The cajón is a fairly popular Peruvian percussion instrument, mainly used in música criolla and flamenco ensembles but also in many other Latin and pop musical genres.
When it comes to choosing the best cajón, there are plenty of options. In this article, we’ll consider the top 9 best cajón brands in the world today.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Variety of cajóns
- Performance of the cajóns
- Longevity of the cajóns
- The company/brand must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.
The top 9 best cajón drum brands in the world are:
- Meinl Percussion
- Latin Percussion
- A Tempo Percussion
- Kopf Percussion
- Tycoon Percussion
- Gon Bops
Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 9 best cajón brands. I’ll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable cajón, and a link to their official website.
Be sure to check out the other top percussion brands at My New Microphone:
• Top 9 Best Tambourine Brands On The Market
• Top 9 Best Conga Drum Brands On The Market
• Top 9 Best Bongo Drum Brands On The Market
• Top 11 Best Timpani Brands On The Market
Although most people associate Meinl with some of the best cymbals in the world, the company does much more than that. Indeed, they have been fully dedicated to producing all things percussion for the past 70 years. Moreover, much of that time was spent serving musicians at elite-level stages around the world.
Despite Ronald Meinl, the company’s main driving force passing away in 2007, Meinl has steadily extended its catalogue with amazing products. In other words, the legacy of its maker lives on in every Meinl cajon, cymbal, drumstick, or any other percussion instrument leaving the factory.
Meinl excels in every category and is one of the biggest names in percussion today. Give them a try before buying anything else.
This is the perfect cajon for those moments you need to fill the room with percussive sounds. How so? Well, to the precise intonation of this Baltic birch cajon, Meinl has added a vertical subwoofer and a piezo pickup so you can create massive sounds just with your hands. Moreover, you have handy volume and tone control to make on-the-fly modifications on the outside.
Nevertheless, you can play it like a normal cajon with the dual internal fixed snare wires when you don't need it.
Official website: meinlpercussion.com
Meinl Percussion was founded by Roland Meinl in 1951. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Gutenstetten, Germany.
Meinl is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Latin Percussion is also known by most people as simply LP and is a company that has been making some of the best percussion instruments for the most demanding stages around the world for the past decades. Moreover, in 2001 Martin Cohen received a Special Recognition Award from the International Latin Music Hall of Fame because of his contributions to Latin music.
LP is today, after being purchased by Kaman Music (2002) and Fender (2008), owned by DW. This series of purchases and sales enhanced the manufacturing process of LP instruments. Thus, if you are after a cajon that sounds amazing and is made to last, you have to check LP before buying anything else.
Made of space-grade carbon fibre, this is another bold attempt by LP to dare the limits of the collective imagination. This rich-sounding cajon offers great projection, focused tone, and snap while being among the most durable in the market. This combination of great tones and durability can be explained by the combination of a Baltic birch soundboard and a carbon-fibre body. Furthermore, the phosphor bronze strings make it a favourite for flamenco players too.
If you’re looking for the evolution in cajon, this LP model is a must-try before you buy.
Official website: lpmusic.com
Martin Cohen founded Latin Percussion in 1964. The company’s headquarters are currently in Garfield, New Jersey, USA.
Latin Percussion is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
A Tempo Percussion
Alex Castaneda is an economist, a master luthier for cajon, and the third generation of woodworkers in the Castaneda family. But that’s not all, because when he started making Peruvian cajons in 1997, he got training from the best cajon builder in Peru: Eusebio Sirio “Pititi”.
Nowadays, after successfully making and selling over 26,000 percussion instruments worldwide, A Tempo Percussion is one of the most important names for Peruvian cajon in the world. Therefore, if a Peruvian cajon is what you’re after, you can’t overlook A Tempo Percussion.
Notable cajon: A Tempo Tocador Cajon (link to check the price on Amazon)
Handmade in Peru, this great-looking cajon sounds just as good as it looks. Moreover, the bright sound this cajon is capable of is the result of the perfect blend of Spanish cedar and Lupuna plywood. Furthermore, the snare wires' traditional “W” disposition gives it the perfect flamenco touch. Finally, it comes with a dedicated gig bag to take its sound wherever you go.
A Tempo is a cajon specialist that manufactures next-level instruments for the most demanding musicians. If that is the quality level you’re after, you have to give it a try.
Official website: atempopercusion.com
A Tempo Percussion was founded by Alexis Castaneda in 1999. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Lima, Peru.
Roland is not a company that’s usually related to percussion instruments in the minds of most musicians, but it is responsible for the sounds that shaped a generation. For example, the TR-808 and V-Drums by Roland are among the best-sounding non-acoustic percussion instruments in the world.
Because Roland is an expert in creating hybrid, electroacoustic, and electronic versions of the most sought-after percussive instruments, buying your cajon from them is a one-way ticket to the future. Furthermore, it is backed by 50+ years of successful innovation.
If you want impeccable craftsmanship, bold designs, and great sounds, Roland is a brand you need to check out.
Notable cajon: Roland ELCajon EC-10 (link to check the price at Sam Ash)
What if you could blend seamlessly the modern sounds of a TR-808, djembe, backbeats, or whatever instrument you dial in with quintessential cajon sounds? Well, that was the challenge Roland faced when creating this cajon model.
Needless to say, it was a challenge Roland succeeded at. Moreover, with a very simple user interface located on top of your instrument, you can get different sounds on the spot with the push of a button.
Finally, to enjoy the same freedom you would with a normal cajon, this unit comes equipped with a speaker and can work on batteries.
Roland created the cajon for the 21st century; you should try it before buying anything else.
