How to tune the cajon

Ok, so many ppl have been asking me lately about tuning the cajon strings and how it actually works. thing is, there is no set way to do it, unlike the guitar or piano, and really the main feature of the tuning of the strings tighter or looser means more or less snare effect (and perhaps a bit of changing the actualy tone, but that is more present when applying pressure to the front panel of the cajon whilst slapping it)

So it’s really simple…. Tune the strings tighter for a tighter, cleaner sound and a fast response, and loosen them for more snare sound, higher frequencies and sustain. I personally tweak them a little, then try the cajon and tweak more until I have achieved the desired sound from my cajon.

Another little trick you could so is to tape certain parts of the strings against the inside of the front panel of the cajon.

This is very useful especially if your strings have started getting a bit tired and you get a buzzing sound. Where you place the tape would obviously depend on where the problem/buzz lies, so you will once again, use your own intuition and try it out, test it, get to know your cajon and get to know what sounds you like and which sounds you don’t like.

You could also put a towel inside the cajon to reduce snare sounds/hollow sounds and buzzing. this is a good idea especially when miking up your cajon.

Got any advise on tuning strings and buzzing strings?

Please share it below with us!

Please let us know what you think!

  1. I do agree that tuning is essential to achieving optimal sound however firmly believe it’s all in the technique and finesse of the individual player. I’ve made and have heard mediocre cajons sound amazing and absolutely drop dead gorgeous, exotic woods sound like rubbish all player dependent. But to keep on subject, tuning is individual to the player and style if play. Thank you Heidi for hosting this forum and maybe one day you’ll fulfill my dreams and play in my town sometime!

  2. Spot on. Cajon tuning is all about the sound you prefer. I like a quick, hallow (almost piccilo) sound. I removed one of the strings and tightened the others to achieve it. Great stuff here, thanks for posting!

  3. Dear Heidi,

    just discovered your blues cajon video on Youtube and I love it. It just demonstrates for me as a drummer coming from “normal” drumset playing, that everything in drum playing is possible with a cajon. Sometimes I think I should replace my drumset in our rehearsal basement with a cajon, put a microphone to it and that’s it. But before doing this, I have to solve a problem. Every time I see a cajon video, these wooden cases sound really great. Slaps are coming with a real snare sound, bass hits are coming like a real bass drum sound. My cajon, although it is a really expensive PUR vision SP, does not sond like yours in the videos. Is this all due to microphone setup? Is this all due to false playing techniques ? Or is it the listening position which makes it sound not that crispy good like your cruz cajon ?

    By the way, when are you touring in Germany ? I’d like to hear you with your band.

    Best wishes


  4. I have a question and can’t see anywhere else to submit it. I hope this is allowed!
    I am building my first cajon, a simple, all-glued, 50 cm tall Schlagwerk kit with two fixed wire snares. Assembling exactly to the instructions, the snares seem to press too firmly against the inside of the playing surface to resonate properly. I do not know about drums, so I’m only guessing about this. If I need to adjust the snares, I need to do this before gluing on the back of the cajon. Can anyone offer pointers on how hard the snares should press the playing surface? If driven to it, I will build an adjustable mechanism but I don’t want to get too smart with my first cajon!