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I’ve confessed my interest in beat up guitars in previous articles, I’m sure and this one sets the bar for beat up. Willie Nelson‘s Martin N-20, which has been named Trigger after Roy Roger‘s horse. What makes this guitar so special? Take a look at it. What doesn’t make it special? Each and every little nick, scratch, dent, signature, and additional hole in the body has a story behind it. What we are looking at here is not just a device to play music through, but a book which has been written with an expansive career as a touring musician.
Trigger has been along side Nelson since 1969 when he’d purchased it over the phone before he’d even seen it. Since then he’s clearly clocked so many hours playing on Trigger that I’m not sure I could even count that high. So much that a hole he’s worn a hole into the body. This has made Trigger an anomaly which got Martin’s attention to which they becan scrutinizing the guitar and in the late 90s produced a highly limited line of replica guitars.
Trigger, as applies to other Martin N-20 guitars, is built of rosewood body and neck with a sitka spruce top and an ebony fretboard. Regular guitars did not come with a pickup, but Nelson had a Baldwin pickup installed. Later replica models had a custom pickup made to replicate the Baldwin pickup as well.
Video: Willie and Trigger
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In about 1970, my dad made a machine, that cut the thin black and white plastic, that was inlaid around the outer edge of Martin Guitars.
And like all guitars, that old box still has more music in it than anyone can get out of it, but Willie does come very close.
This is an amazing guitar. I just saw it for the first time tonight. Truly amazing, I didn’t realize it was so banged up.