Cajon Killer: How the WalkaBout is a Game Changer

The cajon, that wooden box-shaped instrument you sit on, is often used to replace a drum set in smaller, acoustic venues. And certainly, the cajon has its place. But we believe that the WalkaBout Drum is superior to the cajon in a dozen different ways. Let’s do a quick dive into why.

Sounds. The cajon has three basic sounds (and perhaps four if it has an internal snare). The WalkaBout has a dozen or more, depending on how you count them. You can hit the upper bout, lower bout, waist, sides, back, and on and on). And with the development of more SounDots (like the Tamb, Riqq, and Fan), there are more sounds coming.

Amplification. The cajon is not an amplified instrument. You have to set up a mic(s), and add equalization, compression, etc. The WalkaBout Odyssey and Venture models are basically plug and play with a single instrument cable. You can literally have a signal to your amp or sound system in seconds.

Ergonomics. Let’s face it. The cajon is awkward. Awkward to play, and awkward to look at. You sit stooped over it, low to the ground, with the top of your head to the audience. I’ve talked to many drummers who complain that playing the cajon hurts their backs. But the WalkaBout Drum is a joy to play. It has a natural shape with a light weight that sits easy on the body. You can stand or sit upright, and even move. Which brings us to our last point…

Stage Presence. Stand, sway, groove, dance. Get up to the front of the stage, and interact with your audience, along with the rest of the band. You can even go wireless and walk into the audience! I often use the WalkaBout when I’m the lead singer. I can play and step right up to the mic to be heard. In terms of stage presence, there is simply no other percussion instrument like it.

Do you have a story where you’ve ditched your cajon for a WalkaBout? We’d love to hear from you!

Amplifying Your WalkaBout

“I just ordered my WalkaBout Odyssey. What do you suggest for an amp? Is a regular instrument cable okay to use?”

As more and more people are discovering the WalkaBout Drum, we’re getting these questions quite often. And they are important questions too, especially if you want to get the absolute best sound out of your WalkaBout.

Odyssey Model

Because the WalkaBout Odyssey is equipped with a dual-source LRBaggs system, it has both a microphone and a pickup located internally, which makes it capable of amplifying both boomy lows and sizzling highs. In particular, an internal mic is key to amplifying the SounDots (Snare, Riqq, Tamb, etc.) which magnetically attach to the two internal DotSpots in the upper bout. The Odyssey comes from the factory in mono mode, so any quality 1/4 inch instrument cable should be fine to use, and it will output a single output. (To split your output to two-channel, we recommend reading the blog post, WalkaBout Secret Weapon.)

Venture Model

The Venture is equipped with a proprietary internal mic (i.e., unlike the Odyssey, there is no pickup). Thus, it is mono output only. As with the Odyssey, any quality 1/4 inch instrument cable will work with your Venture.

Plugging It In

Whether you have an Odyssey or Venture, we recommend that you plug your instrument cable into a full-range amp (like a keyboard amp or full-range powered monitor) or directly to your band’s PA system. Some acoustic guitar amps can work as well if they are full-range. In the hands of a seasoned street busker, an Odyssey and a full-range battery-powered speaker can be killer. The key is to have an amp that can amplify the full spectrum of sound (say 50 Hz-15 kHz or better). Note that we do not recommend using a guitar amp or bass amp, as both of these types of amps are tuned to their specific application, and aren’t capable of capturing the full frequency range of the WalkaBout. Frankly, it will sound a little thin and wanky.

Just like any other amplified acoustic drum, we recommend that you use equalization and compression, and perhaps some reverb, to round out your sound. Dialing in your settings will allow your WalkaBout to fill a big room with groov-ilicious sound. Of course, you can always go wireless too!

Do you have any tips that you use with your WalkaBout Drum? Let us know!

WalkaBout Secret Weapon: Two-Channel Output

When you receive your WalkaBout Drum, it’s set up from the factory in mono mode. In other words, all of the amplified sound that comes out of the drum comes from a single instrument cable which outputs to your amp, sound system, or recording system. In fact, your WalkaBout ships with an attached Post-It note which shows you the volume and mix dials for mono operation. It’s so simple to get a great sound right out of the box.

But did you know that you can easily switch your WalkaBout Odyssey* to two-channel mode?

Two-channel mode allows your WalkaBout Odyssey to output two separate sources: One from the internal mic (which captures the highs of the Snare or other SounDots) and one from the internal pickup (where all the beefy lows of the “kick” and “toms” exist). This allows you (or your sound tech) to mix the two sound sources independently, as well as add separate equalization, compression, and effects. If done properly, this can really make your highs sizzle, your snare pop, and your lows boom.

Reconfiguring your setup for two-channel output is simple and straightforward:

• On the Dual Source controller (see top photo) located inside your WalkaBout, flip the left top switch from “mono” to “stereo.”

• Instead of a regular instrument cable, use a male 1/4 inch TRS to dual male 1/4 inch cable (see photo below). Plug the TRS cable jack to the WalkaBout and send the “Y” portion of the cable (with the dual male outputs) to your amp or sound system. The two outputs will correspond to the internal mic and pickup.

That’s it! You’ll be sending separate audio signals, and your sound tech will love you for it. Please note that in two-channel mode, your dials are no longer controlling “volume” and “mix” as shown in the Post-It note. Instead, each dial becomes a volume control for either the internal mic or the pickup. This allows you to have control over how much sound is output from both these sources.

Use two-channel mode to literally dial in your sound. It’s a secret weapon that will really make a difference in your mix.