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Are you looking for the best Cajon drum in the market or are you just curious to know which Cajon does most pro drummers use? When it comes to choosing a Cajon drum set from top brands, we know that quality of wood used in making this box drum matters a lot. That’s why we’ve curated a list that can serve as your guide in finding the top-rated Cajon for you
Yes, the Cajon is a box-shaped percussion instrument that is often referred to as a box drum that you sit on. However, merely tapping on a cardboard box doesn’t mean you are playing with a Cajon. The Cajon is a wooden drum that originated in Peru and has since spread to many other countries and music genres.
How is a Cajon Played and Made?
A Cajon is typically made from wood, with everything from birch to maple used for its construction. The front is the soundboard and is the central playing surface. It is known as “Tapa” and is typically thinner than the other sides. The back of the Cajon usually has a sound port cut out to enable better resonance. However, a few Cajon variants can have sound ports on the sides, top, or front. The good ones are typically handmade by craftsmen.
You play a Cajon by tapping and slapping the front and rear sides with your hand. This can create a booming bass sound or a snappy snare sound, depending on where you hit. You can also finger roll to create more sounds.
10 Best Cajon Drums – Reviews
While the best Cajons in the world are probably handcrafted in the mountains of Peru or plains of Africa, we all cannot get those. We have limited ourselves to the best ones that are mass-produced and readily available to everyone.
1. Meinl SUBCAJ5WN Jumbo Bass Subwoofer Cajon – Top Pick
This is Meinl’s most premium offering for Cajons. It is costly, but you sure do get your money’s worth out of this. As you might have guessed from the name, this is a behemoth of a Cajon. The large size allows it to deliver massive sounds, and it particularly excelled in the low-end of the frequency range. The walnut soundboard is exquisite, and you will be able to lay down even intricate finger rolls. You can also buy a replacement soundboard from Meinl if there are any wear and tear. The body is constructed from fiberglass, which delivers a slightly different sound when compared to an all-wood body,
The deeper body allows greater resonance, which is instrumental for its sound. The sound waves at the low-end are so big (easily above 20 feet) that you should take a moment to position yourself to get the best possible resonance properly. You will have a tough time finding a Cajon with such deep bass. Even though it is big, this drum is not the tallest one on the list as it is only about 19.75 inches tall. It would be quite comfortable for big and tall people.
It has forward facing ports that allow you to feel the sound and the bass as you play. The front plate is adjustable so that you can position it to your liking. While the forward-facing port design is a bit unconventional, it works well. This set of unique features makes the best Cajon drum under $200.
2. Latin LP1428NY Percussion Cajon – Runner-up
Latin Percussion is a percussion company that is over 50 years old and specializes in making auxiliary and world percussion instruments. They make consumer products that manage to capture the essence of the authentic instruments. The Black Box Natural Wire Cajon is one of their best offerings and is a popular choice.
It is quite heavy at 12 pounds and also substantially more prominent than your standard Cajon. It is also one of the very few environmentally responsible drums made using eco-boards and has a minimal environmental effect. The black sides of the drum give it a unique and captivating look. The sound is also warm, booming, and quite rich. Even though the Meinl Jumbo Bass has better bass tones, overall, the Black Box is the best sounding Cajon in this list.
However, this Black Box LP cajon lacks an adjustable soundboard, so you won’t be able to alter it to your taste. The fixed snare wires also reduce their tunability. While the usage of eco-boards is nice to hear, the materials’ overall design is a little subpar, and many users have had durability issues over the long run.
3. Meinl Percussion Subwoofer Cajon – Best for the Money
After so much research we find out the This is the non-jumbo version of Meinl’s Percussion Subwoofer. Even though it is not as big as the previous version, it still packs powerful bass tones. The design is quite similar to the earlier version; even this has forward-facing ports that improve projection. However, this Cajon has an American White Ash soundboard that gives a wide range of tones and is sensitive to play. The ash delivers deep bass and a rich mid and high. If you want great low notes but find the jumbo variant too loud and big, this will be perfect.
The corners of the soundboard can be adjusted with screws so that you can position it correctly. However, the snare wires are fixed, so you won’t alter the harmonics of it. While the snare sound quality is good, you might want to avoid this if you want impeccable snare sound. The rubber feet once again reduce resonant interference and improve grip. The incredible sound, features, and apt pricing make this the best value for money on the entire list. You can choose this with your eyes closed, and you won’t regret it.
4. Roland EC-10 – Top Electronic Cajon
If you thought world instruments could not be electrified, you thought wrong. Roland EC-10 is a hybrid Cajon that adds electronic tones to a standard Cajon. In essence, it is a flamenco Cajon that has a Roland sound module.
You will now be able to deliver everything from acoustic and electronic drum notes to shakers and tambourines with this one instrument. There are about 30 different electronic sets you can use. Each kit has two independent sounds that get triggered based on whether you tap the center or the edge. When these sounds overlap with the natural tone of the Cajon, you get some genuinely unique harmonics.
