I was asked to play cajon with a group of friends for a "gig" at another friend's birthday party. This is based on me having played some drums in high school, but since I've never touched a cajon in my life, and I don't have one available to me right right now: is it possible to get a decent sounding bass sound out of a cajon just by kicking it with the heel of my foot? I was planning to mostly use shakers and tambourines with my hands.

  • 1
    I’ve seen the opposite, somebody put a tambourine on a hi hat mount, or ankle shakers. I imagine a (bare!) heel could work fine, but if you’re sitting on the cajón, it might be physically impractical. Commented May 11 at 13:37
  • Most folk will use a bass drum pedal, sort of backwards, using the same idea as a double pedal arrangement. You could simply hit the side/front with your palm, but if your legs are short enough, you may get away with your idea. It won't be easy though. Best to experiment well before the gig.
    – Tim
    Commented May 11 at 14:23
  • An important part of cajon pedal is the soft flat beater that is different from regular bass drum one. Cajon is not a drum and is played slightly differently even though it can fill a similar role in a band.
    – ojs
    Commented May 11 at 15:16

2 Answers 2


I think with the beater side forward, using the heel of your foot to play it would be impractical and uncomfortable over time. There are foot pedals made specifically for cajón but it would require spending $100 or more for one. This video

shows someone using the side of his foot for a bass drum effect but it is softer and higher pitched than the hand bass. Using a mic (or maybe the heel of a shoe) could compensate for that. Another option is if you plan on using other instruments with your hands you can set up the cajón as you would a bass drum and play it with a regular bass drum pedal.


You probably don't want to kick the cajon with your heel. It's an awkward motion, and getting a clear tone will be tricky.

Some viable alternatives include:

Cajon with left hand, shaker or tambourine with right. You can play downbeat accents by hitting it against your shoulder or chest.

Cajon with a purpose-built cajon pedal, both hands free to play anything else.

Cajon with both hands, and play tambourine or other accessory percussion with pedals.

No cajon

  • It's likely that they have one of those cheap Meinl cajons, in which case you will not get a clear bass tone with any technique. So, in that case, might as well kick it?
    – Edward
    Commented May 11 at 14:50
  • Just here to note, having watched that video, that even though it starts like a comedy rant, he does present a legitimate alternative in the second half. Commented May 11 at 15:18
  • Love that video, and yeah "my cousin has a cajon you can borrow" doesn't sound like it's gonna be high quality gear, but I'm not gonna buy equipment and fly it abroad, so I'm gonna have to make do. Thanks for your input
    – Bananach
    Commented May 11 at 18:04

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