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  #1  
Old 02-29-2012, 09:18 PM
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Default Right time to use a Cajon?

Here's one I haven't heard before. The new band I'm in- or was in until Monday - consisted of a female singer, bass, guitar, and me on drum set. The guitar player is a metal head that played for years in a metal band but wanted a change.

The band started off primarily as acoustic with drum set. Then the guitar player and singer wanted to add electric guitar, so he buys a new electric and re-learns electric and wants to play harder rock songs. The bass player wanted to play more lighter fair, so we added several lighter acoustic covers that I used a Djembe on. All's progressing well. Next thing I know the guitar and singer are wanting to buy a Cajon and use that for our full band gigs as well. Okay I'm expecting lighter "coffeehouse" covers to use on the Cajon.

Wrong!

Get this, these guys want to ditch the Djembe - although they agreed it was a good fit - and use the Cajon with amplified acoustic guitars, miced bass, full miced vocals and miced Cajon on rock songs not in a coffeehouse venue, but full bar or nightclub. And the Cajon they bought new with a guitar center gift card was a low end small POS. The thing sounded like a cardboard box.

So I was less than enthusiastic when asked to play the Cajon on 4 covers with guitars so amped and loud I couldn't hear myself play. So I'm no longer in the band because of "differences of opinion", and the fact that every cover we played we played a different way or I was continuing being told how to play - like when to use the snare, when to hit "that tom with legs", etc.

Is there anything weird about this or am I missing the point of when and when not to use a Cajon?
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Old 02-29-2012, 09:35 PM
mo2vation mo2vation is offline
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

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Originally Posted by rogue_drummer View Post
Here's one I haven't heard before. The new band I'm in- or was in until Monday - consisted of a female singer, bass, guitar, and me on drum set. The guitar player is a metal head that played for years in a metal band but wanted a change.

The band started off primarily as acoustic with drum set. Then the guitar player and singer wanted to add electric guitar, so he buys a new electric and re-learns electric and wants to play harder rock songs. The bass player wanted to play more lighter fair, so we added several lighter acoustic covers that I used a Djembe on. All's progressing well. Next thing I know the guitar and singer are wanting to buy a Cajon and use that for our full band gigs as well. Okay I'm expecting lighter "coffeehouse" covers to use on the Cajon.

Wrong!

Get this, these guys want to ditch the Djembe - although they agreed it was a good fit - and use the Cajon with amplified acoustic guitars, miced bass, full miced vocals and miced Cajon on rock songs not in a coffeehouse venue, but full bar or nightclub. And the Cajon they bought new with a guitar center gift card was a low end small POS. The thing sounded like a cardboard box.

So I was less than enthusiastic when asked to play the Cajon on 4 covers with guitars so amped and loud I couldn't hear myself play. So I'm no longer in the band because of "differences of opinion", and the fact that every cover we played we played a different way or I was continuing being told how to play - like when to use the snare, when to hit "that tom with legs", etc.

Is there anything weird about this or am I missing the point of when and when not to use a Cajon?

I've been playing cajon for about 16 years now.

If my house was burning down, and my family was out safely - I often say the only thing I'd run in and get would be my cajons.

I've been a drummer for a lot longer than I've been a cajon player - but this instrument has blasted past my kit as my fav instrument. I have a grip of them - my very favs being the Schlagwerks and the ones Fat Congas make for me.

You're right - most cajons sound like crap. Like most of any instrument. There are finely crafted instruments that have tone, and depth and complexity and are a joy to play... and there are crap that just look like the former.

Back to your question: the right time to use a cajon is when the music calls for it.

I've played them at parties, on the beach, at coffee houses, in small rooms, big rooms, large clubs and arenas. I've been in the big room at A&M (Studio #1 RIP) and just mashed the thing and it sounded like "when the levy breaks"... I love them.

Being told what to play is never a good situation under the best of circumstances. But here's the deal: if I dug in and 'just played drums' I'd be missing out on SO MANY opportunities to play. With my cajon, ankle bells, foot tambourine, shakers and blocks... I can turn Singer songwriter types with a guitar and a dream into a band.

I get called to play Cajon more often than I get called to play drums over the last 8 years - although its swinging back now that Friends is off the air. :)

Embrace it. Own it. Play it like you mean it. Bleed on it. I use mine for drumkit replacement and turn any acoustic gig into a concert.

