How to Fix Faders and Jog Wheels
Whether you’re a seasoned DJ or are just getting started with mixing tech, it’s always a good idea to know how to fix up your common equipment. Chances are, whether you are a gigging DJ or are taking on a few home mixes, you’re going to want to keep your tech working at optimum level. Even if you use programs and digital mixing more than physical gear these days, it doesn’t hurt to get yourself acquainted with what to do if things break down.
One thing you’ll need to keep in mind is that all technology is vulnerable. You might have sunk thousands of pounds into a fantastic controller or mixer, but that doesn’t mean it’s impervious to damage. The fact is, you’re going to need to look after and protect your gear, because if you don’t, you’ll find yourself reading pages like this after a quick Google. This isn’t a lecture by any means – but make sure you take good care of your controllers, and there won’t be any need for you to worry about fiddling about with internal components and the like.
In this guide, we’re going to look in detail at what you need to know when handling faulty faders and jog wheels. No matter the style of music you play, and no matter how experienced you are on the decks, these features are crucial elements of your DJ gear. The moment these features start flaking out on you, you’re going to need to act fast.
Think of this as something of an introduction to fixing faders and jog wheels. We’ll look at what they do, when you need to fix them, and how. Simple as that!
Things to Keep in Mind
Before you start hacking into any physical tech, there’s a couple of points you should keep in mind. You might not be the most technically-minded user – and there’s no problem in that – but always make sure to take care to read through guides such as these. Your DJ gear is likely pretty expensive, and you could risk wasting a pretty good investment by slipping a screwdriver the wrong way.
You should also think about warranties. Not all DJ gear covers you if you need to crack into your controller or mixer yourself. Instead, in many cases, manufacturers will offer you repairs and remedies as part of your product registration. If you even just unscrew a single nut, you could void any claims you might still hold. Therefore, take your time to check your protection and warranty documents. If there’s a chance someone can tackle a fix for you without you needing to go any deeper, fantastic.
Otherwise, don’t think about cracking into your tech unless you’re out of warranty, or unless there’s no risk to you voiding anything. Once again, treading carefully is key here.
Why Might You Need to Fix Your Equipment?
One of the main reasons why DJs take screwdrivers to their own gear is the fact that they notice something wrong with the sound their controllers are producing. Faders, for example, can start sounding garbled or choppy. Jog wheels can stick and jump over time, too, for a variety of reasons. Therefore, you might need to open things up and look under the hood to take care of business.
If you can’t tell if something’s wrong by the sound, you may be able to tell by the feel. Particularly with jog wheels, you may find that things stick or jolt or jump around. A good jog wheel should give you plenty of control and grip on your scratching. If it’s loosening up, sticking, or just not responding, it might be time for some lubrication and a good clean.
It’s worth remembering that you don’t always need to fix your tech yourself. As stated, some gear has full warranty cover on certain fixes. You might also find a specialist in your local area who can help. However, both faders and jog wheels are easy enough to fix once you know what to do. However, this is your last warning, before we get into how to fix fader and jog wheel problems – are you sure you want to go ahead? Fantastic – let’s move on.
Before you start getting to work on your controller or mixing equipment, you’re going to need to put together a toolbox of sorts. As you’ve probably read across our other guides – and elsewhere online – you can’t go wrong with an air pump, or a can of compressed air. What’s more, always arm yourself with a screwdriver. It’s likely you’ll need a phillips tool for most DJ tech, but this can vary. Check the screws and tool up accordingly, as you’re going to need to break in and open up if you really want to get your faders and jog wheels back up to full health again.
Do also look for lubricant. You shouldn’t be using any old grease, here. Make sure to search online for lubricant that’s safe for use with wires and electrics. Otherwise, you could end up giving yourself more problems to have to handle. Lubricant is ideal for keeping your jog wheels supple and responsive. Therefore, you might want to ask other DJs what they use, or again, do a little more research. It’s up to you. For your jog wheels, always make sure the lubricant you use is conductive, or you’ll do more damage than good.
Do also make sure to arm yourself with some isopropyl alcohol. This is the cleaning fluid standard of DJ tech internals. You might also be able to find a specific lubricant for use with faders. Again, you should ask fellow DJs for advice on this, or do a bit of research online while shopping around. Bog standard lubricant and grease are not going to help you here.
These are the main tools and materials you’ll need when tackling either or both your faders and your wheels. The way you take to them is obviously going to differ, but providing you have the right kit to hand, you’re already halfway there to fixing your problems.
Understanding Your Faders
To know whether or not you need to fix or adjust your faders, it makes sense to know a little bit about them beyond what they do on the surface. Faders let you take full control over how loud a signal is before it enters the mix. Therefore, you should be able to easily toggle input gains without much fiddling around. Each channel, therefore each input, should have a fader, as should outputs. Again, you may not notice any problems with your faders at all until you notice that they aren’t moving correctly, or that there’s a discrepancy in volume quality.
Faulty faders have a habit of glitching out over time, and if controllers aren’t kept safe or clean enough, gunk and dirt can clog things up. What’s more, damage done to a controller or mixer can also send faders a bit haphazard. Therefore, again, we can’t stress this enough – keep your DJ gear safe. Even if you’re just carrying a controller from one place to another, make sure your faders have full protection from points A to B. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in this mess.
Once you’re sure you have a fader fault, and you want to try and tackle it yourself, it’s time to grab the tools.
