2005 • Price:
£15.99 plus p&p • Available
We’ve all started somewhere when it comes to learning how
to scratch. Be it by replicating the feats of battle DJs from eagerly
tracked down videos, imitating your mates, getting someone to show
you how to do it or trying to figure it out for yourself. But since
the late 90s tutorials have been the main way in which most people
seemingly learn the basics of this artform. It started with videos
by the likes of DMC and various world famous DJs and crews (Scratch
Perverts, Shortee, Mixologists, etc…) which showed and explained
various techniques from the baby scratch to the hydroplane via
juggling and word cutting and it culminated in recent years with
the advent of Qbert’s DIY DVDs (volumes 1 and 2) which took
the basic concepts of tutorial videos and expanded on it by adding
a certain degree of interactivity. It seemed as if DVDs might be
the ultimate incarnation of tutorials, that is until the good people
at Pedestrian came up with a new idea of their own.
In comes the Tutoritool, a simple yet effective concept that makes
you think ‘why did no one else think of this before?’ Instead
of using visual mediums to communicate techniques and learning,
the Tutoritool uses the turntablist’s prime resource and
medium, vinyl and audio. Designed over a period of nearly two years,
the Tutoritool has been well thought out and incorporates similar
principles as those of videos and DVDs (teaching the various basic
and advanced scratch techniques as well as juggling) but through
the aural medium. Neatly packaged in a gatefold cover, the Tutoritool
offers a new take on an old concept and is frankly a breath of
fresh air when it comes to tutorials.
So what do you get?
They say first impressions account for a lot, and the Tutoritool
does deliver on that front. The records come in a lovely gatefold
cover, which is nicely designed with logo, colours and font carrying
a theme throughout. Inside the gatefold you get a listing of the
contents of each record, an explanation of the concept behind the
Tutoritool, a set of markers (more on that later) and a pull-out
4 pages ‘How To…’ to help illustrate the various
techniques as well as give info on marking records (kind of like
the extras you get on videos or DVDs), all designed in the Tutoritool
The records themselves feel sturdier than your average battle
break, which in my book is a good thing, but not too heavy either.
Each record features one side (side B) which is identical and comprised
of 4 beats (one hip hop, one rock, one jazz and one drum n bass),
2 sets of juggling breaks (one 66bpm, one 133bpm) and 4 sets of
scratch samples which alternate between the various beats.
sides of each record are essentially the tutorial sides. Record
1 has 6 scratch tutorials: baby scratch, cuts & stabs,
chirps, transformer, flare and crab. Each of these is set in a
locked groove, infinitely repeating the example of the scratch.
The tutorials are alternated with 6 different sample banks: drum
sounds, bass sounds, vocals, lead sounds, another set of vocals
and a ‘virtual 303’ which offers filtering bass tones
to create your own bass sounds.
Record 2 has 5 tutorials: drums,
bass line, vocals, verses and a turntable composition. Again each
of these is alternated with 6 different sets of scratch sounds
(using old and new classic scratch samples) and one unskippable
The ‘How To’ pullout gives you all the information
needed to use the records. For the scratch tutorials the concept
is fairly simple. You put Record 1 side A on one deck and Record
2 side A on the other. Set Record 1 to an infinite loop of a scratch
technique (i.e. Baby scratch) and use the scratch samples on Record
2 to then practice said scratch. The pull out also gives various
tips for each technique, such as placement of the hand, use of
the fader and hand/wrist movement. For the Record 2 tutorials,
you just have to invert the records. For example placing the drums
tutorial on Record 2 side A on one deck and then using the drum
samples on Record 1 side A to practice and replicate the example.
Again each tutorial is given more depth in the pull out. Lastly
the pull out includes an explanation and tips & techniques
for using the beat juggling sets and a detailed explanation of
how to use the markers to locate sounds and to loop sounds as well.
overall a lot of content on just two records, and a lot of the
same ground covered by a lot of video tutorials. But how does it
all sound and feel in practice?
So what’s it like?
The tutorials are good overall, with each scratch technique fairly
well demonstrated. Not having a visual stimulus is a good thing
in my opinion as it can help to develop your own style more easily
than with other tutorials, who are often noted for causing people
to replicate what they see per se without putting in any of their
own twist or vision. The other thing I found is that some of the
techniques are demonstrated fairly fast on the infinite loops,
which might hinder some people at first. Of course you could use
the pitch to slow them down, but I guess that’s one drawback
to using the vinyl medium. Lastly to a trained ear some of the
scratch tutorials may sound a bit ‘incorrect’, for
example baby scratches do sound like a combination of different
types of baby scratches, but again this is more something that
would register to a trained ear rather than that of a beginner.
second set of tutorials is more aimed towards composition, an often
forgotten aspect of most tutorials. Again they are well done, concise
and effective. Of course a big aspect of composition is the personal
involvement put in by the person, but these offer a decent basic
idea of what you can achieve with a turntable and instrument sounds
composition wise. Again their only downside is the speed of execution
at times and for the overall turntable composition tutorial the
fact that it sounds a bit rushed. Nonetheless I think that this
set of tutorials is one of the Tutoritool’s strongest
points. Here is a tutorial that shows the duality of learning scratch
techniques and then applying those to composition, letting the
technicality take a back seat to creativity.
