I ordered a Viking M-40 because I play and like Taiwanese horns myself. I also wanted to try it out because of Viking's claims of a less heavy horn. As a 49 year old, I have neck issues from having a tenor on my neckstrap since I was 12. God knows a couple less pounds adds up after a 4 hour gig.
When the saxophone arrived, I noticed it was in a box much smaller that what I use to ship tenors. I not only play them, I repair them and flip saxophones as well. As a flipper/repairman, I see and play literally hundreds of horns in a year from student horns to the best SBA's Anyway, I opened the box and to my horror, there was very little padding in the box. The case was moving freely inside the box and that ain't good. I expected there to be damage to the horn quite frankly. There was no visable damage. Viking uses a very good Selmer flight case knock off that did the job protecting the horn during shipping, but I don't depend on cases myself.
I was struck by the looks of the horn. The fit and finish is exactly what it should be on the body of the horn. The soldered mini ribs showed no faulty workmanship or sloppy finishing. The dark lacquer is not nearly as dark as the competitors horns tend to be. I put a light down the horn to give it a quick check and put my RPC 115B on the neck and gave it a good thrashing. I noticed immediately that the resistance was very great. I was expecting a freer blowing horn. The M-40 had far more resistance than any Ba or SBA I have ever played. I put the light back down the horn to see if I missed anything. Then I noticed that the neck was a few shades darker than the body of the horn.
I informed Viking about the playability problems and to his credit Rich sent me two different necks to try out. One was marked Viking and the other was a Balanced Action neck that had been worked on by Randy Jones. The viking neck didn't make a lick of difference, but the BA neck was much better but too bright for some reason. I play a Taiwanese horn with the same neck tenon size, so I tried my two necks out and one of them really made the M-40 play better. Nevertheless, I sent the horn back to Viking.
It took Viking 8 days for the refund to post after they got their horn back.
I do want to point out the the Viking M-40 is a well built horn, at least the body is. The case is great and I think with a little bit more R&D to find the right neck, it will be an absolute winner. I say this dispite my experiences with Viking.
06/24/12 VIKING INSTRUMENTS 40 Acoustic Balance comes with 2 different new necks to choose from. The M40 is now more so then ever able to meet the playing criteria of sax players with different tastes. While we believe the original neck was very good, we decided to add 2 more necks to raise the bar in customer satisfaction with our product. We will continue to work harder to bring a great product to players at a fair price. We have a 100% positive no damage shipping record to date. We are always looking for new and improved shipping methods regardless. We always recommend paypal over credit cards because of the well known history of delayed refunds by card companies because of the increase of credit card fraud. Any refund over $500.00 is subject to a review by the credit card companies fraud protection agents. This is out of VIKING INSTRUMENTS hands and up to the credit card company issuing funds. Viking Will scan and email proof of any refunds to the customer the day of the refund transaction as we have done 100% of the time in past refunds .
Below are real reviews by real players and techs added to this site by Viking Instruments with the customers permission.
Charles Grey posted this on SOTW and I'm very thank full for his review. He is a very nice person and a Great Saxophone repair Tech.
Viking Instruments - A Local Professionals Story
This personal story is just so surreal in a good and positive way (on so many levels) that it just needs to be shared with the SOTW community.
Rich Maraday (owner of Viking Instruments) is somebody who's path I have crossed in a very general sense for the past 15 years or so. We both live in the Hudson Valley region of NY and have met on the band stand of a couple local bands every now and again.
Rich also comes comes from a family where his father was a professional saxophonist as well..... and a well respected one at that!!
Rich use to work for USA Horn. He had a VERY real sense of what the player needed way back in those days. I know I had several private students (as well as other private teachers in the area) going to USA Horn to deal with Rich. Heck, I even bought my Buffet Festival Clarinet 10 years ago from Rich at USA Horn.
So, lets fast forward to this past week. Rich called me up and said -
"Listen Charlie, I just got in a shipment of horns and I need somebody to come over and set them up. These horns NEED to play when my customers get them and I do not want to take any gambles and I know you KNOW saxophones and what you are doing."
As I have met Rich in the past, this mentality didn't surprise me. When I do my repair work, I don't like to compromise my ideals. Rich is very much the same way so I agreed to go over and help him out
That brings us to yesterday. I show up at Rich's house and I get welcomed at the door and brought down to the "Basement" which he set up as his base of operations. This one of the nicest basements I have been in. It felt like the ULTIMATE in man caves!!! Sitting out is at least 12 Tenors and 3 Altos with many more in the cases all ready to ship out.
Now, I have a very open mind when it comes to foreign horns as I know from personal experience that these could be very good OR very bad.
So while making small talk, I pick up a M40 Tenor. Ummm.... DUMBFOUNDED is the only word I can come up with as I blew the horn. This thing PLAYS!! RESONATES too" Ok - so I drop the light down it and found a tiny leak. OK - simple adjust and Holy Crap this thing roared!!!
OK - on to the next one.... an M58. What CORE!!! Even through every thing I could throw at it. Again - minor adjustment - away we go.
As I blew down the lot I found some that needed nothing. Found some that needed a little more. I unpack and blow downs new yamaha's, selmers, mauriats, and buffets daily at my day job. The "out of the box" quality is as good as or better than any other factory.
In the end - every single horn had this "vibe" that was just astonishing!!!
I am writing this story because in today's society and economy, you don't see guys doing what Rich is doing. The reason is ... because it's not easy!!!! Here is a one man operation where everything has been well thought out, quality is not sacrificed , and professional knowledge is successfully applied to the product development.
You got to give credit to a man who is making a quality product that is on par or dare i say better than many others.
Now, its one thing to say all this, but after playing the horns he was paying me to setup, I walked up to an M58 and said..... I'll take that one!! That's my new pro gigging horn.
Rich is a man of his word. He will tell you like it is.... for better or worse and stand behind his product. I look forward to helping him in the future.
I also agreed to bring my M58 and an M40 to the Symposium this coming weekend for people to try. Just find me and ask if you are going and want to try one.
Bottom line..... no hidden surprises with Rich. Life is not always perfect, but if you want an advocate in an imperfect world to help you get the best quality possible, Rich is the Man!!!
Dear vikingtk,This is the best new tenor that I have played. kills anything new and is better than 9 of 10 vintage horns. I just bought one and love it. It is a steal at this price. Please post this comment/question so that people can know how great this horn is. Tim Zannes.