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Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
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a different version of this sax (without this engraving and the hammer and sickle ) is often seen around these parts. It is generally avoided as a playing instrument but as a collector’s item may have a certain appeal but that is pretty much all it has. I personally wouldn’t buy it unless you need a conversation piece.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2012
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I have the alto version in unplayable condition. As Milandro says, it's more of an interesting conversation piece and part of history and not worth returning to a playable state.

I purchased mine here in the states from a retired British lorry driver. He was one of the first drivers into Russia as trade relations were reestablished. He told me you were not allowed to do any personal business, just get there and get out but he couldn't resist going to a market to find a ‘token' of his journey. He found the alto and stowed it in his cab and didn't get caught.

He had some great stories from that era and we chatted a long time, turns out it was a GREAT conversation piece. 🙂
 

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I am not sure of when trade relations would have been interrupted, at least, we, in Europe had constant and continuous trade throughout the “ cold war “ and after.

In Italy there was an Olivetti founded company, ATEMSA, which traded extensively in Russian technology.

the CCCP or USSR bought lots of stuff from Europe and generally paid in goods , I can assure you that there was never a ban for most European countries but there wasn’t much trade because most of their goods (aside for some sectors like optics and mechanical things) were mostly far outdated compared to anything else.

But there was nbever a “ ban”/

In the ’70 many Russian Jews went to Israel through italy, they were not allowed to take money (because the ruble wasn’t traded outside Russia) but they could buy goods to take with them. I’ve met many refugees which waited often in Italy before they were allowed into Israel.

They took many things among the many things there were lots of musical instruments, I am sure that a lot of these horns came to Europe and then the world this way.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2012
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Fair enough, I'm posting too early in the morning and you are absolutely correct. It was when British (Western?) drivers were allowed to deliver freight directly to their destination. The way I phrased it was incorrect.
 

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no prob.

Lots of these instruments certainly came to Europe after 1989, when the iron curtain fell. We in the NL had lots of Polish people coming weekly to the Netherlands with lots of goods that they took with them. They were going to Ukraine and Russia to buy stuff and literally brought truckloads of anything cheap.

So there were at a market near me, a lot of goods ( some of the goods were bad : ) ) which included musical instruments but often .

This no longer happens but the opposite does.

I know of several Polish residents who work as scouts for Polish traders buying horns from the NL. Generally Yamaha and Keilwerth but also, surprisingly, Grassi.

They are then brought to Poland, repaired and often sold in Russia too. Especially low end clarinets and flutes (very cheap here). Clarinets have also a good market in Turkey, especiually the old and unwanted German system.
 

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I've always been fascinated by Soviet/Eastern Bloc items. We visited East Berlin in 1984 and it was a fascinating experience. We rode the British Troop train to Berlin then traveled by bus into the Soviet sector on a ‘shopping' trip.

The whole thing was pretty confusing for me as a kid, but the people seemed really nice. Well, except for the boarder guards. They seemed rather imposing... 🙂
 

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Very interesting piece I am planning on purchasing... What do you think?
Not sure what was patched up... a tone hole or just a hole... but don't see a neck either.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
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I have the alto version in unplayable condition. As Milandro says, it's more of an interesting conversation piece and part of history and not worth returning to a playable state.
I want to chime in here because we have to be a bit careful, methinks. I had a USSR-made horn, mine by Moscow Music Works.....which, according to every thread I could find on Soviet saxes, was surely a piece of garbage with horrible action and intonation so bad it was shocking. This was said by some folks who actually had experienced them.

I had this horn for a good 10 years, not refurbing it solely because of those threads, and knowing the market value was sh*t. But around a year ago I decided to give her the works. So I overhauled it.

Guess what ? Monster tone, ergos and action no worse than many other European vintage brands of the time (not saying it was slick, but if compared to say a vintage Amati or Weltklang, it was comparable to those). Machining was pretty good, body gauge was pretty good. It was not a dog. Nor can I fathom how any sax player with a decent embouchure could claim that these had terrible intonation.

It was, as we would call it, a respectable player. Yes it needed some swedging and post re-aligning and tonehole leveling and all that stuff. But so do almost 50% of old horns which have not been upkept very well. Sold it for $300 to someone and they still play it regularly a year later.

