One of the most interesting drums that many may have never heard about before is the cajón (pronounced ‘ka-hone’) box drum. In 2019, these instruments have become one of the most widely used instruments on the modern music scene.
Cajón drums were first played by Afro-Peruvian slave musicians during the late 15th Century in Spanish Colonial Peru. Dockworkers would load and unload boat shipments and when taking their break, they would sit down on the wooden shipping crates and tap on the sides to create music. These crates were early versions of what we call today the cajón box drum.
Cajón drums have two distinct sounds. A bass tone is created by striking toward the middle of the playing surface, while a snare sound is made by striking the surface nearer the top. Some cajóns also have adjustable snares and an adjustable playing surface to create a wider range of sounds.
A cajón drum is not intended to replace a full drum kit. However, for jamming with friends, enjoying an open mike night, or for busking on a street corner, it can add another dimension to any musical tune. Below you’ll find our choices of some of the best cajón drums in 2019 for both beginners and professionals. We hope our choices will help you choose the cajón box drum that will be perfect for you.
Our Editor’s Choice – The Best Overall Cajón Box Drum
Our choice for the best cajόn box drum in 2019 is this beautiful wine red color model from Meinl. It is not only reasonably priced, but it plays some great punchy bass tones like much more expensive cajόn models. You’ll also enjoy cutting snare sounds too, plus the instrument comes complete with a gig bag for protection, easy storage, and transporting to your next gig. It sounds great for the price and works in any set with any style of music. You can easily play this cajón with your hands, a pedal, or using sticks and brushes. Certainly one of the best cajόns you can buy for the money!
Our Editors Choice – Best Overall Budget Cajón Box Drum
The Meinl company also makes our best overall budget cajón. Their compact jam instrument is made with birch wood for outstanding tone and is the perfect percussion instrument you can grab and go to any gig. Singers and songwriters will marvel at this cajón’s rich musical quality. The instrument contains internal snare wires that help you make great snare slaps, deep and punchy bass hits, and responsive finger rolls. A rear sound port enhances the tonal quality and an adjustable top front plate lets you vary the amount of ‘slap’ sound for outstanding tone and quality. An absolute bargain for the price of an exceptionally fine instrument!
Quick Comparison Table: The Best Electronic Drum Pads
The 10 Best Cajón Box Drum Detail Reviews
1. Meinl Wine Red Café Snare Cajόn – The Best Overall Caajόn Box Drum
The Meinl Wine Red Café Snare Cajόn plays punchy bass tones, cutting snare sounds, and comes with a gig bag for protection, easy storage, and transportation. It’s a ‘must-have’ for gigging musicians, sounds great for the price, and is perfect for any style of music.
The cajón responds well when played with the hands, a cajón pedal, or with cajón sticks and brushes. Use it to play in coffee house sets, acoustic writer’s rounds and artist showcases, small theatres, or worship services. It also makes for a robust house percussion piece.
Included with the drum is the Meinl Cajόn gig bag, an essential piece of gear for every cajón player. The bag is made to last with durable heavy-duty reinforced nylon cross-stitching, a thick carrying grip, and a robust two-way zipper with extra lining to ensure ease of handling. Internal padding adds a layer of cushioning for additional protection.’
The same metal snare wires found on snare drums are used inside the Cafe Cajόn to create crisp snare drum sounds, cutting slap tones, and responsive finger rolls. The effect these create is ideal for flamenco styles and drum set rhythms.
The instrument measures 12″ wide, 12″ deep, and 17.25″ in height. It is crafted in Europe using Baltic birch, a wood commonly used in high-end drum set construction for outstanding natural acoustic properties. This gives the cajón a warm tonal quality with a punchy attack.
A sound port has been cut into the back of the resonating body to allow air to escape as you play giving you optimal bass development. This is also the best spot for microphone placement.
Beginners will love the Meinl Wine Red Cafe Snare Cajόn because of its good sound quality for the price. The Baltic birch wood creates brighter tones that go well with the snare wires. The unit produces good, full-bodied mid-range tones so you can create enjoyable beats at an affordable price. It’s a comfortable size for most adults and fixed snare wires allow you to start jamming as soon as you open up the box. However, a fixed snare system means that you have less control over the amount of sound created by the snare wires.
