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The 8 Best Cajon (Box Drum) Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

In Buyer's Guide, Guides for Musicians, Guides for Percussionists by Jake LLeave a Comment

Last updated on April 3rd, 2020 at 12:46 am

I was first introduced to the Cajon back in college by my roommate and instantly fell in love with it. The simplicity of its design and the sound it was capable of making make this instrument a must have, especially if you enjoy or perform acoustically styled music. As Cajones continue to get popular, more options with different features become available for us to choose from. Well, how do we decide what the best Cajon is?

While there are many great options, ultimately it will rely on what you’re looking for in a Cajon. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of the best Cajon options that are available in 2019. Before we get into that, let’s have a quick discussion on what this instrument is.

What is a Cajon? (Box Drum)

Female Cajon player performing on the streets.

Here’s the easiest way to describe what a Cajon is. It’s a percussion instrument with a simple design that is a drum, stand, and seat all in one convenient package.

The origin of the Cajon takes us all the way back to the 16th century in Peru, where African slaves would make these instruments from old packing crates, replacing the native drums they would play back in Africa. Nowadays, there are many different designs of Cajones, offering different tones, features, and experiences. We’ll discuss this in more detail soon.

Overall, it is a simple instrument that compliments well with acoustic types of music and performances. They’re very fun to play and are great instruments to have.

Things to Consider When Buying a Cajon


One of the most important things to consider when shopping for a Cajon is the features. Like we mentioned earlier, nowadays we have a variety of different Cajones to choose from, each with its own features, sound, and design. Think about the adjustability features if you plan to change your instrument’s sound to fit different musical needs. Some Cajons have features that allow them to project their sound towards an audience with more clarity and volume. There are even features offered in different designs that can alter the way you play the Cajon entirely. No matter what your price range is, take a good look at the features that each Cajon has to offer before making a decision. You’re going to want your Cajon to have everything you’re willing to pay for.

Sounds and Tone

Close up shot of someone's hands playing the Cajon.

Another thing you’re going to want to consider is the type of sound and tones you’re looking for. You will find that each Cajon produces its own sound. The differences can be slight or drastic, and you’ll notice it more as you look at pricer options. Before looking through the different options available, figure out what type of sound you’re looking for. Is it something that is more bass dominated or snare focused? Maybe you’re looking for something that is balanced. You could be looking for something with an entirely different sound from standard Cajons. With so many different options to choose from, try and distinguish what type of sound will compliment your music style the best.

Also, keep in mind that there are a variety of different tones that could be a result of the Cajon’s design, the wood it was built with, and their unique features. When looking through your options, pay close attention to the type of tone each model produces. This will ensure that you get the perfect Cajon that fits your current and potential musical needs.


The last thing you need to consider is your budget. Price ranges of a Cajon can vary as there are affordable models that come with standard features and more premium options for those who are willing to pay more. Of course, you do get more for your money, but this doesn’t mean you have to spend too much to get everything you need from a Cajon. If you’re shopping with a budget, there are a lot of great cheaper options available. You really can find a nice affordable Cajon. Just take a look at what they have to offer for its price. If money is not a problem for you, then take a look at the premium options. Pricer models do offer better features and variety, but just make sure to pay attention to what you’re looking for.

Now that you have an idea of what this instrument is and what to consider, we’re going to talk about our recommendations for the best Cajon options currently available.

Here we go, our ultimate Cajon buyer’s guide!

Keep in mind that our list does not go in any particular order.

Let’s Get Started!

The 8 Best Cajon Available in the Market

1. HCAJ1NT Cajon by Meinl (Entry Level)

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The first to make it onto our list is the HCAJ1NT Cajon from Meinl, a very popular choice for many. We wanted to start off our list with this specific model because it’s known to be one of the best entry-level Cajones available in the market.

Meinl is known for its high-quality instruments so expect this Cajon to meet their standards of quality. What really sets this drum box apart from the many options we have available is how professional it sounds and feels while maintaining an affordable price tag.

The Cajon’s volume is at a good level and has several tones that can be produced from the front panel and the sides. It offers a rich, deep tone with a nice balance between its snare and bass.

