Back in 1995, my grandson, Daniel - then aged four - asked, "Could you make ME an organ, Grandad?" After considering this unusual request, I decided that the small 'Busker' organ that was used by street entertainers in Victorian times would probably fit the bill. I had already got ideas for a simple system and to make Daniel's “Toy” organ would give me good reason to build it. I came up with my own 20-pipe design, using a punched paper roll for the 'music'. It was built from 'bits and pieces' in my workshop, but using some novel techniques developed from experience gained with other organs.
Grandson Daniel was delighted with the result, and was happy to show 'his' organ at rallies and other events. The result of this was that I began getting requests to make the plans available to others who wanted to build their own Busker organ - but I didn't have any! I had just worked out the design as I went along. However, as more people saw the instrument, pressure mounted on me, until I finally decided to build another - video the process - and make the video available along with instructions and some drawings. Because making the organ is uncomplicated and non-critical, not only woodworking hobbyists but others who had little experience of making anything were able to build their own organ using this package. Buskers were built by housewives working on the kitchen table, people in retirement homes, and as school projects. When the package was eventually marketed through the Internet, it resulted in Busker organs being built by all manner of people, all over the world.
Following the success of the Busker, I went on to develop ever more sophisticated small organs - The Senior 20, The Universal, and latterly, 'Topsy'. This latest instrument uses the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) system instead of a paper roll. It was originally designed to be constructed by people who had already built the other organs, so I provided a less comprehensive package - with design 'suggestions' rather than detailed plans. However - as with the Busker - Topsy has proved to be another ground-breaking development of the small organ, and it rivals much larger organs in its sound and versatility. A full building package is now available for Topsy 3, making it suitable for first time builders