The crossfader is one of the DJ's best friends. It doesn't get much attention when it comes to the DJ's toolbox, but it's a friend indeed.
I always tell students to get to know their equipment. You've got to know the ins-and-outs and how your particular equipment works. With the crossfader, that means you've got to learn its "cut-in point". The "cut-in point" is where the channel you are playing with becomes audible. Once you find that point, put it in that part of your mind that doesn't forget (you know, right next to the memory of your first car).
Now the job of the crossfader is easy. It allows you to control the sound coming from your components and headed into the amp. Your components are likely some vinyl, cds, a laptop, an ipod, and a mic. Maybe you don't have all of these, but this is simply an example. You use the crossfader to move from one component to the next. Sometimes the move is a basic fade in/out, and sometimes you are using the crossfader in conjunction with beatmatching or more advanced techniques.
Now, of course, your next question is going to be: "What type of advanced techniques are we talking about here?"
Before I get you revved up to learn about some advanced techniques, you have to know that these are difficult to explian and even more so to do based on reading. You really need to find a decent Video DJ series if you plan to get good at this.
Well, I refuse to leave you hanging. So hold onto your decks my friend, cause it's going to be an interesting ride.
3 Crossfader Moves Exposed:
The chop (or stab): scratch the record and pull the crossfader to silent in the middle of the crossfade. It's going to sound like half of a scratch.
The forward scratch: Position the sample so that it is right behind the needle. On a particular point (normally at the start of a bar in this case) move the cross fader in and let the record run. As the sample stops, pull the cross fader back, wind the record back to the beginning of the sample, and let it run again. Then it's matter of repeating till your hearts content, playing about with the sample.
The Chirp: this is where hand-co-ordination really comes into play. Start with the fader open and make a forward stroke as normal but fade out as you get to the end. The reverse is carried out on the back stroke i.e. start fading the back stroke in. As the name suggests this should create short snappy chirp sounds.
I know some of these sound difficult, and that's why I tell my students to get a good DJ Video Course. Books aren't going to teach you much since you can't see or what it going on to save your life.