According to Wikipedia, a cajón (pronounced ca-HONE) is a “box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru, played by slapping the front face (generally thin plywood) with the hands.” (This is, of course, not to be confused with the Spanish anatomical term cojones, which is a different matter entirely.)
As I mentioned in an earlier article, my band Acoustic Steel has been playing a series of acoustic gigs in a small restaurant, and our drummer had to scale down his drum set pretty drastically in order to fit. Instead of bringing a subset of his set, so to speak, he decided to just use a cajón instead. (He is named Alan, so of course he wound up with the nickname “Al Cajón”!)
The particular cajón Alan uses is from Pearl, and has snares behind the striking surface and a resonant bass port in the back for the bass sounds. By using hard and soft strikes on various parts of the striking surface, he is able to coax many varied sounds and beats out of this little crate! We usually mic the rear port and run it through the PA to emphasize the “bottom end”. In addition, positioning the cajón within a foot or so of a hard surface will boost the bass level heard in the room.
(One side effect of this acquisition is that Alan now has the lightest “load-in” of any of us, instead of the heaviest. Of course, when we play “electric”, it’s back to the Big Kit!)
For more information on this instrument, I refer you once again to the Wikipedia article on the subject. Verrrry interesting! And economical.-->