- Good sounding, sensitive, functional, and affordable
- Average size for most adults
- Carry bag included
- Cheap build quality
- Snare wires are not adjustable
- No user guide
2. Meinl Compact Jam Cajón – Best Overall Budget Caajόn Box Drum
Here is the perfect grab-and-go percussion instrument for singers and songwriters of all ages. The Meinl compact Jam cajón is made entirely of authentic Baltic birch wood,
a wood that is commonly found in high-end drum sets. The wood is known for having outstanding natural acoustic properties to give you warm tones with a focused, punchy attack.
An adjustable top front plate lets you vary the amount of ‘slap’ sound, and a rear sound port enhances the tonal qualities and the overall feel. You can also place a microphone inside the port when you want to add additional amplification. Internally mounted snare wires help you dish out cutting snare slaps, deep and punchy bass hits, and responsive finger rolls.
The Meinl compact Jam cajón measurers 10 1/4″ wide x 15″ tall x 10 1/4″ deep making it extremely compact so it can be transported easily wherever you go to play. It’s great for children and young adults, however, taller players may find the small size uncomfortable.
The cajón is ideal for acoustic sets, jam sessions, intimate acoustic shows, and houses of worship. This cajón is great for playing behind a band in worship settings and it can be used to provide rhythm for choral groups as well. Its durability makes it an ultimate house percussion piece that can be used by different players. The volume is also ideal when a full drum set cannot be used.
The instrument is also ideal for flamenco players. It uses the same type of metal snares that you will find on snare drums to give it a crisp, natural snare sound and responsive feel for deep backbeats or light finger rolls.
Full sound levels are achieved by the use of a thin layer of mesh fabric that holds the snares in place. This maximizes their contact with the playing surface to result in a consistent, full sound at any volume level.
The surface is showcased by a beautiful natural wood grain while the resonating body is coated in a light brown stain. Four rubber feet are added to the underside and dampen any unwanted vibrations and to keep the instrument stable.
This cajón carries a two-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- Excellent build quality and materials
- Small and lightweight
- Two-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Bass not as strong as larger instruments
- Smaller size may be uncomfortable for tall adults
3. Meinl Headliner Cajón Box Drum – Best For Beginners
The Meinl Headliner cajón box drum provides good sound and durability for very little money. It is similar to the “Jam” model in construction but more gentle on the backs of taller drummers. This cajón performs very well when used behind a band in large or small worship settings. It can also be used to provide rhythm for choral groups.
The instrument’s durability should make it the ultimate house percussion piece when used by different players, and its volume is perfect when you cannot use a full drum set. The body is made from a tropical hardwood called Siam Oak and produces somewhat more midrange and warmer low-end frequencies than you will notice with birch or maple which most of the other inexpensive cajóns are made from.
The instrument features an adjustable front plate with two adjustable snare strings inside. Instead of loose sets of snare wires, the Meinl Headliner uses two strings that span the entire inside front plate producing the snare buzz but can be adjusted using the included wrench.
There’s a rear port for insert a microphone for added loudness with an amplifier and rubber feet prevent the unit from slipping and sliding while you play. The unit is 11 3/4″ wide x 18” tall x 12″ deep, about three inches taller than the Meinl Jam cajón allowing taller drummers to enjoy playing without getting a backache.
- Adjustable buzz sound for snare sizzle
- Oak construction is louder than most birch and maple cajóns
- Good snare and bass sounds
- Somewhat harder to tune than other cajóns
- Some buzzing from the bass tone
Once the instrument is tuned correctly, the Meinl Headliner is the best choice of a cajón for beginner drummers. It will require some tuning to get the best sounds from it, but part of learning how to play these instruments is learning how they need to be tuned. The Meinl Headliner forces you to learn the basics of tuning the instrument and you won’t be disappointed once it is tuned correctly.
4. Pyle String Jam Cajón
Pyle’s classic and traditional stringed jam cajón is a birch wood hand-crafted musical instrument made in the classic and traditional instrumental style. It is built strongly to give you a great and acoustical percussion sound. The design is beautiful and allows any age player, whether they are a beginner or professional, to fully express their talent and skills.
