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Exhibition deemed very clever or really mad'

PUBLISHED: 12:36 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:37 23 August 2010

THE world s finest violins, with a starting price of £20,000, are to go on sale when a specialist centre opens. Violin Expo showrooms in Cologne and Paris already supply the finest musicians in the world. But next Friday the UK s only branch of it kind

THE world's finest violins, with a starting price of £20,000, are to go on sale when a specialist centre opens.

Violin Expo showrooms in Cologne and Paris already supply the finest musicians in the world.

But next Friday the UK's only branch of it kind is due to open in Wrotham Road, Gravesend, displaying 60 instruments made by the finest violin, viola and cello makers.

With stock worth an estimated £1.2 million, ranges sold will be made by award winning contemporary makers and pitched to customers like members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Wayne Beckett Managing Director of Violin Expo (UK) joked: "It's either very clever or really mad.

"Location is not that important for us and when you consider Gravesend's easy access to London and Europe, two-and-a-half hours to Paris and half-hour to London it's actually very good.

"We are near concert halls and Ebbsfleet International. If someone is spending about £20,000 they will not mind travelling so in a way it's the perfect location."

He added: "Currently, top musicians based in the UK would have to travel the length and breadth of Europe to source instruments of this quality.

"With very busy schedules, this is almost impossible. Now Violin Expo, with our showrooms in Germany, France and the UK offer musicians the perfect environment to find top quality instruments."

Also on display for the opening, to be attended by Gravesham Mayor, councillor Bronwen McGarrity, will be several important antique instruments dating back as far as the early 1600s.

Mr Beckett, from Dartford, explained he will not be expecting a rush of customers due to the specialist market they appeal to.

He added: "If I get two or three serious customers a week I will be happy. It's a bit like being a Ferrari dealer you don't expect hundreds of customers a day, like perhaps a second hand car dealer would.

"I don't even play an instrument, I'm a dealer. Generally our customers know what they want, if you are the lead on the London Philharmonic Orchestra you don't want to listen to me play a tune on a £200 piece. You want the best and most expensive contemporary piece. We can offer that."

A concert performed by Colibri String Quartet is due to take place at the official opening which is on an invited only basis.

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