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16 June 2014

Cajón - Box Drum Snare

I have two building projects on the go! Yes, two at the same time! This is unheard of and can only lead to tears. Actually, I'm finding it a pretty good tonic for keeping things interesting for me. As one build ebbs, the other expands to fill the gaps. Here's a little update on my cajón build...

The original cajóns had no wires; They were simply boxes. Over time the design was refined and musicians began to add a little jingle using old guitar wire and small bells. Others went a step further and stuck in proper snare wire.

I've decided that my cajón will use snare wire and this is a photo of the wire I will use. As you will see very soon, I have chosen to cut this into two prior to fitting. Hold this thought...

I showed you the wood cutting in my last post. Here you can see me gluing the sides together.

I'm adding a little bracing to the front to provide support, but also to give me somewhere to put the screws for the tapa. You'll see that I haven't gone all the way round. This is on purpose. There is something special about the top two corners that means that I won't need as many screws up the sides. I'll also need to taper the top corners of the body back slightly to allow the tapa to "click" when struck. More on this when I get there. 

I previously talked about having a fixed snare but then immediately started to have second thoughts. What would the odds be of me getting the position correct first time? Slim I reckon! So I started thinking of how I could have an adjustable snare, but without having to have a knob on the outside. Here's what I came up with.

It's a length of wood with a hole in each end. Into the holes fit these brackets that I have left over from an old home speaker stand that has long since been sent to the tip. The idea is that once fitted inside the body, it can be accessed via the soundhole and turned to tune the snare. Genius? We will have to wait and see.

Here's the bracket in operation. It's quite tight, but I'm hoping that friction will keep it where it is put. 

This is a better shot of the snare. I've fitted the wires to the adjustment bracket. Perhaps this makes a bit more sense now? Snare adjustment is simply  to move the wire tighter/looser against the front panel. When playing, the top part of the cajón tapa will be the snare and the bottom will be the bass. 

It's upside down, but in this photot you can see me adding some extra bracing to the sides. In conjunction with fitting the front and back, I'm hoping that this thing should be solid enough to hold me. 

No, this isn't arm-modification. These are the rubber feet I'm going to fit to the base. I'll most likely add a little more wood inside to take the screws, but this is a task for another day. 

I know this isn't like me, but I've been experimenting with finishing the cajón prior to actually doing it for real. I know! Here are two colours of dye that I just happen to have at hand. I was thinking light for the sides, top and bottom and dark for the front and back. First impressions weren't that good, but perhaps it would look a little better with some varnish? 

No, the varnish makes it look even worse! Maybe I need to let it grow on me a little? I had a suggestion from +Clint Fudge to try making a fiddle back effect by wiggling a brush over the wet stain stain. I could give it a go, but to be honest I'm not sure what I'm going to do now. Perhaps I just paint it? Maybe I leave it raw like the original Peruvian gauchos? There's still time for you to have your say. Drop me a comment.

There you go. I only need to round the body, fit the front and back, and then finish it off all like a pro! My prediction is for this to be a wrap by Christmas. Wish me luck!

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