The stringed cajón features an efficient guitar string system inside that produces nearly flawless acoustical hand percussion tones and rhythmic sounds. Four strings are placed at two points and can be tuned to give you a classic sizzle when beating the front plate. The construction is very good and engineered to enhance response and playability.
The Pyle Stringed Jam cajón is hand-crafted to ensure efficient acoustical percussion sounds and style. The integrated guitar strings are adjustable with the included hex key allow for smooth rhythmic production. Rubber-capped feet at the base of the unit prevent vibration and help to maintain the sound clarity.
The unit is lightweight (just under 11 pounds) and compact (12″ x 12″ x 18″) to make it perfect for beginners and professionals of all ages. Unfortunately, the box may not be sturdy or thick enough for all on-stage performances.
The sound quality is excellent. The strings create a smooth and balanced tone allowing the cajón to lend itself well to funk, jazz, blues, and acoustic soft rock. With its unusually clear tone, the instrument can be used along with a traditional drum kit to accent certain beats when needed.
Overall, we think the Pyle String Jam cajón is easily one of the best instruments of this type you can buy due to its quality construction, sound quality, and versatility. It’s also backed by a 1-year manufacturer warranty to assure you of quality materials and sound workmanship.
- Soft balanced tone
- Adjustable internal strings
- Anti-vibration rubber feet
- Not as sturdy as some others
- Can’t replace a bass drum
5. Moukey Full Size cajón Drum Model DCD-1
The Moukey Stringed Jam cajón Model DCD-1 is an excellent choice for drummers of all ages to add an interesting and new sound to their performances. The instrument’s wooden panel box frame is constructed from naturally dried birch wood material that has been aged for three years to give the product a sweet sound and lasting stability. Every box is hand-crafted and strongly-built so you will have a great acoustical percussion sound.
Moukey’s Stringed Jam cajón Model DCD-1 is designed and constructed in the classic and traditional instrumental style. It measures 12.2″ in width x 18.9″ in height x 12.2″ deep and weighs just 12.65 pounds, a compact size and weight for easily transporting and straightforward use.
The top front plate corners on the playing surface can be adjusted with a quick turn of a screwdriver to change the distance between the front plate and the resonating body. This allows you to create a varied amount of “slap” sound that drummers can use to give them a deeper backbeat.
The DCD-1 features an efficient guitar string system inside to produce flawless acoustical hand percussion tones and rhythmic sound production. Four tunable strings are placed at two points to give you a classic sizzle when the front plate is beaten.
The Moukey DCD-1 is great for playing in a band for any acoustic set, jam session, an intimate acoustic show, or house of worship. It can be played to provide rhythm for both small and large choral groups as well. And its durability assures you that it will survive being played by different players as a percussion piece in any venue.
The instrument comes with a high-quality cajón gig bag that is made from heavy-duty nylon to ensure safe transportation and storage. It is equipped with a strong carrying grip to make the cajón the perfect grab-and-go percussion bundle.
A children’s size of the Moukey Stringed Jam cajón is also available as the Model DCD-1K. It measures 9.5″ in width x 14.6″ in height x 9.5″ deep.
A 1-year manufacturer’s warranty is provided on both size products to assure you of quality workmanship and complete satisfaction.
- Very good build quality and materials
- Small and lightweight
- Includes carry bag
- Somewhat difficult to adjust
- Plywood construction
6. Meinl Percussion Mini Cajón Box Drum
The Meinl Mini Cajόn is a smaller version of the company’s full-size standard version, the perfect grab-and-go percussion instrument for singers and songwriters of all ages. At roughly the size of a 2-Slice bread toaster, the instrument measures only 5 3/4″ in width x 8 3/4″ in height x 5 3/4″ in depth and weighs just 1.94 pounds.
It’s great for children and young adults, however, most taller players will probably find the small size uncomfortable. There are professional features like adjustable top corners and internal snare wires. It’s fun to play for spontaneous jam sessions and will look great on your desk or coffee table.
A birchwood front plate comes in a matte finish and allows for a crisp, articulate tone. Baltic birch wood is commonly found in high-end drum sets and is known for having outstanding natural acoustic properties to give you warm tones with a focused, punchy attack.
