Benefits of a Wider Pitch Range
Recently I became the owner of a pair of Vestax PDX-3000 turntables, up until that point and my DJing antics were restricted to the +/-8% pitch range of my trusty Technics. So with my new found glory of ultra pitch I thought I’d post some info about pitch ranges, most of what I am going to say will be fairly obvious but I hope there may be useful tips/ideas for some people in here to inspire some extra creativity.
Pitch & Mixing
With mixing the benefits of having more pitch range is quite obvious, the +/-8% range of Technics 1200/1210s is generally fine for beat matching specific genres of dance music. If you want to cross around between genres though you will often find the record you want to mix in is just outside of your pitch range. This is good however just getting 2 records beat matched doesn’t mean it’s going to sound good, using excessive pitch can easily turn Barry White into a chipmunk.
The other thing to note is that when you have a wider range of pitch on your pitch fader it becomes more sensitive, if you have pitch fader which covers +/-16% then when you move the pitch fader 1cm it’s going to have a lot more of an effect on the speed than the same movement on a pitch fader covering +/-8%.
Pitch & Juggling
I think most people juggle with their turntable set to 33rpm, this is certainly not always the case but if you’ve tried juggling at 45rpm you’ll instant realized it’s quite a bit harder as you’ve got to move much quicker. Since this is the case you might think that being able to speed up the turntable even more might not be of much use to you, but there are a couple of reasons it might be; the first is that is useful for training, if you get some fairly tight juggles down sped up then when you slow it back down again you’ll find it so much easier and tighter! The second reason is that you might actually work out something which works really well sped up.
Being able to slow the turntable down a lot more has a more obvious use when juggling (or learning to juggle). When you are trying to work something out which you are finding hard then slowing the record down more gives you a bit more time to think and work out what you are doing.
Beat juggling is all about thinking outside of the box so by utilizing the pitch fader you can you can come up with interesting and original ideas so by having more pitch range available when beat juggling you have better training & learning tools as well as more possibilities to come up with exciting stuff.
Pitch & Scratching
Obviously one main use of the pitch control with scratching is matching up the timing of the sample or scratch sentence you are using with the beat you are scratching too, if this is the case then it what you set the pitch slider too depends on the both the sample/sentence and the beat you are using. If you are using a non rhythmical sample to scratch with, such as the famous ahh sample, then there is no tempo to be match ed up. In this case the pitch can either be used to set the tone of the sample or to adjust the speed of the platter to your most comfortable speed to scratch at…
I have no idea why the speeds 78rpm, 45rpm & 33rpm were chosen for for the speeds for records (if anyone knows I’d be interested to hear why) but one thing I do know is that is wasn’t because they were good speeds for scratching. If you do scratch you’ve probably already noticed that you probably prefer to scratch at 33rpm than 45rpm. The reason for this is because at 45rpm you need to move the record a lot faster and further. The other good thing about scratching with platter moving more slowly is that you can jump between parts of the sample quicker again because you don’t need to move the record so far.
After some experimentation it became obvious to me that 33rpm still wasn’t ideal so while using my Technics when I scratch I often have the pitch at -8% but even that feels a bit fast. I’m most definitely not the only person who thinks this and as a result scratch records such as Ricci Rucker’s UPR 1 and Scratch Science’s Grasshopper Breaks series have started to appear with the scratch samples sped up for use on turntables were you can drop the pitch much slower. This is most definitely a good thing in my opinion and if you own a turntable that can go to -20% or lower I really recommend you track down the Grasshopper Breaks practice records (they got dope beats on them too)!
This post just covers my feeling on wider pitch ranges, I hope you find what I have said interesting but ultimately you just got to experiment!