I'm thinking of buying an 1/4 violin for my son. He likes playing and has made great progress since he started playing 4 months ago. Currently he is using an old cheap one borrowed from the teacher. Since we decided to continue playing, I want to buy a good violin for him. I'm considering between Feddlerman Apprentice and OB1.
Is there any specific advantage of Apprentice over OB1 that makes the price difference?
Not that I'm aware of.
In the 4/4 size, I definitely prefer the Apprentice, and when the price difference between them was only $30, I would definitely have recommended it.
It's very difficult to get a good sounding violin at smaller sizes, and I've never heard either of these in those sizes. I'd call or email Fiddlershop and ask them about it. They'll have actually seen/played some of those smaller sizes, and can tell you whether one is significantly better than the other.
If they're about the same, I'd probably recommend the OB1. He's going to outgrow it fast enough that spending a lot of money on the 1/4 size doesn't make a lot of sense.
Related to that, I have a 1/2 size Scott Cao that I got off shopgoodwill.com that I'll sell you at a reasonable price. It's surprisingly sweet sounding, but I'm a bit large for a 4/4 violin - I have no use for a 1/2 size. (I got it because I overlooked that part - I thought I was buying a 4/4.) When he gets big enough that he needs to move to a 1/2, give me a holler.
I'd say no. There are lots of cheaper models (Cecelio has several that priced well below the OB1), but the sound quality is pretty likely to go down with them.
I think Cecelio has done very good things for the market, because they're make cheap violins available at a cheap price. They're good enough to be called cheap violins, rather than violin-shaped-objects (VSOs), which are MUCH worse.
They are not, however anywhere near as good as the OB1 and Apprentice, at least not in the 4/4. Cecelio is selling to the mass market - they're not trying to make high quality instruments at that price point and in mass quantities. I give them credit for the positives they have, but it's highly unlikely it will sound better than the one your son is using now. They might sound worse.
The setup Fiddlershop does is worth about $100. So either plan on paying at least that after you've gotten one that isn't set up, or paying it as part of the price of the violin. (Just so you'll know, they don't do that on the Cecelio's they sell. (Well, not the low end ones, anyway. Figure anything that costs less than the OB1.)