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.
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.
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:102_NiceCajon.mp3]
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