Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Welcome to our big Cajon Test 2021. Here we present all the Cajons we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best Cajon for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a Cajon.




Summary

  • Cajones, also called Kistrommeln in German (the spelling also varies from Cajón to Kachon to Karon), belong to the percussive percussion instruments, have a drum-like, wooden sound and are usually played with both hands.
  • Most cajónes are made of plywood, which is then finished in different ways.
  • When the wooden plate is struck, it vibrates, which in turn causes the metal elements of the cajon to resonate. The box-like resonance chamber and the circular opening on the back produce a rich bass sound.

The Best Cajon: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should deal with before buying a Cajon

What is a Cajon anyway?

If you've been wondering what this box is called on which musicians sit and set the rhythm of songs by hand with combinations of strokes, here's the answer: Cajones, or Kistrommeln in German (the spelling also varies from Cajón to Kachon to Karon), belong to the percussive percussion instruments, have a drum-like, wooden sound and are usually played with both hands.
Did you know how cajón is actually pronounced? The Spanish word can be a little misleading for German speakers. The "C" is pronounced like a "K". The "j" becomes a hard "ch" similar to KoCH. The stress is on the second syllable. In phonetic transcription: [ka'xɔn]. Sometimes Cajon is also transcribed simply as Kachon in the German-speaking world.

Sometimes the cajón is also played with a foot machine or broom, and it can also be part of a drum kit and replace the bass drum. The larger the cajon, the deeper the bass tone. Its sound hole determines the intensity and catchiness of the sound.

Striking a Cajon on the upper edge of the box produces a higher snare tone, while the bass tone is produced lower on the lid. (Picture source: 123RF.com / Judit Katai)

What kind of wood should my Cajon have?

Most cajónes are made of plywood, which is then finished in different ways. It is often used for the reason that it offers particularly good resonance behaviour as a material. Usually birch is used for the plywood because it is particularly stable in form and strength. Beech and alder are also suitable for finishing as a Cajon. The number of layers of plywood says a lot about how much value was placed on stability during processing: The more, the better.

How much does a Cajón cost?

How much you should spend on your Cajon depends on how long you want to get something out of it and how professional you want it to be. As a beginner, you can get your first Cajon for as little as 50 euros. If you want to build it yourself, you also have to reckon with costs of 30-50 euros, regardless of whether you buy a kit or do everything yourself. For an even smaller sum of 20 euros, you can get a Cajon box made of cardboard, which is also sufficient for the beginning. Upwards to the more noble models, you have to reckon with several hundred euros, depending on the specific workmanship.

How does a Cajon work?

The Cajon has a comparatively simple but characteristic way of functioning: When you strike the wooden plate, it starts to vibrate, which in turn causes the metal elements of the cajon to resonate. The box-like resonance chamber and the circular opening on the back produce a rich bass sound. If desired, the buzzing of the metal elements, such as the snare carpet, can be dampened with the help of a piece of foam.

By striking the upper edge of the box, a higher snare sound is produced, while the bass sound is produced lower down on the lid. Compared to other drum-like instruments with, for example, skin covering, the cajon has a rather dry sound. The Cajon is often used in unplugged music, replacing the bass drum or snare of a drum kit. It is also used in rock, pop and folk-rock music.

Where should I buy a Cajon drum?

You can buy your Cajon online from the following suppliers:

  • Amazon
  • Ebay
  • Websites of the manufacturers
  • Online shops for musical instruments

On site in a specialist shop, you can rely on professional advice and try out a few first before you decide.

Is the Cajón a suitable instrument for children?

The cajon is a particularly easy instrument to learn, there are no notes to hold and it is more about acquiring a sense of rhythm than rehearsing difficult melodies. During the learning phase, there are also no annoying crooked tones and the volume is also kept within limits. Furthermore, it is comparatively inexpensive to purchase, so if playing is not pursued so continuously, the wallet can cope with that. There are also special versions of the instrument for children, which are smaller and particularly easy to play. Unlike pianos or drums, the Cajon is also much more space-saving.
Did you know that there are miniature Cajons? These are not real Cajons, but shakers, i.e. rattles. They look like small cajons, but are played like rattles.

