Back in 2009 when I was working on the designs for a new line of cajons, I had very specific qualities that I was looking for. After many prototypes, I developed the Kopf Percussion S-Series Line of Cajons . One of these drums is the S-Series Snare Cajon. Ever since it's release in 2010, it has been the most popular cajon that I make. In this post I aim to share with you the qualities that I incorporated into the S-Series as well as how I achieve them through design, materials, and craftsmanship.
The most important quality of all in an instrument to me is its overall tone. I wanted this drum to have rich and vibrant tone. I personally believe that 90% of the tone comes from the materials that are used in the construction of the instrument. After trying many tone woods, I decided to use Tulip Poplar for the shell. Although Tulip Poplar is classified as a hardwood, it is actually a softer hardwood with excellent tonal qualities. It has the rich and vibrant tones that I was looking for while being slightly warm as well
I wanted this cajon to have a very low pitched bass tone. To achieve this, I designed this drum to be slightly wider and deeper then most standard cajons. The size of the sound hole on a cajon greatly influences the bass tone. It needs to be balanced with the overall size of the drum. I cut the hole for the S series at a very specific size so that it provides a low pitch base without muting the sound.
Another quality that I was looking for in the design was a punchy bass that did not ring out for too long. This is achieved by screwing the face plates onto the drum rather than them being glued on. This causes the bass note to remain at a low pitch yet to be short and punchy like a kick drum.
There are two qualities about the cajon snares that are important to me. One is that they need to be very responsive. In addition to that, I like the snares to be separate from the bass tone. To achieve the responsiveness I decided to install 80 strands of snare wire in the top of one of the dual playing surfaces. They are mounted in a very specific fashion so that you only hear snares when striking in the very top portion of the drum. You do not hear snares when you are playing the bass tones.
I also wanted this drum to be resonant and to project well. To achieve resonance, there are dual playing surfaces. One of the surfaces has snare wires and the other does not. Each playing surface or "Tapa" acts as a resonating head to the opposing playing surface, adding resonance as well as another "Dry" playing surface. Each of these Tapas are made of Birch which is an excellent choice for projection.
Comfort was a major consideration in the design of the S series. There are two elements that contribute to this drum being very comfortable. One of which is a custom cushioned and upholstered seat on the top of the drum. This has been a welcomed addition by my customers especially those who play long sets. The other feature is the rounded corners that are much easier on the hands.
The last design element for this series, which is actually present in all of my designs, is the idea of wabi sabi. Wabi Sabi is an ancient Japanese philosophy that embraces natural beauty and all of it's imperfections. When I am working with materials such as Tulip Poplar, there are often natural imperfections in the grain. If these imperfections are naturally beautiful and do not affect the structural integrity or tonal qualities of the drum, I will incorporate them. This adds character to the piece.
I believe that the vision that I had for this drum is what resonates with my customers making the S-Series Snare Cajon my best seller for over 10 years.
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