Photo By: X8 Drums
The formerly obscure percussion instrument known as the cajon has become ubiquitous in today’s music scene. From coffee houses to church platforms, to recording studios and concert stages, the cajon has become a regular rhythmic fixture, providing the now-familiar bomp and pop that in many cases has replaced more traditional percussion instrumentation. What is not so ubiquitous are companies that hand craft cajons of such visual beauty and sonic quality as Georgia’s Kopf Percussion. One such cajon is the DoubleShot, from Kopf’s S-Series instrument line.
The S-Series drums are about as high-end as I’ve seen in the cajon game, with some very unique feature sets that are almost non-existent on any other drums I’ve viewed, certainly at such an extremely fair price point. The S-Series are made from two different woods; a sturdy poplar frame with two Russian Baltic birch “tapas” (playing surfaces). Due to this unique double-surface design, the sound-hole is on the side, rather than the rear of the drum. This has the added benefit of bringing the bass tones a little more forward for most listeners. A light, clear satin finish facilitates, rather than hinders, the wood’s natural overtones. Rounded corners help to make sure that every slap and pop not only sounds great, but remains pain-free as well. The pièce de résistance is the cushioned, upholstered seat (in the words of Vanessa Williams, sometimes you save the best for last). Each S-Series cajon has a 1" padded seat, for the ultimate in percussion comfort, making these drums pretty close to the “Cadillac of cajons.”
A few more features set the DoubleShot apart, even from the rest of the unique S-Series drums. Each of the S-Series cajons features a snare-side tapa and a traditional/non-snare playing surface. The snare sides on most of the other models have four non-adjustable, half-length extra-wide snare drum snares. The DoubleShot has eight! Not snare strings – eight extra-wide snare sets! If you want snap, crackle, and pop, the DoubleShot is the cajon for you. No more need to loosen screws to get a brighter, more accented slap tone; that kind of tweaking is absolutely unnecessary. You’ve grown accustomed to bringing your little screw-driver along to the gig and twisting away, you say? You still want to be able to refine your sound even more?
Kopf encourages such individuality, and not only fastened the DoubleShot tapas’ with screws, the company gave you 16 on each playing surface, to twist until your heart’s content (although I’d personally only recommend tweaking the top three, or perhap’s five at most, if you are so-inclined).
The construction on this cajon is more than substantial – this thing is rock solid. The DoubleShot comes with four steel-reinforced rubber feet, which not only support the cajon, but get your drum off the ground for better projection of tone. Internally, the “fixed snare strainers” on the non-adjustable snares are themselves a wonder to behold, and an indication of the creativity, craftsmanship, and attention to detail that goes into the building of these fine instruments. While the drum is not overly heavy, it is by no means a lightweight. You’ll build some muscle, or at least some stamina, loading this bad boy in and out of gigs, but the sound and comfort will be worth the extra effort. Dimensions on the DoubleShot are 19" tall by 12.5" wide on the playing surface, with a depth of 11.25". The sound-hole is nearly 5" in diameter. The 1" upholstered seat makes this cajon just a tiny bit too large for a standard-size bag; you’ll want to look for a case that has just a bit more room.
The DoubleShot was a big hit (pun intended) in the studio, with students and with other musicians. Kids marveled at and were drawn to its natural beauty (“Can I play?”). Drummers dug the cushioned seat and the rounded corners, not to mention the incredible tone. But the proof is in the sonic pudding.
Recording the DoubleShot was easy. Two condensers in a stereo X-Y pattern were all that were needed to bring out the rich bass and snare-saturated slap tones. Both the snare and non-snare playing surfaces proved very responsive to finger and palm sounds, slides, knuckles, and fingernails. The non-snare surface had tonal characteristics all its own – pops similar to what you can get on a set of bongos – this cajon was probably also the most responsive to pitch-bending (with the feet) that I’ve ever heard.
While I did not use an extra dynamic microphone near the sound-hole area, a benefit of having the port on the side is that if you mike it from there, you’ll be able to make adjustments to the microphone’s position without standing up. You’re also less likely to inadvertently knock over an additional microphone positioned in such a manner (because you’ll still be able to see it).
This is an awesome cajon. The features are well thought out and are very musician-friendly. It is extremely comfortable on the hands and … other parts, and it is easy to sound great on this drum. It is good-looking, very well-built, and made in the USA. It’s also very affordable – for what you get, it could easily be listed at double the price. I have given well-deserved praise to other instruments in the past, and I certainly don’t say this lightly, but I believe this is the best value on the market today, perhaps the best out there period. What more do you want?
Model & List Price
S-Series DoubleShot Cajon $319.99
Poplar and birch construction, our steel-reinforced rubber feet, double playing surfaces (snare-side and non-snare side), rounded corners for playing comfort, 1" padded upholstered seat, side-ported sound-hole.