The Meinl Miniature Cajόn is extremely easy to carry around and place almost anywhere. It is made of birch wood that is known for its excellent musical tone that has become famous
in drum set shell construction.
The cajón is ideal for intimate acoustic sets, jam sessions, and acoustic shows. Its durability makes it a great house percussion piece that can be used by different players. It can also be ideal for flamenco players when used in smaller areas.
Meinl’s miniature cajón uses the same type of metal snares that are found on snare drums to give it a crisp, natural snare sound and responsive feel for deep backbeats or light finger rolls.
The extra thin front plate is responsive to the lightest finger rolls. You will be able to enjoy
spontaneous jam sessions at home or at work. Because of its size and affordability, the
mini-cajόn can also be a great gift idea for birthdays or special holidays. As with all of the other Meinl cajóns, the instrument carries a two-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- Great sound for the size
- A flatter sound than larger instruments
- May be too small to sit on for larger people
7. Meinl Jumbo Bass Subwoofer Cajόn
The Meinl Jumbo Subwoofer Cajόn is designed to project immensely deep bass tones that swell with harder playing and provide slight punches behind soft notes, responding much like a kick drum.
The instrument features a forward projecting sound port in place of the traditional rear-facing style that gives you enhanced bass note projection. Fixed internal snare wires deliver a crisp and cutting sound that enhances corner slaps and adds a touch of contrast to bass notes.
Inside the subwoofer cajόn is an internal reflex channel that adds additional depth and is particularly desirable for live and unplugged situations. The bass reflex system directs sound waves and air through different channels before projecting out from the large sound ports. This gives the frequencies more time to develop inside the body of the cajón, resulting in an enhanced bass tone with plenty of thud. The effect this creates allows you to feel the bass notes, much like a kick drum on a drum set.
The Meinl Jumbo Subwoofer Bass Cajόn is ideal for acoustic sets, theatres, and outdoor shows. It also works exceptionally well in backing up a band, writer’s rounds, coffee house sets, theatres, busking in the street, or playing along in worship services. And the refined sound makes this instrument a great option for the recording studio.
The instrument may be large, but the volume is just as easy to control as a standard size cajón. Its stage footprint is minimal, so you can get a lot of sound without needing a lot of gear. The box measures 13.5″ in width, 13.75″ in depth, and 19.75″ in height.
When you need extra amplification, you can place a microphone to face one of the sound ports. This will capture all of the bass and articulate snare notes.
There’s a rear handle that is shaped into the back of the MDF body for easy pickup and go. This makes it easy to carry when you have to clear a stage fast or need an extra hand while loading in and out. Four large rubber feet are located on the bottom for anti-vibration and to keep the instrument stable.
- Loud with an adjustable front plate
- Easy to play and looks great
- Great build quality
- Internal snare wires aren’t adjustable
- Plate fit is uneven after adjustment
8. Schlagwerk 2inOne Black Edition Cajόn
The Schlagwerk 2inOne Black Edition Cajόn is one of the company’s most successful cajóns. It has exceptionally crisp sound and solid construction. The sound is easily controlled and is coupled with an authentic crate-like design to make it an unusually captivating instrument.
The variable snare crossbar allows the traditional instrument to be changed into a universal snare cajόn in a single move. It’s a great choice for any acoustic jam. It looks great and sounds as beautiful as it looks.
It is a well-made cajón with eight piles of birch wood to make the box durable and have a great sound. The finish on the front plate and all over the instrument is flawless with smooth edges and rounded corners. The box measures 11.5 inches wide x 11.5 inches deep x 19.5 inches in height.
The Schlagwerk 2inOne has up to 40 snares. Though it does not have a tuning apparatus, the instrument is constructed in such a way that the snares are very easy to remove.
The finish of the box is flawless with smooth edges and nicely rounded corners. Inside you’ll find 40 snares that press against the playing surface at a precisely defined angle. When the surface is played, the spirals vibrate in a controlled manner to produce a modern snare-cajón sound. When the spirals are removed, the cajón produces a traditional Cuban sound.
Although the snare isn’t as loud as some of the higher-priced models, it has a good tone and is one of the best at this price point. It is a great instrument for starters and professional players looking for a great cajόn for stage performance.
