The Slapboxx from SlapDrum
Review by Eric Stuer
has been over a year since we reviewed Chris Nissen's LAPDRUM ,
his 13 x 13 x 4"portable cajon. It has since been one of our
favorites, totally portable and useful as can be. Slapdrum.com
has a variety of nice looking instruments, and we we got the itch
to try one of his newer models: the SLAPBOXX. This is essentially
a full sized cajon, made to play horizontally across the lap instead
of vertically, seated upon it..
I imagined that my lap would deaden the bottom head somewhat, with
the legs against it, so i was a little skeptical that it could really
compete with a full sized cajon for resonance, volume and tone.
Imagine my surprise when I found that the bottom side has a double
wall: the outside wall has a regular round port hole in it, to allow
the inner wall's resonance to be heard. The result is good tone
and volume. The act of sitting on a cajon normally deadens it to
some degree, but with the slapboxx, the wood is free to resonate.
The low end is beautiful and breathy, and there seems to be a wider
range of tones than from a regular cajon.
The reason for the wider palette of sound may have to do with the
port placement and the fact that the box is approached from the
wide side, rather than the narrow one. There is an extra sweet spot
noticeable, right in front of the port, so that doum, open, and
tak [conga slap too]strokes made there all have a different character.
This gives you more options. There are 5 distinct zones, going horizontally:
center [right in front of the port], the mid areas [halfway from
center to edge, the same on either side, for right and left], and
on the ends, near the corners of the Slapboxx. Each area along the
playing edge of the drum offers certain open tones, slaps, and bass.
Playing a normal cajon, you are playing it approaching the drum
from the short side, so the range of tones is not so noticeable.
The tone is rich, with the lowest 'doum' on my drum sounding about
2 octaves below middle C#, and the volume is ample for a cajon.
The promo speaks of hours of ergonomic comfort, and I must admit
it is WAY better than bending over a standard cajon for three hours,
which is miserable, as anyone who has played one on a long gig can
attest. Still, the Slapboxx seemed a tiny bit tall for my long arms,
and a couple of hours into the test, adjusting my shoulders, I chose
to hold my elbows out a bit to achieve a good position at time of
impact. I kept the shoulders relaxed, and extended the upper arms
a bit to adjust my stroke height and angle.
At one point I put it on the carpet in front of me and watched
TV as I played sitting cross legged in front of it. This turned
out to be an EXCELLENT position for this drum. Because the bottom
port is so close to the ground, a bit of low end is lost, but we
still have plenty for certain applications. It's good for freehand
In a pinch, you can turn it sideways and sit on it, if you do not
have a stool. It is plenty strong enough.. Chris? Are you listening?
Now we want one with LEGS..[grin]
Eric Stuer, 2006