When you’re tight on space or time and need to approximate the sound of kick, snare, and hi-hat, pull out a cajon and a pair of brushes and use the following strokes to add some different colors to your musical canvas. Keep in mind that these techniques can be used on either the cube-shaped box cajon or the wedge-shaped version (pictured).
1) Try substituting light sixteenth-notes instead of a shaker or a hi-hat.
2) For some swing or Bossa Nova groves try “stirring the soup” like you would on a snare (the cool thing about this is that your accents have a nice bass tone).
3) Go with just one brush, and do combinations with your bare hand of bass, slap, and open tones. With a little practice you can make this sound like a complete drum kit.