This year marks Tycoon Percussion’s 30th anniversary, and more than half of that time has been devoted to making percussion instruments (Tycoon started out as a guitar manufacturer). Since then, it has been expanding at a healthy clip. The once unknown and exotic Peruvian cajon, is now one of the most popular choices of hand drums available on the market among all kinds of percussionists, and it has been used for many different styles of music.
Tycoon’s new Crate Cajon is one of many cajon options from this company. You may already know that cajon in Spanish means “drawer” or “box,” and maybe you’re telling yourself: “Well, duh, it is a wooden box! What’s new and different about this one?” There are a lot of unique and creative features about the Crate, and they’re offered at a very fair price point.
The Tycoon Crate Cajon is handcrafted with 100 percent environmentally friendly certified Siam oak. We all know how important it is to take good care of our mother Earth, so that alone gets a lot of points in my book. The tapa, or playing surface, is made with exotic Asian hardwood and Siam oak, producing a very rich bass tone. The Crate’s body is solid and reliable, and sits on four strong rubber feet giving this cajon the support it needs.
The cajon features four snares separated by two sets of two snare wires each; one set is on the right side and the other set is on the left side of the playing surface. They are aligned in a V shape and fall perfectly in line with the natural striking spot on the cajon, producing a nice and clear snare tone, especially when playing slaps because they sound and feel effortless. The snares are easily adjustable with a very clever Velcro system. When the snares are on, the Velcro covers them against the playing surface. If you want a dryer sound and decide to turn the snares off, all you have to do is open the Velcro inside the cajon and place it between the strings and the playing surface. It is a very simple but extremely effective mechanism. There are also added jingles inside the Crate for a brighter touch.
Now, if you’re a typical hand drum player, you have at least five different tuning wrenches of all sizes and shapes, and if you also follow the stereotype, chances are you misplace your tuning wrenches quite often. Well, Tycoon had you (us) in mind when it decided to attach this cajon’s snare-adjusting Allen wrench to its inside support frame. There is a little aperture on the inside of the frame next to the sound hole specially made for the Crate’s adjusting wrench and its forgetful owners. Problem solved! The snare wires can now be easily adjusted whenever needed or desired, and the screws are conveniently located on the outside bottom front part of the cajon for a perfect reach.
Perhaps the coolest feature about the Crate is its looks. The Tycoon Crate Cajon literally looks like a vintage wooden crate (hence the name) that you might find on a 18th century Peruvian farm. African slaves in Peru were not allowed to play musical instruments, so they used their creativity and courage to go against their oppressors to find what was available to them to be able to express themselves musically. It would have been impossible for slave masters to forbid boxes and crates, so that’s what was used, eventually morphing into the more elaborately designed cajons we enjoy today. I believe Tycoon’s Crate cajon really brings us back to cajon’s roots. Fellow musicians may notice how unique-looking your instrument is and ask you if you stole a wooden box from the farmer’s market. But most likely they’re just saying that out of jealousy because their guitar doesn’t look as cool as this cajon (which, ahem, may or may not have happened in real life).