1. Cute little wooden organ with crooked keys
Most likely manufactured by Emenee as a number of other models looking similar to this are accredited to the musical instrument company. The cute gold, green and red sunburst motif top center does not seem to appear on any other instruments we’ve seen. It’s a fairly ornate surround with pipe organ style front speaker, carved wood, and some kind of knob at the bottom right which may be for operation, but the keys are purely plastic and, unsurprisingly for an instrument from the 1960s or 1970s, not in the best condition.
You can read more about the Emenee company in this PDF uploaded by the Stryker Area Heritage Council.
2. Malysh Russian musical keyboard instrument
From around 1989, this produces a monophonic tone not unlike the stylophone. Being vintage Russian, it is quite difficult to get definite information on this keyboard, but we believe it is a toy one with miniature keys marketed for children, with very limited features. It seems to be available in both green and red body.
3. Cute yellow 1-octave keyboard with strap
We have very little information about this toy keyboard except that its brand is supposed to be “Play ‘n’ Learn”. In fairness, the market is awash with these types of music keyboards aimed at the very young babies and toddlers, as some kind of introduction to music. Their quality is usually low, and we could’ve picked any number of quirky designs. They don’t stand the test of time, which is why, a few years on, they have usually disappeared and been replaced with another brightly-colored plastic-bodied instrument with almost certainly the same, or similar, innards to make it beep and squeak.
Cute, all the same, although it probably eats batteries all day long. Cheap, easy and safe enough as a candidate for beginner circuit bending, perhaps.
4. Yellow elephant dual keyboard
This bright yellow elephant keyboard showed up on an Etsy listing (now sold) and it’s rather a mystery. The only clue as to its origin on the instrument itself is a “Made in Hong Kong” embossed onto the battery compartment, which doesn’t narrow things down much, although the listing suggests it’s made by a company called “Blue-box”, who seem (or seemed) to make other toy instruments.
There are many toy keyboards around, some resembling animals, and most producing bell or tone noises. They’re all rudimentary but do provide a basic introduction to music making. This one has an octave of notes, presuming they are the white notes in a C major chord. They are numbered 1-7 and then i — not sure what the ‘i’ represents but it’s there anyway. There is also a row of colored metal bars in a separate section above, suggesting a xylophone or glockenspiel type of thing, although no obvious hammer to strike them with.
5. Funky-looking “Xylomatic”
Definitely all mechanical and analog by nature, no batteries required, this 1970s Xylomatic (Automatic Mechanical Xylophone) by Congost seems to work by setting pins in a cylinder which, when rotated, causes different metal bars to be struck, producing musical tones. It’s a bit like way a player piano roll works, except on a much smaller scale, and (despite the automatic name) requiring human intervention to get it to work.
A Xylomatic search on YouTube brings home this point; one upload sees two Xylomatics being used in order to create even a moderate length tune. Quirky, and seemingly quite rare now, there’s something quite ‘fairground’ about this. Practically, not necessarily very useful for music making (not live, at least) but could be good for sampling or creating short repeating melody loops.
6. Lovely green and purple toy 32-key keyboard from Kawasaki
Although Kawasaki might be more renowned for its motorcycles, it has in its history made a variety of musical instruments including novelty and entry-level keyboards. Not to be confused with Kawai, it came up with funky designs such as this 57758 “kids” mini electronic digital piano in the 1990s. Its features are fairly basic but it presents them with big, colorful buttons and rolling shapes, plus a carry handle, making it more appealing to a younger audience.
7. Vintage toy glockenspiel
We have no clue as to the age or manufacturer of this glockenspiel. We initially called it a xylophone but taking a look it is clearly fashioned from metal, although the base may be wood. It oozes antiquity, although it could just have been stored really badly. Numbered 1 to 12 we’re guessing it is a chromatic octave. You’d turn it through 180 degrees to have the lower notes (longer bars) on the left. It looks as if it might be quite tricky to play as the metal being struck looks like fairly thin circular pipes.