You can also adjust the tone of the snare by adjusting the coiled metal strings using the hex wrench located inside the instrument. Tighter strings will produce a more focused snare sound while loosening them adds slack, resulting in a lax snare effect. The top corner screws are also adjustable, allowing you to change the amount of “slap” sound that is achievable.

To top it off, this Cajon’s top seating surface is coated with a gritted non-slip sealer. This assures that the surface will be non-slip while you sit on it while remaining comfortable enough to use for extended periods of time.

Overall, the HCAJ1NT Cajon from Meinl is an excellent choice, especially if you’re looking for a great entry-level option. The quality and build are excellent while maintaining a nice inexpensive price.

2. Jam Wooden Cajon by Pyle (Great Value)

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Pyle did an excellent job with their PCJD18 Jam Wooden Cajon, being one of the best options for the money. We just had to add it to our list as it is known for its great price and powerful sound. Of course, we have to mention that this is another great entry-level option for those who are just getting started in playing this instrument.

This Cajon produces a good balance of deep tones and nice highs. The snare sound comes from a pair of guitar strings that rest against the inside of the front wood plan, running from the top to bottom. You can adjust the sound using the hex wrench that is stored inside the hole. Similar to the first Cajon we discussed, you can adjust the tone of your instrument. This is done by adjusting the screws that fasten the wood plank to the front of the box. Loosening/tightening the screws will change the sound that is made from slapping the corners. There’s also a hex key inside the body, allowing you to tune the strings attached to this Cajon.

Pyle also included rubber-capped feet onto this model in order to prevent any vibration interference. This helps ensure that you get the best sound possible while playing.

The workmanship on this model is top-notch and we are quite impressed by the sound this instrument is capable of producing for its price. The PCJD18 Jam Wooden Cajon from Pyle is definitely a great option to consider, especially if you’re looking for something that’s affordable, but still packs a nice sound.

3. Dos Voces (Two Voices) Cajon by A Tempo (Variety of Sounds)

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The Dos Voces (Two Voices) Cajon from A Tempo is very high-quality and is capable of producing two distinct sounds, just like its name entails. Its also nice to see that A Tempo is a small business in Peru, the birthplace of this instrument.

What really makes this Cajon unique from other options on this list is its capability of producing two distinct sounds. On one side, the sound that is produced has a traditional Peruvian sound with no snares. It’s a warmer and mellower sound that is accompanied by a pure bass tone, which is great for softer songs and acoustic sets.

On the other hand, the opposite side has a snare configuration with snare strings running from top to bottom against the back of the playing surface. This produces a more aggressive tone with a punchier sound. Using this side of the instrument would be great for louder gigs and performances.

It has a nice deep bass with the option to add a little raspiness to it by hitting the Cajon a little higher up on its body.

These Cajons are beautifully made and with an extremely solid build. Do keep in mind that this is one of the more pricer options, however, you are paying more for a higher-quality Cajon directly from Peru that offers unique features. Overall, I highly recommend you check out the Dos Voces (Two Voices) Cajon by A Tempo out as it offers unique features that you don’t commonly find in Cajons.

4. Jumbo Bass Subwoofer Cajon by Meinl (Loud and Bassy)

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Next up on our list, we have the SUBCAJ5WN Jumbo Bass Subwoofer Cajon from Meinl, and this thing packs a punch. One of Meinl’s more pricer options, it’s their biggest and bassiest Cajon model available. This model has an exceptionally deep tone and much louder sound. It’s perfect for a player that’s looking to get more volume from their instrument.

This Cajon’s subwoofer has a bass reflect-system that directs sound waves and air through different channels before they project out from the larger sound ports. Because of that, frequencies have more time to develop inside the body of the instrument, resulting in an enhanced bass tone. You will also find that the sound ports are facing forward. This projects more sound towards your audience, ensuring sound clarity that results in a better experience for them. The walnut front plate is ultra-sensitive to soft finger rolls, giving players a wider range of dynamics to play with.

Another thing we wanted to mention is that even though this Cajon is large and loud, it’s still easy to control the volume. It’s definitely an awesome percussion piece to add to your set and is perfect for bigger venues.

Overall, if you’re looking for something that’s more high-quality and louder in volume, this bass subwoofer Cajon from Meinl is the perfect option for you.

