Got any cajon players out there? I’m used to hearing crickets chirp after a question like that. Personally, I love the stuff out of playing cajons, even though I’m not a drummer. When you sit atop a cajon and slap out a sick beat, you can literally feel the rhythm in your whole body.
A Tempo Percussion was spearheaded by Alexis Castaneda, a third generation cabinet maker who fitted his knowledge of wood with his love of music to create his own cajons. In 1999 the A Tempo brand was born and since then Castaneda has refined his lineup, introducing cajon blends with other hand percussion instruments, like congas. I want to shed the spotlight on two particularly unique cajons from A Tempo: the Conga Cajon and El Cajoncito.
A Tempo Percussion Conga Cajon
At first glance, this cajon doesn’t look like most — its octagonal shape definitely sets it apart in the looks department. The sound is more of a slappy conga timbre, but it’s a bit woodier-sounding. The part that you hit, called the tapa, is made of Spanish cedar and lupuna — so instead of hitting drum head, you’re hitting wood.
The tapa, the length, and the pine frame give the Conga Cajon more projection — it’ll definitely cut through without having to be miked. It’s also super lightweight and has a convenient gig bag that goes with it, so it’s much easier to carry than a regular ol’ conga.
The Conga Cajon also plays like a conga — meaning you don’t sit on it. That’s probably the most notable/important difference. We don’t want you to break your face. All jokes aside, this is definitely something worth trying.
A Tempo Percussion El Cajoncito
I’m lucky that all of you out there in the blogosphere have only a vague idea of what I look like. Sure, I rock a leather jacket on the daily, and I’ve got really awesome red hair, but in real life I’m pretty tiny and not at all as intimidating as I dream I am. I look pretty comical handling most instruments because I stopped growing when I was twelve, and most guitars and stuff are made for regular-sized adults.
A Tempo Percussion has made a scaled-down cajon, El Cajoncito, that’s the perfect size for teacup humans. It’s also great for children — but don’t tell little Timmy that or he’ll want one, and you’re going to all blame me when your ears are bleeding.
Just because it’s smaller and cheaper doesn’t mean A Tempo skimped on the design. Its tapa is also made of Spanish cedar and lupuna, and the body is solid panels made of Monterey pine. I think the best part about this, besides it being me-sized, is that it weighs under ten pounds. If I wanted to start my street performance career, I could do so without lugging around a heavy instrument!
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