Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 5 - July 1998
The Martin Guitar Company is honored to announce the N-20WN Limited Edition Signature Model guitar, a collaboration with Willie Nelson, one of the world's most renowned performers and songwriters. The N-20WN is a replica of Willie Nelson's beloved guitar, one of the most famous and recognizable instruments in existence. Available from authorized Martin dealers and distributors worldwide, C. F. Martin & Co. will make up to but not exceeding 100 Willie Nelson N-20WN Limited Edition Signature Models. No more than 30 of these 100 instruments will be offered with Brazilian rosewood back and sides.
Willie Nelson, a country music hero and an American legend whose career spans nearly half a century, is one of the most distinctive and popular musicians in the world. Nelson bought his first Martin sight unseen in 1969. He remembers the unusual circumstances:
"The Baldwin Company gave me a Baldwin amp and classical electric guitar with a special three-cord stereo pickup. I busted that guitar up pretty badly so I sent it up to Shot Jackson in Hansville to get it fixed. He called back and said, 'I can't fix it. It's broke too bad.'
I said, 'Well what else have you got around?' He said he had a Martin up on the shelf for $750. I asked if he could put the same Baldwin pickup in the Martin. And, that's how I got it, right off the shelf, unseen from a thousand miles away. When I got it I knew that I had picked up something special. I like to just sit around in a room and play it. I like to write on it. I just like the sound of it."
Photographs taken throughout Willie Nelson's career show the gradual evolution of his famous guitar (nicknamed Trigger) from its pristine new condition to its current weathered look. Much like Willie, his famous guitar has come a long way. Trigger has been played so much, there is a rather sizable hole worn right through the top, one that Willie considers so sentimental, he won't have it repaired. In addition, Nelson estimates that he has 100 signatures on his Martin including those of Leon Russell, Roger Miller, Kris Kristofferson, Gene Autry, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, lawyers, football coaches, and other friends and associates. When asked why his guitar is named Trigger, Willie explains, "Roy Rogers had a horse named Trigger. I figured: This is my horse!"
And what's so special about this guitar? Willie says, "It has great tone!" Most recently on his widely acclaimed album "Spirit" and on several soon to be released new songs, he has been recording with Trigger and nothing but a single microphone. The guitar simply embodies that Willie Nelson trademark sound.
During his well publicized perils with the Internal Revenue Service, Willie was so worried that they might try to take Trigger away from him that he hid his guitar at his manager's house for safe keeping.
1999 is the 30th anniversary of the original Trigger guitar. Martin will offer the edition in two configurations. No more than 30 instruments in the edition of 100 will be offered in rare Brazilian rosewood, the wood used to construct the original Trigger guitar. The remainder of the edition will be offered in East Indian rosewood.
Martin N-20 models have gone through many incarnations. The scale of this unusual model is 25.4", a length which was replaced with the longer 26.44" scale within a year of its introduction. Willie's specific guitar bears Martin's square non-tapered headstock shape with rounded slots which preceded the more traditional classic headstock shape. The neck is fitted with the highest quality Waverly Sloane side mount classical tuning machines.
The soundboard is bookmatched from solid Sitka spruce, tinted with the original "mellow yellow" toner and polished to a high gloss. The rosette is the traditional N-style wooden classical mosaic in black, white, red and green.
The fingerboard is crafted of solid genuine ebony with Willie Nelson's signature inlaid between the 17th and 18th frets. The fifth fret bears a Mother of Pearl inlay depicting the silhouette of the state of Texas with a single "lone star" in the middle. The name "TRIGGER" is inlaid at the 12th fret in western style poster lettering.
Each guitar will be offered with a state-of-the-art pickup system custom fabricated by Fishman Transducers, Inc. to closely replicate the tonal nuances of the original Baldwin pickup, which is no longer available.
In addition, every instrument will include a customized Deluxe Geib Style 5-Ply Hardshell Vintage Case with special "hemp" covered exterior.
Each guitar in this special edition will bear an interior label individually numbered in sequence and personally signed by Willie Nelson and C. F. Martin IV, Martin's Chairman and CEO. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Willie Nelson Limited Edition N-20WN will be donated to Farm Aid, Nelson's charity formed in 1985 to draw attention to the plight of America's farmers.
Martin Guitar dealers are taking orders for the Willie Nelson Limited Edition Signature Model now, though due to heavy demand for Martin instruments, this edition will not begin to appear in stores until the early months of 1999.