The cajon drum is one that has been increasing in popularity the last few years.
It’s one of my favorites because it produces a nice sound that’s perfect for softer rock, acoustic stuff, or folksy jams.
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.
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.
3 Cajons 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
Sela is another great company, and this Pro Satin Nut Professional Snare Cajon is probably one of the most aesthetically-pleasing cajons available.
Made of maple, this German-made cajon is solid, features rounded corners and weighs 6kg.
- Pre-assembled model (the US version is a kit you make yourself!)
- Pro version with snare on/off mechanism and clap corners
- Satin nut playing surface
- Solid, rounded corners of finest maple woodSela quality – made in Germany
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.
There you have it, three great choices – what do you use? Tell me in the comments below!