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Cajon Drum | What is a Cajon?

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If you were to search the Internet you would see that there are several versions of the history of the cajon. This seems to stem from the fact that there are several different countries that had one version or another of the cajon. Below is a summary of the history as told from various contries:

The Cajon - A Brief Historical Synopsys
Regardles of which country's or sources version of the history of the cajon you study the version of events is basically the same. Slaves and/or less prvilaged (poor) members of society had no ability to get their hands on real drums. Instead, they found crates, dresser drawers, and virtually anything else wood and hollow and began to use them as drums. Not alll that different from many a boring french class and the hollow desks or plastic chairs many drummers used to pass the time in school! As any drummer will tell you, if yu can get different tones out of it why not bang out a quick rythym to pass the time?

The Cajon Today
There are several versions of the cajon available today. Virtually every major company, and many smaller ones, have at least one version of the cajon in their list of products. They come in many shapes, sizes and types; all of which have a specific sound and/or purpose. Some of the more popular versions are discussed below:

Cajon Box Drum   The Box Cajon

This is the most popular version of the cajon. This is a square or rectangular box that is typicaly made of wood but now comes in many different materials including plexiglass and fiberglass. The typical thinkness of a wood cajon is 3/4 inches but the thinkness varies based on the type of material the cajon is made of. The front side of the cajon will almost always be thinner than the other sides and is often slightly lose to allow a slapping sound from the corners. The side opposite the front side will have at least one hole to allow air to escape. The thinner front side of the cajon allows the player to make many different sounds and tones depending on where on the cajon the player hits it. In many demonstrations you will see the cajon drummer run their foot up and down the front of the cajon to make the sound higher or lower based on the pressure applied. Also, while the front side is the main playing surface, many cajon players will play on all sides of the cajon to get different sounds and tones out of it.


Cajon Conga Drum   The Conga Cajon

Much like the name indicates, this design is the similar, in fact almost identical, to a traditional conga. The playing surface is now the top of the drum. The sound hole is now on the bottom of the drum. The sides will all be solid and the conga cajon can have one side (totally round) or have 2, 3, 4 or any other number of sides. Unlike the box cajon, you do not sit on the conga cajon, you play it like a conga. You can also have any number of conga cajons that you play at the same time; again, like a set of congas.


Cajon Bongo Drum   The Laptop/Bongo Cajon

There are several versions of the cajon that you play on your lap. In fact, at least one version of the laptop cajon is shaped with 'humps' in the bottom to sit over your legs as you play. These allow easy transpotation and still gives a very nice sound. I have used these in small accoustic venues before.


There are new types of cajon drums appearing everyday but the list above highlights the main types. Whatever type you decide to play, this is a very versitile instrument that is fun to play!