In case you were wondering, the Gon Bops Bongo Cajon is exactly that – a perfect combination of bongo and cajon. Think wooden box that you play suspended between your legs just like a set of bongos. There’s effectively two boxes/chambers but the instrument appears as one box with slightly angled sides for ergonomics.
Drummers and percussionists are very often influenced with their eyes and we all love a good piece of wood. This instrument is a thing of beauty. Hand made in Peru with a Mohena solid wood body – dimensions: 9.75″ (H) x 15.5″ (W) x 7.75″ (D) – the Bongo Cajon has a unique covered bottom design with two small holes, as opposed to the traditional wide open bongo vibe. You also get an incredibly smooth finish over the whole instrument that promotes the beautiful grain in the wood. In true cajon style, it’s just a wonderful looking wooden box. Simplistic yes, but very effective. It’s basically a piece of art.
I’m no Alex Acuna, but initial thoughts after first playing this Bongo Cajon was just how musical it was. There’s a nice roundness to the bass tones, perhaps due to the bottoms not being fully open as mentioned. I approached the instrument in the same way I would approach either a cajon or bongo. Palms and slaps for cajon, fingers and flicks for bongos. Thankfully, any approach works, yielding strong clarity and volume. You can be extremely sensitive and light or aggressive and loud. I loved that the drum wasn’t too hard to extract sounds from. I’ve played cajons that are almost unwilling to give decent slaps no matter how hard to play or experiment with position. This one wasn’t like this. I loved the set up and the classic Macho and Hembra tones. Overall, it was just really responsive and I was enticed to keep playing it. A lovely thing.
The only main issue I had was, whilst the design is simple and the super smooth sanded finish is lovely under hand, I did find it a little hard to keep the drum planted between the legs. It just slides on occasion. If there were a little grip on the sides, this would help. I don’t think the movement would warrant a cut out in the drum or anything and the manufacturer was right to keep it simple. A minor gripe, but you could address as needed and not everyone would experience this. The only other thing that the gigging musician might like to experiment with is the ability to mount it just as you might a traditional set of bongos, if that’s your thing. You do get a great custom, lined carry bag, which is really good as finding a bag to perfectly match the body design would be difficult and it’s nice to just have a solution from the moment you purchase.
Overall, this Bongo Cajon is a winner. It’s a beautiful thing to look at and I found it offered some wonderful sonic options to be creative with. When you play a traditional Cajon, there’s always the challenge of finding how many sounds you can actually use and often, you keep discovering sounds as you learn the instrument. This Bongo Cajon is no different. For me though, I found the quality sounds easy to attain quickly and all traditional bongo techniques still work. So yes, it’s a great thing. Did I mention it’s a beautiful thing to look at?