The cajon is one of the most versatile hand drums on the planet. You can use it in a wide range of settings across many genres. The cajon stands alone very well but if you are looking to add more scope to your sounds here are a some options for you.
1. Hi Hat
Using a hi hat along with your cajon really is perfect. I would recommend using some kind of brush on the hi hat as it will compliment the sound of the cajon very well. You can use one hand for the cajon to punch out your bass and snare tones and one for the hats to play your quarter notes, eighths, sixteenths or what ever. You could also just use the foot on the hi hat to chip out the off beat or on beat. The possibilities are many.
2. Cajon Bass Pedal
The cajon bass pedal is a relatively new accessory. It uses a cable mechanism activated by the foot with the beater hitting the cajon to produce a bass tone. The beater is made extra soft so that a deeper tone can be produced from the wood surface. The addition of a cajon bass pedal can really open up a world of new groove possibilities.
3. Snare Drum
Using a snare drum along with the cajon will give it a nice drum kit feel. Again, like the hi hat, I would recommend using a brush to play the snare with. This will compliment the sound of the cajon very well. When using a snare, I usually play the cajon with my right hand (I am right handed) and the snare with my left. It’s just feels natural to do it that way for me. There is no standard way, whatever you feel comfortable with.
Having a cymbal or two to play with your cajon is something I could not recommend enough. Not only can you crash it with your hand but you can also use it as a ride to play your subdivisions like eighth notes. Again, a brush works well and the cymbal does not need to be a ride cymbal to ride on either. I find that a medium crash works just fine and that means its easier to crash too. Along with a crash, a splash cymbal works great with cajon.
5. A skinned hand drum
For many years I have experimented with using all kinds of hand drums with cajon. From congas to djembes, bongos to tabla and even all of the above at the same time. Using a drum like this with the cajon will really expand your sonic range. I like using high- pitched drums like tabla or a high tuned djembe as I think it sounds great with the sound of the cajon and really pops over the top of the wood sound. I have even turned the snare off on a snare drum and played it with my hand along with the cajon and it also sounds great.
There are all kinds of possibilities with percussion in general. These are just a couple of suggestions to help get you started. Remember, don’t let anyone tell you you are doing it the wrong way, the wrong way doesn’t exist.
Teaching cajon hybrid lesson on playcajon.org