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The Cajon drum has grown in popularity in recent years, and it is easy to see why.
These clever latin percussion instruments allow you to make a huge number of sounds and recreate lots of the tones of a drum set without having to transport a whole kit.
If you’ve seen a busker with a percussionist playing alongside them, there’s a chance they were playing a cajon box drum. This sort of instrument allows you to sit on top and strike the playing surface to create the bass drum and snare sounds.
There’s a lot of choice on the market now, as people wake up to the possibilities of these drums for all musical styles and genres. Let’s dive into some of the best cajon percussion boxes for a variety of uses.
Pyle String Cajon Wooden Percussion Box — Best Overall
Pyle is a brand that has manufactured speakers for decades, so it wasn’t a huge stretch for them to make percussion boxes with exceptional acoustics. This percussive cajon comes with some slightly different features when compared to many other options including the amazing guitar string system.
Including these guitar strings, which can be tuned, means that you can create a more interesting sound as you hit the front plate and give the cajon a more tuneful property.
The instrument itself is made out of quality birch wood, built to last but also to provide a clear and expressive tone. If you just want to use the cajon in a traditional way without the strings you can do so, as there is tape included to suppress the strings and leave you with a resonant instrument.
This cajon is nice and loud, with adequate projection and a deep bass tone, suitable for performing in public. On top of that, the design is very sturdy so you can sit on it, for more comfort during those long performances. This is how most cajon players play their box drum.
- Sturdy and easy to sit upon while playing
- Includes guitar strings which can be tuned for a more interesting tone
- Snare sound is not as strong as some options
Meinl Jumbo Bass Subwoofer — Premium Choice
If you are happy to spend a little more on your percussive instrument then the Meinl Jumbo Bass could be a fantastic option for you. This is a premium cajon made with some incredible bass tones (as the name suggests).
The big and bulky size with an extra-wide body helps with that bass projection. There’s also an internal bass reflex. This product has been made with low-end in mind. There are dual forward-facing ports which help to punch out the air and give the sound of a strong kick drum.
There is also an internal set of fixed snare wires. This means that you can play near the top corners and provide a stunning snap of a snare.
The product is suitable for use outside as well as inside, made from coated MDF with a walnut playing surface. As with a lot of cajons, this also has thick rubber feet which means more control over the tone and the way it vibrates and interacts with your settings.
- Exceptional bass with an internal reflex
- Crisp snare sound from tunable wires
- Large model and therefore not as easy to transport
Donner Full Size Cajon Box Drum — Editor’s Choice
Donner is a fantastic manufacturer of budget audio equipment. They make a variety of instruments from this latin percussion through to ukuleles. This cajón drum is a great budget choice.
It includes fixed guitar strings along with an Allen wrench to let you adjust the sounds. The reliable sound is in spite of the relatively compact size, and still gives a good projection level for busking and playing live.
The cajon comes with a bag, which is a fantastic addition and means that you can store it safe from the conditions and carry it to performances. The bag is made from 10mm nylon and gives a level of protection.
It has rubber-capped feet which are great for preventing interference which can come from the surface that the box is placed upon.
The Donner cajon comes with a 12-month warranty and support from the brand.
- Excellent value for money
- Includes a carry bag with 10mm nylon to protect the instrument
- Not as loud as some of the larger cajons
Meinl Cajon Box Drum Full Size – Very Sturdy thanks to 100% Baltic Birch Build
Another fantastic Meinl percussion instrument. This is made from exceptional Baltic birch wood, and you can tell when you touch it that it is an incredibly sturdy piece of kit. This means you can sit on top of it. In fact, this cajon has a textured sitting surface, this means you’re less likely to slip and you will have more control while you are playing. It weighs over 12 lbs.
There’s no assembly needed, if you order this drum it will be ready to go as soon as it arrives at your home.
To help with the snare tones and more complex harmonics there are steel strings within, which can easily be adjusted with a tuning hex key.
Like a lot of the other models, this comes with solid rubber feet which help when you are sitting on the instrument, but also prevent it from being impacted by the surface you’re playing on, which can ruin the tone.
- Rear port makes it easy to mic up this instrument
- Anti-slip surface helps you to stay steady on the drum
- Easy to mic up and tune the instrument
- 2-year warranty from Meinl
- The bass sound can be interfered with by the snare strings
Gecko Cajon BOX Drum P-CL12BK – One of the Most Popular Cajons on the Market
This is another value drum box. This is made by the Gecko brand, and it’s easy to see why it is one of the more popular cajons on the market.
Made of Russian birch, this percussion box has excellent craftsmanship. As well as looking good on stage, it opens up a world of new tonal possibilities.
It’s a sturdy drum so you can sit on top of it and play freely, and the rubber feet mean that whatever surrounds the drum won’t interfere with the sound.
The price has made it really popular for beginners, and there are even some adjustable features such as a metal sink screw, totally adjustable, so you can change the snare sounds and get more of a “snap” from the percussion box.
