Cajon Cajon is here to share as much information about cajons as possible so it’s great to get questions from people who are thinking of getting a cajon themselves.
I recently received the following question via the contact form from Cajon Cajon reader Chris:
I really like this site. I was wondering how you think the Macker cajon compared to the Schlagwerk one. I was looking at the already made Schlagwerk drums and they get quite pricy.
Here in case it is use to anyone else is my answer:
As far as the Macker and the Schlagwerk are concerned, they are both good cajons, but quite different to each other. It is important to think about what type of sound you want as well as the situations you will play.
The Schlagwerk kit is very good value and I think it sounds better than the majority of the mass produced cajons you will find in music shops in the £60 – £150 range (I have tried out quite a lot of these). Most of those cajons, by companies like Meinl, LP, Natal etc, are made in the far east and use simple guitar string snares. There are some exceptions, such as the J Leiva range which are made in Spain and are much better.
The Schlagwerk kit (along with most Schlagwerk cajons) use snare drum style snares, which give a nice crisp prominent snare sound. Because the tapa (playing surface) is glued rather than screwed on it is not as sensitive as some others, but it sounds good when you take some time to get to know it. The glued tapa reduces the types of sounds you can get at the high end (clap sounds particularly), but is beneficial for the bass, which is warm and generally free of snare bleed. I haven’t played any pre-built Schlagwerk cajons yet, but they are very well regarded. You are correct that they get quite pricey, especially for a first cajon. One other thing to be aware of is that Schlagwerk cajons generally have a controlled and slightly dry sound (they are very well engineered and built, including the cajon kits). The controlled sound is great for recording, but not always so good in live (acoustic) situations as a slightly less controlled, or more raw, snare sound that will often cut through better when playing with other instruments.
The Macker cajon is exceptional value. If it was produced by a large company it would probably cost well over £200 and most independent cajon would charge significantly more than Mack (Colin McCormick) charges. Macker cajons are hand made by Mack to order out of quality hard wood (usually oak). The quality of the workmanship is very high and the cajon is well designed and finished. There are two playing surfaces, one with an adjustable snare and one without snare, this makes it a very flexible cajon. The snare side tapa is screwed on and allows for adjustment at the top. I have removed the top corner screws on mine to create clap corners to add to the variety of sounds. The Macker Cajon has a less precise sound than the Schlagwerk, but the quality shines through and it sounds great live, both acoustically and through a PA.
If you are willing to spend the £85 that the Macker costs, I don’t think you will find a better cajon in that price range. It is a significantly better and more flexible cajon overall than the Schlagwerk kit cajon. Mack (professional_percussionist) regularly puts cajons on ebay, some as regular auctions (starting around £70 + £15 postage) and some as Buy it Now at slightly higher prices. If you do buy from Mack, please mention Cajon Cajon.uk if you don’t mind.
Chris has now decided to buy a Macker Cajon, which I think is a great choice!
If you have any questions please get in touch via the contact form.