Thought to have originated as a simple communication tool for slaves, the cajón has been accompanying traditional music for many years. More rhythmic flavors have been added to today's boxes in the shape of snare springs, jangly accessories and kick pedals. At Frankfurt's Musikmesse last year, Germany's Flink Labs brought the instrument bang up to date with a cajón-sized electronic drum machine called the Flink, which had rubber pads out front that triggered samples when bashed. Roland has opted for a best of both worlds approach and married acoustic with digital for the EL Cajon EC-10.

Roland stresses that the EC-10 is an authentic acoustic instrument at heart, having 495 x 298 x 295 mm (19.5 x 11.7 x 11.6 in) proportions and comprising an MDF resonance box with a sapele ply playing surface out front. But the company has leveraged its electronic percussion know-how to help box bashers enhance their playing with layered digital sounds.

There are 30 digital percussion kits on offer, featuring sounds specifically developed to complement the EC-10's acoustic cajón voice – from tambourine and shaker to electronic drum backbeats and sound effects. Onboard sensors allow players to trigger independent kit sounds from the head and edge and Roland has even included enhanced cajón tones to help give more depth and punch to a performance.

The EC-10 sports its own built-in amplifier and 6.5 in speaker with a rated output of 3 W, and runs on six AA-sized batteries, which Roland says should provide up to 12 hours of continuous use before needing to locate the nearest convenience store for replacements.

A control interface at the top of the EC-10 allows players to scroll through sound categories and variations, while a rear panel is home to volume and trigger balance knobs. And if you just want to rehearse or busk on your own, there's a line-in jack for feeding in music stored on a mobile device.

Roland has advised that the EC-10 has a street price of US$399. You can see it in action in the video below.

Product page: EL Cajon EC-10