Re: Questions regarding tennor sax manufacturer's
Helmke's have questionable reliability. A better move would be to get a used Yamaha YTS-23 in playable condition for about the same price.
Oh, gee! I happen to have one for sale! Let me know if you're interested.
Seriously - this was not a totally gratuitous posting.
The issue with ultra-affordable horns is that the materials are GENERALLY not as durable and require more frequent adjustment. Not the kind of thing you want to fuss with in a marching environment where things tend to be thrown around and bumped more often than in a concert setting.
Many instrument repair techs won't work on these horns because their repairs might not hold up - which puts them in a pickle of sorts. "Music Now" - maker of fine WalMart/Costco "horns-in-a-see-through-cardboard-box" is even having to set up special paid agreements with repair shops to have their horns be serviced. Not the kind of situation any musician should be exposed to, in my opinion.
I don't know about the Marcus Martinis - never heard of them (though I haven't been on eBay too recently). The horns "coming off the slow boat from China" are branded and sold under different names. Unless you can find some historical information about the brand and the manufacturer, you can pretty well guess that it's a "junk horn".
You will find the occasional testimonial about the person that absolutely loves their "Brand X" horn they bought off eBay brand new for $199, but if you like to play the odds, go with a familiar brand.
I think Selmer's new "500" student line is Chinese-made, but Selmer has a bit of a reputation to uphold, so I imagine they are trying a bit harder than the anonymous businessmen shipping in the "table-lamps".
Used student Yamahas and Selmer Bundys are usually safe bets for marching situations - so long as they are guaranteed to be in playable condition (like mine is).
You can check out SaxQuest's trading post for info on my Yamaha, and I have pictures if you want to see it.
Best of Luck to you.