© Christine Ettenauer

the joy of toy :: instruments

Isabel Ettenauer's toy piano collection is constantly growing. Currently Isabel owns more than 40 toy pianos with a range from 10 to 49 keys, respectively. The instruments were built in France (Michelsonne), Germany (Goldon), Italy (Bontempi), China, Japan and the USA. 

Isabel is very grateful to Len and Renee Trinca, the owners of the Schoenhut Toy Piano Company in St. Augustine, Florida, for their ongoing kind support. 

Smaller toy pianos often come from China or Japan and are usually diatonic with the black keys only painted. You find them not only in C but frequently in other keys like A or E. What looks like a C major scale turns out to be an A major or E major scale for example. That means that these instruments are actually transposing.
Bigger toy pianos such as American Schoenhuts mostly are fully chromatic.

Apart from their size, the main difference between a toy piano and a grand piano is that toy pianos don't have strings but metal rods. The tuning of toy pianos (a result of cutting the rods to the appropriate lengths) varies quite a lot and is usually slightly microtonal. The material the mallets are made of, usually wood or plastic, influences the sound, making it either rather metallic and percussive, or warmer and rounder.

read about the joy of toy performances