Willie Nelson Has Played One Guitar Since 1969: The Story of “Trigger”

Willie Nelson’s talent as a genre-bending musical artist is undeniably special. Between his easily recognizable voice, unique country tunes, and incredible songwriting ability, Nelson has cemented himself in country-folk music history. But, there’s another entity that deserves a little bit of credit for Nelson’s success: his trusty guitar, Trigger.

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Nelson has been playing the same Martin acoustic guitar since 1969, and the country music legend fondly named it Trigger. Nelson bought the guitar nearly 55 years ago after a drunken bystander damaged his previous guitar at a gig in Helotes, Texas. In need of a new instrument, Nelson bought Trigger for $750, which was considered pretty pricey at the time. Still, Nelson felt a pull towards the Martin guitar, which “had a bit of Django Reinhardt in it.”

After making the purchase, Nelson named the guitar after Roy Roger’s horse. The man and the instrument have been inseparable since. In fact, Nelson saved Trigger from a house fire years ago that destroyed all of his belongings except for the guitar and, as he put it, a pound of marijuana he had hidden.

Willie Nelson’s Guitar Lives On And Is Still Used For Performances Today

It’s apt that today, that guitar and his weed habit still endure. Decades later, Trigger has signatures from other musicians edged into its body.

Keeping one single guitar for five decades is a big deal and a testament to what Nelson puts value into. That guitar has played countless renditions of “On The Road Again” and “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” over half of a century.

Who knows if a guitar made today would endure time on the road like Willie Nelson’s guitar has? They really don’t make them like they used to.

Photo by Darren Hauck

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