By Contributing Author Dango
Whether you’re a beginner percussionist or have been at it for a while, we’ve got you covered with the best cajon drum choices for all experience levels.
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Most drum set players dabble in some percussion instruments, even if they don’t want to get heavily into studying world rhythms.
One of the more unique drums that can sometimes replace an entire drum kit is the Cajon.
It’s a box-shaped drum that originated in Peru but has made its way all around the world in various styles of music. It can be played with your hands, brushes, rods, sticks, or mallets.
It’s most commonly used in Latin American music, but is now popular in folk, pop, Americana, songwriter, worship, and any low-volume genres or gigs.
The middle section has a low bass tone that can sound huge under a mic, and most cajons have a snare wire that creates a snare sound when you slap it near the edge.
I would always prefer to play a small kit with rods or brushes, but I often get asked to show up for a gig with a Cajon because a lot of singers just love the vibe of one and the flexibility it offers.
Best Cajon Box Drums
As you would probably expect, there are several levels of Cajons, from beginner to professional.
Several companies make them, but I will focus on the biggest brands manufacturing them because they tend to be the easiest to find and afford, and tend to have the best quality control from drum to drum.
Overall, these cajons are some of the best-all-around and make versatile pieces to add to your gear.
LP Americana Kevin Ricard Signature String Cajon
- The newest addition to our LP Americana Wood Cajon Series
- Developed by LP in collaboration with famed percussionist, Kevin Ricard
- Constructed of hand-selected, 11-ply, plantation grown, Baltic Birch Wood
This LP Americana model is one of the best-sounding cajons I’ve ever played and it’s the one I currently own.
This is a really high quality drum made from 11-ply plantation-grown Baltic Birch, and a Heartwood soundboard.
The most unique feature is 4 separate snare wires that are each tunable from the top of the drum. This drum is super versatile and will work in any setting where you might play a cajon.
Of the various cajons I’ve owned and played, I can’t say enough how much this one is my top pick.
This will record super easily under a mic with little to no EQ. I have used it on several sessions and several live gigs.
This is one classy Cajon if you have the bucks to get the best and it’s still under $400.
Meinl Artisan String Cajon
- Crafted in Spain — Meinl Artisan Edition cajons are made in Spain under the master craftsmanship of Jose "Pepote" Hernandez Diaz, a renowned luthier whose artistry and innovation is evident in every...
- Walnut/Baltic birch — a carefully selected pairing of 9-ply Baltic birch for the body and walnut for the frontplate delivers rich, deep and balanced tone — the playing surface is angled toward you...
- Custom hand wound internal steel strings — equipped with two sets of 8 custom hand wound micro-coiled steel cajon strings for a beautifully lush responsive snare through all dynamics — adjust the...
Meinl’s high-end cajons are very impressive visually, and this particular one is made in Spain of 9 plies of Walnut and Baltic Birch.
It features 2 hand-wound steel snare wires for sensitivity, and comes with a pop filter to do well under a microphone.
This drum comes in at $500 mainly due to the handmade craftsmanship involved, as it’s a strikingly beautiful drum.
It has a deep tone and will not disappoint. Meinl and LP have the market corned in my opinion and their products truly excel.
Gon Bops Alex Acuña Special Edition Cajon
- Free carrying Bag included!
- Deep, resonant tones, while playing closer to the edges results in multiple levels of "snap"
- Handcrafted by skilled artisans in Peru
This drum is one of Gon Bops best cajons and definitely my favorite that they offer.
It is built in Peru and developed with one of the greatest percussionists of all time. I’m a huge fan of Alex Acuña and he is a living legend as well as a super nice guy every time I’ve met him.
They don’t give a lot of other details about the wood type or quality, as well as the snares inside. Of my top 3, this would be my third overall choice.
Regardless, this cajon is a beautiful sounding and looking drum, and a bit cheaper than the LP or Meinl options. It also comes with a free gig bag which is always a plus.
Best Cajon Drums for Intermediate or semi-professional Players
Maybe you’re past the beginner stage and want to upgrade your cajon–these are great options for doing just that.
LP Groove Wire Cajon
- Hand-select Baltic Birch body and soundboard, Superior durability and resonance
- Rounded corners for playing comfort
- Perfect cajon for any style of music
LP has several cajons to choose from and it’s really about finding what’s a good fit for you.
This Groove Wire cajon drum is made of high quality materials and sounds excellent. It is made in Thailand which cuts down on some cost, and it doesn’t feature as many things as the super high-end model.
That’s not to say you can’t use it professionally or that it won’t record well.
If you have the money to spend and don’t need all the fancy options, this is a great option for a mid-level to professional-quality cajon. This drum is made of Baltic Birch like its big brother.
Meinl Woodcraft Cajon
- Baltic birch/mahogany — a carefully selected pairing of 9-ply Baltic birch for the body and mahogany for the frontplate delivers rich, deep and balanced tone — the playing surface is formed to...
- Custom micro-coiled steel cajon strings — equipped with internal fixed micro-coiled steel cajon strings for a beautifully lush responsive snare through all dynamics — the strings are pre-tuned for...
- Rounded corners — the mahogany playing surface is rounded at the corners to give you exceptional contact with more comfort, resulting in a more precise sound with cutting slap tones and relaxed...
Meinl’s mid-level woodcraft cajon is similar to the LP in that it features high-end quality with a few modifications to cut costs.
This drum is made of Baltic Birch and Mahogany and has a warm tone comparable to higher-end models.
It isn’t as fancy or pretty, but you might like taking it out for live gigs even more because you will be less worried about scratching its veneer than the super expensive model.
This drum also comes with a 2 year warranty.
Toca Extended Range Bass Reflex Cajon
Toca products are a little cheaper in general than the other companies and don’t feature as expensive wood options or handcrafted workmanship.
That said, they still make good “player” drums that work great on gigs. Their drums don’t look as much like fancy furniture as LP or Meinl, but they still sound great.
This cajon drum has some enhanced low end and gives some great bass tone.
It also looks a bit rock and roll, being black and having a big Toca logo on it.
For a slightly lower price, this drum will appeal to younger players and anyone on a budget for a gigging cajon.
Best Cajons for Beginners
If you’re just starting out with a cajon, these options provide budget-friendly choices for the beginner percussionist.
Anything that sells for around $140 or less I am lumping into this category as an affordable point of entry.
Meinl Birch Cafe Cajon
- LEARN TO PLAY IN MINUTES: just sit down on it and tap with your hands to explore bass and snare drum sounds; this cajon (box drum) is a perfect instrument for getting the confidence to play percussion...
- WHY IT MATTERS: a lot of fun musical adventures don't require time-consuming practice on a drum set; with the Meinl Cafe Cajon, you can play acoustic shows with bands, jam with friends or family,...
- REALITY CHECK: we craft this cajon in Europe from 100% Baltic birch wood, which is widely used in high-end drum set construction for players serious about sound; most companies make cajons with cheap,...
By now we’ve seen that Meinl and LP are leading the field in cajons, and even their beginner drums are a good option.
This cajon drum is made in Europe of Birch and has a gig bag. It’s a great starter option.
Pearl Primero Box Cajon
Pearl is known for their drum kits but they really have several cajon options in the $100 range and a few nicer ones as well.
This Primero cajon model is no-frills, but still a decent starter option.
The faceplate is figured cherry and looks good for the money. The body is black which will appeal to some.
LP Aspire Junior Cajon
- Junior sized for smaller players
- Solid hardwood body
- Wire snares
This LP Aspire cajon is a slightly smaller box drum for a smaller player.
It’s made of durable hardwood and rubber feet. It is the most expensive of the entry-level cajons at $140, but makes a good choice for younger or smaller percussionists.
What Kind of Musicians Play Cajons?
Serious cajon players are world percussionists who can play all kinds of rhythms. Most of us that play them for modern popular music are more hobbyist when it comes to cajons.
I have studied cajon a little bit and I even teach it to some of my students. But I am mainly using it for American rhythms and music.
I take a cajon to songwriter rounds, acoustic country and folk gigs, and worship gigs.
I’m not personally ever playing one with a salsa band or anything legit as far as Latin rhythms go, but many players do, so a cajon drum can be a versatile addition to your gear.
Can a Cajon be Added to a Regular Drum Set?
Typically I don’t see a cajon added to a drum set, but anything is possible. Most commonly you see people using them in place of a full kit.
For my own setup I typically have a few shakers on my right side and a tambourine under my left foot.
I can shake with my right hand, play the kick and snare sounds with my left, and use my left foot like a hi hat or tambo.
It is also popular to use a kick pedal with a separate beater as well to hit the cajon like a kick drum while sitting on it, and even playing a small snare or other hand drum.
DW, LP, and Meinl all make great options for this. The DW cajon pedal and mount are by far the most durable and most impressive.
- country of origin : United States
- package dimensions :6.5" L x 14.25" W x 22.75" H
- package weight :8.3lbs
Things to Consider When Buying A Cajon
If you’re buying your first cajon, you’ll want to first decide what you’re going to be using it for.
Any cajon can be used for any gig, however you can hear a noticeable difference between the high-end ones and the beginner ones.
I’d suggest getting a mid-level option if you are gigging at all, or possibly recording. The jump is more noticeable from beginner to mid-level in my opinion than it is from mid- to super-high end.
Getting something solid and reliable is important, and then getting a gig bag is super helpful.
If you want to get a cajon that will last longer in your career, then seriously check out those top options from LP and Meinl.
I am partial to LP and have endorsed them for a handful of years, but I don’t think you could go wrong with a cajon from either of these two companies.
What is the Best Cajon? Our Top PickS:
My top pick for a pro-level cajon is the LP Kevin Ricard because it is the only one with 4 snares and the tuning pegs up top. I really think it’s the top dog.
My mid-level favorite is the Meinl Woodcraft Cajon as it is pretty close to the higher-end model, just lacking the esthetics of the beautiful finish.
My top choice for a beginner is the Pearl Primero Cajon, or any of their similar $100 options.
Honestly if you are buying a beginner model, maybe just get the one that looks the coolest to the student so they are more likely to play it and learn!