How do I vary the sound of my cajon?

In general, the sound of the Cajon is very popular and if bought from a professional manufacturer, they are also set up correctly. So you shouldn't mess around with the Cajon on a whim. However, if you notice noise or want to dampen the sound for specific reasons, it is possible to change the sound with the help of YouTube tutorials.

How do you build a Cajon yourself?

There are several reasons why you should choose a self-built Cajon over a ready-made one. If you are a newcomer, making your own cajon is the best way to get started in the world of cajons. It can be combined with a team-building activity or serve as a gift. Most likely, it will not reach the sound quality of a professionally produced Cajon, but it is an individually created piece. There are also many creative possibilities for designing the Cajon.

Many manufacturers offer construction kits that you can order together with building instructions. If you want to go it alone, you can use online instructions on the web, which illustrate the construction step by step on video. The special feature of the construction is the sound hole, which has to be cut out on the back. The bigger the hole, the more impressive the resulting bass tone.

Materials you will need:

  • at best birch plywood for the playing surface, sides and slats
  • Screws
  • Textile adhesive tape
  • Wood glue, wood stain and wood varnish
  • snare carpet or metal guitar strings if necessary

Tools you will need:

  • Drilling machine/hand drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver
  • Mounting bracket
  • File
  • Glaze brush

What accessories should you get?

At the latest as soon as you have the finished Cajon in front of you, the question of accessories will arise. However, it is advisable to learn the basics first and without extra features. If you have already mastered the Cajon, you can start thinking about extensions. For example, instead of using your hands, you can use special plastic whisks to play the Cajon. If you travel a lot with the Cajon, you should protect it from getting wet. Cajon manufacturers offer suitable backpacks or transport bags for this purpose.

So-called Cajon adapters or seat pads provide increased seating comfort. The adapter plate enlarges the seating area and the pads allow for longer, more comfortable sitting and extended jam sessions. To increase the percussion variation, additional instruments such as a shaker, jingle wreath, hihat or cymbals can be used. To be able to play the cajon standing up or as part of a drum kit, you need a foot machine. Of course, you can also use this as a supplement for normal playing. To record your playing on the Cajon, a microphone is useful - in the best case, two: a large-diaphragm microphone and a small-diaphragm microphone.

A milling machine is used to cut the sound hole of the Cajon. (Picture source: 123RF.com / Olaf Speier)

What are the different beating techniques?

In order to be able to use different striking techniques, it is important that you know about the different areas of the Cajon playing surface and their respective sound. The sound is bassy in the middle, more woody in the upper area and you play the upper corners to set snare-like accents. The rhythmic combination possibilities and variations are almost endless. To get you started, we have listed the four basic beats below:

Type of beat Explanation
Bass The flat of the hand is used to hit the striking surface above the middle. Immediately after the blow the hands return to the starting position.
Tone The upper corners of the Cajon are struck with the outstretched fingers.
Tip The upper edge of the Cajon is played with the fingertips and fingertips and produces the softest beat.
Slap The higher, sharp-sounding beat is produced by striking just below the upper edge of the Cajon. The fingers are spread apart slightly and remain on the surface after the beat.

How do I learn to play the Cajon?

To learn to play the Cajon, you don't necessarily need to know music, but rather a sense of rhythm. You can learn how to play the Cajon by studying with a CD or DVD, and especially by playing along with other music. Of course, you can also draw from the pool of numerous tutorials on YouTube to get a first impression of the basics or specific playing styles. If you are willing to spend a little money for face-to-face instruction, you can take a Cajon workshop with Sven Bartel, for example. Besides the supervised learning, this also offers the advantage that you can play together with others.

Decision: What types of Cajon instruments are there and which is the right one for me?

