It’s hard to forget when Biz Markie’s one-off set of 7″ Technics turntables appeared on the DJ scene. They still appear in timelines, and the original story is still a source of steady traffic for DJWORX. I fear however that we’re not likely to ever see those appear in any commercial form. But there is hope of sorts for another way to get a smaller Technics. Say hello to DJ J-Tek‘s wonderful SL-DZ1200 mod.
Using Technics’ ill-fated SL-DZ1200 CD deck as a base, DJ J-TEK decided that the only thing to do was to add a tonearm. And that he did. So we asked DJ J-Tek how and why he did it.
• Firstly introduce yourself to the DJWORX community
I go by DJ J-TEK, (Owner of Teks 1200 Shop) I have been DJ’ing over 20 years and now I customize Technics 1200’s on my own for my clients. I was born in Puerto Rico but raised in the Bronx. I grew up poor through most of the early 1980’s. Where in every corner their where junkies or a hoodlum ready to mug you, although my childhood favorite memories was watching the DJ’s from my 3rd floor window plug in their DJ equipment. Then jam on for hours in the streets. Seeing this I knew I wanted to be a DJ. I love all types of music and genres and I am a go with the flow kind of guy.
• Clearly you have a world of experience modding regular 1200s. So why the DZ?
After doing so many custom Technics 1200’s & few other projects like a custom boombox which Lansonic Star Wars edition, my infamous “WHAT THE BEATS” Custom Beats by Dre done for DJ Ted Smooth, I am always looking for something new to create.
I saw that Biz Markie brought out the 7inch Technics (sl-700) I wanted to recreate my own version. I couldn’t find a actual platter that was Technics. I then decided to make a Ten inch Technics instead. At first I failed on my first attempt. I took apart a Technics DZ1200 and chopped it to a point in which I had to weld much more then expected. Honestly I was over my head on my 1st attempt. So I tossed the project to the side & a year later I was on DJWORX website and saw a conversion done by Stuart Littleford. He didn’t give up how he did it (do you really blame him). Ha ha!! So I decided to open another DZ1200 I had on hand and try to add the spindle like Stuart did and it worked!!!! After the conversion was done, I really wasn’t satisfied. So the following day I kept looking at the DZ1200 and saw a Technics 1200 tone arm assembly I had on my work table and strapped it to the side of the unit and said to myself if the pitch works with the tone arm I would install it!! The rest is history…
• Does this project have an official name?
Technics JT-10 MK1
• It’s never as simple as just adding a tonearm. What particular problems did you encounter in approaching this conversion?
The first major hurdle for me was the pcbs board. Where I wanted to add the tone arm, when I gutted the unit and removed that pcb board it made the platter spin backwards. I needed that long pcb board relocated some how. I’m a electrician by trade so I got my multi-meter and did some soldering and tinkering with the board. I didn’t need the board any more and made the platter move in the right direction, SUCCESS!!
• Can you describe what it’s like in use compared to regular decks?
It’s about the same to a regular deck but a smaller version (obviously) & of course light like a CDJ. Of course these are just my own prototype. I ran into a little minor issue with the tone arm in which it’s in a fixed position & certain cartridges need different height adjustments. So more tweaking will be involved for this set.
• With the screen gone, how much control do you have over the unit?
Since I made it strictly an Analog (turntable) there was no need for the display,which is needed if you using it as a CD player.
• Can it still play and scratch CDs?
Not on this prototype. This one was meant to play 10″ CV’ only. It doesn’t have a speed selector and it won’t play 45’s as well. I kept it as a CV unit.
• Have you done anything else to make it better for vinyl use?
Not Really to be quite honest, this is a personal project about a week in motion. There is definitely more to do and more to come.
• Can it play 12” vinyl? And what’s it like with 7” compared to regular Technics?
Unfortunately a 12″ vinyl will not fit on the DZ1200 platter, it’s not a 7″ platter it’s actually a 10″ platter and it feels just like a regular Technics 1200’s down to the torque and the pitch. I wouldn’t know about the 7″ inch platter. Not to many people have had the opportunity to rock on Biz Markie’s customized set.
• Are there things you’d still like to do with this project? Add a fader in there perhaps?
Most likely either to add the dicers in place where the cue buttons are now. Possibly marry the pcbs board of the dicers to the cue buttons pcb board, let’s see!
• Is this a personal project, or do you plan to take orders for DZ conversions?
This first conversion is my very own personal project, Once I figure out how much the cost for the conversion is needed plus the time (labor) involved, I will have somewhat of an idea of what a pair of custom Technics JT-10 Mk1 will go for. Please keep in mind that they all will be personalized to the client’s request. For example, powder coating the units, any logos for the DJ’s and color choices for LED lights on this modification.
Thus DJ J-Tek took the much maligned DZ and turned it into something that people want. Here’s hoping that we can see more of this kind of thing. And now the guys behind the Scratch Science series also have their own 10″ turntable for their most excellent vinyl.
So it’s a big thumbs up from us. Keep up the good work J-Tek, and keep us informed on progress. And please visit DJ J-Tek’s online store to see the rest of his excellent modding work.