Why the world needs an electronic cajon

With their tendency to reimagine instruments by just adding a V- to the beginning (see V-Drums, V-Guitar, V-Piano, V-Accordion etc.), Roland can on occasion open themselves up to ridicule.

I mean, what next? The V-Cowbell? V-Kazoo? V-Car??

However, haters are gonna – I am reliably informed – hate. Maybe it’s just all those other manufacturers getting jealous because Roland’s boffins manage to make their digital reproductions sound so much better and more realistic.

Roland El Cajon

The Roland El Cajon EC10 in all it’s glory.

Things were no different at the 2016 NAMM show. Roland announced the launch of what is in all but name a V-Cajon – the Roland El Cajon EC10 – and the haters hated, and the jokers joked.

I present to you, dear reader, a selection of real comments on posts about the El Cajon:

  • “So a set of pads arranged in a wooden box then?”
  • “Bongos with a USB socket? An electric tambourine? Virtual maracas? Who cares?”
  • “Tw*t box with switches”
  • “Seriously?!?!”

Now I like to pierce the bluster of big companies as much as the next online commenter, but I really think Roland are on to something here, and I’ll tell you why…

Over the last few years, the cajon has become wildly popular. It has surpassed the previous hippy staple – bongoes – as the go-to portable percussion tool, and is now by far the most popular acoustic percussion instrument we sell at Red Dog Music.

Why? Because a cajon is fundamentally a portable drum kit. It can make a bass drum (-ish) sound, it can make a snare drum (-ish) sound and it can make a tom drum (-ish) sound. Attach a cymbal and you have all the ingredients of a traditional drum kit.

Roland El Cajon Controls

Controls on the back of the El Cajon.

The key feature of a cajon that makes it better than a drum kit for a huge cross-section of people is that you can carry it around. This makes it popular with acoustic duos playing in pubs, people who don’t like packing and lugging a full drum kit around, and people who like to sit down.

That’s a lot of people.

However, cajons aren’t perfect. A big problem with standard acoustic cajons is that the bass drum doesn’t really sound like a bass drum and the snare drum isn’t that snare-y.

Enter the Roland El Cajon: all the nice stuff about a standard cajon, but with the ability to beef up the bass, the snare, the toms and more. Suddenly you’ve got a real portable drum kit: decent snare drum snap, booming bass drum thud, plus a load of other bleeps, bloops and any other sound that Roland’s boffins can imagine.

Plug this into the PA at your local pub and you’ll blow them away. This will do for the humble cajon what those crazy cats with the wires did for the humble acoustic guitar back in 1931.

You can get an idea of what it sounds like in action here, but I suspect that this only showcases a small subsection of its potential:

…and you can pre-order here from your local friendly music store (i.e. us).

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Guitar-plucker, piano-tinkler, sonic-mangler, Red Dog Music-owner, lion-tamer, and Weetabix-devourer. One (or more) of these is a lie.

6 Responses to “Why the world needs an electronic cajon”

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  1. Chris Rowley says:

    I know someone who might like an electric cajon for his 50th birthday this year?

  2. It looks good actually. More like an enhanced Cajon than totally electric by the sounds of it…which is a good thing. It could have been such a bad thing but it's been sensitively done. ?

  3. Neill Dodd says:

    Oh dear, that promo backfired on Roland judging by the comments on YouTube.

  4. Tony Reeves says:

    You do write a very good blog, Alex:)

  5. Sean Mundy says:

    Wow I want one! So I can stick it in my loft with all my other stuff that hardly ever gets played with!

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