Once you have decided on an instrument to play, the first thing to do when you go to buy a musical instrument for yourself or your child is to consult the teacher/tutor as they will be the one who have to work with the instrument closely and they will also know a lot about different brands. Asking a friend who knows more about a particular instrument for advice is also a good idea and you can take them with you when you go shopping as well.
Take your time to decide what you want from your instrument, what style of music you will be playing with it, and where are you going to play it. Look into the specs of the instruments and research different types and brands of instrument you want. It could also be useful to check people's recommendations and comments about a particular instrument on websites. The best way to do your research is online as there is a lot of information available or you can go to shops and ask the salespeople for advice, although they may have ulterior motives.
Don't feel prejudiced against used instruments! If the previous user took good care of it, it will be just a good as its brand new counterparts. Good instruments are made to serve a long time, as long as they are maintained properly. The difference in prices is another aspect you might want to consider as used instruments will be cheaper that the new ones. Buying a new instrument, on the other hand, gives you assurance that there is no unseen damage, and they come with a warranty in most cases.
Buying an instrument online has it perks as there are plenty of new and used instruments so you can find a cheaper deal and it will be delivered right to your door. However there are precautions that need to be taken as you can't see or feel the instrument before you buy it and can't assess what condition it is in. If you decide to buy online, look into return and exchange policies of the website or company in case of damage. If it's a website like eBay or Gumtree, ask all your questions first before you pay the seller and check their references. Another way to proceed would be to ask them to meet up to try the instrument first, if it's possible in terms of distance.
Some shops might have used instruments as well, which will be cheaper. The best part of buying in a shop is that they regularly check the state of the instruments they sell. Another great aspect is that you can see and touch the instrument, try it out and pick the one you like the most. The majority of shops will also provide you with a warranty, so in case you need help with maintenance they will be able do it for free. Moreover, if you want accessories for your instrument or need new parts, the shop will most probably have those too, so you don't have to look for them too long.