- Which cajon?
Choosing the right cajon can be a daunting thing these days. Here are some key points and things to think about when choosing the right cajon.
Figure out your budget
It's good to have an idea of how much you want to spend. Ask yourself how serious you are about learning the cajon. That will help you figure out your financial commitment.
Have a look around at the price point of different models. Beginner models usually start around $70 - $120, mid-range around $130 - $300, and professional cajons are usually in the $300 - $500 range and upwards.
Think about any accessories you may need. Bags, extra snares, pads etc. Make sure to add them into your budget.
What will you use your cajon for?
Asking yourself this question can help you determine the type of cajon you will buy.
If you are going to be playing mostly rock music in a band, you will likely want to think about getting a cajon with a snare system. If you are playing flamenco and Latin styles, using a cajon with guitar strings or wires would give you an authentic sound. If you are looking for a more traditional Afro Peruvian sound, a cajon with no snare system or wires is most probably the thing for you. If you want to do a bit of everything, you may want to find a cajon that has an option to remove snares or turn them of or on, or perhaps have more than one playing surface.
You will also want to think about tone. If you are going for a more modern rock or hip hop style you most likely would want a solid, punchy bass tone and a snare that cuts through. If a more traditional cajon is required, look at a more resonant tone.
Studio vs. Live
Using a cajon live can be tough if the engineer is not experienced with the instrument. The cajon can be a tad temperamental when it comes to amplifying. Basically the cajon is one big reverberation chamber, and that makes for a feedback festival in some cases. If you are going to be doing a lot of live shows, I would recommend looking at less resonant cajons. Find one with a more punchy bass tone.
Using a cajon in the studio can be a a tricky business but it can also be a lot of fun. There are all kinds of possibilities with miking the drum. The good news is that if you are in a good studio they should have all kinds of microphones you can choose from. For more info on miking a cajon go here.
Seek More Advice
Ask professionals for help. The internet is a a great way to look for and connect with people who are in the know. Feel free to email me if you like. I am always here to help.
The best possible place to get info on cajons apart from trying one for yourself is on YouTube. You can pretty much type any make in to the search-bar and someone has done a demo of it for you. The only trouble is that people are using all kinds of ways both good and bad to record the sound, so its worth searching for the highest quality videos.
In 2009 I set up www.cajonpercussion.com. It is a totally free site with info, videos, a discussion forum and more. It also has a page where you can find out info on 14 of the leading cajon makers in the World.
History of the Cajon
The cajon is one of the world's most simple percussion instruments and yet is also one of the coolest.
It is believed to have originated amongst slave musicians in the Spanish Colonial Americas during the early 1800s and is thought to be a direct descendant of box like drums from Angola and the Antilles. When slaves brought from Africa to Peru from had no instruments to play they adapted the drums from the shipping crates they had at their disposal.
The early use of the cajon was to accompany old versions of Marinera dances like the Tondero or Zamacueca.
Rubem Dantas percussionist for Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia discovered the Peruvian Cajon while on tour in South America. Upon introducing it into the band and bringing it back to Spain, Dantas sparked a movement that would see the cajon as a staple in any flamenco ensemble.
The Cajon has been delceard "national instrument" in Peru and is a main part of its rich cultural heritage.
Today the cajon is growing emence popularity throughout the World and is being played in everything from Rock & Hip Hop to Jazz & Blues. Artists such as Stevie Wonder and Maroon 5 use the cajon in their live performances and the cajon has become a regular on shows such as American Idol & The X Factor. The cajon is still used extensively used in Afroperuano and flamenco music but its reach is now reaching far and wide.
I hope this helps you make up your mind. It's sometimes touch to navigate all of the information thats out there but take your time, do some research and you will find the right cajon for you.