Are you a percussionist seeking to get the “Best Budget Cajon” drum to incorporate into your musical style and you don’t know what to go for? If yes, then you are at the right place. This article will outline some of the key features to look out for in a quality budget Cajon and ways in which you can integrate it with any style of music.
Best Budget Cajons!
Cajon is a Spanish word for drawer or crate. Also known as box drums, Cajon drums date back in the 1700’s and theory has is that they were introduced by the African slaves in the tea plantations of Peru. Initially, Cajons became synonymous with the rumba and the flamenco music, but in the last few decades, they have played an essential role in contemporary music. You will hear them in jazz fusion, bluegrass, hip-hop, pop, rock and many other kinds of music.
The popularity of Cajon drums can be attributed to the fact that it’s easily portable, budget-friendly and has an ability to adapt to various genres of music. Additionally, they require no plug-in which makes them ideal for use in a street corner busking situation.
What To Look For In The Best Budget Cajon That Is Still Good Quality!
When determining the best budget Cajon, you can do so without compromising it’s quality. To help you achieve this, below are some of the things you should look out for:
Quality Of The Material
Cajon drums are mostly constructed using hardwoods which include Oak, Birch, Beech, and Mahogany. Whereas the mentioned woods are known to produce quality Cajon drums, they all vary in the type of sound they provide.
A Cajon made from oak, for instance, is characterized by soft highs and slightly warm lows and is known to produce loud sounds which decay quickly. Mahogany will produce warm-rich lows and muted highs which results in a boomy bass. If you are looking for a well-rounded Cajon, you should consider ones made from beech or birch. They have good highs, mids, and lows that are well balanced.
You will find different brands selling cajon drums constructed from the same hardwood but at varying prices. Since brands do not necessarily translate to the quality, do your research and consider those that offer you a fair price.
The Purpose/Sound Produced
Cajons may look the same, but they are constructed for different purposes. They vary significantly depending on the snares and bass tones they provide. You will find that some are purposely built for deeper bass tones while others are for bongo-like sounds. If you wish to integrate your Cajon with an acoustic guitar then picking one with extra bass will serve you right. However, if you are doing a duo with a bassist, you should avoid those with extra bass since they are more likely to mess up the low-end.
Size Of The Box
When playing a Cajon, a percussionist typically sits straddled on the box and strikes the tapa to produce sound. For this reason, you need to pick one that fits your body size or else you will be in for a series of back problems. Again the size will determine the angle at which you will be striking the tapa which in return will affect the variety of sound you can produce.
For those who like playing Cajons while standing, you can opt for the tall Cuban style conga Cajon drums. Apart from bringing you comfort and expanding the array of sounds that can be produced, size can also be a key factor when it comes to getting the best budget cajon.
Type Of Cajon Tapa
Since the tapa face is usually the part that is played in a cajon, it is quite imperative to consider the type and quality of material used to make the tapa as this contributes to the overall sounds produced. Tapas can be made from synthetic materials which include carbon fiber, acrylic or plastic. However, an ideal tapa material will consist of several layers of thinner plies that result in a denser material. These kinds of tapas are essential for producing crisp-high tones. Also, if you are looking for the best budget cajon capable of producing more mid-based tones, you should consider one with tapas made of fewer thicker plies.
Extra Tips On Playing The Best Budget Cajon!
For you to understand how to use Cajons for different styles of music, you first need to be familiar with the different styles involved in playing Cajons. The typical way is by sitting on top of the box and slapping the forefront (tapa).
There are various strokes which can be achieved in this position and can be integrated with other genres of music. Consider for instance the “bass stroke.” Bass stroke is the lowest tone that can be produced by a Cajon. It’s achieved by striking the Cajon, with the heel of your hand hovering over the tapa, and quickly pulling your hand away. These strokes produce a low-end boom that brings a “thumping” effect. Such can be integrated into hip-hop music to come up with the music beats.
The second stroke, is the slap stroke that produces a high-pitched sharp sound. The sound resulting from this stroke is much crispier and can be likened to the snare drums backbeats that are common with rock/pop tunes. Again by combining both the slap and bass strokes, you can produce a range of rock/pop grooves.
Another way of playing the Cajon is by striking it with a metal or plastic brush rather than using your bare hands to increase the palette of sounds. You can also produce ab electronic snare effect by hitting the tapa with a small cymbal. What’s more, you can use a customary bass drum pedal enabling you to create pedal-bass drum-like sounds/beats.
The famous guitarist Paco DE Lucia was among the earliest people to integrate cajons in other music genres. He began by producing a sizzle effect through adding guitar strings running along the faceplate of the drum and later incorporating it into his music life. Since then, Cajons have been improved to include snare wires, bass pedals, and nylon strings in an attempt to vary the sound of the music.