Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trigger: The Story of Willie Nelson's Guitar

Normally I wouldn't do this, but I copied the following story from Willie Nelson's Wikipedia page and pasted it on here. It's a fun read about what arguably is the most famous guitar in the world.

In 1969, the Baldwin company gave Nelson an amplifier and a three-cord pickup electric guitar, but Nelson played with such intensity that he broke it. He sent it to be repaired in Nashville by Shot Jackson, who told Nelson that the damage was too great. Jackson offered him a Martin N-20 nylon-string acoustic, and at Nelson's request, moved the pickup to the Martin. Nelson purchased the guitar unseen for US$750 and named it "Trigger", after Roy Rogers' horse. Constant strumming with a guitar pick over the decades wore a large sweeping hole into the guitar's body near the sound hole—the N-20 has no pick-guard since classical guitars are meant to be played fingerstyle instead of with picks. Its soundboard has been signed over the years by over a hundred of Nelson's friends and associates, from fellow musicians to lawyers and football coaches. The first engraving on the guitar was an exchange with Leon Russell, who proposed to Nelson they sign each others guitar by engraving the scripture, since an ink signature would fade away with the passage of time. In 1991, during his process with the IRS, Nelson's major worry was the possibility that Trigger, could be auctioned, stating: "When Trigger goes, I'll quit". He asked his daughter, Lana to take the guitar from the studio before any IRS agent got there, and bring it to him on Maui. Nelson then hid the guitar in his manager's house until his debt was paid in 1993. In 1998 the C. F. Martin & Company announced a limited edition of one hundred N-20WN Signature Model guitars made in Brazilian rosewood with Nelson's collaboration.

There is some great footage of Willie picking on Trigger in this video of The Great Divide.