Willie Nelson (image from img.wennermedia.com)

Sometimes, in this life, we find genuine bond not with people but with other existence around us. That is true for Willie Nelson. For more than 40 years, he has been enjoying his countrified journey with his N-20 nylon-string acoustic guitar named “Trigger.” The famous relic is a classical guitar designed with no pick-guard and became a long time companion for Willie up to this moment.

“When Trigger goes, I’ll quit,” Nelson once said.

Nelson discovered Trigger at a crossroad in his career. In the year 1969, he had spent nearly a decade trying to become a clean-cut solo success in Nashville. One day, a drunk destroyed his Guild acoustic, further information was not disclosed. After that incident, he decided to look for a new guitar with a sound similar to his gypsy-jazz hero Django Reinhardt. His buddy Shot Jackson suggested the Martin classical “gut-string” guitar.  And so, Nelson bought it without even testing it first, and gave it a name.

“I named my guitar Trigger because it’s kind of my horse,” he explains. “Roy Rogers had a horse called Trigger.”

Later that year, another unfortunate event happened to our music hero. Nelson’s house caught fire. The interesting action Willie did was that he raced inside to rescue Trigger and a pound of weed. He took this instance as a sign it was time to change location. He then returned to Texas to play in the honky-tonk clubs he grew up around. The scene in Texas was more contemporary with the electric instruments. With a brave spirit, Nelson began to thrive. He pushed the boundaries of what everyone expected from an acoustic player.

Trigger (image from www.texasmonthly.com)

How is Trigger now?

Reviewing the details of Nelson’s musical buddy, Trigger has a Sitka spruce top, Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, and a mahogany neck. The fretboard and bridge are made of ebony. This combination of tonewoods gives the guitar a warm and mellow sound.

There are lots of instruments older than Trigger. Some are displayed on national museums, and some are subject to auctions. However, few guitars have logged as many playing hours as Trigger have. Not to mention that Nelson plays real hard. Trigger is a  living testament to just how durable a fine guitar can be.

Checking on Trigger’s condition by now, its frets have worn down. The top is covered in cuts and autographs. Despite several repairs, there is a large hole in the front of the guitar. According to Nelson, Trigger sees a guitar technician at least twice a year, and despite everything the instrument has been through, it has no major cracks. The back is whole, and the headstock has never been broken.

Trigger is an instrument that sounds like no other.

Willie Nelson and his guitar, Trigger (image from www.grammy.com)

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