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  1. #1

    Default New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    If you've read some of my previous posts you know I've been an enthusiastic TK Melody owner for almost a year now. I love my tenor and alto as much as ever, and I now have several students and friends that feel the same way about theirs. Last week I was asked by Perkins Music here in Maine to demo horns at the Maine All State Music Festival. I was excited because it meant I would get to play not only the TK Melody line but the new Viking Legend Series tenor (the brainchild of TK Melody's U.S. distributor Rich Maraday). While the TKs got plenty of attention, the real star of the exhibit hall was the Viking. People couldn't stop talking about how great it sounded and how much they loved the classic "cognac" gold lacquer.

    As the name suggests the Viking Legend tenor is designed to play and sound like an older horn. While many "new vintage" saxophones seem to be a cross between classic French and American horns, the Viking is an unapologetic Selmer copy right down to the absence of a high F# key and classic French floral engraving. The horn I played had a beautiful dark gold "cognac" colored lacquer that I've only seen on early Mark VIs. The Viking is also available in gold and silver plating as well as the more modern brushed antique finish. These horns are made in Taiwan, part of the new generation of pro horns coming out of Asia. Unlike the brightly colored abalone key touches many Taiwanese companies use, the Viking comes with the classic white mother of pearl key touches that most saxophonists seem to prefer. The overall appearance of the horn is classic, elegant, and beautiful.

    The first thing you notice when you play the Viking is how free blowing it is. It will take all the air you give it, but the sound remains focused even in the low register. Many of the newer horns have slightly larger bells that tend to get boomy and spread in the lower register, but this is not the case here. Viking describes the horn's neck as being "fast tapered for increased response". My experience was that this horn really spoke clearly from top to bottom. The altissimo came out easily and the intonation was excellent. The comments I got from other saxophonists and teachers were "tons of projection", "creamy", "focused core sound" and "full spectrum of harmonics". From the player's perspective you really sense a nice "zing" to the sound. This horn seemed to be a great match for the Otto Link Slant-style mouthipece I use, and I suspect it would work great with other low baffle mouthpieces too. Rich Maraday told me the brushed antique finish horn plays darker, but I prefer the brighter more lively sound. In this way the horn reminds me quite a bit of a Selmer SBA.

    The feel of the Viking is what really sets it apart for me from other modern saxophones. When I first picked up the horn I couldn't believe how little it weighs, possibly the lightest modern pro horn I can recall. On the Viking website they tout the horn as having "reduced post rib construction & special brass for increased vibration and feedback". Part of what makes playing the Viking so much fun is the feeling of the brass vibrating like crazy. You can really FEEL your sound, not only under your fingers but all around you. Again, this reminds a lot of some Selmer SBAs I've played over the years. Modern saxophones tend to be so heavy that getting the metal to vibrate to the point where you can feel the sound is near impossible. Some makers have tried to remedy the problem by offering a raw brass horn for those after the vintage French sound, but the result is still not quite the same as the original. By opting for a lacquered Selmer copy made with less brass and their special neck design, I believe Viking has gotten closer than anyone to copying the late 40's and early 50's Selmers.

    The other thing I loved about the Viking in terms of feel was the key layout. The horn has a much slimmer feel in your hands compared to any other Taiwanese saxophone I've tried. I would compare the action more to that of a Japanese horn like a Yamaha Custom Z, which I consider to be a great feeling horn. The palm keys are nice and close to the body which I've always liked, possibly because I have smaller hands. Overall the action and key layout is almost identical to a Mark VI.

    There are so many saxophones being produced today that it's easy to overlook a great new product unless the company bombards us with a massive advertising campaign. I have tried, and even owned, a lot of what's out there. For me the sign that a horn is a winner has always been when I can't put it down. After playing the Viking for two days straight, putting it down and walking away was definitely hard. I hope I get asked to demo the Viking again so I can play it some more!
    Viking M40 CB tenor, 10mfan Merlot 9 HR, Viking M58 alto, Macsax D-Jazz 6
    http://davidwellsmusic.com
    http://viking-instruments.com

  2. #2
    TK Melody Endorser/
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Great review David.

