Tagged: guitar center

My New Cajón aka “Ass Box”

Via Wikipedia: A cajón (Spanish pronunciation: [ka’xon], ‘crate’, ‘drawer’, or ‘ass box’) is a kind of box drum played by slapping the front face (generally thin plywood) with the hands.

This year for my birthday, my wife gave me a card with a picture of a cajón inside of it. This is a drum that I’ve talked about getting for years, but never got around to buying for myself. Knowing that I’m very particular about the sound of my instruments, she figured it would be best to let me be the one to pick out the actual drum. This picture entitled me to one trip to my favorite place in the world, Guitar Center, where I could select the cajón of my choice.

Yesterday I went to cash in on my gift, strolling passed the kids shredding on 7 string Ibanez guitars and into the drum department, where there were three different cajóns waiting for me to sit on. Two of them were made by Meinl and the other was manufactured by the maker of my first “real” drumset, Pearl.

Pearl Jingle Cajón

I first tried out the least expensive of the bunch, the oak Meinl.. From the first slap, I could tell it wouldn’t make the cut. There was hardly any bass, let alone high end. It sounded just as the price tag suggested: cheap. It was then on to the priciest of the three, the bubinga Meinl. While this one had great low end and a cool pedal to control the wires inside of the box, it was still missing that “snap” I was looking for when playing the outer edges of the drum.

Finally, it was on to the Pearl Jingle cajón. After playing this box for ten seconds, I knew it was the clear winner. With deep, full bass frequencies and a crisp, high end “crack”, this drum possessed the full range of tone I was looking for. After a swift swipe of my wife’s credit card, I got the hell out of that godforsaken store and headed straight for my studio.

Loop #133

I must have skipped the Cajón 101 class at Berklee because honestly, I had no idea how you’re actually supposed to play one. I mean, it’s just a box that you sit on and slap with your hands… how hard can it be? After watching a few YouTube videos featuring cajón solos by Alex Acuña and Efrain Toro, I soon had enough technique to accurately translate the rhythms I heard in my head and perform them on the instrument (complete with the foot-on-the drum pitch bending). Today’s loop is just a two measure snippet from an entire session of Ass Box grooves, soon to be released by The Loop Loft.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Get the .wav file here.

Get the .rx2 file here.

Get the .aiff file here.

102 BPM

Really, Really, Ridiculously Expensive Foam

In my quest to tame the overly-live tracking room in my new house, I bit the bullet and trekked out to my local Guitar Center to find a solution. I figured I could pick up a few of those foam panels and line the walls of my studio on the cheap. I mean, how expensive could foam be?

According to the ponytailed sales guy in the pro audio department, I needed to cover my walls with Auralex foam. He said these foam panels were the “Rolls Royce of acoustical treatments” and were priced accordingly. Not wanting to suffer in that godforsaken store any longer than necessary, I took his word for it and handed over my Amex. Several hundred dollars later, I walked out with a box full of luxury foam.

Wall of Auralex
Wall of Auralex

The panels came with tubes of permanent adhesive for mounting the foam on the wall. Since I’ll soon be moving the studio into the carriage house, I knew I didn’t want to be gluing the overpriced panels directly to the wall. My ingenious solution? Plywood and Velcro. I headed out to Home Depot and had the lumber department cut eight pieces of plywood into 1′ x 6′ sections. I then mounted the 1′ x 1′ Auralex panels directly to the plywood with industrial strength Velcro strips.

With three foam panels on each sheet of plywood, I was able to easily move the acoustical treatment around the room until I got the sound I desired. Along with LENRD bass traps in the corners of the room, I soon had a room that sounded more like The Hit Factory and less like a garage. The harsh, high frequencies coming off of the cymbals were no longer an issue and the low end from the kick and floor tom seemed more controlled and punchy. Maybe the guy with the ponytail was right?

Loop #95

Today’s loop is the first from my “acoustically controlled” studio. In this uptempo, pop-rock groove, you’ll notice things sound a bit tighter and more focused than the past few loops. All thanks to some really expensive foam. And Velcro. Lots of Velcro.

Preview Here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Get the .wav file here.

Get the .rx2 file here.

Get the .aiff file here.

173 BPM

Linear drumming for dummies.

Steve Gadd - Linear Lifetime Achievement Award
Steve Gadd - Linear Lifetime Achievement Award

Linear drumming is a style of playing where no two limbs hit at the same time. These grooves are typically broken up between the snare, kick, hi hat and toms, creating a unique, lilting feel. One of the most popular examples of linear drumming is Steve Gadd’s performance on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”. If you really want to impress the guy behind the counter at Guitar Center (the one with the phonytail) with your mad drumming skills, be sure to get this beat under your belt:

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Pop music and Guitar Centers aren’t the only places you can utilize linear beats. They also lend themselves well to funk music. David Garibaldi made the 70’s funkier (is that even possible?) with his slick, intricate linear grooves. Just check out some of his albums with Tower of Power, especially “Bump City” and “East Bay Grease”. With songs titles like “Social Lubrication” and “You Got To Funkifize”, I don’t feel the need to explain any further.

David Garibaldi - Linear fo' Life
David Garibaldi - Linear fo' Life

Loop #18

This beat originally started off as a very basic, 8th note linear groove…. then I decided to start playing with delays while mixing. I timed the delay to occur a dotted eighth note after the original attack, which resulted in an interesting, syncopated feel. To take it one step further, I panned the delay left to right (à la Stewart Copeland) and inserted a low pass filter.

Preview Here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download the Logic session here. (40MB)

Non-Logic fools, get your .wav files here.

83 BPM