The Olegature clarinet ligature.
Oleg Products, Inc.
U.S. woodwind instrument and accessory maker advances
with patented, one-of-a-kind innovations
Back in 1995, Dr. Thom Mason of the University of Southern California brought his premium brand clarinet to inventor and instrument maker Oleg Garbuzov in hopes of improving its intonation. When Garbuzov installed his fresh-off-the-bench prototype ligature, Mason was thrilled with the result, spontaneously dubbing the invention the “Olegature.” The name stuck, and this “scientifically proven new paradigm in ligature functionality” joined a long list of ingenious, one-of-a-kind Oleg instruments and accessories designed to improve the lives of woodwind players.
Oleg Products, Inc. was incorporated in 1991, but development of its product line actually started years earlier within the Oleg’s Music store. Opened in 1980 in Hollywood, California, the store’s strong customer traffic and in-demand repair services by high-profile musicians provided a fertile ground for new ideas and market research. The first in a long line of patents Oleg was awarded was for an inflatable saxophone case. More new products followed after the store moved to its new location in Studio City. In 2005 Oleg’s Music closed and Oleg Products, Inc. moved to its current location in Van Nuys to focus on its own product line. The company continues to be run by its namesake founder and CEO, who has a master’s degree in oboe performance from Kiev Music Academy and was the principal oboist in the Kiev National Orchestra before immigrating to the United States in 1975.
All Oleg accessory products are patented, a fact that underscores their uniqueness, and each was created to solve specific problems or fill a significant product category gap. Oleg created new products that never existed before, such as saxophone enhancers, which accommodate the difference in players’ hands and bring modern functions to vintage instruments. It was also a pioneer of ergonomics with its line of luxurious ergonomic sax straps. Other Oleg accessories include the compact and lightweight Bulldog Sax Stand, Double-Parabola Flute Headjoints, luxurious leather reed cases, and Maestro and Contempo saxophone mouthpieces.
Oleg’s instrument line, which includes saxophones (sopranino to bass) plus flutes, headjoints, and enhancers, features advanced and unique playing characteristics as well. Based on original research in acoustics, they eliminate the common intonation problems associated with saxophones and flutes that still plague other well-established manufacturers. Oleg also pioneered the after-market saxophone neck industry in the early ’80s based on the original neck optimization technique it developed in 1981.
Garbuzov admits that his company is having to adapt to the changing marketplace. “For a long time, we were banking on word-of-mouth and the pure uniqueness of our products,” he says. “From the beginning of the internet, we were right on top of the first page of Google search results without doing any SEO. That changed with the rising Amazon.com phenomenon and media marketing.” In response, the company developed a better website and has begun boosting its presence on social media.
Oleg products are sold worldwide, and its business is “growing steadily every year.” Legitimately having “Made in USA” stamped on its products “still has some power in the world marketplace,” but the higher cost of production compels Garbuzov to constantly improve its designs and operating technologies and source better material prices. Meanwhile, the U.S.’s high dollar value affects exports and requires the company to offer extra incentives to its foreign dealers and distributors.
Oleg Products’ newest accessories include the Michael Lington Signature Alto Mouthpiece and the Curved Baritone Neck. Garbuzov describes the latter as “amazing for its sound characteristics and its effect on musicians’ playing because of its ergonomic improvements to the saxophone.” Eliminating the neck and wrist pain associated with playing a big instrument, the Curved Baritone Neck has generated strong results in the Asian market, and the company is now aiming to promote it in the U.S. and European markets as well.
In the coming months and years Oleg will be developing many ideas for new products offering meaningful benefits to musicians. “Bringing those ideas to life is the ultimate satisfaction for me personally,” says Garbuzov. “That’s the whole reason our company exists.”
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