Cajon Buying Guide
Get Started with Your Cajon
How to Play the Cajon
Foot Percussion Techniques for Cajon
When shopping for a cajon drum, it's important to first identify what you want from the drum sonically which is determined on how and where you'll be playing. After reading the X8 Drums Cajon Buying Guide, you'll be able to narrow down the endless list of possibilities to a few finalists that meet your requirements for aesthetics, sound and price.
Section 1: A Brief Introduction to Cajons
The cajon drum comes from Peru where slaves from Africa used small container crates utilized for carrying fruits and vegetables to play rhythms and percussion grooves. They would take the empty crates, turn them up-side-down, sit on them and then play drum beats on the side panels.
Since then, Peruvians have adopted the instrument and engineered the concept into professional quality instruments that have enormous dynamic range. Craftsmen around the world are taking the basic box concept and elevating its potential by adding snare effects, bells and multiple playing surfaces that provide percussionists numerous options for playing styles. It is not uncommon in modern music performances to see a cajon drummer playing bells and tambourines with their feet while playing the drums with their hands. This style fills out the full percussion range for an acoustic performance.
Choosing a Cajon
Drummers shopping for cajons will undoubtedly be overwhelmed by the current selection offered in the market. All of the mainstream brands manufacture the instrument, most of them offering at least 20 different models. The price ranges are also pretty extreme, starting at just below $100 for entry-level or junior models and exceeding $500 for hand-crafted professional cajons. Like most instruments, it is best to understand the type of sound you want from the instrument first, then start test driving models that fit your requirements. For example:
Where will you be playing this drum most often?
- In a recording studio
You want a well-constructed cajon with controlled, clean sound. Look to Kopf for high quality USA construction and consistent full response. We especially like the Birch Series DeUno Cajon.
- With friends at drum jams
Several cool options here: Check out the Toca Triple Conga Cajon that you can play standing up or Meinl's affordable Headliner Cajons.
2. How much snare response do you want from your drum?
- No snare at all
This style cajon is called the Peruvian Cajon and it produces a dry, tight response. We recommend the LP Americanan Peruvian Cajon. Many other cajon models offer options to silence the strings and snare to create a Peruvian effect however we have noticed that most models that offer this dual playing option often have a slight bleed from the snare or strings even after turning them "off".
- Tons of sizzle
The biggest and baddest sizzle effect is going to come from the Swan Percussion Flamenco Cajon. Very dynamic instrument that will wash you in resonance.
- Light snare
If you want a more mild snare sound, shop for string cajons. These models feature guitar strings that run along the inside surface of the front plate offering some response but not as bold as the snare response. The Meinl Makah Burl String Cajons have a rich string response at an affordable price. The Schlagwerk 2inOne Cajon is by far the most popular string cajon.
- I want to change the snare effect while I play
Couple of options for players that want to change their snare effect on the fly. Check out the Meinl Bass Pedal Cajon. You can change the snare with your foot while you play although it lacks in precision control. Toca also offers a cajon where the snare can be adjusted by hand while playing... again precision control is lacking.
3. What the overall vibe you seek?
- Big, bassy sound
There are many "bass cajon" models available. We love Pearl's Sonic Boom Cajon. Wow!
- Somewhere in between
Our favorites for this category include the X8 Journey Cajon, Kopf S-Series DeUno Cajon or the Swan Corsoba Standard Cajon.
4. What is your price range?
- I'm a pro and and am happy to pay up for perfection.
We're finding that pro players are very happy with Kopf Birch Series, Swan Percussion Corsoba Deluxe, Schlagwerk 2inOne Macassar or the CaSela Satin Nut Cajon.
Taking time to consider these questions and referring back to the buying guide should provide a clearer path to finding a cajon that not only connects with you aesthetically, but will also deliver the sound you are seeking. Have questions? Give us a call! We have played all of the cajons and can answer any specific questions you may have about the brands or models.