Louson Tablet Cajón Review; a Low Cost Drum Kit for the Whole Family
+ Simply the easiest instrument I have ever learned the basics on.
+ Very portable
+ Top notch fit and finish
+ Inexpensive for the quality
+ Can duplicate a full size drum set in the hands of a skilled player
When was the last time you had fun with a box? Adults usually have no time for a few minutes of fun and relaxation anymore and with that, it also makes our imaginations suffer. A few days ago I was walking around the South Side of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, enjoying the sights and sounds of the normal Pittsburgh beat when all of the sudden I heard drums. To me, it sounded something to the tune of a marching band rounding the corner from where I was. It sounded like a few percussionists were just about to turn the corner whenever I did. When I turned the corner, all I saw was a man and a box he was sitting on. “Wait, was that him?” I thought to myself as I listened to the small box he was playing. I then noticed it was, in fact, him that was making such a range of noises that I had no idea could come out such a small box. From there I was hooked, I immediately asked if we could review a sample piece from them and luckily they said yes.
You may never heard of Louson before, and I wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t, they are a small Pittsburgh company that just officially started last year in 2015. However, once you listen to one of the two men play the cajón it will change the way you look at music. The two-man company obviously know their way around a cajón and that’s evident by how easily they can create rhythms out of nowhere. At some points, the cajón’s they were using could easily be mistaken for a whole drum set. So whenever I agreed to review a ‘tablet’ cajón is was nervous, I knew I could never sound like these guys if my life depended on it, but darn it, I was going to give it everything I had!
Before I dive into my own experience, let’s take a look at what makes a cajón and why the Louson cajón’s are a few steps above all others. The ultra smooth plywood top (or tapa) creates the playing surface while birch is featured around the edges and on the bottom. It’s easy to see that every one of the cajón’s they make are a labor of love by just simply looking at the craftsmanship. I have had a lot of practice over the years being able to differentiate between poor quality and excellent quality products, and I have to say, these guys make some of the best hand-made wood products I have seen in a long time. The stained finish on the tapa is slightly darker than on the sides of my ‘tablet’ cajón (They make a huge variety of color schemes) so it really stands out to the eye. The tapa is formed seamlessly to the body making it look clean and uniformed as well. The whole cajón also has clear coat finish as well, making it look smooth and clean as well as easily cleanable if you happen to accidently spill anything on it while playing.
On the side you will find a singular hole, this gives the cajón somewhere to allow the sound to come out of during playing as well as makes it just a bit louder to hear. Looking at the inside of the cajón I noticed empty blank space, it is very interesting to see that not only can what seem like an entire drum set be played on a hollow box but also how well made this cajón truly is. There are almost no signs of glue or anything on the inside. Louson really does take everything into consideration when making these and it truly shows.
So, after talking with the Louson team a bit and getting a quick tutorial on how to play, I was all on my own to learn this tablet cajón during the review process. I went home, checked out a few rhythms online and took some time to listen to the different ways you can hit the drum for different sound effects. hitting it in the middle creates a sort of bass effect while hitting the corners creates a tight ‘pop’ sound. just about everywhere on the tapa makes a slightly different sound so while still a bit out of my league I went in and gave it a shot. Taking my time to learn a few rock and pop rhythms I started off slow, but after about 20 minutes I really started to feel comfortable! I closed YouTube and went for it on my own. While I am in no way even close to the standards Louson set at their display in Pittsburgh, I felt confident enough to play any rhythm I could think of. With a little practice just about anyone can pick this up and sound pretty good with just a few minutes of practice. With a bit more practice I could certainly see myself replicating most of a drum set with relative ease. While the tablet cajónes are a bit more compact, it can be just a bit harder to replicate a drum set than with a full sized cajón.
Here is an example of a talented musician on a full sized cajón
After getting a feel for the cajón I decided to contact Louson for more information on portability, can these be played outside? Here is what Louson stated:
“I very much consider it a camping, out in the world instrument. The main consideration is keeping it dry, as you would a guitar, and also protecting the face (called the “tapa”) from being damaged. You don’t want to drop it and have it land on something hard and sharp like a rock.”
Luckily, I am a bit more versed with guitars so I knew exactly what they meant by this statement, basically, we should keep the cajón clean and dry. If not, the acoustics will be off when we go to use them. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t take them just about anywhere. The tablet cajón is very small, small enough to fit in a medium sized backpack or bag to take with you camping or hiking. I absolutely love the fact that I can be out in the middle of nowhere but still have an instrument that can produce enough sound that people could enjoy listening to around a campfire. Another aspect I love about its weldability is the fact it is also not as loud as a normal drumset, you can play with at a campsite without bothering other people around you and for me that is very important considering the time of night it could be when we decide to make a small music session with friends.
Overall, for me, there’s nothing more fun in life than making your own music, yes playing guitar is fun and all but its so big that it can be annoying to have to carry around, and not many people have the time or dedication to learn the instrument. With this cajón by Louson, you can literally take music with you anywhere. To me, Louson has done an excellent job in making a fashionable, easy-to-learn instrument that is also affordable to anybody, at the $80 price point for the tablet cajón, you can get friends and family away from their cell phones and come together to create music, all in one small box. For a small two-man company in Pittsburgh, I feel Louson makes some of the best looking and sounding percussion instruments I have heard in a long time.
Want one of these for your own? Check Louson Drums out to see what they have to offer!