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I wanted to build a cajon and found a lack of material online to support that endeavor, so I have put together this article. Comments/corrections welcome (see form below). This is a great project for musical people that are interested in instrument design but aren't quite ready to jump into something like a guitar.
It is properly spelled "cajón", but in case search engines don't pick up the word correctly, "cajon" is used here. The plural is "cajones", which is distinct from the better-known "cojones".
You can watch this cajon in action in the video below -- "Give You a Word" from the album g-g-g-ghosts?. (The cajon is featured especially during the instrumental part starting at 4:35 and lasting to the end, but you can't seek ahead until the video is loaded.) I believe that the cajon in the video did not have the newer/better snare system described later in this article, but it still sounds OK. (Laptop users: use headphones or you won't hear the kick sound...)
To watch the video on this page you'll need to enable Flash objects.
Alternately, you might need to update your Flash plugin.
Use the navigation bar on the right to read this article.
See the cajon links section for many other resources that may be useful to you.
This article owes the biggest thanks to Germán Ocaña who provided most of the information required. Check out his webpage, he makes professional-level cajones and other instruments. He has two main PDFs that I saw regarding the cajon. The english in the first is pretty rough, and the second is in Spanish, but even for non-speakers they are invaluable nonetheless.
This article will assume that you have read these documents. This article is intended as a supplement.
- How to make a cajon (rough English)
- Further notes on the process (in Spanish)
- English translation of the "further notes"