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Translation of the original article published on AMMI Magazine on "Busker"construction by  Aldo Laus on John Smith design

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In this article the AMMI ( Italian Association of Mechanical Music) member Aldo Laus writes about its adventure of self construction of a 20  pipes crank organ operating with a music paper roll 



Contrarily to what normally we think when we talk about crank organs, mechanical music is not to be exclusively associated to the image of antiques or vintage instruments, good old times and grandmother songs.

 In fact today, even if in a smaller scale, still exist an industry producing small mechanical organs working with cartons or paper rolls, which, assembled with artisan skill in modern plants, are keeping alive the tradition for a niche of amateurs giving also the possibility to perform modern songs.

These manufacturers are essentially located in Europe and more precisely in a few countries like Germany, France, U.K., Belgium, Holland.

 Unfortunately these beautiful machines have prices comparable to those of the cars, tipically from Fiat Panda upward, therefore their accessibility seems almost limited.

Obviously their intrinsec value is due to the fact to be  hand crafted products built by specialized artisans, therefore the workmanship cost has a major influence on the final price.

 It is also a fact that it is also almost impossible to buy one of these instruments in a shop.These organs are generally custom made on order ( just like the Ferrari). 

The alternative to the purchase is the self construction but, stop laughing, there are people that built their boat, the airmodel, the small steam engine, the radio, therefore i see no reason why not to build a small mechanical organ. 

 May be that the real problem is to find the project or the kit, and to have a certain skill in working with the wood, the availability of a minimum set of tools and a great, great patience.

 A minimim knowledge of instrumental music is advisable, particularly in the intonation phase of the instrument and in the preparation of the rolls to be punched, however you can sure count on the help of a friend that knows music better than you.  

In any case the self construction is not to be considered a way to save money, it is a very demanding hobby that however pays back with a lot of satisfaction when the job is completed.

 I have chosen this way some time ago with enthusiasm, after having built over the past years  several electronic music instruments and computer music (MIDI) devices.

Accepting the invitation of AMMI, I am glad to tell you the story of my construction adventure of the  J.S. 20 note Busker.

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