Standard and Pro Series CajonTab
Ultra-portable instruments with a ton of versatility.
Louson Drums is a small manufacturer in Pittsburgh whose primary products are the CajonTab and its related accessories. The CajonTab is a small, flat, lightweight cajon you wear on a strap. Louson makes several different styles and sizes. We were sent one of the standard 10″ models with a birch ply frame and a mahogany/poplar top ($179), as well as a Pro Series 12″ model made of solid padauk ($229). The standard birch model CajonTab is 3″ thick, while the Pro Series drum is 4″.
Each of our review models came with an external snare system that comprises a 10″ sixteen-strand strainer attached to a flat piece of wood that’s finished to match the cajon walls. The snares have elastic bands that slip over guitar pegs affixed to the side of the drum. This system allows the strainer to be rotated easily into or out of position. Additionally, each CajonTab is fitted with rotating port covers that allow you to vary the bass response.
Construction quality on both instruments was first-rate. Everything was smoothly finished with flawless joinery. The Pro Series model was particularly gorgeous, with the solid padauk timber providing a beautiful reddish hue.
You can wear the CajonTab over your shoulder like a guitar, but I preferred wearing the strap around my waist to put the drum in a more natural playing position.
The 10″ drum had a musical Peruvian-style cajon sound when the port was open and the snares were rotated to the off position. It didn’t produce massively deep bass notes, but there were some nice, round, woody-sounding tones centering in the lower-middle register. Slapping the upper corners elicited a crisp conga-like attack. When I closed the port, the tones tightened up considerably, echoing the timbre of a bongo. As I closed the port, the fundamental pitch lowered and the volume decreased, which provided a range of sound options for experimentation with different partially closed tones.
Engaging the snares, with the port open, yielded a useful sound similar to that of a traditional cajon but with less bass and volume and more responsive snares. This sound would serve you well whenever you need a snare cajon vibe in a much smaller and lighter package. Closing the port with the snares engaged produced one the crispest snare sounds I’ve heard from any cajon.
The 12″ Pro Series padauk model had about twice the volume and weight of its little brother, plus a deeper and longer bass note. I generally preferred playing this model with the snare off , as it produced some really rich, organic tones. Again, closing the port tightened up the bottom end and brought out some resonant conga-like slaps when I struck the corners. Adding the snares gave a bright, responsive sound that was supported with some strong mid-bass tones. Closing the port while keeping the snares engaged added some extra snap.
Louson shipped the CajonTabs with a couple of accessories. The Shaker Snare ($59) had a shaker built into the hollow wooden snare frame and produced a relatively subdued shaker sound. You could use this as a handheld shaker off the drum, or you could sway the CajonTab while playing to add an interesting rattle to your grooves. The Click Snare ($49) had two pieces of hard maple attached to the front of the frame, which yielded a bright, cutting castanet sound when played.
I really enjoyed both of these CajonTab instruments. Their tones, with snares off or on, were surprisingly full for such small drums. For cajon players who want a really portable instrument, or for hand percussionists who want to add a cajon sound to their setup without having to transport a bulky regular version, these instruments would be a welcome addition. Visit lousondrums.com for more information.