Introduction: Guitar Cajon Mod (Internal Snare)

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Today we're combining two of my favorite acoustic instruments into one - the steel-string guitar and the cajon!

A cajon (cajón) is a box-shaped percussion instrument that is played by slapping the surface. It gives a unique "splashy" drum sound that resembles a snare drum.

We will be adding a knob to the butt of an acoustic guitar that will let us adjust (turn on/off) an internal snare, giving the surface of the acoustic guitar the same "splashy" drumming sound like a cajon.

Step 1: Watch the Video!

Check out this quick clip to see how this new hybrid instrument plays and hear how it sounds!

This video also includes a run-through of all the steps below from start to finish.

Click here to watch on YouTube

Step 2: Prepare the Snare Wires

What makes this splashy percussion sound in both the cajon and the snare drum are snare wires (you can pick up a set from the music store).

We'll only be using half of a set, so cut them in half with wire cutters.

Step 3: Cut Open Our Victim

The victim I have chosen for this experimental instrument is the Enya ED220 (

It is a 41 inch a dreadnought guitar, which gives us lots of room in the body of the guitar to work with.

Using a fine down-cut blade in a jigsaw, we're going to cut open two windows in the back of the guitar (avoiding the back bracing that runs across the guitar, if any).

Step 4: Remove a Transverse Brace

Our snare wires will have to sit on the back of the front surface of the guitar. So using a rotary tool, shave off a transverse brace to make room for the snare wires.

Then smooth out the surface with sand paper.

Step 5: Make a Ratchet

We will be using our ratchet-knob mechanism from our last Instructable to create an adjustable snare.

Be sure to understand how this ratchet works before proceeding!

By attaching the snare to the dowel of the ratchet, we can turn the ratchet knob to lock the snare into place or unlatch the ratchet when we want to turn off the snare.

Step 6: Drill Hole for Ratchet

Using a spade drill bit, drill out a hole in the butt of the guitar with the same diameter as the dowel of the ratchet.

Sand the insides of the hole until the dowel can slide in and out freely.

Step 7: Cut a Circular Plate

Using a hole saw, cut out a metal disc with twice the diameter as the dowel.

This piece will sit on top of the hole to stop the dowel when we engage and disengage the ratchet.

Screw the piece into place with two long bolts.

Step 8: Attach Ratchet Latches

Attach the latches of the ratchet inside the guitar, through the two long bolts.

Add nuts to secure the latches into place.

Step 9: Attach Ratchet Dowel and Knob

Attach the snare wires to the dowel using nuts and bolts.

Then drill a hole straight through the dowel on the side with the ratchet teeth for the knob.

Fit the dowel into the latches from the inside of the guitar, then superglue (or epoxy glue) the knob into the dowel from the outside.

Let the glue set before turning the knob.

Step 10: Add a Snare Stopper

Take some weather stripping and scrap wood to make an L- shaped stopper (as pictured).

This is for the snares to rest on when they are disengaged so that they don't make any sounds when we don't want them to.

We'll just attach this piece onto the supporting brace of the back of the guitar with superglue (or epoxy glue).

Step 11: Cut a Back Panel

Now we're going to have to make a back panel to close off the guitar.

Trace the shape of the guitar onto a piece of paper, then use that to cut out a board to the shape.

Step 12: Attach Back Panel

Tape the board into place, and drill a few holes where we're going to attach screws to hold the board into place.

Glue a hex nut onto the bottom of every hole, then screw the panel on tight.

Step 13: Test the Mechanism

Give the mechanism a test!

Turn the knob to turn on the snares and lock them into place.

Pull the knob to unlock the snares and turn the other way to mute them on the stopper.

Step 14: Play!

Enjoy your new unique guitar-cajon hybrid instrument! Why find a drummer when you're a one-an-band?

Check out the video above to hear how it sounds with the snares on and off.

If you like seeing musical instruments get torn apart for the greater good, then perhaps you'll like some of my other projects!

You can check them out over at my YouTube channel.

New projects every week! I'll see you then!