PLUS - it's made me a better drummer. Deconstructing drum parts, assigning foot parts to hands, then swapping back and forth. With no sustain, rhythms are often implied, parts are simplified, etc. Its been fantastic. Drum kit is three basics: Kick, Snare, and some type of rainbird (high hat, ride, rims... whatever- something going tap tap tap on the 8ths or 16ths).... with a cajon you have the boom and crack of a kit. You have the sidestick for ballad work. Foot tambourine, shaker add the rainbird and you're right at home on the kit.

If you're a working drummer, and you're not actively applying your kit skills to cajon, first, I thank you (as they're calling me... heehee) and second, I gotta ask why not? It opens up so many more opportunities to play.

Djembe required two hands... not my thing. Cajon is my very, very favorite percussion instrument (after the king of all percussion instruments, the conga).

-K
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  #3  
Old 02-29-2012, 09:39 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

Sounds like a bad band, there is no reason you couldnt mic up a cajon and play with everything amped, however a band that wont listen to you, tries to tell you how to play, and keeps changing their setup is just terrible. Screw them find someone better.
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Old 02-29-2012, 09:43 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

I don't think the Cajon nor the "right or wrong" time to use one is the issue.

It sounds like you want to be a drummer in a band and they want a percussionist instead.
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Old 02-29-2012, 09:54 PM
mo2vation mo2vation is offline
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

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Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post
I don't think the Cajon nor the "right or wrong" time to use one is the issue.

It sounds like you want to be a drummer in a band and they want a percussionist instead.
Or they wanted both.

-K
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  #6  
Old 03-01-2012, 08:14 AM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

I think they wanted both or didn't know what they wanted, to be honest. They started off wanting the drum kit, then realized I had a Djembe and explored that avenue, but wanted to control what instrument I played, even the point of telling me not to play the snare on 2 and 4 on simple rock covers because it threw the singer off. Then reversed their thinking because "you have to have the snare sometimes". When I asked where, they couldn't tell me. Instead I was told to "just feel it".

What a bunch of nuts! lol

Honestly, I've used a Djembe many times in the past on quieter acoustic covers and settings and it really adds a world drumming sound to the mix, which is fine if that is what the song needs.

This experience kinda went south real quick due to the fact that they insisted on me using the Cajon, which was so narrow I couldn't sit on it and play, I had to sit on my drum throne and lean the Cajon back at a 45 degree angle to play it. The tone was aweful. I even experimented sitting back on it and playing it to see if I got a better sound. I couldn't, so I was not too happy I was sitting on a cardboard box. I even offered to have them sit on it and play and was told they did, but couldn't play because it was too unnatural and "just weird".
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Last edited by rogue_drummer; 03-01-2012 at 08:28 AM.
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  #7  
Old 03-01-2012, 08:27 AM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

Buy a Cocktail kit and tell em to pound sand.
Seems like everyone wants to do their own thing, no one is on the same page as to where to go.
A mic'd Cajon is silly on acoustic gigs, it defeats the whole intent of it being an acoustic gig. If they wanted volume, a Cocktail or 3 Piece would be a better choice.
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:47 AM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

I'd love to have cocktail drums or a few congas. In fact that is one purchase my wife is wanting us to make so she can learn congas. And I gotta keep the Mrs. happy, right? :-)

All in all, this wasn't a total loss since I was exposed to a lot of alternative or semi-mainstream music I never would have listened to that I ended up liking a whole lot, like Adele, Maroon 5, 4 Non Blondes, Grace Potter....
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

I'm in something of an odd situation with regards to cajon. I just play cajon - I don't like that it's used as a kit replacement, me and my band use it as the sole source of percussion, it's so diverse and for what we play (drum and bass/flamenco/hip hop) it works perfectly. We use it in all sorts of situations, from big festival gigs to smaller pub gigs and it always sounds great. EQd correctly and with a sound man who knows what he's doing, it can easily compete with a drum kit.. i've had a drum off with a full kit and a beatboxer before now..
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  #10  
Old 06-17-2012, 05:39 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

I think a cajon is a very versatile instrument. Sometimes I even use brushes. I Dublin last year I say a very heavy band and the drummer had a small bass drum with his cajon and cymbals. All were miked and they were all loud.