This even comes with a gig bag for extra protection and to make it easy to carry to your next gig.
- Good craftsmanship
- Adjustable tone
- Great value for money providing a choice for beginners
- It’s great to have a gig bag, but it doesn’t offer too much protection
GECKO Cajon BOX Drum CD03 – Lightweight and Affordable
Another model from Gecko. This is a lightweight percussion box. While the CD03 might not feel as sturdy to sit on top of, it still has a lot to like, and as well as being affordable it generates a really great tone.
The box is made from imported birch, and has a pad at the bottom to protect the actual box and prevent some vibrations being impacted. It’s well crafted, something we have come to expect from the brand.
Like a lot of the other cajon models we’ve reviewed, this has adjustable strings inside. This means that you can change the snare sounds and give them more of a resonance or more of a “crack”.
The product has a 90 day return guarantee as well as a 2-year manufacturer guarantee if there are any defects.
- Relatively affordable
- Easy to adjust the snare sound for your own needs
- Not as steady to sit on top of compared to some other options
Amazon Basics Wooden Birch Cajon Percussion Box – Best for Beginners
Ask people to think of the most impressive percussion brands out there, not many people will say “AmazonBasics”. They may not be a musical powerhouse but this cajon drum box proves that you can get an affordable birch cajon that makes a great tone and doesn’t break the bank.
“Basic” is a good term for this, as it isn’t the most impressive model on the list. However, it does give the functionality beginners will look for. The rubber feet prevent interference from other wooden surfaces, and the sound of the instrument is generally clear and rich. It even has a set of four guitar strings inside, easily adjusted to change the tone.
This is one of the most lightweight models. It’s great for portability, but actually if you are one of the larger users of the cajon you might not feel that steady on top of it. The wood is still high-quality, and it comes with a one-year warranty.
- Affordable model
- Comes with a warranty
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Not as sturdy as some competing models, due to the light design
Pyle Stringed Jam Cajon (PCJD15) – Small but Powerful
Another Pyle model, which means that you can enjoy the awesome acoustics we’ve come to expect from the brand. This stringed cajon yields some brilliant results if you are looking for the most compact way to access a load of different percussive sounds. It’s much smaller than most of the cajons on the list, but you can still sit on it and enjoy a fairly impressive sound. Even the bass tones hold up in spite of the smaller box.
The Pyle Jam cajon is visually striking with colored wood. This isn’t the most important thing about buying a cajon percussion box, but let’s face it, it helps. You’ll definitely look great on stage.
There are rubber feet and even though it’s really lightweight, smaller people can sit on the instrument with no issues at all. It even has four tuneable guitar strings inside to give different tonal qualities.
- Small, lightweight, and portable
- Great resonance in spite of the smaller size
- Hand-crafted and strongly-built
- Larger users may not feel as steady sat on top
- Bass isn’t quite as good as larger model
Meinl Stained American White Ash Headliner Series Cajons – Designed for Professionals
You can see from the number of Meinl models on this list that they are one of the most prolific manufacturers of cajons. The White Ash Headliner Series model is designed with a professional edge.
As well as having plenty of resonance for busking and practicing, this is made with the pros in mind, with a sound port for a microphone so you can amplify your performance no matter what venue you’re playing in.
Though the resonant body of the instrument is made of MDF, the white ash frontplate is one of the most impressive playing surfaces out of any of the models on the list. It makes it comfortable and easy to make a variety of tones, which are uninterrupted, thanks to the four rubber feet.
The internal metal strings are coiled and easy to alter to change your sound characteristics. This can be done to suit the genre or musical style you want to achieve.
- Excellent Meinl craftsmanship
- Quality front plate for comfortable and responsive playing
- More expensive than some competing models
Gecko CL12N Cajon BOX Drum – Best for Adult Beginners
Another Gecko model, this time with a lighter wood. The manufacturers offer a lot of similar drums with slight tweaks, so you can choose the model that suits you best.
The CL12N is much like some of the previous Gecko models we’ve listed. For a start, it has the brilliant backpack, which means you can easily pack up your instrument and take it on the road with you to a practice.
The instrument is made out of a lighter birch wood. It’s still very sturdy and players up to 350 lbs in weight can sit on it with no worries. It’s very comfortable for all sizes.
The sound production and resonance are also impressive, and the sink screw lets you alter the tone. This is a good model for adult beginners, as it is good value for money but fine for even larger people to sit upon and enjoy.
- Very sturdy and suitable for players up to 350 lbs
- Adjustable tone
- Not the best bass reproduction compared to some other models
Meinl Percussion Cajon Box Drum with Internal Metal Strings – Sturdy Build and Great Looks
There’s nothing wrong with choosing a drum partially because it looks cool. The Meinl quality is still on show with this fantastic box drum, but it is even cooler due to the Tiger Stripe design. On stage, when busking, or just jamming with friends, it looks fantastic.
