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Current Project #15: Cajon. Installation of the snare

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 10-24-2014 03:11 PM 3739 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 14: George's Cajon Part 15 of Current Project series Part 16: Brad Point Drill Case »

Since this cajon is all but finished, I thought I’d post something about the snare element that goes into the box. I came up with this myself, but my wife says it’s nearly identical to the professionally made cajones she’s seen. I guess I just got lucky.

Without the snare, a cajone will sound basically like a base drum—boring. The snare gives it some dynamic and pizazz.

The snare has to be attached to something and adjusted once installed. My cajones have a fixed snare which cannot be turned off once installed. The photos above and below show the arm I built and where it sits in the box. It’s approximately in the center, but that’s not what determines the location.

I bought a 13 inch snare from eBay because it’s easier and more convenient than making my wife pick one up from the music store on her way home after work. I can get one at the same price without having to add drivetime to the project.

Using a wire cutter, I cut the snare strings in half. Despite my best efforts, I never get them exactly in half. This actually creates a nice feature in the drum. The two sides are slightly different pitches, so it adds to the dynamic.

The snares are screwed to the arm so that the strands do not touch it. They are set in about 2 inches from the edge, sort of equally spaced from the edge and each other. Ideally they aim straight up.

I install the arm so that the tips of the snare clear the top of the box by about 1/2 inch. It just looks right to me.

The arm is held in the box and pivots on two screws, one on each side.

In this closeup from the last photo above, you can see how I keep the snare arm from moving. Once the front is installed. I reach in from the back and turn the arm so the snares just kiss the front. I test it for sound. If there is snare, but no after-rattle, I turn the eye-screw right into the wood on the side of the cajon. It’s too short to go through the side and shouldn’t ever need to be adjusted.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!



8 comments so far

View SirGareth's profile

SirGareth

85 posts in 1663 days


#1 posted 10-24-2014 04:11 PM

Looking good Dave! You’ve done a nice job on the pictures and explanation, too.

I used Steve Ramsey’s method of an adjustable dowel for the snare, with knobs on the outside to rotate and tighten the dowel. That worked out well for my wife.

I’m looking forward to seeing your completed cajon.

Tim

-- Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward. - Tim, Southern California

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1651 days


#2 posted 10-24-2014 04:31 PM

Tim, My wife didn’t see any point in turning the snare off, so we settled for the fixed style. I basically use Steve’s construction method, but I keep the screws away from the two top corners. It allows you to do a rim shot sound. Really cool. Cajones are addicting things to have around. Gives you a seat plus something to do while you’re sitting.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View SirGareth's profile

SirGareth

85 posts in 1663 days


#3 posted 10-24-2014 04:46 PM

LOL! That’s for sure. If/when I build another, I’ll try your method of keeping the screws away from the corners. The adjustable Vader brushes she uses do allow for a sharp rim shot. But, your method is more flexible, especially for hand-playing.

Tim

-- Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward. - Tim, Southern California

View SCOTSMAN's profile

SCOTSMAN

5839 posts in 3048 days


#4 posted 10-24-2014 05:49 PM

I am struggling to figure out what a cajun snare box is.I thought it had to do with keeping birds, but I now feel that is not very likely.
Ignorant Scotsman sorry LOL It is lovely work though. Alistair ps please someone put me out of my misery and tell me what it is LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1651 days


#5 posted 10-24-2014 05:58 PM

SCOTSMAN, It’s a type of drum, shaped like a box. I believe it’s originally from Peru, thus the Spanish name, cajon, which means ‘box’. To me it looks like a cat house.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View SirGareth's profile

SirGareth

85 posts in 1663 days


#6 posted 10-24-2014 08:24 PM

To add to what Dave said, a cajon is amazingly versatile for really being just a box. There are some good YouTube videos on how they can be used… at least by folks with musical ability… I have none.

Tim

-- Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward. - Tim, Southern California

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1651 days


#7 posted 10-24-2014 08:44 PM

Tim, Occasionally I have the pleasure of hearing one of mine played. At the behest of my wife, I made it and we gave it to a percussionist who played in the praise band at our church. It sounds like a drum set minus a cymbal. It also amazes me how no two sound alike.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View SirGareth's profile

SirGareth

85 posts in 1663 days


#8 posted 10-24-2014 08:57 PM

The one I made was a gift for my wife, who has played many instruments in praise bands. She plays drums, keyboards and bass guitar. If you look at my project page, I try to describe what happened after I built the cajon. We actually created a small drum kit by adding a bass/kick cajon with a microphone inside. Then she added the cymbal. Like you say, it’s versatile enough to sound like a whole drum set, but stacks in a tiny fraction of the space.

-- Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward. - Tim, Southern California

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