The Cajon is a fairly simple instrument, with the traditional Peruvian cajons being the most minimalistic. They are literally wooden boxes!
But don’t be fooled by the minimalistic Peruvian cajon, depending on the wood it’s made from, you can get a wide range of sounds. I’ve compiled an infographic of the characteristics of different woods previously:
Two main types of Cajon
Being a fairly simple instrument, you will only find two main variations of the cajon:
- boxed cajon
- snare cajon
What’s inside the Boxed Cajon?
Nothing. As it’s name suggests, it’s just a wooden ‘box’ that has a tapa (the front board that you hit) which could be made of a different type of wood, depending on how fancy the cajon is.
What’s inside the Snare Cajon?
Basically a boxed cajon with an additional snare mechanism. Depending on the manufacturer, you may see snare mechanisms of different designs.
If you’re looking for a fuss free cajon, it’s best to read reviews on whether the snares can be easily changed out or replaced.
Or, you can refer to our guide on the best cajons for beginners.
Some things to note
Depending on the type of sound you’re after, you may want to note if the tapa is screwed on or glued on. In some cases, it could be both. A screwed on tapa is easier to change and also gives you some flexibility over the cajon’s sound.
In general, a looser tapa creates a sound with more ‘snap’, almost like resonance from guitar strings.
Some cajons may come with additional bracing. Depending on the design, this may affect how sound bounces within the cajon, giving rise to different sound characteristics.
If you’re looking for a specific type of sound from your cajon, you may want to listen and play with a cajon before committing to one.
You may also want to read about how much weight can a cajon hold.
If you’re curious about cajons, here’re what we’ve covered previously: