Introducing the License Plate Cajon!

The cajon is a Peruvian percussion instrument, and a favorite among hipsters and poor college students at the moment.  Simply put, it's a box that you sit on and with your hands.  If you look up some videos of folks playing the them, you'll quickly see that they can produce a variety of sounds, especially considering the fact that it's just one box.  A blue grass group played at my church a few months ago and they used one.  I looked at it and thought, "I could build one of those..."

So I did.

Since I'm a guitarist and a member of the Cigar Box Nation, it features a license plate (which can be slapped for a kind of cymbal sound [by which I mean a cheap, trashy cymbal sound just perfect for playing with a CBG]) and f-holes:

The construction was pretty simple. I opted for an external license plate vs an internal snare, so it didn't take much to put it together.

Hopefully I'll post a video sometime of me on a CBG and some one who can (unlike me) play drums on this new fangled old fashioned license plate cajon. 

God bless.

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Comment by Jim Morris on April 1, 2016 at 7:34am

Thanks everyone for the good info. My drummer buddy plays a full trap set (too loud sometimes) and often wants to join in when we play all acoustic instruments. I gotta make one of these so he can jump in there with us!

Comment by Jock MacHinery on April 1, 2016 at 6:01am

For anyone considering making a cajon: the "beater" panel needs to be of thin ply, around the 1/8" mark. Also the top corners should not be screwed down within 4 1/2" of the corner. This is to enable an area that can be struck to give a "slap" or "crack" note. The thin beater gives louder sounds with a good range of tones.

Snares (strings) should be arranged so that they gently touch the beater surface. This is a trial and error kinda thing. I used 1/2 a snare drum snare fixed at one end to a thick wood rod. The rod can be rotated to give more or less snare contact.

BTW the licence plate is a great addition and I love the f holes!

Comment by Ron "Oily" Sprague on March 30, 2016 at 10:17pm
Oooooo, ported bass reflex!
Comment by Murdoc_420 on March 30, 2016 at 7:32pm

Does the snare or the strings have to touch the box wall?

 I've got a little box I've been meaning to make a stomp out of, some snare action could be cool.

Comment by Shane Kamer on March 30, 2016 at 10:46am

Comment by Dustin Aurand on March 29, 2016 at 11:41am
I'd love to have a mini cajon as a stomp box.
Comment by Blues Frog on January 3, 2016 at 9:32pm

Thanks Dave. The coloring was an experiment. Tried to get a sunburst type of finish, but it came out like that. Over all I was happy with it.

The guitar strings give it a very serious snare sound. I would classify it as a snare cajon if I was to sell it. The next one will be more straight cajon, trying for more of a bass tone.

Comment by Dave S on January 3, 2016 at 9:05pm

Nice work, Frog. I really like the color and texture. How do the guitar strings sound?  Like "real" snares or something new?

Comment by Blues Frog on January 3, 2016 at 8:59pm

I had bought a kit about a year and a half ago. It was quick and easy to build, so I decided to build my own. Went out last year on new years day and bought some birch plywood and built one from scratch.

Made my own snare system using some old guitar strings.

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