Planning on buying a cajon for someone, your child or a friend? What’s the best cajon to give as a birthday present or for Christmas? Regardless of the occasion, here’s my advice: don’t just buy a cajon, buy a locally made cajon AND a metronome. Here’s why:
Most cajons that show up in Internet searches and reviews are imported, made in factories far away and shipped around the planet in big container vessels. Instead of sending a plywood box full of air halfway around the globe, buy a locally made cajon, this reduces the carbon footprint of your gift and contributes to your local economy. It’s eco-friendly and a locally made cajon is a connection to the local music community. These become discussion points as the cajon is unwrapped and used. As a present a locally made cajon is more than a gift, it is a thoughtful gift.
If possible, pair your cajon gift with a simple metronome. Most musicians will tell you, “It’s the ear, not the gear.” Perfect timing takes time and practice to develop and a metronome is critical for percussionists. If you’ve got $200 for a cajon gift, buy a $170 cajon and a $30 metronome. While it is tempting to say “Oh, she has a phone, she’ll just use a metronome app,” it won’t be as effective. A physical metronome sitting there, staring back at you, calmly says… “Here I am… 1, 2, 3, 4…. just give me a push…” A multi-function phone used as a metronome becomes more of a distraction and can easily be forgotten or overlooked.
There are hundreds of cajon models, all sound a little different. Some cajons are works of art, others are basic. A cajon player with perfect timing will make both sound good, even great. On the other hand, as Rockbox Cajon says, “A good musician can make any instrument sound good, but a good instrument can make a novice sound good or at least sound a lot better than on a poor quality instrument.” A good locally made cajon + metronome combo is the perfect cajon gift, it sets the stage right from day one.
Here’s a list of cajon makers. Find one near you, give them a call and tell them the size of your friend and your budget. They will have good, practical advice about the best cajon for your gift.
A Note on ‘The Best Cajon’ Reviews
Unfortunately many, perhaps most, ‘best cajon’ reviews on the Internet are probably paid promotions sponsored by global corporate cajon manufacturer(s). Some global manufacturers market their cajons under different names and reviews that appear to address many brands may in fact be touting a single manufacturer. Advice from web forums and video comment areas have related problems: fake answers and questions, grandstanding and astroturfing, these all happen even in the world of cajons. The best advice you can get about the best cajon for you will come from one-to-one conversations with real musicians and cajon builders.