    I want to hear some of your great playing on the Viking.

    B
    “We are what we repeatedly do.
    Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
    ~Aristotle

  3. #3

    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Interesting. What kind of price range?

  4. #4
    VIKING INSTRUMENTS Rich Maraday's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Map is $2650.00 but we can always do a little better...Just call me 845-361-9353 Thanks, Rich

  5. #5
    Just a guy who plays saxophone. swperry1's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    I had an unexpected surprise when I went to spend some time with my tech today: I got the chance to play Rich Maraday's new Viking Legend Series Tenor. Though not anywhere near the playing stature of the OP; David Wells (with whom I am psyched to be studying with at UMaine this fall!!!), I know enough to know what is going on, and I liked what I was hearing.

    Look: The cognac gold lacquer is absolutely beautiful. I like the white key touches too.

    Feel and Ergonomics: I only played it for about ten minutes, but I was already starting to feel more comfortable with the difference in feel versus my main horn, a Cannonball Raven. "Slim" is a good way to put it, and it is by far the lightest tenor I have ever played. I have not played an SBA, and I played a VI for about five minutes in a shop a few years ago, so I can't make those comparisons. This particular horn definitely had that good vibration to it, that feeling that a horn just has to be "born" with. It isn't something that a tech can improve on, it is in the metal, and in the design. When I pick up a sax, that is about the first thing that grabs my attention when I start playing it.

    Sound: I used a Saxscape Xtra Dark Proto .102. I think I finally understand the term "focused." I know, everyone says to think laser beam, but I guess I had never really experienced it. At first I was playing in kind of a dead room, so I thought that was why I wasn't really hearing what I was feeling. Then I walked over to the other end of the room and things changed drastically. It got even better when I did the "corner test." I played loud, I played soft, I played all sorts of different articulations, and the sound just stayed right there. Altissimo was easy and very clear all the way up to E4 (not that I play up there often, but I have stable fingerings up to there on my Cannonball, and they all worked here). It was a little different not having a high F# key, but I was able to easily play any of the standard F#3 fingerings (with and without front F). I didn't put it to a tuner, but nothing seemed off to my ear, and I am sure it will be even better after regulation.

    Overall impression: Very good horn. If I were in the market, this would be a serious contender. If I had a week to really play test it, I probably wouldn't want to give it back. Rich, you have a great product here. I wish you well with it, and I am glad to be somewhat close to one of the few retail outlets for your line and the TK Melody line.

    I should mention that I was playing it in straight from the factory condition! It had been unwrapped and play-tested, but not set-up yet. I kind of hope it is there and ready to go when I pick up my saxes. I would love to give it a go then...or maybe not, I might have to send Rich a check.

  6. #6
    VIKING INSTRUMENTS Rich Maraday's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Thanks for the great review. I hope some others will give the horn a try... I think we have a nice product here. Ive been playing the sample for a couple months now and it has stayed in regulation and is getting even better with use. And I'm rough on horns.. The action is much lighter after playing it for a couple months. The horn really pops on the R&B gigs and has plenty of charecter for my jazz gigs .I don't have to work hard to get results.. Ive owned so many good Selmers and this really does compare. By the way I sell TK Melody, RS Berkeley Virtuosos ,Sax Dakotas and have used VIs and Keilwerths in stock as well... I'm a fan of all these horns.. 845-361-9353 viking-instruments.com

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Maraday View Post
    Thanks for the great review. I hope some others will give the horn a try... I think we have a nice product here. Ive been playing the sample for a couple months now and it has stayed in regulation and is getting even better with use. And I'm rough on horns.. The action is much lighter after playing it for a couple months. The horn really pops on the R&B gigs and has plenty of charecter for my jazz gigs .I don't have to work hard to get results.. Ive owned so many good Selmers and this really does compare. By the way I sell TK Melody, RS Berkeley Virtuosos ,Sax Dakotas and have used VIs and Keilwerths in stock as well... I'm a fan of all these horns.. 845-361-9353 viking-instruments.com
    This sounds great. especially considering what dctwellsn said about the weight, vibrations and ergos of the horn BUT does it have that "Selmer ring"?

