At any organ grinders meeting in the UK you will hear, not one, but
several John Smith organs singing their hearts out. Likely as not
John Smith will be there in person demonstrating several of his latest
The sounds produced by these ranges from the sublime to the, let's
face it, awful. Johns own organs always sound good, but no doubt the
builders of the less-perfect organs are still very proud of their work,
as indeed they should be. Perhaps, without John Smith, these would be
people who could only look-on and never hope to own an organ themselves.
Worldwide, there must now be hundreds of these little organs. I have
seen and heard several truly wonderful "Smiffy" organs with voicing and
casework which rank with the very best small organs anywhere.
I have known John for many years and seen the rise of his organ design
from its beginnings. His philosophy is to bring organ-building down
to the ordinary guy by a set of techniques designed to simplify some
of the more difficult operations. Hence, for instance, the balsa-wood
pipes with their applied upper lips, the cardboard gasket under the
pipe-cap, the directly blown pipes, etc.
Like any other build-it-yourself project, the chief ingredient is
the skill and application of the person concerned. Yes, there are
some inconsistencies in the plans, which are constantly updated as
these become known, but most people who have attempted the project
have succeeded. But there will always be those who manage to snatch
defeat out of the jaws of victory.
I do not know of any other build-it-yourself organ design in the world
such as this. Where else, for beer money, can you produce pure vintage
champagne by your own efforts?