The Cajon Drum. Unusual Percussion Instruments Worthy of Praise

The Cajon drum, unusual percussion instrument

Cajon drum is an instrument not a lot of people have heard about. Even the most experience musicians will rarely ever hear about this type of drum, let alone see it in use.

When you look at a Cajon drum, first thing you notice is the fact that it pretty much resembles a wooden box. In all essence, that is exactly what it is. The way you play this instrument is by sitting on top of it, and slapping the front panel with your hands, fingers or other tools.

This unusual percussion instrument is characteristic to certain styles of Latin American music and some African music as well. Unless you are into these genres, you will rarely have an occasion to see one of these in person.


Cajon drums originated sometimes in the late 18th century among the slaves from West and central Africa regions. How the instrument came to be in the first place is still a matter of debate.

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Some claim that Cajon is just a variation of pre existing percussion instruments from Angola, while others claim that slaves made them the way they are because it was easier to hide them from authorities who strictly forbidden any kind of musical instruments to be owned by African slaves. Either of these theories are possible.

Once it became somewhat popular, it quickly started evolving. The most progress was done in the coastal regions of Peru where Cajon drums became really spread out.

People were experimenting with different box sizes, and wood thickness to see what offers the best result.


Today Cajon drums are being manufactured by a number of big and small percussion instrument brands. They come in different sizes but the overall design has remained pretty much intact.types of cajon drum

Aside from the box-like appearance, Cajon drums also feature a port hole located on the back panel that acts pretty much as any port hole found on modern speakers.

The materials used to manufacture modern Cajon drums are a combination of plywood and different species of wood. Behind the front panel, there is usually a snare throw type device that gives it a hi end kick.

Some of the Cajon drums are also amplified. These will have a quarter inch plug in the back that leads to a microphone that is installed inside the Cajon drum itself. As you can see, what appears to be a very simple percussion instrument is actually a pretty versatile drum that becoming more and more popular in genres outside of its native Flamenco.

How to Choose

One of the main rules when shopping for a Cajon drum is to go and try one out in person. That is the only way you can have a good idea what each individual model sounds like.

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You will also need to know the exact application you are going to be using the Cajon for. If you want to do gigs in large venues, you will probably need an amplified model. On the other hand, if you just want a Cajon drum to have at home, or play in smaller venues, an acoustic one will get the job done just fine.

Another thing to consider is the fact that you won’t be able to hear the whole spectrum of the Cajon drum while you are playing it. That means you will have the best shopping experience if you take a friend along with you to play the drum while you stand in different places and listen to the sonic qualities of the drum.

 cajon wood qualityWith that said, you will need someone who actually has a developed technique. Sure, you can ask anybody to slap the front panel of a Cajon drum, but chances are that you won’t get the right picture of what the drum is capable of unless the person playing it has at least some knowledge and experience.

Unlike other instruments, it is quite easy to damage the Cajon drum. This is mostly due to its boxy shape. If you want to still have a working instrument after a month of use, we suggest you get some kind of a case or bag to keep it protected at all times.

In summary

Cajon drums are one of those oddball instruments that has a unique sound, and very niche application. At least at the moment. Cajon drum reviews are rare since not many people play them.

What we wanted to accomplish with this article is to introduce you to this awesome simple drum, and tell you a little bit about its history. If you are open to new things and experiences, we suggest you try this instrument out.

No matter what your background is, you can quickly learn the basic techniques. One of the most beautiful things about Cajon drums is the fact that there are no hard set rules when it comes to how its played. You have complete freedom to do what ever you like.

1 thought on “The Cajon Drum. Unusual Percussion Instruments Worthy of Praise”

  1. I’ve been playing cajons for the better part of my life. There is nothing ‘less known’ or ‘rare’ about it. It’s just you people not being able to look past drum kits and guitars. Cajons are the best compact acoustic percussion instrument you can get, period.

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