I recently bought a cognac Viking M8 tenor from Rich Maraday, and just wanted to share my impressions.
I’m not a professional, just a late bloomer who has owned a lot of horns. I started playing about 12 years ago but had to put the sax down for a few years because of some carpal tunnel symptoms. The carpal tunnel finally went away and I started looking for a new tenor a last year.
In the past I’ve owned a lot of nice vintage horns including Martins, Conn’s, Buffets, Kings, Bueschers, Dolnet’s, and SML’s. I’ve played a few Mark VI’s and modern Selmer's several years ago but never owned one.
This last year, I briefly owned a Mauriat 66R and 76, and currently have an RS Berkeley Virtuoso, “The Martin” tenor, and the Viking M58 .
Although the Mauriat’s have a good core and vintage vibe to their sound, the thing that I didn’t like about the Mauriat’s was that to me, they seemed have this rigidity in their sound. The best I can describe it, is a kind of blattiness or harshness, that to my ears sounds unmusical. I don’t hear any of that blattiness in the Viking. It has a nice colorful, and refined core without sounding imposing or harsh. The Viking sounds lush in comparison. To to my ears, it has more depth and flexibility than the Mauriats. In terms of response, it is probably the most balanced feeling tenor that I have ever played. Palm keys are thick, the low end is fat and smooth and the middle register is lyrical and warm. Intonation is as good as it gets.
The whole horn just sings with a response that reminds me of good Conn. It has that kind of dynamic feeling that has something to do with the just right amount of pressure inside the horn. You just don’t hear the sound coming out of the end of the horn, you also feel it. This type of response is hard to describe. It reminds me of a Chu Berry that I once owned and also the Rev D. It almost like you can feel pressure being released as the keys open which makes the horn feel alive. The Viking has a similar kind of response that you can feel and provides feedback that lends itself to expression and gives the sensation of depth. Its free blowing with just enough resistance to shape.
In comparison, the RS Berkley is nice and seems to do a lot very well, but to my ers Viking has more color, and depth. The Viking’s bottom end is bigger and smoother, the palm keys are little fuller, and the response is more intimate.
My Martin is great and has a lot of character and fun to pay. It is bold and assertive with that signature edge when pushed. It seems to really want to be an extrovert and does so with swagger and class. However, the Martin seems a little one dimensional compared to the Viking. The Viking feels more flexible and dynamic. It is just as powerful as the Martin but it is also at home with the subtle and nuanced stuff.
I’ve had the Viking for about three weeks now, and every day I still have a hard time putting it down. Rich has really put out a great horn with the M58… And, If you haven’t dealt with Rich, you won’t find a nicer, more down to earth guy to buy a horn from.
Best of luck with Viking Rich!