Is it gonna be a good player's go-to ? Certainly not. But was it a horn which could certainly be played out if one had the notion to ? Or picked up from time to time and tooted for a bit. Yes, certainly....

Again this was an MMW horn...I know there were a couple other major factories that built saxes, so I cannot speak to those. I know Leningrad also had a factory.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Leningrad-...a=1&pg=2334524&_trksid=p2334524.c100667.m2042

I am not saying yours is NOT a dog, Cymru. Just saying that westerners have a tendency to poo-poo anything made behind the Curtain (I have refurbed a few Arta Gubans, Romania, as well...and guess what ? Same findings). So if I had listened to those folks who were strafing Soviet horns, and had I not found something odd about their comments, and if I were not a person with a soft-spot for instrument oddballs...I probably would have turned this into a garden fountain.

But I decided not to, and lo and behold....a bit of truth was revealed.

So to the OP...if you end up buying it and it is in the states and will be shipped to you in CA, and you'd like it to arrive in playing shape (if it is not), I would be happy to actually receive the horn and do a servicing on it and then send it on to you, if you happen to not have a good tech locally.
 

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I am not saying yours is NOT a dog, Cymru. Just saying that westerners have a tendency to poo-poo anything made behind the Curtain (I have refurbed a few Arta Gubans, Romania, as well...and guess what ? Same findings). So if I had listened to those folks who were strafing Soviet horns, and had I not found something odd about their comments, and if I were not a person with a soft-spot for instrument oddballs...I probably would have turned this into a garden fountain.
Fair point! I am a fan of Amati and have always liked the flourishes found on the Arta Guban horns as well. Mine is just in a deplorable state overall and would take more than a full overhaul to get into playing shape. I might drag it out again and see where it stands, perhaps I'm wrong on the amount of work it needs, but I purchased it as a curious piece of history more than anything. I could have gone for a more playable MMW horn, but the engraving is what I was really after. I'd love to try one, especially after reading about your experience, but if I were looking for a low-cost player there would be quite a few makes and models in front of these ones.

I've got a soft spot for these oddballs as well and I'm glad you are breathing life into them! I should be more be more careful with my words and am glad you called me out on it!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
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... but if I were looking for a low-cost player there would be quite a few makes and models in front of these ones.
Yes, absolutely. As you say, a MMW or other wouldn't top the list of potential choices for a player looking for a workhorse everyday, inexpensive player...I was more stating these are not terrible and in good tack certainly undeserving of their internet rep.

I've got a soft spot for these oddballs as well and I'm glad you are breathing life into them! I should be more be more careful with my words and am glad you called me out on it!
Didn't mean to call YOU out particularly...you just happened to be there :bluewink:. More calling out all of these threads and other internet postings, just to remind folks one cannot truly ascertain a horn if it isn't in good playable shape.
So when a person is approached with a decision 'should I put any $ into this ?' and they go on the web and everyone seems to be saying the horn is garbage, most people will not consider whether the critics have actually had an experience with one in top-shape. Nor are those comments taking into consideration what the owner, personally, wants to get out of owning the horn.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
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Not sure what was patched up... a tone hole or just a hole... but don't see a neck either.
Looks to me like it is missing its palm F and the flash photo makes the hole look plugged (?). A replacement one, along with saddle if necessary, can be grafted on from another horn (if it happens not to be floating around in the case or down the bell)
 

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]Didn't mean to call YOU out particularly...you just happened to be there :bluewink:. More calling out all of these threads and other internet postings, just to remind folks one cannot truly ascertain a horn if it isn't in good playable shape.
So when a person is approached with a decision 'should I put any $ into this ?' and they go on the web and everyone seems to be saying the horn is garbage, most people will not consider whether the critics have actually had an experience with one in top-shape. Nor are those comments taking into consideration what the owner, personally, wants to get out of owning the horn.
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Pfft... Well, when it's earned, it earned! :D

I totally agree with your approach to "lesser" brands and have taken the same with a number of horns and ended up with very good players for peanuts. Heck, I just picked up one of the Amati-built Jean Baptiste tenors for next to nothing and it's about as close to 'new' condition as you can get! That one will probably move on to one of our local school kids. Here's to all the oddballs floating around out there!
 
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