Being able to scratch really cleanly is something that many people greatly desire. Part of what makes scratching sound professional is executing everything as clean as possible. If your scratching is overly sloppy it is not very appealing to listen to because it prevents you from clearly communicating the ideas you want to express.
Many think that simply practicing regularly will be enough to eventually get their scratching sounding super clean. The problem is that it's very unlikely that your scratch practice is focused on the correct things that will actually lead to clean scratching. This all amounts to a big waste of time with much less results than focusing your practicing on the areas that are essential to achieving your goal of scratching cleanly.
Use the Right Tool for the Job
Imagine you had a really dirty toilet. Now imagine the only tool you had to clean it with was a toothpick. Sure you could scrape off the gunk to some extent, but it would take you a really long time and the end result would likely still be a pretty filthy toilet. Now imagine you had a proper scrub brush and cleanser to clean that same toilet. Clearly the results would be much more to your liking and you wouldn't be stuck with a nasty toilet anymore.
The same applies with cleaning up your scratching. You need to pick the most effective method to get the job done. This method is what I refer to as 2 hand sync. This method involves training the timing of what your record hand is doing with what your fader hand needs to be doing at the same time.
Being Out of Sync is the Biggest Cause of Sloppiness
Now that you're aware of what the most important skill for cleaning up your scratching is, you need to further your understanding of how to harness its power. Just like not knowing what to focus on in practice is problematic, so is being unsure about what to focus on when working on the correct method. Even if you're practicing 2 hand sync you're likely to still have a lot of problems with fixing sloppy scratching. This is because when your hands are out of sync with each other you will not be clicking the fader in time with your record movements.
Better Understanding of Techniques is Important
One of the best ways to get an idea of when to time your fader hand with what your record hand is doing is to know how each scratch technique you are practicing works. Each technique should dictate specific timing. If you lack understanding of how techniques work you will never be able to execute those techniques cleanly.
Techniques like forwards, stabs, reverses and transforms dictate very specific timing. The definition of those techniques clearly states that the fader must begin and end with the fader closed. Timing for techniques like 1 click, 2 click and 3 click flare scratches depend on the fader beginning and ending open, as well as clicking in the middle of a forward or reverse record movement. While you still need a bit more understanding about those techniques and others to really work on your 2 hand sync, the basic definitions provide a good understanding of where to start.
Speed is Very Important
A huge misconception about clean scratching has to do with speed. It is not advised to try scratching at warp speed if you are generally sloppy at slower speeds. This is an obvious sounding point that many people actually are familiar with. However, despite their familiarity they typically run into another common problem that occurs when practicing scratching at slow speeds. They think that because they are scratching with slower more sustained notes that it's okay to open and close the fader slowly.
Unfortunately, this leads to big problems when working to increase your speed later on. While you may have longer periods of time between each click of the fader when scratching slower, it is crucial that every single time you open and close the fader you do it as instantly as possible. This puts you in a much better position for increasing speed because you will not have to train yourself to click faster later on. You'll simply need to decrease the amount of time that passes between each click of the fader.
Mastering the Basics and Taking Things to Another Level
You now have the general guidelines on how to get your scratching sounding ultra clean. What you'll want to do now is begin implementing the advice in this article for each of your scratch techniques, scratch combos and patterns that you want to clean up. You'll want to make sure that you do this in isolation, over a beat and within your freestyles as each context presents its own challenges. Realize, that just because you can do a technique cleanly in complete isolation does not mean that you will be as clean with that technique over a beat or in a freestyle integrated with all your other scratching.
You must also recognize that there are many more facets to improving your 2 hand sync that are often times very personal to your own development. This is mainly because your strengths, weaknesses, challenges and goals are unique to you. This is why if you truly want to excel at 2 hand sync and get your scratching to sound extremely clean and masterful, you need high quality scratch instruction. Come to my online scratch lessons page and discover how you can successfully conquer all your scratching challenges.