Modern Instruments

The Premier (former Gutjahr)

This text was written just a few days after I received the New Premier of 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 pictures. 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 tradition.

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 with his).

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 is 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.



Sound Examples of modern Instruments

As an experiment in 1996 I made recordings of 2 pieces on 3 different instruments: The vals Desde el Alma and a piece of Bach on

  1. my Alfred Arnold PREMIER
  2. the new (1996) PREMIER (improved Gutjahr's instrument)
  3. the last Gutjahr Bandoneon (about 1992 - owner: Beat Muggli)

The Pictures of instruments 1. and 2. are available at DeJean's Bandoneon Pictures

Instrument 3. (Gutjahr's last one) looks like no. 2. but has a smaller dumper case (2 cm instead of 2,5 cm height).

Although I tried to make good recordings (not musically) the differences on the recording appear not to be as evident as they are really. I have replaced the original large wav files by mp3 compressed versions.

instrument Desde el Alma
AA Premier (1930) sound
Premier Mod D (1996) sound
Gutjahr Mod D (1992) sound
AA Premier (1930) sound
Premier Mod D (1996) sound
Gutjahr Mod D (1992) sound

Please note that during the last years significant improvements where made on the new instruments. Other manufacturers produce instruments of similar sound behavior.

Other Sources

(German, Spanish, English)
last update: 2018-08-07
Valid CSS! Valid html 4.0 Transitional