The 2inOne is a great instrument for starters and professional players and especially for starters who can afford to spend above $100 for their first cajón. Professional drummers will be able to use for stage performances too. Anyone looking for a cajón that has a beautiful playing face, the drum is a beauty to behold.
- Solid construction with a flawless finish
- Sounds fantastic
- Snare could be somewhat louder
- Snare tension is not adjustable
9. Ammoon Wooden Box Drum Cajón
Ammoon’s Wooden Drum Cajón is a very portable, unique, and compact instrument with highly attractive and colorful blue zebra wood construction that will be the talk of any musical setting.
The multi-use cajón lets you play at home, in beatbox jam sessions with friends, or in deep studio recordings. Dimensions are 11.8 inches deep x 12.2 inches wide x 18.9 inches high and the box weighs 8.4 pounds.
The instrument includes adjustable internal strings to create a special buzz-like effect or tone. In just seconds, you can adjust the tightness of these guitar strings for a deeper bass or snappier snare sound with a hex wrench that is included. Rubber feet on the bottom help to prevent movement and excessive vibration.
The compact design of this instrument is slightly shorter and lighter than a full-size cajón, yet produces the same deep bass tones and perfect snare sounds. It’s a good fit for all ages and sizes!
A high-quality smooth walnut wood tapping surface with birch body gives you a great cajón sound. Smooth corners keep clothing from getting snagged while grippy rubber feet keep the instrument in place and prevent vibration. A sound hole is cut on the back side to give you extra bass sounds and allow placement of a microphone for external amplification.
The cajón should work great for small acoustic sets, jam sessions, an intimate acoustic show, and in a house of worship. This cajón would look great when playing behind a band in a worship setting and it can be used to provide rhythm for choral groups.
The instrument is perfect for beginners and professionals alike although some may find the size uncomfortably small. It produces a good sound for a cajón of this size and is suitable for band accompaniment, street performances, and rhythm practice.
- Exciting blue color
- Adjustable guitar strings
- Compact and very lightweight
- Somewhat fragile construction
- May be too small for some adults
10. Sawtooth Birch Wood Box Cajón
The Sawtooth Birch Wood Cajón is a full-size box drum that’s perfect for anyone from beginners to drummers looking to diversify their playing styles, or for professional players.
The instrument provides relatively good sound for the money. It will perform well when used in a band or in most worship settings. You can also use the cajón to provide rhythm for a choral group.
The instrument includes a handy carry bag to protect it during transport. There’s a reinforced handle and shoulder straps to give you multiple carry options. A seat pad is built into the top of the unit to give you additional comfort while you practice or perform.
Birchwood is used to give you a great acoustical percussion sound. Birch is a dense and durable wood that has a brighter and more aggressive tone than maple when playing the cajón. It provides very good projection while being loud and cutting. Enhanced lows and highs offer a nice balance of tone to crispness and the enhanced high end helps projection.
The unit is a full-sized 20″ in height, 12″ in width, and 12″ deep. There’s an adjustable snare to change the tension of the strings inside to give you a smoother rhythmic sound. An Allen wrench is provided to make adjustments. A sound port is cut on the back side to give you extra bass sounds and give you room to place a microphone inside to connect to an external amplifier for louder sounds.
The front plate is also adjustable to help you achieve the desired sound you’re looking for with only a few adjustments. A full set of durable rubber feet help keep the instrument in place and to prevent vibration.
- Nice balanced tone
- Adjustable internal strings
- Anti-vibration rubber feet
- Not very sturdy construction
- Some users report missing parts
Things to Consider Before Buying a Box Drum Cajón (buying guide)
Drum cajóns are box-shaped instruments that have become popular recently because they produce great sounding music, they’re easy to play, and you can buy a reasonably sounding instrument at an affordable price. But, there are a few things you should know about cajóns before you buy one.
As is the case with many items you purchase these days, build quality doesn’t always have a direct relation to the price you pay for a cajón. Often cheaper may be better or more expensive may not give you the quality you expect.
Check the material of the cajón you want to but. How is it finished and what are the details. Always look for hardwood construction. A stiff and hardwood cajón will be more dense and durable than most other materials. Often, a good solid cajón can be found for less than $100.
