to fix tables I’d have to return at some point.  I have a new friend who has become a very good friend who heard the whining all the time, she’s so sweet she’s been mastering my mixes for me and will be teaching me to do my own (and she does a pro level post production job, not just a basic bare bones master), including me in invents, and encouraging me in my work all along, but when another friend told me he was selling one of his pairs of tables that HAPPENED to be exactly my favorite pair of Tech’s I’ve ever played on I wanted them so badly, not expecting a yes I asked her if she would front me the cost of the tables and let me pay her back slowly and because, as she said, she knew I’d be a better and happier DJ on properly functioning equipment and she wanted me to be happy (and it never hurts to have another pair of show ready tables in a group of friends) she said yes to the loan and came through with it quickly.  I’m not going to say a dollar amount but it was substantial.  So for support, for all the knowledge about gear and technique you share, and the loan which I found touching, Thank You Kara.

And there’s more, people who give tips and tricks, who encourage, who support, even people who give me shit make me more determined so I thank them to.  So yah, I’ve had to fumble through a lot myself but when I do a round up of the help I’ve been blessed with I realize I’m probably way ahead of the dj world in general when it comes to getting equipment put in my hands and knowledge shared with me.

 

 

 

 

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