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Thread: Questions re. specs for a Cajun Bass drum

  1. #1
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    Questions re. specs for a Cajun Bass drum

    I'm planning to build a Cajun Bass drum in order to save some money putting a drum set together. I'm sure I can do the construction - but ... information on size and materials is scarce. I was thinking of 1/8th inch ply for the front and back, and 1/4 inch for the sides. Would 1/4 inch all around be better? Or 1/4 inch front and back and 1/2 inch sides?

    Then there are the dimensions. Does 24" square front & back with 6" or 12" sides sound reasonable? Other dimensions?

    Thanks for any help you can give.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Litwin View Post
    I'm planning to build a Cajun Bass drum in order to save some money putting a drum set together. I'm sure I can do the construction - but ... information on size and materials is scarce. I was thinking of 1/8th inch ply for the front and back, and 1/4 inch for the sides. Would 1/4 inch all around be better? Or 1/4 inch front and back and 1/2 inch sides?

    Then there are the dimensions. Does 24" square front & back with 6" or 12" sides sound reasonable? Other dimensions?

    Thanks for any help you can give.
    I built a Cajon years ago and used 1/8" BB for the sound board (front). I had some 3/4" Birch plywood from another project and used it for the sides/top/back/bottom. I don't recall the dimensions but I basically made it tall enough so that when seated my legs felt natural and not hanging because it was too tall or scrunched up because it was too short. Seems like it was about 12" to maybe 14" square (looking down on the top).

    We needed one at church but it turned out we already had a couple in the student area. They have now 'acquired' the one I built because they say it sounds so much better than the commercially available ones they have.

    I'm wondering, though, since I'm in Louisiana; is a Cajun just a Cajon that sounds like it was built in South Louisiana?
    Last edited by David Falkner; 11-09-2023 at 3:23 PM.
    David
    CurlyWoodShop on Etsy, David Falkner on YouTube, difalkner on Instagram

  3. #3
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    For what it's worth, here's what Wikipedia has to say about constructions of a cajón drum. (They come from Peru, and AFAIK, have no connection to Louisiana or the Cajun traditions.)

    Sheets of 13 to 19 mm (1/2 to 3/4 inch) thick wood are generally used for five sides of the box. A thinner sheet of plywood is nailed on as the sixth side, and acts as the striking surface or head. The striking surface of the cajón drum is commonly referred to as the tapa.[1] A sound hole is cut on the back side. The modern cajón may have rubber feet, and has several screws at the top for adjusting percussive timbre.

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    Larry, That will be a fun project. My Nephew is an audio engineer. He collaborated with his Grandfather and built a Cajon. I will get some pictures and details next time I see them. If I wanted a wooden bass drum to complement a kit, I wound build something like a Mahler Box. The Mahler Box I built for my son eventually had the kick beater punch through the plywood. Here is a miniature Mahler Box with a pickup. It requires an amplifier to function in a kit.

    IMG_1653.jpg IMG_1654.jpg
    Best Regards, Maurice

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    Sounds like the sides (and ? non-striking surface) can be pretty thick. That would make something with a 20-24" square face pretty heavy. But 1/4 inch might be strong enough for sides and 1/8 inch non-striking to lighten it up. Now I'm worried that an 1/8th inch striking (foot pedal) surface would be destroyed pretty quickly. So either I build with replacement in mind or use something thicker - which might make volume drop below acceptable. I reallydon't want to deal with an amp.

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    My nephew used a plan he found on the web.
    https://courses.physics.illinois.edu...eport_Sp15.pdf

    The wood bass drum that our son beat on started life as a homemade suitcase. It was approximately 28" long X 18" wide X 10" deep. The rim was 5/8" plywood, the top and bottom were 1/4" 3 ply Lauan Mahogany plywood. Our son stood it on end and attached a pedal to it. He tuned it by carving away the face veneer and some of the core veneer with an angle grinder and 24 grit disc. When he got down to less than 1/8' thickness the thing made a fairly decent novelty bass thump. He left a full thickness island in the area that the beater struck. Eventually that portion punched through.
    There is a recording of a song or two that have the wood kick drum. I will post those if I can find them.
    This Video is about a more legitimate Mahler Box.

    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 11-12-2023 at 9:14 AM.
    Best Regards, Maurice

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    LOL - it might be a wee bit hard to keep a bass beat going with that hammer/box.

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    There are several threads here at The Creek on the topic of Cajon Drums.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maurice Mcmurry View Post
    Larry, That will be a fun project. My Nephew is an audio engineer. He collaborated with his Grandfather and built a Cajon. I will get some pictures and details next time I see them. If I wanted a wooden bass drum to complement a kit, I wound build something like a Mahler Box. The Mahler Box I built for my son eventually had the kick beater punch through the plywood. Here is a miniature Mahler Box with a pickup. It requires an amplifier to function in a kit.

    IMG_1653.jpg IMG_1654.jpg
    Experimentation is your friend. A Cajon has several tone ares. A slap right in the middle is the bass area. Bass needs to move a lot of air. Thump around on various material of various sizes until you hear something you like.

    One of the threads Keith Outten mentioned,
    Built a Cajon... (Box Drum)


    The wood block and kick pedal sound sample,
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 11-13-2023 at 12:36 PM. Reason: https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?212608-Built-a-Cajon-(Box-Drum)
    Best Regards, Maurice

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Outten View Post
    There are several threads here at The Creek on the topic of Cajon Drums.
    From some of the posts in this thread and general misgivings, I've decided that the striking face would not hold up to a foot pedal. So I've eliminated a cajon bass as a possibility. I'll rig the pedal to strike something so I can practice and keep my eye pealed for a used bass or large floor tom that could be turned on it's side.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Litwin View Post
    From some of the posts in this thread and general misgivings, I've decided that the striking face would not hold up to a foot pedal. So I've eliminated a cajon bass as a possibility. I'll rig the pedal to strike something so I can practice and keep my eye pealed for a used bass or large floor tom that could be turned on it's side.
    Good plan. The bounce back that a traditional drum gives is important. I have a stack of shells that I have been instructed to give away. Free for free. pickup only in 65203.

    Or go ahead and make a drum! They are fun projects.

    https://youtube.com/shorts/Qkpw0D7Nkms?feature=share
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 11-14-2023 at 11:14 AM.
    Best Regards, Maurice

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    Larry, Another idea is a vintage Samsonite suitcase.

    I asked our son about a recording of the wood bass drum. That should be forthcoming. I will need to digitize a cassette tape. He has peers who keep their drum hardware in a vintage suitcase. The suitcase is then turned on end and the kick pedal attached. The band Bombadil sometimes preforms with a suitcase kick drum. I am sure it is mic'd and has effects.

    Best Regards, Maurice

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    I put together a floor tom from parts I bought. It wasn't real inexpensive, but it sounds good. The shell and hardware for a bass is pretty spendy. For now I think I'll use the used PDP (DW PACIFIC) 400 Bass Drum Pedal I bought and a practice pad I'll build. Going to be a pretty long time before I consider letting someone hear me play.
    Practice Bass Pad.jpgPractice Bass Pad 2.jpg

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    Thanks. The vidoe was interesting. Very creative.

  15. #15
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    65203 is a very long way from me. Otherwise I would be interested. I made a floor tom from parts I bought. Fun project and it sounds good. Not sure I saved any money though. Parts for a bass would be pretty spendy. For now I'll use a self built practice pad with a used pedal I bought. If I ever get to the point where I find a group to jam with I'll reconsider something for a bass.

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