GJS
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  #11  
Old 06-17-2012, 08:52 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

What a weird situation. Why are you so against the cajon, exactly? If you're having trouble hearing it, use a mic!

I have a nice one I bought recently, it's one of the more capable drum set replacements in my arsenal of percussion. I'm kind of the reverse of you, I dislike djembes and much prefer the cajon.
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:23 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

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Originally Posted by Dr_Watso View Post
What a weird situation. Why are you so against the cajon, exactly? If you're having trouble hearing it, use a mic!

I have a nice one I bought recently, it's one of the more capable drum set replacements in my arsenal of percussion. I'm kind of the reverse of you, I dislike djembes and much prefer the cajon.
I had thought of using a cajon, but once I noticed a lot of other people using them I decided not too. Too trendy. It's to the point where a djembe is almost unusual!

For acoustic gigs, I prefer my congas, darbuka, tablas, marimba, tongue drum, djembe and talking drum and a few other odds and ends. Cajons are very expressive but resemble djembes in that they're not too melodic.
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:25 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue_drummer View Post
I'd love to have cocktail drums or a few congas. In fact that is one purchase my wife is wanting us to make so she can learn congas. And I gotta keep the Mrs. happy, right? :-)

All in all, this wasn't a total loss since I was exposed to a lot of alternative or semi-mainstream music I never would have listened to that I ended up liking a whole lot, like Adele, Maroon 5, 4 Non Blondes, Grace Potter....
I do half my gigs now with my cocktail set and congas. I cajon will never sound too much like a drum set simply because it lacks cymbals. A cocktail kit is a good combination of the authentic sound of a drumset with the portability of a cajon. Plus the cocktail set is way cooler.
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:33 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue_drummer View Post
Here's one I haven't heard before. The new band I'm in- or was in until Monday - consisted of a female singer, bass, guitar, and me on drum set. The guitar player is a metal head that played for years in a metal band but wanted a change.

The band started off primarily as acoustic with drum set. Then the guitar player and singer wanted to add electric guitar, so he buys a new electric and re-learns electric and wants to play harder rock songs. The bass player wanted to play more lighter fair, so we added several lighter acoustic covers that I used a Djembe on. All's progressing well. Next thing I know the guitar and singer are wanting to buy a Cajon and use that for our full band gigs as well. Okay I'm expecting lighter "coffeehouse" covers to use on the Cajon.

Wrong!

Get this, these guys want to ditch the Djembe - although they agreed it was a good fit - and use the Cajon with amplified acoustic guitars, miced bass, full miced vocals and miced Cajon on rock songs not in a coffeehouse venue, but full bar or nightclub. And the Cajon they bought new with a guitar center gift card was a low end small POS. The thing sounded like a cardboard box.

So I was less than enthusiastic when asked to play the Cajon on 4 covers with guitars so amped and loud I couldn't hear myself play. So I'm no longer in the band because of "differences of opinion", and the fact that every cover we played we played a different way or I was continuing being told how to play - like when to use the snare, when to hit "that tom with legs", etc.

Is there anything weird about this or am I missing the point of when and when not to use a Cajon?
What a bunch of jerks! The probably saw a cajon player with a full band on YouTube and figured they could tell you what instruments to play.

This isn't so much a cajon-vs.-drumset issue. It's more like an issue of the rest of the band telling one of its members what instruments to play. Yeah, "difference of opinion" - they think they should be able to dictate to another musician what instrument to play, and you don't share that opinion.
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:34 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

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Originally Posted by Richard.J View Post
Buy a Cocktail kit and tell em to pound sand.
Seems like everyone wants to do their own thing, no one is on the same page as to where to go.
A mic'd Cajon is silly on acoustic gigs, it defeats the whole intent of it being an acoustic gig. If they wanted volume, a Cocktail or 3 Piece would be a better choice.
Good advice +1 on this.
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Old 06-18-2012, 03:28 AM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
I had thought of using a cajon, but once I noticed a lot of other people using them I decided not too. Too trendy. It's to the point where a djembe is almost unusual!

For acoustic gigs, I prefer my congas, darbuka, tablas, marimba, tongue drum, djembe and talking drum and a few other odds and ends. Cajons are very expressive but resemble djembes in that they're not too melodic.
For me, and the way I play, none of the instruments you mention would be an effective replacement for a drum set or cajon. I think a lot of rock and folk music really benefits greatly from a "snare" sound, which is what I miss most when playing a djembe. It makes music sound more "tribal" and less what it is to me.

