Cajon hurts my hands?

DevonWelch

Member
I'm not quite sure where to post this, so I will post it here.

I love the Cajon for busking and acoustic performances, but it can really hurt my hands, especially my right hand my bone hits right on the edge, I don't know how people do it!!!

Is there any gloves, or something to protect my hands you guys could suggest for me to wear while playing the Cajon I would really appreciate it, thanks!
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I'm not sure I'd ever wear gloves. I like the touch aspect of it and I'd be afraid the attack would be muted.

If you are whacking "bone" against the corner, it occurs to me you're hitting a bit too hard, or in the wrong spot. Sure, my hands sting a bit after a few hours of playing, but not bone to wood... ouch!

if you decided you had to wear gloves, maybe some very thin gloves, like batters' gloves or golf gloves, would be the ticket.
 

DevonWelch

Member
If you are whacking "bone" against the corner, it occurs to me you're hitting a bit too hard, or in the wrong spot. Sure, my hands sting a bit after a few hours of playing, but not bone to wood... ouch!
I am whacking it quite hard, but that's only because I can't get a loud enough sound from it, even with it mic'd I only can get a nice sound if I hit it hard enough lol.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I am whacking it quite hard, but that's only because I can't get a loud enough sound from it, even with it mic'd I only can get a nice sound if I hit it hard enough lol.
If you are hurting yourself trying to get volume from a cajon, it might be time to bring in an actual drumset.

A technique I have used is to use the room itself as amplification. A recent gig saw me backed up into a corner in a restaurant. A combination of the room acoustics and the wall curvature created a great bass trap behind me, and my cajon was keeping up with amplified guitars and voices.

Another option is to install a guitar pickup into your cajon and take it electric. That will provide better volume than a mike. Do a Google search on "installing pickup in cajon".

If you have strikeface screws, try loosening up the corner screws just a hair to help get a little click in your "snare" strike area.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
What part isn't loud enough? One of the things I love about my cajon is the nice sound I get from minimal effort. I'd have to play several hours to start getting that tenderness in on the inside of my knuckle. Each cajon is different of course, but try moving your hands down the face plate a bit further. It's "softer" as you move away from the edges.
 

DPTrainor

Senior Member
Very common problem. I play Cajon in a small acoustic guitar trio. When I first started, I injured myself - hands swollen, and arm, elbow pain. I was wacking it like a drum. lol Went to the doc, got Xrays and all. Fortunately no permanent injuries. I rested for 2 weeks and healed. Then I looked for some proper Cajon hand techniques. Best I found were from Heidi Joubert - Cajonbox.com and also her You Tube channel. With a combination of hand technique, conditioning and miking techniques, I can play a 3 hour gig with no injury. Just some minor hand swell/redness which goes away in a day. Cajons you have to be mindful that you are striking a hard wooden box! Hahahaha. Sometimes I turn up the mic(s) channels and play with less force, but the sound comes out louder. Hope that helps. Check out Heidi's site, she explains it better.
 

TWerner

Senior Member
I remember studying hemolytic anemia and schistocytosis years ago in medical school. Bongo playing was one of the listed causes. Not a common one, but a well known one.

While proper technique sounds like it may solve the bone bruising, I'd imagine a Cajon would be at least as hard on your body and your red cells as bongos. Adding a pick up sure seems like a good idea to me if your hands are getting red and swollen even with proper technique.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I was a somewhat part-time conga student and that hurt my hands alot. I can imagine hitting a wooden box for an entire gig. That sounds like something I'd avoid.
 

cajonbox.com

Junior Member
Hello Devon

I am a cajon player and have been busking with the cajon accoustically all over london and the UK for the past 5 yrs, ever day! At first my hands did hurt, quite a bit. I was very much aware that the main reason was due to the crap quality of my first cajon (it was really not good at all), so I speedily invested in a new and better cajon. That pretty much cleared up a lot of the pain issues in my hands, however, I noted that as I practisied and improved on my technique on the cajon (practise at home to slap the cajon right, very simple, repetitive techniuque ex, you can find some on my all about cajon website) the pain got even less. what practising good technique does is firstly the obvious, gives you much better technique, but secondly, regular, constant practise (this is apart from performing) really toughens up your skin on your hands, which gives you more volume and also helps reduce the pain from playing cajon accoustically on the street (with a full band, amplified up as well, might I add).

So once I had enough money I invested in a really good cajon that specifically has a super bass and a loud sound, and I have ever since had to learn to play a bit softer than usual (as I had taught myself to slap so hard with the bad cajon and it was really a bad habit with the good cajon as firstly it kills the good resonating sound and secondly is way too loud!) So get a good, LOUD, LOOONG endurance cajon if you wanna busk accousitcally without pain. I got some great one's stocked on my website, and I have been busking with these for the past 4 yrs, never looked at others again as I am happy with these! :) Otherwise get a mike and amp and mike yourself up!

Hope this helps!

