20-note Street Organ

This is a homemade 20 note street organ. It is completely enclosed in 1/4" plexiglass so all the mechnical movements can be observed while it is playing. Music is provided on a paper music roll. Motion is provided with a hand crank on the rear of the organ. The cart is hand made and has storage shelves inside the skirt.

Starting from scratch it would take about one month to build this organ assuming you still have to work for a living. All the parts are available at common home improvement centers except for the drapery blackout material found in fabric stores. It can be built using power tools found in most woodworking shops.

I would like to give some very basic instructions on how to build the whistles and then you can decide if you want to look deeper into the project.
You can use just about any kind of wood that you have laying around as long as it is clear and solid. I used plain carpenters glue for everything. The basic layout of the whistle is shown below. The dimensions for each whistle are also given.
The two longest whistles are bent as shown to fit onto the backside of the mounting panel. Windows are cut into the panel to allow the sound to come out the front.
The whistles are tuned using about 5 - 6 water column inches of pressure. A diagram of a homemade Manometer used to measure the water column inches is shown below.The whistles are almost a complete chromatic scale so you might be able to find another novel use for them.
Of course It would be nice to have a lot more detail on whistle construction but maybe this will be enough to get you started. There is a lot of information on the internet about "Home brew" street Organs.

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    26 Discussions


    2 months ago

    More detailed instructions please.

    David McKibbin

    1 year ago

    I've tried to download the plans, but they don't come thru. Just a 3 page intro. Please can you help me. I've paid for two years subscription to "instructables"

    David.... NZ


    3 years ago

    hello you still selling the book, I can't find it on eBay?


    3 years ago

    Is there a price or link to how to buy or do I just not see it? An e-book that maybe covers the cost of hosting the site would probably be a reasonable thing to do, at most.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like instructables too, because people share, and don't sell. I'd like to give some of the pages of a book that I have, and swap from another. That way I can share the in the making of another 20-note organ, just for the pleasure of it, not for the money.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    ~I don't understand... I admire Instructables because people share, not sell. It seems this entry is in the wrong arena. Give something... perhaps the drawings only but share! I don't care how good the book or the results are - I do care that this muddies the clear beauty of my favourite site.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    My apologies sir. You are correct in your thinking. My problem is the project is so big that it can't fit into the instructables but I did want to share something that was home made. However I did take your suggestion and at least added some instructions on how to make the whistle part of the organ which could possibly be put to use by creative thinkers.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Fortunately its helped a few, including myself, to have a foundation to start on, to me that makes it a good instructable :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I bought your ebook and the drawings and have been working on my street organ as time allows. So far the instructions have been very easy to follow and everything is going together nicely. I have made a few little changes to your plans but for the most part have followed them as you have outlined them. When I finish, I'll send pictures or a link to pictures and youtube videos. Thanks for making this easy......Jim

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    JIM - Thanks for the support on my book. If you have any questions along the way just let me know and I'll do what I can to help you out


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is amazing. And it is very well tuned.
    You probably wouldn't want to publish something like a construction plan here?
    I personally would not have the time to build an organ like this now... but when I get retired, this would be a very favourable projects (together with my grandchildren or so.)...
    Kind regards,

    7 replies

    I do have a 250 page book of instructions on how I built this thing. Let me know if you are interested in building this thing....it really is not too difficult


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    i would like to have that 250 page book instructions on how to built this. i'm a living statue performer and i'd like to do a statue of a balerina in a music box. so it had to be constructed in large scale. i can i do that?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    To all that have inquired, I am very near completion of an ebook version of my construction plans for this organ. If you are interested, please email me at:



    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction


    I would be interested in your plans to build the 20 note organ.


    Belfast. Northern Ireland


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Ray - The printed plans for the organ are available on ebay at:


    or you can just do a search on ebay for:
    "Street Organ Plans" without the quotes

    Please let me know if you have any trouble locating the item


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, I would like to get a copy of your book on building the Busker Organ. From watching your videos and seeing that you devoted 250 pages to your plans, I can tell it is worth having. I have purchased both the John Smith and Melvyn Wright plans, but they are both, in my opinion, unreadable. I have 35 years experience as a woodworker, and have never seen such a jumble of napkin scrawling. I would love to build one, and will be happy to pay for your plans. You can contact me through Instructables, or private message.