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Title: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Michael Galica 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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees 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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: TJ (Tom) Cornish 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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: George Friedman-Jimenez 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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Taylor Phillips 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 cajóns 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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Eric Hendricks 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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Taylor Phillips 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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Steven Tye 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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Eric Hendricks 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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Michael Galica 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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: BobWitte on August 01, 2011, 01:12:25 pm

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.


Differing opinion - we use multiple MD421's for live sound all the time for Toms, Brass, Conga, sax, etc.  Never had one fail. Plenty of gain (of course, none of these instruments should have much of a GBF issue).

Now, that  mic clip IS an issue though....
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: George Friedman-Jimenez on August 01, 2011, 03:17:03 pm
Although they are not as rugged as SM57s, in a church environment with hand drums (cajones) and care taken setting up and putting them away, MD421s would probably be fine. I am still not convinced that in a live setting they would sound noticeably better than SM57s on cajon. In fact, I am not convinced you need mics at all, unless it is a really big church.

Here is a performance we did with two guys who really know how to play cajon, Cuban style, no amplification for the cajones:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjHBsdQv714

Gene Golden on the higher (quinto) cajon and Skip "Brinquito" Burney on the lower cajon for those of you who know Afrocuban music. The two vocal mics near them were muted for that song, the only mics that were active were the vocal mics off camera. The audio was recorded with the stock camera mic. There were about 150 people in the room, which is normally a very echo-y room when empty. Even though the vocals were a little too loud for the very live room, the unmic'ed cajones come through fine. This was an impromptu memorial tribute rumba for a drummer who had recently passed, Orlando "Puntilla" Rios.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Daniel Childers on August 02, 2011, 11:25:41 pm
Although it's been stated several times before, I'd like to echo the SM57 method.  I have mixed cajons several times before with various dynamic mics, and I prefer a 57, with the diaphragm just inside the hole.  Start with a slight angle toward one of the slapped sides to catch the click (if it's a snare cajon, angle towards the strings), and if more click or HF is needed, increase the angle.  Of course, EQ and compression will be your best friend with any mic to get the best rich sound.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Mark Sexton on August 03, 2011, 11:45:18 am
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.
My go to for a cajon is a D6 on the hole and an SDC on the front snare side.

The following are serviceable solutions that I'll use depending on the music style, mic inventory, and channel count.

D6 on the hole, 57 on the front.
57 on the front.
57 on the hole.
57 on a pad inside the cajon.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: BobWitte on August 03, 2011, 12:43:21 pm
Not arguing that SM57's are good, just chiming in on the comment of the 421's reliability.

Cajon, non mic'd is an option unless the size of the church or if the worship team in using IEM's and/or any recording (audio or video) of the service is happening or any sound be sent to other rooms....

We always mic everything! Worst that can happen is that you don't need to use the mic's....
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Kent Thompson on August 08, 2011, 04:16:27 pm

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.


Differing opinion - we use multiple MD421's for live sound all the time for Toms, Brass, Conga, sax, etc.  Never had one fail. Plenty of gain (of course, none of these instruments should have much of a GBF issue).

Now, that  mic clip IS an issue though....

 I recently had an md421 repaired it was not any more expensive than repairing any other microphone (in fact the Shure I repaired cost more). I have not had it be a liability as far as GBF goes and it sounds better than most microphones do on more things so when the Cajon is not in use it is easy to find other uses for it.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Justin Bartlett on August 09, 2011, 03:14:59 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.

My favorite approach so far has been a Sennheiser e614 small-diameter condenser on a short stand as far in the hole as I could get it (pretty close to the snares).  I find cajons to have *plenty* of low-end even with this setup, and it picked up the slap and snares quite well.  I actually liked this better than the D6 in the hole / SDC on the front approach.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Brian Lemmon on August 16, 2011, 12:50:44 pm
We've been using a Cajon on and off for the last year. I've been happy using a Sennheiser e902 in the hole. If the stage is on the quieter side I'll also use an AT Pro37 on the front.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Stu McDoniel on August 17, 2011, 11:01:16 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.
The sm57 is really an "ok mic" ...go with cardiod condensor instead of dynamic.  I mean really you are talking about a mic that is ancient in design with the 57.  Try the Audix I5 if you want dynamic.   
I try to avoid 57's and 58's with all the really fine microphones out there that totally BLOW them off
the map in sonics.  I think coloration comes to mind with these two models.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Niels Hempel on August 29, 2011, 09:27:02 am
I think multiple mics is overkill and clutters the stage with mics/wires.  I stick one sm57 in the hole and put a nice compressor on it like a DBX160... nothing but compliments about how good it sounds.