Ohh and I must add that there seems to be a certain amount of backpain you have to go thru for the first 2 - 3 yrs of busking/performing on the cajon daily. I remember having to have to stop after a few songs and getting really tired in my back after just 5 min of playing. Remember to take breaks when you are going to play long, and just puch thru, I can now play for about 3 - 4 hours non stop (without issues of my back getting tired) I suppose there's muscles that have to learn and be built to support your position when playing cajon. This will take time and there's no shortcut for it.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Okay, so this is common. I get hand pain from bongos. One time I busked just using a snare drum and in one song I was playing with bare bands and the sound I needed was a rimshot, a firm one too. My inside knuckles were bruised and sore for a week.

Is there some kind of slappy object that could be used instead of hands on these instruments? It would need to be flexible, have a smooth surface that can slap and some weight to it ... would strapping rubber pads (like a cutout from a yoga mat) over your hands work?
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Is there some kind of slappy object that could be used instead of hands on these instruments? It would need to be flexible, have a smooth surface that can slap and some weight to it ... would strapping rubber pads (like a cutout from a yoga mat) over your hands work?
One of the companies makes something that looks like swim fins on a stick that they say sounds close to hands on drums and percussion, but I've never tried them... I think it'd be like petting a dog with a stick.

I know for me (and I think most hand percussionists would agree) that the sensitivity and technique you can get out of the bare hand is preferable to using anything else, on the hand or in place of the hand.

Reminds me of the North Korean military pummeling rope-wrapped logs for hours every day to build up hand toughness.... but there's truth to it. You have to build up a bit of toughness. Having said that, if you get done playing and your hands feel like they're been tenderized with a bat or club, something has to give. Either you need to be miked, or the stage volume has to come way down, or both.

Working on technique has been a big game-changer for me, but a lot of it is also just building up that toughness and tolerance for when you do have to thump a bit harder.
 

Gangakcajon

Junior Member
Have popped a few small blood vessels doing a hard slap effect. Just
part of the playing i figure. The longer that i play though the harder the
hands get and the easier it is. Worked on building the hands before
coming to spain as am in Seville and will be going to some Flamenco
workshops. Am excited to get started. Heard some killer music in
one of the local bars as you just can't beat the local color of the
heartfelt music that is part of the gypsy culture. Now back to the cajon
am sure they are loving me in this hotel. Just can't stay away from the
box.

G.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
Hello Devon.
It is normal to experience a little pain and numbing when you first begin hitting drums with your hands. However if you are striking and hurting a bone, as opposed to pads, then you are hitting it incorrectly. The best thing to do is see a teacher. Contact your local drum shop and ask if they can recommend someone. Playing a cajon should not hurt.

As mentioned above by the cajon busker, a quality cajon can help. But the bottom line is; there is no substitute for good technique.

Good luck.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
This is an adendum to the above post.

Devon, I get that you are probably a teenager and may not have funds to afford a teacher. If this is the case, talk to your parents. Tell them you enjoy playing the cajon but you are hurting yourself. Your parents wont like to learn you are hurting yourself. Tell them that you need to see someone to help you avoid this.

As for seeing a teacher, it is a wise move. Teachers can and do help students. If one can help you avoid physical damage that may later devolve into debilitating arthritis, it is a very fine investment indeed.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
One of the companies makes something that looks like swim fins on a stick that they say sounds close to hands on drums and percussion, but I've never tried them... I think it'd be like petting a dog with a stick.

I know for me (and I think most hand percussionists would agree) that the sensitivity and technique you can get out of the bare hand is preferable to using anything else, on the hand or in place of the hand.
Cheers Al - "petting a dog with a stick" :) I think at the level I play maybe the fins on a stick could work out - just a different (if more limited) technique. I don't want to harden up my hands - tough hands aren't a great selling point if I ever get around to dating again ...
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Cheers Al - "petting a dog with a stick" :) I think at the level I play maybe the fins on a stick could work out - just a different (if more limited) technique. I don't want to harden up my hands - tough hands aren't a great selling point if I ever get around to dating again ...
Yeah, we all know what happens to sheilas with "man hands"... ask Jerry Seinfeld.

Anyways, I found the swim fin looking things.... they're Regal Tip conga sticks.

 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I would never do that to my hands. I refuse to play any instrument that requires my bare hands to strike it. I'd be hooking up a footpedal to it and figuring out something else to strike it with other than my hands. Perhaps cadaver hands with a little forearm for a handle.
 

waynerouse

Junior Member
The playing surface of the cajon is much harder than that of most percussion instruments. I suggest that you try wearing some weight lifting gloves to soften the blow. Also, playing a high quality and very responsive cajon means everything. You can only be as good as your instrument.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Yeah, we all know what happens to sheilas with "man hands"... ask Jerry Seinfeld.

Anyways, I found the swim fin looking things.... they're Regal Tip conga sticks.

I've ordered one. Thanks for the tip, Al - you're a mine of information!

It'll be interesting to see how it goes. I imagine it will take some adjusting. Trying to get a good sounding slap will be the real test.
 
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