What Is A Cajon?

The cajon, or box drum, is a Latin percussion instrument originating in coastal Peru and Cuba.

You can see here what a cajon looks like:

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Matt Quain playing a Quain Percussion Live! Series Cajon

Cajon means “box” or “drawer” in Spanish. When African slaves in Latin America were forbidden drums to play on, they improvised by using shipping crates to play their rhythms. In time, the cajon became a huge part of Afro-Peruvian and Afro-Cuban music. In the 1970′s the cajon started gaining popularity in many other genera of music. Find out more in my article: History of The Cajon.

Most cajons are made of high quality plywoods like birch and maple, although some use solid tonewoods. Still others are made out of fiberglass.

A cajon typically has three main sounds; the bass, snare and click. A good cajon will have a clear bass tone, crisp snares and a cracking sort of snap around the corners. Here’s a video of one being played:

 

Today, cajons are widely used in acoustic music as an alternative to the drum-kit. They are much easier to transport and setup and they have a mellow sound, perfect for accompanying a band in an acoustic set.

Further Reading:

History of The Cajon

Cajon Buying Guide

How To Build A Cajon