While you can plug the ELCajon into a PA system, it can operate by itself with an inbuilt speaker and batteries. It only has a mono-output, so don’t expect to pan sounds with the PA system. It can run off just 66 AA batteries, and you can even power it off a wall socket if needed. All these devices tend to make this instrument a little heavy, so be careful while carrying it around. While more and more electronic ones are now coming into the market, the ELCajon is simply the best electronic Cajon right now.
5. Meinl HCAJ1NT Cajon Box Drum – Best for Beginners Under $100
This is the best Cajon drum for beginners as not only is it full size and priced affordably but it also has a standard sound profile that isn’t specific to one style. Therefore you will be able to practice and adapt the skills you learn in this to any style. The Baltic birch wood soundboard is very responsive. You will be able to lay down ghost notes, and even finger rolls without any problems.
The overall instrument is excellent and exceptionally durable. You can play fast and intense beats without worrying about damaging the instrument. The adjustable strings and corners give it a much wider range of tones. The strings can be easily adjusted by using a key on the lower end of the box. However, the corners might come loose with prolonged vibrations, so you might want to check on them before each performance. The rear has a sound port to enhance the feel and to make adding a microphone easier.
The front plate is also well constructed and resonates well. The front plate’s material has two layers that help better separate the basal notes of the center from the treble notes of the edges. The top surface is non-slip so that you can position yourself properly. This allows it to sound more defined and crisp. If you want an instrument that balances both snare sound and bass sound, this is a good option.
6. LP Aspire Cajón
This is another excellent product from Latin Percussion. This model has a natural wood grain finish that is quite nice to look at. It is quite sturdy and will be able to take some amount of physical abuse. However, the tone is still tremendous and resonates as a good Cajon should.
The birch/poplar hybrid body and soundboard deliver good sturdy and balanced tonality. It is not very boomy nor very shrill, making it great for beginners and amateurs. It has three sets of DW snare wires that give a snappy snare sound, so if you are looking for a subtle sound, this is out. Overall, the construction is excellent, and the hardworking is immaculate. You won’t find any sloppy glue jobs, something that is common in cheap Cajons.
The upper portion of it is very appropriately designed with a sandpaper-like finish, ensuring that you don’t slip while performing on it. The major drawback is that the wires are fixed, so you won’t adjust the tone to your preference.
7. Pyle Jam Wooden Cajon Stringed Percussion Box (PCJD18)
This affordable jam Cajon from Pyle drum is handcrafted out of birch wood and has top-notch construction. The tone is rich and sounds very natural. You get deep low as well as rich highs. It has adjustable guitar strings, so you will be able to tune it to your taste. It has four guitar strings, which is something you won’t find in most other economic models. This gives much better resonance and vibration when compared to other models. As it is made of birch, it is very lightweight. This, combined with its compact size, makes it incredibly portable.
While it is not a very tall Cajon, it is still big enough to play comfortably. While the company doesn’t recommend people above 180 lbs sitting on it, it has supported drummers well over 225 lbs. The rubber capped feet of the PCJD18 prevent resonant interference and allow you to tilt the box without worrying about it slipping. The craftsmanship is supreme, and the drum is sturdy and offers excellent support.
The company is so confident about their product that they offer you reimbursement for one year if you are not satisfied with their product. If you are a beginner looking for a budget option, you cannot get anything better than the PCJD18. It is the best budget Cajon, and you are sure to be happy with it.
8. Groove Wire Cajon (LP1427W)
This is a compact option from Latin Percussion. It is only 18.5 inches high and is built solidly to last you longer than most cheaper models in the market. The LP1427W is made in the USA and is made from birch, which is typical of all low-cost options. The soundboard is thick and has rounded corners for increased comfort. Even though it doesn’t cost a lot, it has quality construction that makes it extremely durable.
The tone is excellent due to its good depth. It has excellent internal snares wire that augments the sound. While the tone sounds great out of the box, the snare wires are fixed, so you cannot tune it to your liking.
9. Sawtooth ST-CJ120B Cajon
The Sawtooth Cajon is one of the cheapest full-sized Cajons in the market. However, the low cost hasn’t translated into low quality, and it has a slew of features.
It is made from birch wood and stands quite tall at 20 inches high. The construction is good and should last a long time with proper care. The snare wires are not incredibly responsive but are adjustable. Therefore you will be able to tune the drum to your liking. This gives you increased versatility and lets you play multiple genres.
This is also an incredibly comfortable drum to perform on as it has a well-padded cushion top. The edges are all well sanded, and it has an excellent finish. The Sawtooth even comes with a custom carry case that is padded, so you will be able to safely and efficiently carry it to your performances. All this makes this a great budget Cajon. This is the best Cajon drum for under $100.
10. Joy 101 Pad Series Cajon
This is possibly one of the most compact percussion instruments in the world. This is by no means a traditional Cajon; it is more of a portable Cajon that is fully flattened and has a tiny hollow. This is one of the newest trends to hit the market and seems to be catching on rapidly. The Joy 101 Pad is made out of birch and veined ebony that gives it great resonance and durability. However, the small design of this does impact its bass sound, which is quite underwhelming. However, the high tones are great, and the overall volume is loud enough for even casual outdoor jams.
