The Premier (former Gutjahr)
This text was written just a few days after I received the New Premier
on December 1996. The instrument
was build under the supervision of Klaus Gutjahr who acquired the
necessary know how during many years. However, since summer 1999
Klaus Gutjahr does not support Premier's service any more.
finally I have received the ordered "new Premier" from Berlin, and since
some of you are interested in too, I will try to give some behaviour of it.
I am playing on an "old AA Premier" which is shown on Jan's Bandoneon
Therefore it is obvious that I compare both instruments rather than be making
an absolute valoration.
The instrument was ordered as model C (152 tones) with zinc reed plates
with button arrangement as "Rheinische Lage" = tango fashion and
without mother of pearl inlay and mahagony coloured housing. It comes with a
black case. Serial number: 960010, weight: 4,3 kg, pitch a = 440 Hz.
Since prices have increased since my order, ask for the valid ones.
(new 6000 DM for this model in Germany now). It is nearly identical to that
shown on Jan's Bandoneon pictures.
(Premier model D)
The first impression: A compact and plain instrument, the only decoration are
the lyras and the mother of pearl buttons. The size is nearly identical
to the old one: 23 x 25 cm. The compact impression comes from the narrow bellow
which is 3 x 6 fold and makes you think to be an accordion bellow.
The buttons are arranged in very regular manner but after a while you'll find
nearly all buttons at its original place. The rounded button tips are very
pleasant and no clapping is audible. The response is *very* good with few
exceptions (improved since the last Gutjahr version) and a fast play is easy.
The air consumption is low (slightly higher than Gutjahr's version). It is
evident, that the used reed plates are of a very high quality. The tuning
is made carefully athough one has to wait for some time. Inside you'll find
a fine mechanics, something improved compared with AA but overall respecting
The sound: It is quite different from my old instrument but clearly a
bandoneon, and very loud. You feel the sound comes out freely and easy.
It is brilliant and sharp, for me sometimes shrill, and the melody is
penetrating, opposite to the old problem of having the harmonies too
dominant. It makes me remember the sound of Ciriaco Ortiz, if you have the
recordings. Beat Muggli, a bandoneon player using Gutjahr's last instrument,
feels it more moderate, he says the left hand (bass) is stronger now (compared
The overall sharper sound compared with the "old Premier" is due to the
smaller tolerances of the reeds. The cross section relation of the reed pair
is comparable with the old values. If you like a warmer, more intimate sound
you should look for an old instrument. But it's a matter of taste.
What I don't like: The bellow is not as flexible as you would expect from
a bandoneon. With time it will become softer but the metal frame arround
avoids a free opening. Perhaps you need not too much opening because of the
low air consumption?
With the 152 version you have all half tones but some positions of tones
have been modified in the nucleus 142-version positions. So the instrument
not 100 traditional players hopping from one instrument to the next.
Mr. Gutjahr did not know the AA design for 152 instruments when he
constructed his instrument.
All together: If you consider the price, you need the same for an equivalent
old instrument. If you never played an old one, I can recommend you this
instrument. For traditional players it might be better ordering the 142
tone version or insisting in a real original disposition for the 142 tones
inside the 152 version. For the decision zinc or aluminum I recommend zinc
because of the more precise sound and the weight you need for handling the
bellow. Insist in a better bellow.