In the end, for me it's all about expression. I would never in a million years compromise what I want music to sound like because I think something is too trendy... But I just get the feeling you're more comfortable expressing yourself with a djembe or other similar percussion.

Have you spent much time with a cajon? They're deceptively both simple, and deep as far as tones and effort.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:09 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

Use one when its appropriate.

Is it gig space, or volume restricted? Or if you prefer the sound of a Cajon to a kit sound. Use it.

If there are sounds on a Cajon you want that are not available on a trad kit. Use it.

I love to play a kit, Its why I started. If you have to mic a Cajon is that not rather defeating most of the reasons for using one in the first place? IE, the volume issues with a trad kit.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:41 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

They have been around longer than I have been alive. When I first started playing drums I saw them but just never got into them. I got more into Congas and Djembe growing up in an area where they were more popular. I think they are neat and I see a lot of people use them in smaller gigs but to my ears I just don't hear what others do (musically) with them.

Most of the applications I have heard they are emulating sounds from a trap kit. Again to my ears it reminds of the tones I would get from messing around on tables, garbage cans and anything of that nature.

To each their own though.
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Old 06-18-2012, 05:54 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr_Watso View Post
For me, and the way I play, none of the instruments you mention would be an effective replacement for a drum set or cajon. I think a lot of rock and folk music really benefits greatly from a "snare" sound, which is what I miss most when playing a djembe. It makes music sound more "tribal" and less what it is to me.

In the end, for me it's all about expression. I would never in a million years compromise what I want music to sound like because I think something is too trendy... But I just get the feeling you're more comfortable expressing yourself with a djembe or other similar percussion.

Have you spent much time with a cajon? They're deceptively both simple, and deep as far as tones and effort.
I actually think of the djembe and cajons as being closely related, as they both have a bass_slap_tone configuration and are fairly expressive. I sometimes play a cajon in the shape of a handdrum, made by Fat Congas. It is about 18 inches tall and square when viewed from the top and it is held between the knees and has a thin plywood head. This is a more comfortable position for me and I would think it would hurt the back to play so bent over all the time. Plus, no one else plays these so that attracts me to it. If you play what everyone else plays, you will sound like everyone else sounds.
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:47 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

Re The right time to use a cajon: Anytime!!

here the bass on this file
http://www.cajon.com.au/images/sound...oxpromodel.mp3

http://www.cajon.com.au/images/sound...ro%20darlo.mp3
This recording is really raw and unrehearsed, it me playing pro rockbox with pedal, slide guitar, blues harp and foot hi hat, the guitar is tuned in an open minor scale.
Hope you enjoy.
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Old 09-15-2012, 05:41 AM
waynerouse waynerouse is offline
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

I have played the cajon is just about every situation there is. The right time to play it is when ever you flippin feel like it:)
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Old 09-15-2012, 03:33 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

I have been using Cajon as drum set replacement with a acoustic guitar trio in small bar venue. Guitars are miced and go through mixer and PA, as does the Cajon. I stick a bass mic inside hole in the back and sometimes stick an SM57 in front. EQ it and set volume to the mix - I get a nice Bass drum sound and nice snare string slap. And all kind of other sounds and textures too. Its alot of fun and really fills out the music from a rhythm point of view. It is amazing the groove and sound you can get out of a Cajon and for the types of gigs we have been playing, it fits in nicely. Additional benefit, is I only have to make one trip to car. Set up is literally 2 mins. I love the Cajon, it is such a versatile instrument. When I play it I think in my mind what I would have played in drum set and translate it to the Cajon. Mostly Bass, Snare patterns, fills, etc. I also have a small cymbal I use for crashes.
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Old 09-15-2012, 03:53 PM
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

What do the cajon players here think of the sound of this one? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-IMARby9gA
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Old 09-15-2012, 04:15 PM
DPTrainor DPTrainor is offline
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Default Re: Right time to use a Cajon?

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What do the cajon players here think of the sound of this one? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-IMARby9gA
Sounds good. Many quality brands/model and some crap ones. I happen to play this one:

http://www.lpmusic.com/products/subpage/?modelNo=LP1438

Have good results. It has a decent bass thump and a nice snare sound. High quality - soild build.
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