Watch: Repairing Willie Nelson's Beloved Guitar "Trigger"
Weathered and worn, tried and true. Like the legendary country star who wields it, Willie Nelson's famous acoustic guitar has many crazy stories to tell.
Nelson's signature six-string, nicknamed "Trigger," gets an annual tune-up courtesy of master luthier Mark Erlewin at Erlewine Guitars in Austin, Texas. Evidently, a lot goes into keeping this heavily used relic in stage-ready shape. Nelson actually plucks off chunks of wood with his fingers as he plays, making the instrument immediately identifiable by the second sound hole that has been created from wear.
"He is bound and determined to keep it going," says Erlewine on Nelson's devotion to Trigger. "I'm bound and determined to help him do that."
For you pickers out there, Trigger is somewhat of a Frankenstein originating from a late '60s Baldwin guitar, though only the Prismatone pickup remains after the original guitar was smashed by a wayward drunk following a gig. However, the pickup was salvaged and installed on a 1969 Martin N-20 classical guitar, and Trigger was born.
Erlewine has been keeping Trigger truckin' for years. He recounts a meeting with Nelson backstage after a show:
"There was Willie sitting at the bar having a drink, and Willie looked at me and said, 'Just keep my guitar going. As long as it's working, I'll be working.' No pressure."