Even though it is relatively compact, it can still deliver a wide range of sounds and dazzle audiences. It is no bigger than an A4 sheet of paper, so you can easily place it inside your backpack and carry it around like a laptop. The ebony front-plate is also simply a pleasure to look at. It is also significantly cheaper than a full-sized Cajon, and you surely won’t be able to find another Cajon more interesting than this.
What to Look for When Buying a Cajon? Buyers Guide
The simple design of the Cajon means that there are not a lot of things you have to be worried about when you are purchasing it.
The essential thing to consider is the wood used to make it. Cheaper models tend to be made from birch wood as it is lighter than other woods and much easier to work with. Ash, walnut, and cedar are more expensive options that give better tones. You should also make sure that the soundboard is well made and adjust and detach it. This is because you might not like the drums’ default tone and might want to tinker with it.
You should preferably get a quality metallic one to deliver you the best sound and durability now coming to the snare wires. Most cheap ones use cheap springs that sound good initially but sag after a few months. Once again, getting an adjustable string will be better.
If you want the best sound, you should go for a nice big Cajon. Not only will it be more comfortable to sit on, but it will also be able to resonate more and sound louder. However, suppose you are interested only in compact, streamlined options. In that case, you will still want to buy something a little high to ensure that it has the proper tone.
What is Cajon?
The Cajon is a box-shaped percussion instrument that originated in Peru. It is, in essence, a modified wooden box. Cajon translates to box in Spanish. While the Peruvian Cajon was first recorded, this instrument’s simplicity has made multiple civilizations create their variant. Cajon drums are particularly popular in West Africa.
It has a typically made body with wood and an extra layer of wood in the front that acts as the soundboard. The front panel is also called the “Tapa” and is typically thinner than the other sides. It is the critical piece of the Cajon, and people primarily play on the Tapa. There is usually a hole in the back to enhance resonance.
The Cajon is played by sitting on top of it and tilting it slightly forward. You then slap, tap, and roll your fingers on the soundboard to create sounds. You can also vary the sound by altering how you strike the board. Cajon drums are one of the most straightforward percussion instruments to learn, and you can have a lot of fun playing and learning them. However, developing proper techniques and becoming good will require a lot of practice and dedication.
Some people use drumsticks, beaters, and even brushes to play on them. You can even hook up a drum pedal to it, but that dramatically diminishes the musical potential of the Cajon. There are even electronic ones now.
What are the benefits of a Cajon?
The Cajon is a simple instrument that can be used to deliver complex rhythms. The main benefits of Cajon are its immense portability and low cost. They are also easier to play the Cajon and can be learned much quicker than other instruments. Unlike a drum kit, which demands a very high level of coordination, the Cajon is a hand percussion instrument that doesn’t require a lot of training.
The smaller size of Cajon drums makes traveling to various venues and storage a stress-free job. It is also more versatile than a standard hand drum, and you can play more intricate patterns. It can also be used as a seat; sitting on the Cajon positively alters its tone. The wooden body also makes it much more durable than a hand drum.
What kind of musicians play Cajóns?
Cajon drums are typically used in genres such as Flamenco, Jazz, and Afro-Peruvian. However, their versatile nature allows them to be used as a percussion instrument in most music genres. You can nowadays even find many acoustic drummers using these as a part of their kit.
Can You Add a Cajón to a Traditional Drum Set?
Technically, you can add it. You will need a specialized kick drum pedal, and you will need to operate the Cajon with your foot. While this adds a new sound to your kit, the tone will be significantly diminished compared to paying with your hands. The setup is also a little cumbersome.
Is Cajóns Loud Enough to Upset the Neighbors?
It highly depends on where you live. Do you live in a suburban house with a lot of gaps between houses? In that case, the Cajon drums probably won’t be upsetting even though they might be heard. However, if you live in an apartment in a thriving city, the Cajon can easily upset your neighbors. But all hope is not lost, you can still soundproof a room in your house, or you could practice drums when your neighbors are out.
How to Play Cajón – Best Resources to Start Learning
The most widely available and cheapest resource to start learning Cajon would be Youtube. There are plenty of videos by expert Cajon players that will teach you the basics you need to start. Try to follow and copy the motions and grooves that are shown in the videos. However, you should see if there are any music joints close by and pay a visit to see if anyone knows to play it and is willing to teach you.
Cajon drums are an incredible percussion instrument with a rich history of music. From their ancient Peruvian roots to their modern iterations, they continue to engage people uniquely. While there are many great offerings in the market, we are gravitated towards Meinl Percussion Subwoofer’s standard due to its fantastic bass and build quality. It simply offers a great bang for your buck, and you cannot go wrong with it. If you are strapped for money, you should indeed check out Meinl Cajon Box Drum. Finally, if everything standard bores you, you should get your hands on Roland’s electric ELCajon.