Official website: roland.com
The Roland Corporation was founded in 1972 by Ikutaro Kakehashi. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Roland is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Perhaps, the best way to explain why Pearl grew so much is to speak about the need for drum kits that the rock n roll revolution demanded from manufacturers in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Katsumi, at the time, was making microphone stands, and it was only after the huge acclaim the first “Stencil series” drums got around the world that the legend was born, and he started making drums for a living.
Nowadays, and after being on the biggest stages in the world, Pearl holds a reputation for being one of the big 3 percussion brands in the world (along with Tama and Mapex). The same commitment to excellence that propelled the company decades ago is present in every cajon leaving the factory today.
Notable cajon: Pearl Boom Box Cajon (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
This fibreglass cajon is capable of unheard-of low-end frequencies. Indeed, this is a very powerful-sounding instrument that blends seamlessly Asian hardwood for the faceplate with three sets of fixed snares and fibreglass for the body. Moreover, the low end can be heard through the built-in bass port on the rear side, filling the room with the low end you need to push an ensemble forward. Finally, it is also available in luxurious sparkle red so you can shine on every stage.
If you often play with other people, this cajon can be the instrument you need to get that extra oomph and make people dance.
Official website: pearldrum.com
Katsumi Yanagisawa founded Pearl in 1946. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Chiba, Japan.
Pearl is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Steve handcrafts each cajon for his brand in a 5-acre property that has been in his family for four generations. Moreover, he creates instruments that can satisfy the needs of modern players utilizing old, traditional methods he learned in-house watching woodworkers of the Head family create.
Nowadays, Kopf Percussion is one of those strange cases where the entire production process is made in-house. Every product is 100% handmade in a family property with traditional methods and top-notch materials.
If you want to hear the difference “handmade” does to a cajon, you have to try a Kopf one today.
The first thing to say about all S-Series cajon models by Kopf is that the shell is not made of plywood but instead of solid poplar. This feature enhances the tonewood's overall resonance, creating musical, focused sounds with every touch. Furthermore, being 3/4”, the shell is a tad thicker than what you’ll find in most cajon models, adding to the instrument's overall sound.
Also, the Baltic birch dual-playing surfaces offer enough tones to keep the party going regardless of the style you play. Finally, and perhaps, a unique feature of this cajon model is the upholstered seat on top of it to play comfortably night after night.
This cajon is perfect for players who gig very often because it plays effortlessly and is very comfortable to sit on.
Official website: kopfpercussion.com
Kopf was founded by Steve Head in 2008. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Waresboro, Georgia, USA.
The first time Gerhard Priel and co-worker Bengt Schumacher came across a half-dead cajon a friend had brought from Brazil; their life was forever changed. Indeed, they worked on it until it was back in shape but didn’t stop there; they took ideas from it to start making their own prototypes.
Nowadays, the same passion that took them to the first prototypes fuels every decision the company makes, and every cajon bears the “Made in Germany” label proudly. Also, every physical instrument is tested by Martin, the drummer in charge of quality assurance, before it leaves the factory.
Schlagwerk is the best of German precision with the right amount of passion and a unique sound.
The slightly larger contoured body offers the player fatigue-free playing for hours. Also, the wood used for the playing surface is real, fine wood hand-selected and hand-shaped in-house. Besides looking great on the outside, it also features Velcro dampening elements and dual tension bars for tension adjustment with an integrated tuning key. Finally, the European beech body offers defined tones to the natural resonance frequencies.
Official website: schlagwerk.com
Gerhard Priel founded Schlagwerk in 1982. Nowadays, the company’s headquarters are in Gingen/Fils, Germany.
Stephen Yu was pursuing a lucrative career in commodities trading when he realized he wanted to chase his lifelong dream of founding his musical instrument company. At first, he manufactured OEM equipment for other brands, but soon after, he came up with the name Tycoon and shaped his dream.
Nowadays, Stephen’s brand serves the entire world with affordable, high-quality percussion instruments, and his dream continues to grow beyond his expectations. Play a Tycoon Percussion cajon today; they might surprise you.
Made of mesmerizing, unique-looking ziricote wood, a tree that grows mostly in Central America, this is a one-of-a-kind instrument for demanding players. But that’s not all. The 7-ply body delivers improved tonal qualities, while the snare wires can be adjusted using an (included) Allen wrench. Finally, the carrying bag and stand can be acquired separately to take better care of your investment.
Official website: tycoonpercussion.com
Stephen Yu founded Tycoon Percussion in 1983. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Bangkok, Thailand.
Tycoon is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Mariano was a professional trumpet player and the go-to repairman for bongos and congas of the most prominent players in Los Angeles before starting his own brand. Soon after manufacturing the first units, he provided percussive musical instruments for the biggest stages in the world, including the worldwide famous Woodstock ’69 concert.
Nowadays, Gon Bops is the favourite brand of Latin legends like Alex Acuna, among many others. Moreover, Gon Bops cajon products are some of the most innovative and best-sounding in the world. Check one out before buying anything else.
Besides being one of the best-looking cajons in the market, it is also one of the best-sounding ones. This is because the low-end in this cajon is deep and resonates with rich, awe-inspiring harmonics.
Moreover, playing to the sides engages the diagonally-set guitar string wires, creating minimalistic sounds. Finally, this cajon is completely handmade and tested thoroughly in Peru and ships, including a free gig bag to take everywhere.
A legend like Alex Acuna wouldn’t set for anything less than excellence; neither should you.
Official website: gonbops.com
Mariano Bobadilla founded The Gon Bops in 1954. Currently, the company’s headquarters are in Houlton, Maine, USA.
Gon Bops is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!