If you’re planning on using your cajón frequently outside the house, make sure you buy one that can be easily transported. Make sure you have a bag with a strong handle to carry it. But you’re just going to be playing your cajón at home, a strong bag will only sit in the closet.
If you plan to use your cajón in a house of worship, then a strong bag and sturdy construction are absolute musts. When your cajón is in a case, it will last longer. A padded protective cover will assure that your drum will remain in excellent shape.
There are several different types of cajóns available in today’s market. Some cajóns are used for traditional music styles and are some cajóns are designed to be used for flamenco styles of music.
If you are looking to find a cajón that will replicate the sounds of a drum kit, look for a cajón that has a snare inside the box. Check to see which types of cajóns generate what kinds of tones and be sure you know which tones you want to hear when you play your cajón.
The front plate where you hit the cajón should be made of a good quality hardwood as it will determine the type of sounds your cajón produce. If you want a deeper bass sound, always look for a good quality hardwood as it will determine the type of sound your instrument will produce.
What is a Cajón?
A cajón is a percussion instrument originally from Peru. It is usually created from a shipping crate but can be made from any wooden box. It is played by slapping the front with the hands, fingers, or even brushes, sticks, or mallets to make drum-like sounds.
How Do You Play A Cajόn?
A cajón is typically played by the musician hitting the instrument with his hands while sitting on the top of the instrument. Drumsticks, mallets, or even a kick drum pedal can also be used.
Which Wood is Best for a Cajόn?
Almost any hardwood can be used for making a cajón. Some popular woods are beech, walnut, birch, and even oak have been used by various manufacturers. Some have even used mahogany or mahogany-like hardwoods that tend to return strong bass and good high tones.
What is the Best Cajόn for Beginners?
Because of the high quality and low price of our best overall budget cajón, it’s hard not to recommend the Meinl Compact Jam Cajón. It is very well-made, has an outstanding tone, contains internal snare wires, and uses a rear sound port to enhance the tonal quality.
How Tall is a Cajόn?
Cajóns can vary in height from 8 or 9 inches in height up to 20 inches or more depending on the manufacturer. Children’s sizes are usually less than 10 inches while an average height for an instrument played by an adult is usually between 15 to 20 inches.
Is the Cajόn Hard to Play?
Not at all. Cajóns were originally created by shipping crates that African slave laborers would beat on with their hands while they waited to load and unload ships in the harbors of Peru during the late 15th and early 16th Centuries.
What is the Drum Box Called?
The drum box is today known in music circles as the cajón. The name is originally derived from the Spanish word for “drawer”, but it can also mean “crate” or “box”. It is a box-shaped percussion instrument that originated in the country of Peru.
What is the best Cajόn brand?
In 2019, most would agree that the Meinl company is the current leader in the manufacture of cajόns. This is based on the current quality and affordability of their cajόn products.
Cajόn Accessories to Consider
The Myers Pickup microphone is small and versatile and has three mounting options to fit perfectly on your cajón. It is considered an awesome tool according to many customer reviews.
A standard size cajón jig/carry bag that is made with heavy-duty nylon stitching and internal padding. It is designed to protect your instrument perfectly when traveling.
A direct-drive cajón pedal to give you seamless playability. Built with a cradle-like mount to fit all common cajóns and prevent the pedal from slipping off.
Create sweeping effects and grooves with these Meinl percussion retractable nylon brushes. A must-have for drummers allowing you to play without damaging your instrument.
This tape heals and protects your hands from blisters, cuts, or dry skin. Look better than drum gloves and soothe your hands of existing blisters, cracks, or cuts.
Playing a cajón can be an extremely enriching experience. This article has been designed to introduce you to some of the best cajóns on the market today in 2019. These exciting new instruments will add new levels of sound to any drummer’s set.
With our guide, we hope you’ve been able to find the best cajón for you as either an aspiring or professional musician. Please write and let us know if our buying guide has been helpful for your purposes.
We wish you the best and encourage you to practice often so you can enjoy your musical talent playing the cajóna, a most remarkable musical instrument.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article, and we hope you have a great day!