First of all, you’ll need your screwdriver. You’re going to need to unscrew and remove all your faders – even those which you believe to be working fine – and the faceplate from the bottom of your controller or mixing unit. To do this, there should be a series of carefully-placed screws on the underside of your tech. You should be able to take the knobs and dials off fairly easily but unscrewing your faders will let them fall through. Be ready to catch them and to keep them on one side.
You should also make sure that you can slide the main baseplate out so that you can get into the underside of the unit. Again, there will be a few screws holding the main plate in place, but it should be fairly easy for you to just slide up and remove once you’ve taken off the right screws. However, if you’re unsure which screw you should remove, make sure to consult your instruction manual. Most modern controllers and mixers will have PDF versions for you to read online, or there will likely be video guides for your model. If it’s an older unit, you might be on your own – take care.
Fixing the Faders
Ok – so let’s actually work on fixing the faders. You’ll need to carefully unplug the fader tech from the main internal boards of the mixer or controller, though this should be fairly easy to do. Again, do consult a manual if you’re unsure. Then, grab an air pump or an air can, and blast away. Don’t worry – the only things you’re likely to blow loose this way will be dirt and dust that’s clogging up your unit. This is the safest and quickest way to deal with it.
Let’s continue cleaning your faders. Many times, faders will develop faults simply because they just need a good clean. It’s true! Unlike cleaning your other DJ gear and equipment, however, you’re going to actually need to bathe your faders. Ignore what we’ve said previously about avoiding bathing tech – as your faders are going to need to take a nice soak in some isopropyl. It’s a good idea to protect yourself with gloves and goggles, here, as raw alcohol could do serious damage to your health.
One at a time, give your faders a little dunk in your isopropyl so that everything is covered, inside and out. Carefully dry them off, again, one at a time, with your air can or pump.
Then, to lubricate your faders, once the alcohol is clear and dry, quickly spray inside and affix back to the unit, sliding to make sure they move as you expect them to. When you’re happy to move on, and everything is dry – we can’t stress this point enough – plug everything back in.
This process should solve many problems people have when faders fail to move properly or start getting choppy or unresponsive. A good clean and tune-up should help your faders work well for years to come. Even if you don’t notice any problems, it might be worth undertaking this process regularly to ensure you get a full life out of your tech.
Understanding Your Jog Wheels
Jog wheels are pretty easy to use, but they can develop irritating habits over time. That’s because they will need lubrication over their lifetime. Jog wheels emulate vinyl scratching, on the whole – but they are more than just vinyl substitutes. A good jog wheel system will allow you to take full control of your music, allowing you to stop, start and move it around as you like. You can even control speed through jog wheels, making them the heart of your controller’s operation.
As jog wheels need to move back and forth regularly, like pistons, they will need oiling. However, you’re going to need to do this from the inside. As with faders, it may actually be worthwhile lubricating your wheels regularly to make sure they are moving as they should. For now, however, let’s focus on why lubricating your wheels is likely going to help with getting them up and moving again, and how you can get started.
Cracking into your jog wheels is a little different to breaking into your faders. As with before, you’ll need a screwdriver, but you’ll need to take to the screws that are holding the main wheel plate in place. If you want to lubricate both wheels, there should be around six screws you need to take up in total.
What’s different about this process – compared with the fader fix above – is the fact that you won’t need to actually do much with the jog wheel itself, at least, you won’t need to break it apart. Instead, you should focus on lubricating the jog wheel plate with the wheel’s post itself. This is a small metal element which should be easy enough to spot, but if not, a manual should help. Make sure to gently apply the lubricant between the plate and the post, as this is where the friction happens. It’s also likely where problems emanate from if your wheels are sticking.
If both your wheels are faulty, then it may be that they have not yet been lubricated. As stated, this is something you should probably do regularly. It’s not a painstaking process, particularly when you know where you’re going and what you need to do. However, it pays to be brave with a screwdriver and a bit of lubricant!
Once everything is oiled up, make sure to line up the plastic exterior as it was initially, and screw back into place. If you don’t secure this in place, you’re going to have further problems.
Once everything is fixed up, it’s time to put everything back together. This can be the least fun part of the job, however, if you are consulting a manual or having taken note of what goes where, you are one step ahead of the game.
Make sure everything is lined up as it was initially, and secure in place before bringing the screws back out. Keep your fader wires clear and fix them in before you slide your backplate back on. Then, be careful to replace all the screws, ensuring that you only fix everything back once you’re certain all the internals are as they should be – as otherwise, you’re going to need to unscrew everything again.
Replace any knobs or dials from the front of the device and you’re good to go!
Fixing common jog wheel and fader problems is relatively easy. However, you must always make sure you are fully prepared. One small mis-step could mean you cause damage that’s even harder to fix. Or, you could invalidate your product warranty, which could make things more expensive for you.
It’s also worth remembering that not all mixers and controllers have the same fittings and pieces. This is a general guide which aims to point you in the right direction. For the final time – try and source manuals. It’s unlikely any manufacturers will advise you unscrew and fix their kit yourself, but they will likely help you with a roadmap of sorts on where you need to head. It could make all the difference between fumbling around and attending to faults with precision.
If you’re having trouble with your jog wheels or your faders, don’t be shy to try and take a closer look yourself. However, do also consider that there are likely options available if you’d prefer someone else to take on the precision work for you. Care and attention are key if you want your gear to survive the operation!