Basically, a distinction is made between the following types of Cajons:

  • Afro-Peruvian Cajon
  • Flamenco Cajon
    • String Cajon
    • Snarecajon
  • Cajon with Cuban design
  • Cajon 2inOne
  • Folding Cajón

What is special about the Afro-Peruvian Cajon and what are the advantages and disadvantages of it?

The Afro-Peruvian Cajon is the original construction, which nowadays seems almost a little minimalist. It is characterised by a simple construction without a snapping mechanism. But it has a rich wooden sound. Bass cajon is the name given to the broader subspecies of the Afro-Peruvian cajon, whose bass is comparatively intense.

Advantages
  • Classic: Original shape as it became famous in Europe
  • Dominating wooden sound
Disadvantages
  • Simple construction
  • No snapping mechanism

What is the Flamenco Cajon and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The Flamenco Cajon is a further development of the Afro-Peruvian Cajon. There are different modifications: For example, the string cajons have guitar strings attached directly to the drum plate - these are responsible for a small snare sound, which is reminiscent of the typical snare of a drum kit. This is always omnipresent when playing, as the sides are usually stretched over a large part of the striking surface.

Advantages
  • Sensitive response
  • snare sound is the same over the entire striking surface
  • strings do not interfere with the vibrations
Disadvantages
  • Strings require readjustment after a while
  • it is not possible to completely suppress the snare effect

A second variant is metal elements such as carpet segments, also called snare carpets. Other variants are available with metal tongue compartments or spiral wires. With these, an intense snare effect can be achieved very easily. The light response, meanwhile, sometimes leads to after-rattling. The sound is similarly crisp but not quite as clear as that of the string cajons. All the advantages and disadvantages are summed up next.

Advantages
  • Comparatively easy to use
  • Consistent sound without readjustment
  • Switching between playing with and without snare effect possible
Disadvantages
  • Vibrations of the striking surface are damped depending on the contact pressure
  • Different sound over the different parts of the striking surface
  • The playing is less delicate in comparison

What distinguishes the Karon with Cuban construction?

You can recognise the Cuban Cajon by the different way it is played from top to bottom and not from front to back as is normally the case. The result is that the player takes the Cuban Cajon between his legs and does not sit on it. Mostly this kind of Cajon is used in Rumba.

What are 2inOne Cajons?

This type of Cajon has the advantage that the spirals inside can be removed. As a result, it is now possible to play with a Cuban-inspired sound as well as in the flamenco variant, depending on your preference.

Is a folding Cajon worth it?

Foldable Cajones are an effective alternative for all those who want to be particularly compact and mobile with the instrument. Because it is easier to transport and quicker to set up and assemble, the Cajon is less trouble if you want to take it with you when you travel.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate Cajons

For an overview, here are all the factors you should consider if you are planning to buy a Cajon.

  • Cajon type
  • Material
  • Construction
  • Dimensions
  • Weight
  • Pre-assembled?
  • Feet?
  • With seat cushion?

Depending on which factors you prioritise, certain Cajons will be considered or excluded. In this way, you can successfully find the right Cajon for you from all points of view.

Things to know about the Cajon

Where does the Cajon come from and how long has it been around?

The Cajon originated in Peru and was made from former transport crates. Hence the name cajon, which means drawer or chest of drawers in Spanish. Due to the prevailing slavery until the 19th century, the African slaves were deprived of their traditional drums. As a substitute, the wooden boxes had to serve the purpose of community spirit. The snare effect of the cajon, which is so well-known today, originated in Spain because a flamenco guitarist deliberately combined the strings with the percussion plate of the cajon to make it, so to speak, "suitable for flamenco".

Is my Cajón broken?

Do you hear an unusual clattering instead of buzzing from your Cajon? Then it could well be that the pick plate has suffered damage, for example through too rough use with the foot machine. But the strings of a string Cajon can also break if used too carelessly. Last but not least, the Cajon needs a general overhaul sooner or later due to frequent and intensive use. The playing surface, for example, can be replaced. For this, you should contact the manufacturer's service or other experts.

Picture credits: kenzos / 123RF

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