Did a show 2 weeks ago with a group of very talented singers and musicians, I couldn’t help but felt I’ve grown a little. It was the first full length set I did with percussions only, super fun and nerve wrecking at the same time. I was reminded about how someone said a tambourine purchase is the single most profitable investment for a recording studio, because everyone wants to add some tambourine into their songs yet they all underestimates how challenging it is to play those little jingles in time. So they do take after take after take, and the engineer sits back and watch the money roll in with each little jingle. I now propose to add shaker under that same category.

Here’s the set up I had from stage left to right: 10″ hi-hats (mostly operated by foot), cajon, tambourine (operated by right foot), bongo cajon, shaker, and a 16″ Sabian AAXthin crash for cymbal rolls. The shaker definitely requires the most attention to play it right, as if you first had to feel the song in your bones first before the rhythm could be transferred to the tiny shaker. Well I was definitely trying hard to stay in the groove, so much so that a friend came up to me after the show and said I should open my eyes more. Hmm..

Our group did two two-hour sets back to back, and that four hours sitting on the wood cajon turned out to be pretty killer. I am certain that my butt got a little flatter after that night. But I enjoyed the night thoroughly, playing percussion allowed so much space to be present within the song, and I could see everyone was into it. The studio we performed at housed about 60 guests so it was a fairly intimate setting, and to be honest I didn’t think we needed to mic the percussion if it weren’t for the rock-ish intro song we had. We ended up putting a bass-drum mic on the back of the cajon and having two condensers to pick up the bongos and the other parts. It sounded fine, but really a cajon is no substitute for a snare and bass when you are doing a rock and roll number.

Anyone else performed with your cajon? How’d you like it? I thought about using it on outdoor gigs but I think it will choke fairly early on. Good thing I do have a secret weapon that will solve that problem, and I have just thrown myself into a crash course to get use to it by Dec 23rd. Check back tomorrow to find out what it is.

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