John Smith Organs

  (See Accessories page for some ready-built Topsy 3 Parts)

A website for anyone interested in small mechanical Organs

On this website you will find details of the various organs that John has designed, and how to obtain packages that will enable you to build your own instrument.

The page menu on the left enables you to navigate around the site, but if this is your first visit, you may like to start by clicking on


to find out how John Smith created a world of home-made small mechanical organs.

Other pages -
Senior 20
Topsy 1
Topsy 3
Tops3 Plans
- show details about the organs themselves - so you can decide which one you might like to build - go to the
page when you have decided.   The
page gives details of a punch for making paper rolls, and a booklet about arranging music oneself.  It now also includes some ready-made parts for Topsy 3 that John can supply.  The
page gives the answers to 'Frequently Asked Questions'.

There is also a page which will enable you to select videos stored on
which show the organs actually playing, and also
, which shows places where John may have his organs on display.     Finally the
page is where you can find web pages for suppliers of parts and music for John's organs; pages created by people who have constructed John's organs; and other pages devoted to different aspects of the fascinating world of small - and large - organs.

To clear up some common misconceptions, these pages are devoted to 'organs' - that is, instruments with pipes that sound when air is blown through them, just like a church organ, but a lot smaller!   'Barrel Organs' were a common sight years ago, and some did contain air-blown pipes, but the majority of these were actually very large versions of a musical box - as revealed by the 'metallic' sounds that they produced.   Another name sometimes wrongly applied to Busker organs is 'Hurdy Gurdy'.   This is actually a mechanical violin, where a rotating wheel takes the place of a bow, and notes can be sounded by operating keys to press the violin strings onto the wheel.

Topsy 3 Plans Ready

We are pleased to announce that our latest set of plans
- for Topsy 3 -
are now available
A Topsy 3 Plans page has been added to give details about this
'New Look' package, and any
late-breaking corrections
will appear there.

Also, a
new video
is now available on YouTube, giving a preview of the many features that the Topsy 3 plans contain.
(You are listening to some of the music from this video)
Click here to view it.
(use Browser 'Back' button to return to this page)


There are now have hundreds of videos on the internet showing  Busker organs being demonstrated -  and also being built.  These can be very interesting, but I am surprised at how complicated they often make it all look, and also how often the so-called improvements actually detract from the proper working of the organ.  
I get to see and hear about a lot of my organs, including the ones with problems - which more often than not are the result of following one of the many tips or modifications.  There are of course many excellent ideas, but  it is nearly always the few really bad ones that get taken up the most. 
It is also obvious to me that some of the videos are many years old, or that the builders were using old out-of-date plans.  It is now 20 years since I first produced the first Busker organ building plans, but I have regularly updated them so the builders are now able to just get on with the job and succeed.  The concept of the Busker was for a light weight  full-sounding organ, which could be constructed from everyday materials - without the need for special wood working or engineering skills.  Many Buskers have now been made, some by complete novices, exactly as the plans and video show, with superb results.

My considered advice for any first time builder is: by all means look at the web - you will get a good overall view of what it is you are about to build - but avoid all tips and modifications to the working parts: namely bellows; reservoir; spill valve; spring; idler wheel; clutch; tracker bar; and  pipe construction.    Most problems seem to be a result of rushing into construction before studying the drawings, watching the video, and reading the words - you will not need any other literature to 'get started on the Busker'.  I made it this way deliberately to deter would be freeloaders.