  8. #8
    VIKING INSTRUMENTS Rich Maraday's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    I think it has the right stuff in regard to vintage Selmer sound both in front and behind the horn. I have owned 2 referance 54s and 2 36s and many MVIs and BA's back when I worked at USA Horn. I could get them at cost so it was easy to move around from horn to horn and trade in stuff. I had the horn disease bad. The Viking M58 tenor is much closer to the vintage selmer vibe then either 36 or 54. This is not replacing anybodys 5 digit and I wouldn't expect it to .. But it really is fine instrument for those who don't have the money or the desire to spend that kind of money for a 5 digit.

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Maraday View Post
    I think it has the right stuff in regard to vintage Selmer sound both in front and behind the horn. I have owned 2 referance 54s and 2 36s and many MVIs and BA's back when I worked at USA Horn. I could get them at cost so it was easy to move around from horn to horn and trade in stuff. I had the horn disease bad. The Viking M58 tenor is much closer to the vintage selmer vibe then either 36 or 54. This is not replacing anybodys 5 digit and I wouldn't expect it to .. But it really is fine instrument for those who don't have the money or the desire to spend that kind of money for a 5 digit.
    I appreciate you honest reply very much! Thank you!

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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Ok..... Sound clips or YouTube please?

  11. #11
    VIKING INSTRUMENTS Rich Maraday's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review Raw Sound clip

    Little Raw sound clip of the web cam using Jody Jazz DV Rico Royal 3s. It is what it is untill I get a better cam....
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEJfNUTKnVM

  12. #12
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review Raw Sound clip

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Maraday View Post
    Little Raw sound clip of the web cam using Jody Jazz DV Rico Royal 3s. It is what it is untill I get a better cam....
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEJfNUTKnVM
    Sounds great man!

  13. #13
    TK Melody Endorser/
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review Raw Sound clip

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Maraday View Post
    Little Raw sound clip of the web cam using Jody Jazz DV Rico Royal 3s. It is what it is untill I get a better cam....
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEJfNUTKnVM
    Nice playing. Sound is def. raw but good.

    B
    “We are what we repeatedly do.
    Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
    ~Aristotle

  14. #14
    VIKING INSTRUMENTS Rich Maraday's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Thanks...

  15. #15

    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Sounds great and very free blowing! Is there any resistance in the horn as selmers has?

  16. #16
    VIKING INSTRUMENTS Rich Maraday's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Quote Originally Posted by superaction2 View Post
    Sounds great and very free blowing! Is there any resistance in the horn as selmers has?
    Thank you ...Just enough resistance to get a little push back to move the tone around . It really reminds me of a Vintage Selmer in that regard... .. The 54 and the 36 had too much resistance...

  17. #17
    Distinguished SOTW Member rhysonsax's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Really nice clip and a very tempting horn. I'm waiting for sound clips and pricing on the Viking bari, especially the low Bb model.

    Rhys

  18. #18
    TK Melody Endorser/
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    Rich. When you get a better camera or not, can you do a comparison of Viking vs. T.K. Melody?

    I would be curious to know the tonality difference between the two.

    My T.K.'s are very dark and lush (more Dexter than Coltrane) and even with a DG its not completely well suited for fusion.

    B
    “We are what we repeatedly do.
    Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
    ~Aristotle

  19. #19
    VIKING INSTRUMENTS Rich Maraday's Avatar
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    blow out on the Viking Tenors for $1550.00 CG 1650.00 Antique finish and the Altos for $1350. I have 2 tenors left. One cognac gold and the other antique. I have two altos cognac gold.. Contoured flight cases included....Shipping extra.. Thanks Rich

  20. #20
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    Default Re: New VIKING LEGEND SERIES tenor review

    ...can someone let me now when the ball game is back on ?

    ...I'll be in the kitchen.....

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