Willie Nelson’s Guitar: Trigger


An old post about Trigger:

 Hi..I’m a rocker, but I love Willie Nelson’s  lead playing.  Is there any old Willie albums that sorta showcase his lead guitar playing?  I love his acoustic guitar that he’s played for decades, too.  Thanks!

It’s a 1969 Martin nylon string (classical) guitar, and considered to be one of the best acoustic guitars in the world, despite (or because of??) the additonal soundhole. It’s not a baritine but a standard size guitar.

Willie’s been playing it almost exclusively (except when he plays electric for the blues) for over 30 years. His song I’m Falling in Love (from the Greatest Hits double CD) has a wonderful guitar solo, very inventive. There’s some nice guitar work on Red Headed Stranger, the seminal, turning point album that won him a Grammy and brought him the fame he deserved. The name of the guitar is Trigger, according to Rolling Stone Magazine:

Willie Nelson a country music hero and an American legend whose career spans nearly half a century, is one of the most distinctive and popular musicians in the world.  Nelson bought his first Martin sight unseen in 1969. He remembers the unusual circumstances:

“The Baldwin company gave me a Baldwin amp and classical electric guitar with a special three-cord stereo pickup. I busted that guitar up pretty badly so I sent it up to Shot Jackson in Nashville to get it fixed. He called back and said, ‘I can’t fix it. It’s broke too bad.’ I said, ‘Well what else have you got around?’ He said he had a Martin up on the shelf for $750. I asked if he could put that same Baldwin pickup in the Martin. And that’s how I got it, right off the shelf, unseen from a thousand miles away. When I got it I knew that I had picked up something special. I like to just sit around in a room and play it. I like to write on it. I just like the sound of it.” Photographs taken throughout Willie Nelson career show the gradual evolution of his famous guitar (nicknamed Trigger) from its pristine new condition to its current weathered look. Much like Willie this famous guitar has come a long way. Trigger has been played so much, there is a rather sizable hole worn right through the top, one that Willie considers so sentimental, he won’t have it repaired. In addition, Nelson estimates that he has 100 signatures on his Martin including those of Leon Russell, Roger Miller, Kris Kristofferson, Gene Autry, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, lawyers, football coaches, and other friends and associates.

When asked why his guitar is named Trigger, Willie explains: “Roy Rodgers had a horse named Trigger. I figured: “This is my horse!”

And what’s so special about this guitar? Willie says: “It has great tone!” Most recently on his widely acclaimed album “Spirit” and on several soon to be released new songs, he has been recording with Trigger and nothing but a single microphone. The guitar simply embodies that Willie Nelson trademark sound.

In 1999, Martin issued a special limted line of 100 Willie Nelson N-20WN Limited Edition Signature Models.

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