As a final point on
the tutorials I must admit that the concept of using an infinitely
looping sound to practice your technique does take a little getting
used to. However I have a feeling that for me personally that is
more due to my having used other tutorials before, such as Qbert’s
DIY 1, and therefore might not be the case for someone who is a
beginner and has never seen or used a video tutorial.
I won’t go in too much detail over each sample bank, as
there are quite a lot on there. On the whole the Tutoritool’s
samples stand well against your average battle record. The selection
is wide and varied, the samples are spaced out just enough to allow
a quick search and to flip through them while scratching. The quality
of the samples is also good and there are a lot of classics on
there as well as some new ones which would fit nicely in anyone’s
collection. The instrument samples are good as well, again a nice
variety and range is on offer throughout the record, and the way
in which the rock and jazz beats on sides B are given their own
sample bank of rock and jazz sounds to use them with is a very
nice touch. The drum samples are probably the weakest out of the
lot (not in term of quality but range wise), but again for a beginner
I wouldn’t necessarily say that drums are a crucial part
of the learning process. Most people come to scratch drumming once
they’ve mastered the techniques (and by then they’ll
have a better understanding of how to use the sounds but also where
to get them from).
The sets of samples on sides A are also well
done and put together. Each sample bank, which is to be used to
practice the various techniques, has been well thought out, with
longer samples for the transformer scratch and shorter ones for
chirps for example.
So in conclusion the samples are properly mastered,
sound good, are wide and varied and well thought out. It’s
also worth noting that for beginners (whom this is aimed at) the
records do offer a very large selection of samples for practice,
which is not something everyone always has the leisure of when
they start, especially on a small budget.
As mentioned before there are 4 beats to practice with on the
record (two copies of each beat). Using hiphop, rock, jazz and
dnb as genres the beats are nice but not amazing. Still they offer
a good base for beginners. The hiphop beat is a solid break, reminiscent
of the old school, the rock is also pretty straight forward and
good for practice, both of these are quite fast beats too. The
jazz beat on the other hand is more laid back, and my favourite
of the lot. A nice slow drum break with fillers to get down to.
Lastly the dnb beat is good for practicing at faster speeds and
is quite reminiscent of jungle so don’t expect something
like the dnb of today, but think more along the lines of ‘Original
Nuttah’ or early Hype productions.
The juggle sets are probably
my least favourite part of the record. They’re well done but I don’t find them to be the best
example of a beat to juggle, the sounds aren’t really spaced
enough and they don’t lend themselves too well to more then
basic looping and minimal manipulation. Also the second juggle
beat is found on the end of the side and as such a bit close to
the hand movement needed to juggle, which can be hindering to a
beginner. However the simple aspect of it is quite fit for someone
who is starting with juggling, and can then move on to more complicated
patterns with the help of other records.
So overall a nice selection
of beats, even if a bit basic, which should make for good practice
for beginners or a nice addition for someone who’s bored
of their own selection.
This part is probably the hardest for me as I’m not really
a beginner anymore.
But using the records to practice and mess around is fun and enjoyable
and they do stand well against other more basic battle records.
You can use your own beats collection or other records to cut over
too, and as I mentioned the samples are good and make for a nice
variation from what you hear on battle and practice records today.
As a first step I would say the Tutoritool is great and makes for
a very good addition to any beginner’s
first pack. The inclusion of two identical records is a touch that
shows this has been thought out through and through and not just
put together to make a quick buck. Also I don’t think that
the Tutoritool is incompatible with video and DVD tutorials either.
After all you need records to use those as well, and combining
them with the Tutoritool could make for an even better learning
experience and combine both the visual and aural mediums.
Lest I forget… the markers
One quick note before I wrap this up on the marker set included
with the package. Again personally I think this is a great touch
even if some people might dismiss it as a gimmick (yes you could
buy your own stickers, but not everyone knows that when they start).
After all nearly every single video tutorial I’ve seen explains
stickers and how to use them and the Tutoritool is no different,
explaining how to use them in the pull out and actually giving
you a set as well to put to use straight away. Their design is
great too, with a lovely Wipe Out-esque font, and there is a nice
range of size and shapes too.
In conclusion this is a great tool for beginners and a clever
approach to a tired format. It might not be groundbreaking but
it’s a solid tool and has been well thought and put together,
and the little touches such as the markers and pull out only make
It gives beginners plenty of sounds to practice with
and enough information to understand the basics of scratching,
both in technique and composition, and still add their own learning
to it. You can tell the people behind it have taken great care
in ensuring that the user can make the most use of it and understand
it quickly and efficiently.
Lastly it could also be used by people
teaching tablism in academies and schools (which we’re also seeing more of every year),
as it’s a very intuitive tool and was designed by people
who have been teaching tablism themselves to kids and communities
for the last 5+ years. Oh yeah and for the price it costs you it’s
really a bargain for any beginner or person wanting to learn more
about scratching and tablism. If you want to buy a tutorial then
I would strongly suggest checking this one out before rushing out
to buy a video or DVD.
Overall score: 80% -