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Author Topic: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon  (Read 30047 times)

Michael Galica

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"Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« on: July 28, 2011, 12:21:00 pm »

I'm thinking about purchasing a Cajon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cajon)for my own use during more acoustic-style worship environments, and I'm wondering if anyone here has had any experience throwing a mic on one of these things.  I have seen on other forums folk using a Senn 421 and the like, but as firm believer in the "If you can't do it with an SM57, you shouldn't be doing it at all" method, I want to stick to something simple -- that and I have 57s, I don't have a 421.

My brain initially either wants to mic in the sound hole like a kick, or from the front bottom pointing where the hands go.

Thanks in advance.
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Mike Galica
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Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2011, 12:25:34 pm »

I'm thinking about purchasing a Cajon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cajon)for my own use during more acoustic-style worship environments, and I'm wondering if anyone here has had any experience throwing a mic on one of these things.  I have seen on other forums folk using a Senn 421 and the like, but as firm believer in the "If you can't do it with an SM57, you shouldn't be doing it at all" method, I want to stick to something simple -- that and I have 57s, I don't have a 421.

My brain initially either wants to mic in the sound hole like a kick, or from the front bottom pointing where the hands go.

Thanks in advance.

Go ahead and stick a 57 in the hole.  Adjust positioning/EQ to taste.  Some folks put a separate mic on the front for the "slap"......if you can't get some HF out of the 57 in the hole.  I have seen folks use an Audix D6 in the hole hoping that the HF peak on that mic will suffice for the slappy part of the sound.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2011, 12:33:46 pm »

We've had good luck with a Shure Beta91 inside.  One advantage is the muso can shift the cajon without changing the mic position.
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George Friedman-Jimenez

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Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2011, 01:20:14 pm »

What kind of music are you playing, what other instruments are playing and how big are your room and audience? We play cajones and congas in Cuban rumba with vocals and no other instruments, for audiences up to 100-150 and usually don't need to mic the cajones or congas. With amplified instruments accompanying, or bigger crowds, you probably do.

But before you get a mic, first learn how to play the cajon to your musical satisfaction. Cajon is not an easy instrument to make music with. Noise is easy, music is hard. I don't know what kind or level of musician you are, but most people greatly underestimate the level of musicianship and hand skills required to play a cajon musically. I have been playing congas for 39 years and cajon for about 3, and still am hesitant to play certain parts on the cajon publicly with the group I play congas in.

Your hand technique is really important. You can really damage your hands playing cajon if you don't know how to project your sound without hitting too hard. I don't know where you are located, but try to find a good cajon/conga teacher, that will save you a lot of pain, mic or no mic.

If you want to mic, an SM57 on a mic stand usually works fine for each cajon. Forget the MD421, they break easily, are expensive to repair, have less gain before feedback onstage and are not significantly better for live sound than an SM57. None of the top level conga players I know in NYC use MD421s for live sound, just for recording.

Depending on your style and proficiency, you can experiment with putting the mic in front or in back of the cajon, or even with 2 mics, one in front for the tones and slaps and another one behind EQ'ed for the bass only. Mic'ing the bass is only recommended once you learn how to control the bass and utilize it as an intentional part of your rhythm. Amplified, unintended bass hits on a cajon can sound horrible.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 01:44:03 pm by George Friedman-Jimenez »
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Taylor Phillips

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Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2011, 04:21:02 pm »

I'm thinking about purchasing a Cajon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cajon)for my own use during more acoustic-style worship environments, and I'm wondering if anyone here has had any experience throwing a mic on one of these things.  I have seen on other forums folk using a Senn 421 and the like, but as firm believer in the "If you can't do it with an SM57, you shouldn't be doing it at all" method, I want to stick to something simple -- that and I have 57s, I don't have a 421.

My brain initially either wants to mic in the sound hole like a kick, or from the front bottom pointing where the hands go.

Thanks in advance.
I've tried cajns a couple different ways, SM57 on front - drummer hated the sound there, in the hole - drummer's favorite, and '57 on front and Beta 52 in the hole - ought to be close to ideal, but drummer kept hitting the SM57 ::).  Anyway, I have some friends who were looking at getting one with a built in pickup.  I don't know how much they run, but they might be worth a look.
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Eric Hendricks

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Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2011, 04:55:18 pm »

I'm thinking about purchasing a Cajon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cajon)for my own use during more acoustic-style worship environments, and I'm wondering if anyone here has had any experience throwing a mic on one of these things.  I have seen on other forums folk using a Senn 421 and the like, but as firm believer in the "If you can't do it with an SM57, you shouldn't be doing it at all" method, I want to stick to something simple -- that and I have 57s, I don't have a 421.

My brain initially either wants to mic in the sound hole like a kick, or from the front bottom pointing where the hands go.

Thanks in advance.

I tried a few different cajons in music stores, but ended up building it myself.  That way I was able to build to a size that was comfortable for me.  I had a couple of Superlux drum mics laying around, and mounted them inside.   The kick mic is mounted to the base of the drum, the hi-hat mic is mounted to the bottom of the seat just behind the snare.  These are connected to a dish on the side, so when its time to set up I plug two mic cables into the box and I'm ready to go.

They aren't difficult to build, so you might want to give it a thought.  I spent around $50 building mine, not counting the mics.
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Taylor Phillips

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Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2011, 05:50:39 pm »

I tried a few different cajons in music stores, but ended up building it myself.  That way I was able to build to a size that was comfortable for me.  I had a couple of Superlux drum mics laying around, and mounted them inside.   The kick mic is mounted to the base of the drum, the hi-hat mic is mounted to the bottom of the seat just behind the snare.  These are connected to a dish on the side, so when its time to set up I plug two mic cables into the box and I'm ready to go.

They aren't difficult to build, so you might want to give it a thought.  I spent around $50 building mine, not counting the mics.
I would love to see some pics of you have some.
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Steven Tye

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Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2011, 12:19:23 am »

The cajon we have uses an inbuilt pickup which sounds better than I expected, but we usually put an SM57 in the hole. It also depends on your player and musical style - I would not want to have to try and mic some of the players I've seen on Youtube that are jumping all around the cajon, using their feet as well as their hands.
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Eric Hendricks

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Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2011, 09:18:05 am »

I would love to see some pics of you have some.

I'm working on a couple of more in the next few days.  I'll take some shots and post them next week if everything goes right.
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Michael Galica

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Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2011, 11:22:08 am »

Thanks all for the info! Sounds like my instincts were the "right" way to do it.

When I pick one up, I'll let you know how it works.
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Mike Galica
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Holy Cross Lutheran Church

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Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2011, 11:22:08 am »


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