It’s no wonder the cajon has become the busking percussionist’s best friend. A good cajon sounds great in an acoustic setting and is tremendously portable. Plop it down on the sidewalk, add a foot tambourine or splash cymbal, and the setup is complete!
Today, cajon use has expanded from sidewalks to cafes, clubs, concert halls, and yes, even to popular TV shows like The Voice. To be heard in this widening variety of performance venues, the cajon needs a new best friend: a microphone.
Preparing for my first tour as a cajonist, I reached out to London-based cajon guru Heidi Joubert for ideas about micing a cajon. Following Heidi’s advice, I bought a Shure Beta 98 H/C condenser microphone and have found it ideal for live performance environments ranging from small cafes and pubs to outdoor festival stages. To mount it to my cajon, I applied Velcro to the mic clip and to the back of the cajon immediately below the sound port. It couldn’t be easier. Just stick the clip to the back of the cajon with the mic popped inside the drum*, plug into the mixing board**, and you’re done!
I’ve loved this setup because the microphone is small, picks up sound really well, is completely out of my way when playing (and moves with the cajon if I tilt back), sets up in seconds, and doesn’t require a microphone stand.
Super sound, super light, super fast!
*The mic head of the Shure Beta 98 H/C is at the end of a short gooseneck and wants to point either to the left or right side of the cajon and is not easily pointed toward the front of the cajon. Still, I’ve never heard a significant difference in tone because the mic is so sensitive and is essentially enclosed within the cajon’s chamber.
**Bring along an extra XLR cable for more/easier reach to the snake or mixing board.
Coming up in PART TWO of Making Your Cajon Sound BIG On Stage! – Beyond the Microphone.