In the studio I would use two mics though.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Mark Kapner on September 02, 2011, 02:01:35 pm
I've been pleased with just a Beta52 in the hole. Placed as if it were in a kick drum port, diaphragm just inside. It's yielded adequate results.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Samuel Rees on December 01, 2011, 11:15:12 pm
I've been pleased with just a Beta52 in the hole. Placed as if it were in a kick drum port, diaphragm just inside. It's yielded adequate results.

I usually do a 57 on the front/top/offcenter, and a D6 just inside back. But, another engineer I know showed me a great way he does it when he needs to be more conspicuous. Throw the D6 in the back hole, and tap a pencil style condenser to it. Put a big old HPF on the condenser and a big low bass on the D6, then you've got "kick" and "snare".
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Jim Hodges on December 02, 2011, 02:15:21 am
I have a band that I work with on a regular basis that has a Cajon player.  He has me put a 58 on a small pillow directly in front of him (pointed at the Cajon).  Great sound (he is a good player so I'm sure that helps).  Would love to try a better mic on him sometime but he insists on using the 58 (so that's the way we go).  Band is not real loud but just need to get the Cajon balanced in the overall mix.

I was skeptical at first but it works fine.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Mark McDowell on December 10, 2011, 07:17:46 pm
A couple years ago we did a Vince Gill acoustic show at the Midland Theater in KC. His percussionist played a trejon, which is a 3 toned cajon. Same concept. Beta 91 inside the drum, and an SM109 condenser outside the hole in back for the crack and slap. Translated very well, but it was a very low volume stage setup, so he didn't have to fight much with gain structure. If you have 2 channels available this is a great solution. The percussionist used brushes for texture on the drum, and it sounded amazing. As has been noted already, the source sound is always the biggest factor, live or in studio. Good player, good sound. Good luck!
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: reidwwall on April 26, 2012, 10:11:40 am
We use one quite often.
I put a kick Mic (Beta 52, PG52, something large diaphragm, not a plate mic) and put it in the hole in the back.
I also put a 57 on the front and work with the player to find a spot that works.
Sound great.  Basically I mix the Back as kick, and the front as snare.....
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: David Shriver on April 26, 2012, 12:06:22 pm
Hi Michael,

I work with Cajon fairly often.  My preferred PA setup is a MD421 in the hole and a SM81 aimed at the front (more towards the top).  I like to put that front mic on a short boom stand and point that mic right between the player's knees.  I LPF the 421 and HPF the 81 and invert its phase. 

For recording I really like a KM184 on the front with the same MD421 in the back (though pulled farther out).  Then a set of R-121 6-8' out.

You can do it with just a 57 if you must.  Try the 57 on the front, try it in the hole, try it outside the hole pointing in, try it way deep in the hole.  Listen to them all and decide what sound you like best.

There are many ways to play the Cajon and just as many ways to mic it.  The type of playing greatly influences how its mic'ed and how its mixed.  If you are going for a kick/snare sound (or replacement) then the two mic setup works very well.  For a more traditional or flamenco style then the front mic is a much more authentic sound.

The hard part with Cajon is not mic'ing but learning to play it!

-d

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.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Bob L. Wilson on April 28, 2012, 01:28:11 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.

We have one of these come in with an acoustic group fairly often. I originally used my go to drum mic an EV RE20 in the hole but on our hard wood floor even with anti skid matting the cajon moved around too much to maintain consistent sound. I helped the owner select and add a pair of May mounted EV N/D868 one facing forward one just inside the hole works well, highly durable, tons of GBF, but was expensive. I use a pretty high compression ratio and lots of effect to give the thing enough body to fill a room without getting wacky loud. I will admit I am not wild about the dry sound of these things they sound too much like the packing crate they are descended from to suit me. I know they are a historic instrument but so is the washboard. Give me timps or congas any day.
Title: Re: "Real-world" ways to mic a Cajon
Post by: Earl F Young on May 04, 2012, 08:50:19 pm
as per my posting in The Lounge:
     
     http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,137751.0.html

this thing seems well designed; haven't heard it though- has anyone here?