Usually beginners on an orchestral stringed instrument start off with an 'outfit' which consists of instrument, bow, case and rosin. These can be obtained via the internet, second hand from adverts in the classified columns of the local paper or from music or violin shops (violin shops sell all the violin family instruments).
The most important aspect of buying a first instrument is buying the correct size - small players need small instruments if they are to be comfortable and successful. If you buy from a violin shop they should make sure that you buy the correct size - if you buy from a local music shop they may make sure that you buy the correct size (levels of expertise vary).
If you buy over the internet you will need to ascertain the correct size by asking the teacher that your child is going to learn from or (for violinists only) check the tables at the end of this section.
For many the best way to buy is from a specialist violin shop - a good one will:
Violin shops often stock second hand instruments which have been checked in their workshop.
If you are not able to visit a violin shop ( to find one in your locality the first place to look is the violinandviola directory) you may wish to buy one from your local music shop or over the internet.