Cajon fatigue?

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I read in a thread not long ago that someone considers cajons totally over-used and cliche. To be honest, after that I checked out a few cajon videos on YouTube - and found that there were quite a few female players giving lessons through YouTube videos, and some very creative playing going on. I saw an Alex Acuna video of a cajon solo, which was really creative (but then again, it's friggin' Alex Acuna, so it should be), and how many people have added bass drum pedals and other instruments to their cajons. I wasn't really interested in those, I wanted to see what people were doing with just the wooden box.

I look online for models to buy and there are so many of them. I haven't been following this cajon craze very closely so I was surprised to see so many for sale by big manufacturers, and for all prices between $99 to $500. It's just a wooden box, right? I saw alot of them at the NAMM show and they all seemed the same to me.

For the cajon players here, what's the attraction? Obviously you can use it like a single conga for all kinds of music - is the only reason somebody would get into because you might be playing in a little 3-foot square for yourself? Is that the only reason? I'll admit it looks like fun, although I don't know where I'd get a chance to use it publicly - I have enough work with a regular drumset. Can anyone shed more light on why you'd choose the cajon over anything else? Does anyone have any back problems from sitting on one and hunching down to play it?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I like the idea of cajons - small, light, practical, portable, versatile. I tried out a fair few in shops and saw other people play them but didn't feel the love.

They sound effective with the ukulele here, though - a good player ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZpFbdWvUpA
And it's Jake no less! I don't know - the cajon looks a bit awkward to play and I keep thinking you'd eventually throw a back disc out because you're hunching forward like that to play it. It sounds cool - way easier to execute than say, tabla ;)
 

Skulmoski

Gold Member
I have a couple and they are quite versatile (e.g. I sometimes play them with brushes) but they should not be overused (e.g. not every song needs a cowbell).

GJS
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
Find a flamenco class near you and accompany them. If I had to choose between dancing to guitar or to cajon, I'd generally go for guitar but dancing to both is better, and if there's a half-decent singer as well ... it really does not get much better than that.
 

bigiainw

Gold Member
I love my cajon- ideal for quiet figuring out the song rehearsals or quiet acoustic gigs- sore on the wrists if played for too long though.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I use mine a lot for percussion gigs or if it's impossible/impractical to bring a kit, and the music isn't overly complex.
 

Duracell

Senior Member
I live in a student town. The cajon appears to be the hip percussive instrument around here. It makes sense. It's a very portable little unit. It even has it's own seat included. If weather permits I just take it on my bike to the park or the nearby river. Invite a friend with a guitar and boom! Entertainment for hours.

Furthermore, it's relatively simple to get the basic bass and slap notes out of it. Though, getting a consistent sound out of it take a while (I still can't do it).

As far as back problems are concerned. It all depends how you sit on it. Most people reach to low for the bass notes, which is bad for your back. It's perfectly possible to sit on it straight, or with a slight forward lean, and play it just fine.

Not all cajons are the same. Just like drums you have different sizes, types of wood, snares, string and all kinds of little extras. Mine has a snare off and on function for instance. At the end of the day though, you should try a couple of them and see which one sounds the best. One of the best I heard was only 90 euros. You really don't have to break the bank for them. And you shouldn't, considering they'll likely be used outside.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
They come in handy for acoustic gigs where the volume levels are lower. I play one for a couple tunes with my rock band. But, to be honest, I don't care for them very much.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I don't even know the proper pronunciation of the word let alone knowing how to play one.

I won't play anything where I have to slap my bare hands to get a sound. But I wouldn't mind seeing someone else play one.

What was the question again?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
OK so it's 2 syllables. Not Cajun or Ka -Hone-ah.

I should rephrase...I won't play anything hard where I have to slap my bare hands on it to get a sound lol.

If I am ever in a situation where I have 8 buttcheeks at my disposal, well, I'll let you know if that ever happens lol. Don't hold your breath lol.
 

Shedboyxx

Silver Member
I find the cajon to be all the things Bo is mentioning.

I come from a background playing congas and other hand drums as well as drumset. I can say that the cajon is a very cool instrument when used musically and played by a player who knows how to do that. My techniques and approach combines drumset and conga technique so I'm able to fit in nicely when the gig calls for it.

Bo: I've played a few different cajons and can say that some are just a box. And some are beautiful instruments that just play great. There's definitely a difference between the MF Stupid Deal of the Day cajon and an upper end cajon. FWIW, I own a fine cajon by Fat Congas who went out of business a while ago. It's two sided which means there is a snare or buzzy side and a non-snare side. I will most of the time use both when doing a gig but there are now cajons with on/off snares or strings.

Now. I do think the cajon is sometimes forced into situations where they just don't want the volume of a drum set. This commonly but incorrectly termed 'unplugged' approach often won't require ALL players to go acoustic. Therefore the ELECTRIC guitar or the ELECTRIC bass or Synth or even the over balanced singer on a PA will have the ability if not the disposition to drown out the cajon. Unless of course you take care of your own miking and mixing or you have a good, sympathetic sound man. Usually it meets in the middle somewhere on reasonable gigs.

The cajon is sometimes the new millenium version of 'play with brushes', a term used sometimes to enable musicality and other times to just control (ahem..BULLY....excuse me) the drum volume.

As I've told others, I love playing both brushes and/or cajon when the musical situation is right. However I still end up working (money) at gigs where they try to do songs with power chords and anthemic rock mixes - while I play cajon. Kinda pathetic but as usual the check clears.

Now regarding the back thing. Ugh. Yes that affects me. I find that I need to stretch and these days maybe take an ibuprofen before the gig. I don't hurt per se but my back does get sore or at least wear down - if that makes sense (?)

I do want to let everyone reading this thread know about a great new instrument that is somewhere in my future called the Box Kit. This is a cajon like instrument but with more than 1 or 2 playing surfaces and - voila! - an answer to some of the back issues associated with cajon playing. This is not a budget cajon but neither are Schlagwerks or other finer cajons. Check out this instrument and the YouTube videos. Very Cool. The owner/builder's name is Josh Trask

http://www.theboxkit.com/


Jim
 

Shedboyxx

Silver Member
Re: Cajon fatigue? Pt 2

Forgot to mention:

There is definitely something cool about carrying in a cajon to a gig that you get paid the same as a drumset. Setup/breakdown time is a 1/5th as long. Also from a work standpoint, if I didn't own a cajon and play it with some skill, there are some gigs that I or the group I was playing with would not have been hired for.

I don't know how to give an iTunes link but if you go to the iTunes stores, look up Tim Russ and the album 'Then and Now'. You can hear me playing an exposed cajon part on 'Looking for Jack'. That was a song recorded by Colin Hay with Chad Wackerman on drums. We changed the arrangement a little and it works.

HTH

Jim
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
THey are uncomfortable and I feel stupid sitting on one. There I said it.


Really though I am 6' 3" and I feel this way. I cannot be alone.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
THey are uncomfortable and I feel stupid sitting on one. There I said it.


Really though I am 6' 3" and I feel this way. I cannot be alone.
Yeah, when I first saw them crop up a few years ago, I thought, "what an ingenious way to sell people simple wooden boxes" or "I guess you can't even afford a djembe". But there have been really good players on it. I also play a mean set of musical spoons too. I'm not sure what I think yet. I'm on the fence.
 
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