making a conga-cajon?

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Postby chris hansen » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:43 pm

Hello,

Has anyone tried making something like this?

http://danmahony.com/conga.htm

How did it turn out? Do you have any advice? I'd like to make one but the directions aren't the most detailed and leave a number of questions unanswered.
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Postby korman » Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:35 am

Hi!

Last autumn I made a bata cajon for me. It is almost the same as pyramidal conga cajon with the exception that both ends have playing surfaces. It turned out well - it looks and sounds good (though not exactly like a bata).
But I don't play it often, I still prefer drums with skins!
I chose quite simple design, and I had the plywood for the walls of the box sawn in the shop, because I don't have a circular motion saw with a stand. I only have a jigsaw at home, but since I don't have any woodworking experience, I decided not to risk ruining the materials.
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Postby chris hansen » Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:41 pm

What size plywood would you use for the head? I made one with 1/4 inch but is that still too thick?

How does the length affect the sound? I have to tilt the one I made quite a bit for the best sound and I was thinking of cutting some space near the bottom to let the sound come out but that would shorten the effective length of it.
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Postby korman » Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:59 am

Hi! So you made one already? Congratulations!

What size plywood would you use for the head? I made one with 1/4 inch but is that still too thick?


I think that 1/4 inch is too thick. I used 4mm plywood which was the thinnest I could get, and sanded it quite thoroughly. Still I wish I had access to even thinner grade for the smaller head. Generally, the smaller the head, the thinner you will want it to be. Since wood is inelastic, it works the opposite way as skin - whereas for deeper bass you'd want thicker skin, you have to get thinner wood/plywood for that.

How does the length affect the sound?


I am not expert in the physics of the sound:) but from my limited experience I would say that all other things equal, the longer the drum, the more it amplifies the bass frequencies. If you look at the cajons, quinto or bongo cajons are quite shallow, but conga and bass cajons are always either long or big boxes.

I have to tilt the one I made quite a bit for the best sound and I was thinking of cutting some space near the bottom to let the sound come out but that would shorten the effective length of it.


Well, with cajons you have to have a sound hole. Mine too does not sound very good if I cover the sound hole (which in my case is in one of the walls), so if you don't want to saw out some material, only thing I can think of is putting some wooden or rubber pegs on the bottom corners of the cajon. That would not shorten the resonating walls, but would make it higher overall, so you've got to try if it is still comfortable to play.
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Postby chris hansen » Wed Feb 21, 2007 1:10 pm

Hi korman, thanks for the reply.

Hi! So you made one already? Congratulations!

It's a real crude one based loosely on the link in the first message of this thread.

I think that 1/4 inch is too thick. I used 4mm plywood which was the thinnest I could get, and sanded it quite thoroughly.


That might explain why the tone is higher than I expected. Maybe I'll try sanding it down a little.

Well, with cajons you have to have a sound hole.


So I can just cut a big hole in the side? I wondered about that but the diagram I was looking at didn't show one. When you have a sound hole, do you have to tilt it when you play or does it just stand flat? How big should the sound hole be and does it matter where it's placed?

I'd like to try another one, maybe an octagonal shape instead of square, that might be more comfortable to play, and maybe with a thinner head and a sound hole. Do you have any other advice for the next one?
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Postby korman » Wed Feb 21, 2007 2:42 pm

Well, I've only done one cajon so far, so in my previous posts I already wrote just about all know about cajons:)

Size and shape of the sound hole will affect what sound you get. I guess the size of the hole has something to do with the wavelengths of the sound waves, because when I experiment with my cajon I can hear how bass gradually disappears as I cover more and more of the sound hole with my hand.

You might want to check out other cajon threads on this forum, as well as Thomas Altmann's cajon page
also Fat Congas and Schlagwerk have sizes of their cajons in their webpages. You can borrow a design or two from them.

