You’ve probably seen more and more people playing the cajon in recent years and now you’re searching for the best cajon drum out there.
In reality, it’s not too difficult to find one that works reasonably.
If you think you want to be a bit more serious about it, you’ll probably want to do some digging around to find one that stands out from the pack.
It’s for that reason that we’re going to do a little of that digging for you and give you a few tips, tricks, and some suggestions for the best cajon drums.
Before we get stuck into the cajon buying guide, here’s a comparison table for those of you who are stretched for time:
Best Cajons Compared
|Meinl American Cajon||MDF / Ash Frontplate||$$|
|Roland EC-10 EL||Not stated||$$$|
|Meinl Percussion BC1NTWR||Birch||$|
|Meinl Percussion TOPCAJ2WN||Walnut||$|
- Best Cajon under $100: Meinl American Cajon – Black/White Ash
- Best Cajon under $200: Schlagwerk CP404-BLK 2-in-one Cajon
- Best Hybrid Electronic Cajon: Roland EC-10 Cajon
- Best Cajon for Acoustic Rock: Meinl Percussion BC1NTWR Birch Wood Cajon
Or check out what to look for below:
For the uninitiated, the cajon drum is a box constructed from hardwood or plywood. The type of wood used will usually reflect what it sounds like.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the 4 hardwoods commonly used for Cajons:
- Beech: High density hardwood, good all-round choice with good lows, mids & highs.
- Birch: Very similar to Beech with slightly reduced mids and boosted highs – it’s a great choice for a well rounded cajon although usually more expensive.
- Mahogany: Known for it’s deep low-ends, this will provide a lot of boomy bass with a muted high range.
- Oak: Renowned for volume, this is your choice if you’re going to be incorporating cajons into live rock/pop gigs.
A cajon can also be made from lots of other types of woods or a fusion of the ones I just mentioned, so any research done in terms of sounds will be time well spent.
Just like standard drums, manufacturers of these drums will vary in quality, whether it’s joints, reinforcement, aesthetics – the whole shabang. What’s more is that a cajon should be played with a cushion, since most players spend a good amount of time sitting on it.
What to Look For
While this may not be a complete list for the super experienced, I think it’s more than a suitable enough starting point.
Of all things, the make, quality and purpose are at the forefront when it comes to choosing a cajon.
Let’s face it; most people are going to choose the name brands for cajons.
There isn’t; anything inherently wrong with this, but that’s not the end-all here. Remember one thing:
Cajons are all handmade.
That means that they’re going to all sound a little different from model to model.
Here are three of the brands renowned for quality, consistency and sound!
Top Cajon Brands: Meinl – Sela – Schlagwerk
Quality still does mean everything, just not always from a brand standpoint.
Joints and an overall thicker box will amount to a richer sound.
Build quality should be consistently sought after and may actually be the most difficult part in finding a cajon.
While many may look the same, cajons aren’t all created equally. The purpose of your cajon should be heavily considered.
For example, Cuban-style cajons can be more like bongo and/or conga drums while other cajons can produce vastly different tones.
Some cajons may even have snares that buzz and some might have others that are snappier.
It’s true that none of these are bad, but you may want your particular cajon to sound a certain way.
So, What’s the Best Cajon? 5 Options to Consider
Meinl is considered a top company for cajons. They do good things not just for the industry, but also for the budget. This particular cajon has an adjustable sizzle effect, adjustable top corners, and it only weighs 5kg.
- Frontplate: Mahogany, Resonating body: Rubber Wood
- Features Adjustable top corners
- Adjustable sizzle effect
- Anti-slip sitting surface
- One of the best selling Meinl Cajons
Roland are usually known for their electronics and their EC-10 is a great mix of acoustic and electronics!
The killer feature of this cajon is that it has on-board amplification built-in making it great for gigging drummers that usually play cafe-style settings.
And if you do need something even louder, you can easily plug it into a PA system.
- Small and compact
- Built-in amplification
- Extra electronic and acoustic sounds to give your more options
Schlagwerk have brought German engineering to the humble cajon.
The two-in-one aspect comes from the ability to remove the snare wires for a more traditional Peruvian sound.
This gives you the versatility to quickly change your sound mid-set without swapping the whole box!
Check out this great video review from Sweetwater:
- Made from Birch – so it’s a more high end cajon (Oak / Beechwood faces are available too!)
- Removable snare wires that can be taken out in less than 10 seconds!
- Great snap from the 40 snare wires in the box
- Unique, vintage-look face plate – a change from the plain wood finishes.
This cajon is great for gigging drummers on a budget. At less than a $100 it gives you great sound at an even better price.
Made from an all birch construction, this cajon gives you the ability to tune the snare sound to adjust the ‘slap’ you get.
Sound engineers will love this cajon too. It also had a rear-port which is ideal for mic placement for live shows.
- Free Gig bag for easy transportation
- Adjustable snare sound
- Birch construction – great for acoustic rock and live shows
- Two year warranty from Meinl
This cajon is designed more for drummers used to playing on a table top.
With the slap-top cajon the playing surface is on the top and it has two sound ports facing forward, directly to the audience so this thing is LOUD!
It’s still fairly big and a bit of an awkward shape to transport so keep there is a trade off here.
The slap top cajon is meant to be used in between your legs while you’re sat down rather than sitting on top of it.
Check out the video below for a great example of how you can play it!
- Front-facing sound ports for a directed, loud sound
- Walnut construction for a deep, bassy sound – perfect for latin sounds
- Comes with Meinl’s 2 year warranty
There you have it, five great choices – what do you use? Tell me in the comments below!