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Any modern scratch mixer worth its salt comes fitted with a hamster switch - That’s the little button that reverses the crossfader’s functionality. So, after you’ve enabled it, sliding the crossfader to the right plays the left deck, and vise versa.
Its purpose is not only to baffle House DJs, but also to open up a whole extra set of scratch textures for modern turntablists.
When the fader is working the wrong way round, the thumb and finger configuration of the scratcher is reversed. Fingers are more dexterous, and can now perform different variations on complex cuts like flares, as the crossfader is starting in an ‘open’ position. This helps to cut in and out of any sound you’re manipulating in the middle, rather than the end of the phrase, giving it a new spin to play with.
DJ Quest (Bullet Proof Scratch Hamsters) is credited with first stumbling on this approach in 1986 after wiring his decks up the wrong way and kinda digging it.
Through his battling in reverse, other DJs took note and tried to mod their mixers with homemade hamster switches. It was a boon for DJs used to rocking the channel faders, or line in/out toggles, at it suited their moves.
Vestax and Rane, sensing a demand, would make the switch an increasingly prominent feature on its next generation of scratch mixers.
Watch Studio Scratches’ DJ Short-e break down the hamster style a little…