Attached is a drawing of my cajon, and in that other thread I have posted a picture of it. For a conga I'd make it some 10cm taller and 5 cm wider on both ends, and not cover the smaller end with a "head"




Edited By korman on 1172069170

Attachment: http://mycongaplace.com/forum/eng/uploa ... uction.JPG
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Postby chris hansen » Wed Feb 21, 2007 5:43 pm

Wow, thanks!

Awsome drawing.
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Postby guarachon63 » Wed Feb 21, 2007 7:05 pm

Love that drawing! The steaming coffee cup really makes it. If Ikea ever starts selling cajones they should use those directions! :)

I have a medium sized cajon that for the top I used what they call "doorskin," like a 1/8," maybe slightly less, piece. Sounds great, nice slaps on the corners and awesome bass...

For me the biggest problem was making a caja (the big one) that had a good bass tone - the area of the hitting side was always too big to use doorskin on, but anything thicker never gave a satisfying "thump" without some adjustments (playing with the rear-soundhole facing a corner helped alot, a technique I learned from watching acoustic bass players in Santiago.)
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Postby chris hansen » Wed Feb 21, 2007 8:41 pm

For a conga I'd make it some 10cm taller and 5 cm wider on both ends, and not cover the smaller end with a "head"

Would that affect the size and location of the sound hole at all?
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Postby korman » Thu Feb 22, 2007 6:43 am

Glad you liked the drawing:) I just had an hour or two with nothing to do at work:)))

Guarachon, that door skin piece was a veneer sheet or plywood? Good idea about the corner!

Chris, I think that the sound hole should be a bit bigger too, maybe 12, max 15cm. Also, I've seen models with several sound holes, hard to say how does that affect the sound. Youtube is down at the moment, but search for yambu bata cajon.
Just an idea for a conga cajon - maybe make smaller (maybe 5cm) sound holes on each of the sides. That way you would get tones and slaps through them and to get deeper bass tone you would tilt the cajon or lift it with your feet just like you do with a real conga.




Edited By korman on 1172126897
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Postby guarachon63 » Thu Feb 22, 2007 7:52 pm

I think doorskin comes in different thicknesses, this was around 1/8 inch thick, seems like plywood with a very thin veneer layer. Even though it is thin, it is still very stiff, which I think helps the sound.

I meant to say also that I think the "internal baffling" or whatever all that stuff was inside the cajones in the original link is totally unecessary, I've never seen those in a cajon in Cuba.

I agree also about not covering the smaller end with a head.

Here in NY there is also a common technique used for quinto cajones which involves cutting about a sawblade's width off the height at two corners, maybe about 2-2.5 inches into the "square" as you look down on the cajon. After mounting the thin plywood top, those corners make a nice "crack" when they are slapped because the wood from the top hits the wood from the base.

Not sure if that is clear or not. Maybe I need to make a drawing! :)
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Postby chris hansen » Fri Feb 23, 2007 6:53 pm

If you wanted to make 2 or even 3 conga cajones to play together, what sizes should they be? Would it be about a 2 inch difference in width? Would that effect the thickness of the head or the sound holes? I was thinking that, when I get access to a table saw, I'll cut up a bunch of wood at once and take the pieces home to play with.

Thanks
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Postby korman » Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:47 am

Hard to give you any advice on this one, since I've only built one so far, but I think 2 inches in width would definitely make a difference.

Let us know the results when you do it, though. There is still quite little info about cajons on the web!
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Postby chris hansen » Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:21 am

korman wrote:Hard to give you any advice on this one, since I've only built one so far, but I think 2 inches in width would definitely make a difference.

Let us know the results when you do it, though. There is still quite little info about cajons on the web!

I'll let you know.
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Postby chris hansen » Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:48 pm

I have another question about sound holes.

I've been looking online and the sound holes on existing products seem to vary a lot. Some have a large sound hole near the bottom, one has a small one near the top, one has 2 small ones near the bottom and one has no sound holes at all. Unfortunatly, I haven't found a retailer around here where I can actually look at these products. Now I'm not sure what to do.
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