Tuning your Cajon

Check out this short video taken from my Modern Method for Cajon. Here I share more about tuning your cajon, and how to reduce rattles or buzz. I hope this is useful!

Check out the full Modern Method now!

Tuning your 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 actual 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!


  1. Richard Helfrich

    Are all Meinl Cajon Drums with factory snares inside tuneable if there is screws on the papa or striking surface?

    • heidijoubert

      The snares itself wont be tunable, as it is set snare. But you can mess around with the tightening or loosening of the screws and see if it gives a different sound to your cajon – this ould only apply if the frontboard is not stuck on with glue like a lot of the commercial lower range instruments. But worth a try! Or just get a Cruz cajon and enjoy tining your strings easily and adjusting your sound with the screws on the front tapa. 😁

  2. Reynard Streicher

    I’ve been struggling with the snare string buzzing a lot (even new strings), irrespective of how tight you tune them, which almost made the cajon sound out of tune. I used a bit of adhesive tape on the top and bottom of the snare strings inside the cajon, which made a massive difference and can now really hear the tone difference when tuning the strings tighter and looser.

  3. Logan Hayes

    I just got my Meinl Cajon and am happy with it but have no idea where to tune it?

    • Md Qutubuddin Khan Soofi

      Goodmorning I have purchased gecko cajon pad 2 please tell me how to tune perfect for sound effects please let me know awating yours reply thank you.

      • heidijoubert


        I don’t know about Gecko Cajons and how to tune them, but if it has strings there should be a place underneath the cajon where you can tighten or loosen the strings, maybe with Allan keys. Some cajon don’t come with a tuning option so I cannot really say unless I know the cajon. Hope this helps!


  4. Daniel Ignacio Headley

    I just received my Cruz Pro Elite cajon and I am delighted! I decided to play with the tuning a bit, for fun, and got a feel for how it works. I am a Mechanical Engineer and I work with tools a lot, so I have a good understanding an feel for how things work.
    Two guitar strings or four?
    Looking inside the cajon, I see 4 strings, my question is, am I seeing 4 individual strings or 2 strings that are doubled back on themselves? Regardless, here is what I discovered when tuning. If you reach inside the cajon and apply very gentle side pressure to each pair of strings by pinching them together between thumb and forefinger, you might find that one feels tighter than the other, mine did. It seems to me that you can even the tension between the each string pair by squeezing them together several times. Maybe I am imagining this. At any rate, this is similar to what one experiences when tuning a drum head. I always apply a little pressure to the center of the head to free the drum skin from the inevitable friction that grabs it a the rim/shell edge, where the pressure is highest.
    Why do this?
    After playing a bit with the tuning, I discovered that I could even out the tension in all 4 strings. I wanted to start with even tension to get a feel for the sound. I might decide to tighten one side more than the other if I find that I want a tighter snare sound on one side and a looser sound on the other.
    Bass/snare separation
    I also discovered that if, like me, you want a clear distinction between the bass and snare sounds, i.e. very little snare sound when you hit the bass, you can’t have the strings too loose. Also, if you have them too tight, you loose some of the bass resonance. This is the main reason why I settled on even string tension. I wanted to pin down the source of the snare sound when I hit the bass. Now I have is set just about perfect for my needs…for now.
    Have fun!

  5. Danny Merkes

    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!

  6. Chad

    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!

    • John Peele

      I just wanted to thank everyone for their input. (John, Long time drummer…but a novice cajon player.)

  7. Uwe Schmidt

    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

    • Peter Roenn

      You are right. Thought I bought the best Cajun of them all, but is somehow not satisfied with the the share sound of the pure canon. When you adjust it’s not permanent.
      And can’t clearly reach the snare sound, where u can use finger play.

  8. Ian

    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!


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