5. CP408 2inOne Series Cajon by Schlagwerk (Tighter Sound)

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Now, if you’re looking for a drum box with a tighter sound, you should consider the CP408 2-in-one series Cajon from Schlagwerk. This is another pricer option, but you definitely get your money’s worth from the quality of this instrument.

The bass on this model is more on the boomier side with a crisp snare and exceptional lows. Of course, you do have the option of adjusting and tuning this instrument to produce your desired sound. It’s also good to know that many agree that while this Cajon already has a nice sound, the tone gets better with time.

The reason why this Cajon is 2 in 1 is that you can remove the snare wires that are inside to change the tone completely. When the snare wires are removed, it will have a richer, wooden tone, which is more Peruvian in style. While there is an option to remove the snare to change the sound, many have found that the sound with the snares placed is good if you’re looking for a modern sound from your Cajon.

Something to keep in mind is that the hole of this instrument is smaller than other Schlagwerk models. This means you will have to be more careful if you’re extracting the snares so you don’t damage any of the snare wires in the process.

Other than that, the construction is flawless and the overall sound it produces is what you’d expect from a higher-priced Cajon from Schlagwerk. It is a cheaper model when compared to their other options, but it does very well at its relative price range.

6. Slaptop Cajon Box Drum by Meinl (Versatile/Unique Design) 

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The next Cajon we want to talk about is the Slaptop Cajon from Meinl. This model has the most unique design on our list as it is built to be played upright. You can easily place the instrument on top of your lap as the slaptop surface locks onto your legs.

Players will notice that this model produces a deeper sound with fuller tones. The snare produces nice highs that are crisp and clear, a very balanced sound that compliments well with the bass tones. Towards the middle of the instrument, you will find that it produces a “conga” like sound. This is a great addition to add some versatility to the sounds this Cajon is capable of producing. You will also find that the bass is punchy and cuts through anything.

It’s also good to mention that playing in an upright position makes it easier to play the slaptop Cajon with brushes, similar to a snare drum. This is another thing to keep in mind when thinking of this model’s versatility.

The forward-facing sound ports ensure that the notes project directly to your audience with clarity. It’s nice that there are separate ports positioned for the bass and snare. This allows each port to prioritize the type of sound that’s coming out of it.

Overall, this Slaptop Cajon is extremely fun to play with thanks to its unique features. It produces a very nice tone and does extremely well at balancing out the sounds. Its versatility is definitely one of its strongest points that make this model stand out from the rest. It is a different way of playing this instrument, but you still get the nice percussions you’d expect from a high-quality Cajon.

7. Percussion El Artesano Cajon by A Tempo (Well-Balanced Sound)

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Another model from the small business in Peru, the El Artesano Cajon makes it onto our list as another high-quality premium option. The El Artesano balances the best characteristics of both a traditional and Flamenco Cajon. This results in a warm, booming bass and a snappy slap tone from the snare.

This balance is possible thanks to the snare wires design, reducing their sound when playing the bass. It does all of this without sacrificing any snap on a slap tone. You will find that the overall sound is pure with a resonating bass, complimented well with a crisp snare. As you move down the Cajon, the tone gets deeper and really resonates.

We appreciate the craftsmanship of this Cajon as every panel of the body is put together using individual pieces of hardwood. It is then built using dovetail joints and finished with a durable satin finish. All of it crafted by hand in Peru.

The El Artesano is a very high-quality Cajon that is constructed well with a beautiful finish. It really is an attractive instrument with the different colors of wood and patterns. Overall, we admire pretty much everything about the El Artesano from A Tempo. They’ve done a really good job at crafting a well balanced Cajon that produces a nice sound and is beautiful to the eye.

8. JC50LBNT Compact Cajon by Meinl (Budget-Friendly)

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The last Cajon we want to discuss is the JC50LBNT model from Meinl, a great option for those who are trying to save as much money as possible. While this is the budget-friendly option on our list, you still get a quality instrument that works great. Also keep in mind that this is another entry-level Cajon, so the features that come with it are pretty standard. While it is smaller than other models, it’s still comfortable for a full-sized adult to sit on it and play.