Meinl models are really well-made and the craftsmanship is definitely in place with this model. As well as being sturdy for sitting upon, and comparatively comfortable, it has an exceptional hardwood surface.
There are four strings within and this cajon lets you adjust the tension to give you different sounds. For convenience when playing live or even for recording, you can use the sound port that sits in the back of the cajon. This gives you a better bass sound as well as providing somewhere for you to put a mic for recording or hooking up to a live PA.
- Looks fantastic
- Soundhole makes it really easy to mic up
- Sturdy and well-made
- More expensive than similar Meinl models, probably due to the design
LP Aspire Natural Wire Cajon LPA1331 – High-Quality Cajon for Professional Use
LP stands for “Latin Percussion”, another brand making some professional-sounding cajon percussion boxes.
This is a full sized model. The dimensions are H-19½” W-11¾” D-12¼”. As soon as you see the LP Aspire you’ll get an idea of how professional this percussive instrument is. The manufacturers have thought of sound quality as well as playing comfort.
It has a body and soundboard made of birch and poplar wood, and the sturdy design even has rounded corners to make it more comfortable to play. As most people want to sit on top of their cajon, LP has made a textured seating surface to help you to stay secure.
In terms of the sound, an excellent resonance and clarity comes from the quality of the wood. On top of that, you can adjust three sets of DW snare wires that are within to provide a different tonal character.
- Exceptionally well-built with quality tonewoods
- Comfortable to sit on and play with rounded corners and textured surface
- One of the more expensive models on the list
Hricane Cajon Box Drum With Flower Design – Great Cajon with Feminine Design
The Hricane cajon is another sturdy and high-quality drum that can hold even larger adults. Those up to 330 lbs in weight can comfortably sit on top while playing.
As well as this sturdy design, the birch wood acts as an excellent resonant chamber and gives a sweet sound to both the bass and snare sounds that this cajon can create.
There are rubber feet to prevent ground vibrations, and of course, there are strings inside for a varied tone. You can tune the strings using an Allen wrench, this comes included with the package. Unfortunately, the internal snares are a little harder to tape down and adjust than some of the other cajons on the market, so this percussion box may not be perfect if you want full control of this.
This is one of the best cajons that comes with a backpack. The sturdy bag means you can take this instrument to busking sessions or practice sessions just as easily, and the shoulder straps are designed to go easy on your joints.
The flower design is pretty unique, and adds a further selling point for some people. It’s certainly something to get you noticed.
- Sturdy, with people up to 330 lbs able to sit on the cajon.
- Unique flower design
- Internal snare wires are not as easy to adjust as some other models
How hard is it to play a cajon?
The two main sounds of the cajon are a “kick” and “snare” sound. They emulate parts of a standard drum kit. Once you get to grips with these two sounds it is relatively simple to start making some simple rhythms. As with any instrument, it can take years to totally master, but it is much easier to start playing the cajon than a full drum set, and easier for your body to coordinate. No more asking four limbs to do something different at the same time.
What is the best brand of cajon?
There isn’t a specific single brand that is the “best” when it comes to a cajon. Some are better for beginners, others are great for live performances, others are amazing for recording. Meinl percussion makes one of the most impressive ranges. The brand has a rich history making percussion instruments and their cajons tend to give a professional sound.
How much is a cajon?
You can buy cajons in a variety of price ranges. Beginners will be pleased to know that they can pick up a cajon for around $50, but if you want more of a professional model you might have to part with more money. Around $200 is a decent budget to get a quality cajon that is suitable for live use or even to take to a recording studio. There is a second hand market for cajons, but it is better to buy a new product if you want to ensure that you have a product in top condition, including the snare wire or strings within.
Can I use drumsticks on a cajon?
Yes, you can use drumsticks to play your cajon. While a lot of people choose to use their hands, and you may well learn this method to play your cajon, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use other tools to embrace your percussion. Some people use drumsticks, which can provide a louder, less muffled sound. You may also choose to use brushes for a different tonal quality.
Do I have to sit on the cajon?
It’s not essential to sit on a cajon, as long as you can reach the playing surface. Most cajons on the market are designed so that you can sit on top of them, but it isn’t essential. In fact, some portable models such as the ammoon GECKO C-68Z Portable Cajon Box are not designed to be sat on at all. This model can be played while it is on your lap.
What size cajon should I buy?
The size of your cajon is again a personal choice. You can buy a smaller model if you value its portability, but keep in mind the fact that they might not be as loud and that the bass frequencies might not be as clear. If you value the extra volume and want clear bass tones, consider a larger cajon, or even one with a bass reflex.
As you can see from the models on our list, you have a wealth of choices when it comes to getting your hands on a cajon. Consider what features you value, and where you’ll be playing. Do you need to sit on the cajon or not? Do you want a clear bass, or would you rather go for a smaller and more portable cajon?
All of the models on our list have their charms and earn their place on our list of the top cajon percussion boxes with an impressive sound quality. Get your ideal cajon now and you can be playing sweet percussion in no time.