Wojik Brush Box, Studio and Gig Shakers
Small-batch, handcrafted instruments for acoustic applications.
Croaker Percussion was founded in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 2015 with an emphasis on handcrafting high-quality acoustic instruments for live and studio applications, starting with meticulously designed flamenco and Peruvian cajons ($249–$315) that exhibit crisp, snappy slaps and deep, clean bass tones. In 2017, the company developed the portable Wojik Brush Box ($189) in collaboration with percussionist Mike Wojik, and this past year they introduced aluminum Gig ($39) and titanium Studio ($89) shakers.
Wojik Brush Box
The Brush Box is an 18x16x2.5 hexagonal instrument featuring a maple body and a playing surface comprising a makore veneer over birch plywood. The playing surface has a gritty finish that produces strong, smooth sweeps when swiped with brushes. A subtle snare sound is produced by four strands of guitar strings that are looped in a strategic manner beneath the faceplate so as to maximize crispness while minimizing sympathetic buzz.
The Brush Box also comes with a guitar strap and Schaller-style quick-release connectors, so that you can play the instrument while standing upright or secure the box in your lap when playing it without a snare stand. The front wall of the maple body features three 1.25″ sound ports that help increase resonance, and the
faceplate is secured to the body with two stainless-steel screws on each side. The Brush Box sits easily within most snare stand baskets. The hexagonal sides align perfectly with the angle of the arms of the stand, so the Brush Box won’t slip out of position once it’s secured in place. If you opt to use the guitar strap, it’s easily adjustable for an around-the-waist placement for lap playing or for an overthe- shoulder setup for standing. I tested the Brush Box in a snare stand, so I could also play bass drum, hi-hat, and other percussion instruments like shakers and tambourines.
When struck or swiped with brushes, the Brush Box produced a rich, earthy tone with a hint of woodblock-like “knock,” a convincing cajon-type “smack,” and a subtle snare “snap.” The only thing it lacked was the deep, rich sub-bass tone you get from palm strokes on a cajon, but I didn’t need that sound when supplementing the Brush Box with an acoustic bass drum. For low-volume acoustic gigs or sessions that might typically call for Latin or other hand percussion, the Brush Box would be a great alternative. I loved that I could build funky, organic-sounding grooves without having to adjust my playing technique or tweak my body into an uncomfortable position like I do when playing cajon.
Studio and Gig Shakers
Croaker currently offers two shakers. Both measure 2×7 and feature a thin 6.5″ metal tube and .25″ machine-cut cedar end caps. A thin cedar divider inside the tube creates two chambers, allowing the beads to emit consistently clean and crisp sounds from forward and back motions. The Gig shaker has a brighter and more open sound that provides more cut and projection for louder situations or denser mixes. The Studio shaker has a deeper and tighter tone, which allows it to sit more comfortably within the music. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, or that either should be used exclusively for live or studio applications; I can see carrying both to any gig or session where they might be needed. Between the two of them you have enough contrast to find an ideal timbre for the music without having to lug around an entire arsenal of options.