This model is made entirely of Birch Wood, which is commonly found in high-end drum sets, coming equipped with internal fixed snare wires. Its design makes it possible for this Cajon to produce cutting snare slaps, deep and punchy bass hits, and responsive finger rolls. The metal snares found inside this model is the same type that is found on snare drums, giving us a natural snare sound.

The sound port on the back helps amplify the tone produced by the instrument. It allows air to escape from the Cajon as you play it, enhancing all of the frequencies that are produced. You can also adjust the Cajon to get the sound you want. To do so, you adjust the front plate corners on the playing surface with a screwdriver.

Overall, we are very impressed with this budget option Cajon. It’s very versatile and compact, producing warm tones with a focused punchy attack. We really like how this model is constructed and appreciate its outstanding natural acoustic properties. If you’re looking for a very affordable high-quality Cajon, then definitely consider this model.

Cajon Accessories

Now that we have gone through our list of recommendations for the best Cajones available, let’s talk about some Cajone accessories that you should definitely consider adding to your kit.

1. Cajon Pedal by Meinl

This Direct Drive Cajon pedal from Meinl is a great accessory to have for your instrument. Designed for natural foot placement and comfort, the pedal allows players to utilize their feet to play the bass on their Cajon. It works similarly to a bass pedal for a standard drum set and has great responsiveness. The soft beater on this pedal is designed to get the most optimal bass tones from your Cajon. It also comes equipped with a cradle-like mount that fits all common Cajones, preventing the pedal from slipping off.

Having a dedicated pedal for the bass notes allows you to utilize your hands to focus on complimenting the bass with the snare. It can definitely make it easier to access the bass while playing, allowing you to be more versatile with your Cajon.

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2. DW 5000 Series Lowboy Hi-hat Stand With Cymbals

The next Cajon accessory we wanted to talk about is the DW 5000 Series Lowboy Hi-hat Stand with Cymbals. It’s a perfect addition to your acoustic set of instruments, allowing your Cajon to be more like a standard drum set.

This Hi-hat is smooth and effortless to play, adding even more versatility to your set-up. You can utilize this Hi-hat along with the bass pedal we previously talked about, creating the ultimate Cajon kit for your acoustic performances. It’ll definitely add more of a drum set groove to your music.

Overall, this is a fun accessory to have and can potentially add more diversity to your sound if used properly.

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3. Foot Tambourine by Meinl

This Foot Tambourine by Meinl is another great little Cajon accessory that adds more to your overall sound. It adds a light jingle sound with the tap of your foot and can be used in any musical setting, mainly acoustic sets.

It’s easy to use as you simply strap it onto your foot and tap away as you play. The foot tambourine is light and versatile with a sound that isn’t overpowering. If you’re looking to add some extra percussive color to your Cajon playing and overall music, definitely check this foot tambourine out.

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4. Percussion Foot Shaker by Meinl

Similar to how the previous accessory we discussed works, the Percussion Foot Shaker from Meinl adds even more flavor to your Cajon playing. This foot shaker allows you to play rhythms on your instrument while delivering a shaker accent that follows your foot motion.

Another great Cajon accessory that adds percussive colors to your performances, whether it be live on stage or recording in the studio.

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5. Percussion Retractable Nylon Brushes by Meinl

The last Cajon accessory we want to talk about is the Percussion Retractable Nylon Brushes from Meinl. These are great tools that give Cajon players a crisp sound that can be used for a variety of different genres of music. These brushes can achieve this crisp sound by using light sweeping motions or full strokes for backbeats. You can even create light/treble effects that emulate shakers and high sounding snares. The heavy nylon wires are fully retractable, as they go into the lightweight grip.

Overall, they deliver definition and clarity while being safe to use with your Cajon.  These brushes definitely add more versatility to your Cajon and give you options on what kind of sound you want to produce with them. This is something you should consider adding to your Cajon kit.

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Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it. Our list for the 8 best Cajon options available in 2019. Again, we highly recommend that you figure out what type of features you are looking for before making a final decision. Every Cajon has its own unique sound and features that all need to be considered. It’s a great instrument for performances and jam sessions, adding a nice acoustic percussion to your sound. We hope that our list has helped you in your search for the best Cajon that fits your needs. Have fun!

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