Our local music store in Wichita sells Cannonball, Yamaha and Selmer saxes but after I enquired about trying some of the new Selmers, I was told that they only get them in when someone orders one(!) The salesman confided to me that he hasn't seen a new Selmer in quite some time (well...duh!! I wouldn't shell out $6-7000 for a new saxophone, sight unseen, no matter who's name is on it!) Now, this store is probably one of the two most recognizable and reputable stores in Kansas. Cannonball is their "featured" line so they must be doing something right!
The same thing is going on with Sam Ash. They used to be known for stocking the top of the line horns in some of the "big four".
They had both Selmer Reference horns along with Serie II's and III's plus Yamaha 82 Z's and 62 II's.
The profit margin was slim so....
Then they began to push Cannonball( when I first heard that name I thought of a certain alto sax player. Shrewd subtle marketing, I don't care what they say. ) and Conn-Selmer's Asian brands La Vie and La Voix.
Then Conn-Selmer( no connection to Selmer Paris except for distribution rights) discontinued the Taiwan made La Vie and pushed the Chinese made La Voix.
And when they figured that was giving players too much value they started emphasizing their store brand, Jean Baptiste which sounds French but is made in China.
One day when I walked in the store they told me I just missed Kenny G promoting his brand ( Aw shucks ). I'm surprised the " Kardashian " hasn't come out. ( One of the words spell checker suggested for Kimi's last name was Balderdash.)
Now there's a name for a saxophone.
The new flavor is P. Mauriat which sounds French and now costs almost as much as a new Selmer. It's amazing that if you tell a lie long enough people will believe it. I'm talking about Paris stamped on their horns and the French bandleader's name.. Which means if you look at the horn while squinting your eyes you can say to yourself " By golly this is a French made horn. Wait a minute hold the phone , It's better ! "
So now you're shelling out over four grand for the Houli horn because of deception and outright prevarication by not stamping the country of origin on the horn.
Over all the Yamahas, Selmers and Yanagisawas are looking pretty good to me if the Taiwan horns cost just as much. I'll even throw in the Keilwerth.
As for buying a horn sight unseen I wouldn't either but in some stores you can put down 10 per cent and if you don't like the horn I guess they deduct the restocking fee from that.
Or just travel to a city where they stock the horns and Always try before you buy.