A Simple Guide for Buying the Best Cajon in 2021 and 2022
There are over 350 cajon builders on the planet, most have several models. There are over 50 cajon makers in the USA alone. Yet when you look over many cajon reviews you'll see the same mass marketed cajons, over and over. Where are all the local builders? Most local builders simply don't have the resources to advertise nationally or sponsor web reviews.
Realistically most people have limited funds for a cajon. While one person's "best cajon in the world" maybe a Koshikari Cajon made in Japan or a Kotz Cajon made in California or an ABueno cajon made in Spain, you probably don't want to pay the enormous shipping costs to acquire one of these outstanding cajons. But chances are good there is a local cajon maker in your area building awesome snare cajons, flamenco cajons, bass cajons and afro-peruvian cajons.
Step-by-step guide for choosing the best affordable cajon for you:
1. Learn a little about the different kinds of cajons and how they are constructed. What is Inside a Cajon has a lot of photos and simple descriptions.
2. Call or message your local cajon makers: Cajons By Country. Let them know if you are looking for a beginner cajon, a cajon for worship or an adjustable snare cajon. Ask them about the kinds of cajons they make and where you could play some. Perhaps you might visit their workshop. Direct contact with cajon builders should make your search interesting, informative and fun. Your search may end here, otherwise, press on!
3. Talk face to face with local cajon players, find out what they recommend. Not all players have the same level of experience so you'll need to consider that. Working regional musicians, even if they don't play cajon, may know the local 'go-to' cajon makers by reputation.
5. Check out cajons in your local music stores and local buy-sell websites. Many music stores carry cajons imported mostly from Thailand, perhaps some from Germany. Contrast these with the quality and sound of your locally made cajons.
6. Decide. You should now have enough information to make an informed decision. It may be tough to choose, over time many people end up with several cajons.
A few more observations about choosing a great cajon...
- You'll see a lot of advice on the internet to "just go to a music store and try some". Superficially good advice, but perhaps bit heavily promoted by distributors and stores just to get you in the door. Impulse buying happens, they're banking on it. While a trip to the local music store is a good idea eventually, first call and talk to your local cajon builder. This should give you a more well-rounded perspective. You may not like any of the cajons made locally, but at least you tried.
- You probably have no choice when buying a cell phone or a microphone, your only options are imported products. But with cajons, you have a choice. If you choose a locally made cajon, most of the price of your purchase stays within your local economy. If you buy an imported cajon most of the purchase price probably leaves not just your region, but the country.
- Beware when reading or asking questions about 'what's the best cajon brand' in on-line forums, reviews, social media and video comment areas. While astroturfing, grandstanding, and stealth promotion may seem unlikely cajon marketing strategies I often see posts and comments that make me think otherwise. The logic behind trying to keep your purchase local is pretty hard to counter.
- While I was in the Philippines I purchased a beautiful, solid wood locally made cajon for about $50 USD. Hands-down it was the best cajon for my money, in the Philippines. There are over 20 cajon builders in Brazil and their models are designed to suit Brazilian players and music. Many cajons made in Japan are works of art reflecting the careful attention to detail that Japanese woodworkers are known for and that their countrymen respect and cherish. In the USA big name bands out of LA, Chicago, and New York often have cajons from local cajon makers who are highly respected by area musicians. The point is, there are great cajons made all over the world and often the local builder provides an economic option that is more 'in tune' with local needs and wants. In many, many countries the best cajon for your money is a locally produced instrument that you won't find mentioned in any Internet cajon review.
- Let's be clear that I'm not commenting on the quality of the cajons that show up in most reviews and stores, a few of them are actually good cajons. What I am saying is: there are other options, great options, explore them as part of your decision process. Buying a locally made cajon is good for your muse, good for the planet and good for your local economy.
Good luck and I hope you get a great cajon, the best cajon for you, and I hope you play it often and with a big smile.