What Kind of Guitar Does Willie Nelson Play?

What Kind of Guitar Does Willie Nelson Play?

Step into the mesmerizing world of legendary country music icon, Willie Nelson, as this guide will take a closer look at the remarkable guitars that have accompanied him on his musical journey. With a career spanning decades and a sound that is unmistakably his own, Willie Nelson has become synonymous with his trusty companion: the guitar. From sold-out stadiums to intimate jam sessions, the guitar in Willie’s hands has been a conduit for his soulful melodies and heartfelt lyrics. So, if you’ve ever wondered what kind of guitar this musical maestro plays, prepare to be captivated by the strings that have made Willie Nelson’s sound truly unforgettable.

Willie Nelson is a legendary American singer-songwriter and one of the most influential figures in country music. Throughout his long career, he has written and recorded countless songs that have become timeless classics. Here are some most popular of them.

“On the Road Again”

Released in 1980, “On the Road Again” is arguably Willie Nelson’s most iconic song. It was written specifically for the soundtrack of the film Honeysuckle Rose, a romantic drama about a country music star’s life on tour. The song quickly skyrocketed to success, becoming an instant hit and a timeless anthem for musicians and music lovers alike. With its upbeat and catchy tune, “On the Road Again” perfectly captures the exhilarating essence of life on tour, as Nelson’s lyrics express the joy of making music with friends and the anticipation of hitting the road once again.

On the Road Again

“Always On My Mind”

This melancholic ballad, titled “Always on My Mind,” was originally written by Johnny Christopher, Mark James, and Wayne Carson in 1971. However, it was Willie Nelson’s rendition of the song that truly captured hearts and earned him a Grammy for Song of the Year. With its heartfelt lyrics and Nelson’s emotive delivery, “Always on My Mind” quickly became a fan favorite, resonating deeply with listeners and solidifying its place as one of Nelson’s most iconic and memorable performances. The song’s timeless appeal continues to touch the hearts of music lovers around the world, reminding us of the enduring power of love and the artistry of Willie Nelson.

“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”

This beloved song, originally penned by the talented Fred Rose in 1945, found its true fame when the legendary Willie Nelson graced it with his soulful rendition on his 1975 album, Red Headed Stranger. With its gentle melody and Nelson’s unmistakable and unique voice, the song became an extraordinary masterpiece that resonated with audiences worldwide. It’s no surprise that this exceptional collaboration earned the song a well-deserved Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance. This timeless classic continues to captivate hearts and evoke emotions, reminding us of the enduring power of music.

“Whiskey River”

Released in 1978, “Whiskey River” holds a special place among Willie Nelson’s repertoire as one of his signature songs. Over the years, it has become an iconic anthem that resonates with fans worldwide. This timeless track, often performed live, has an undeniable charm that draws the audience in, with devotees passionately singing along to every heartfelt word. With poignant lyrics like “Whiskey river take my mind / Don’t let her memory torture me,” the song encapsulates the bittersweet experience of seeking solace in a bottle of whiskey, offering a cathartic release for anyone who has ever drowned their sorrows in a moment of melancholy.

Whiskey River

“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”

This iconic duet with the legendary Waylon Jennings was released in 1978, taking the music world by storm and instantly capturing the hearts of fans everywhere. The undeniable chemistry between the two artists shines through, resulting in a timeless masterpiece that continues to resonate with listeners to this day.

Their collaborative effort earned them a well-deserved Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group, solidifying their status as country music icons. The song’s infectious chorus and relatable message struck a chord with audiences, particularly parents who found themselves connecting deeply with the lyrics, which serve as a poignant warning against their children growing up to be cowboys.

Whether it’s through the captivating melody, heartfelt lyrics, or the raw emotion conveyed in their performance, this duet remains a beloved favorite at live shows, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of fans who have had the privilege of experiencing it firsthand.


Although originally written by the iconic country artist Willie Nelson, it was the legendary Patsy Cline who truly elevated “Crazy” to its status as a hit in 1961. With her mesmerizing voice and heartfelt interpretation, Cline captured the essence of the song like no other. Over the years, “Crazy” has been embraced by countless artists, but it is Nelson’s original rendition that remains etched in the collective memory. The poignant lyrics and soulful delivery of this timeless classic continue to evoke powerful emotions and resonate deeply with listeners, reminding us of the enduring power of music to touch our hearts and souls.


“You Were Always On My Mind”

Originally written by Johnny Christopher, Mark James, and Wayne Carson, “Always On My Mind” was recorded by Willie Nelson in 1982, solidifying his status as a country music legend. This heartfelt ballad not only showcased Nelson’s incomparable voice but also earned him another Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, further cementing his place in music history. The emotionally charged lyrics of the song revolve around themes of regret and the yearning to make amends with someone you deeply care about. It resonated deeply with fans who have experienced similar feelings of longing and nostalgia, making it an enduring hit that continues to touch hearts to this day [1].

The story of Willie Nelson’s Trigger, the most famous acoustic in the world

In the world of music, certain instruments are instantly recognizable and have become synonymous with a particular artist. One such instrument is Trigger, the acoustic guitar played by country music legend Willie Nelson. Trigger has been on stage with Willie for over 50 years and has become an iconic symbol in the world of music.

The trigger was made by Martin Guitars in 1969 and was a gift to Willie from his friend Shot Jackson. With its worn-out body, gaping hole, and signature autographs, Trigger may not be the most visually appealing instrument, but it is undoubtedly one of the most famous.

Willie Nelson’s unique playing style has played a significant role in shaping Trigger’s sound. He often uses a pick held between his thumb and first two fingers, creating a bright and percussive sound. Willie is also known for his intricate fingerpicking style, which has been showcased on songs like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and “On the Road Again.”

Trigger’s distinctive sound can also be attributed to its well-loved state. In the early days of Willie’s career, Trigger was already showing signs of wear and tear from constant playing. This wear on the guitar’s body has allowed it to open up and develop a rich, warm tone over the years.

Trigger has been with Willie through all his ups and downs, including financial struggles, the death of close friends, and even a devastating house fire. Despite these challenges, Willie continued to play Trigger, and the guitar has become a symbol of his resilience and unwavering dedication to music.

But Trigger’s fame extends beyond Willie Nelson. The guitar has been featured on countless albums by various artists and has even been displayed in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Many musicians consider it an honor to play Trigger, including Keith Richards, Neil Young, and Johnny Cash [2].

The story of Willie Nelson’s Trigger

What Other Guitar Does Willie Nelson Play?

Grammer G-20

Willie Nelson is known for his signature guitar, Trigger, which he has been playing since 1969. However, this isn’t the only guitar he plays. One of the other guitars that Willie Nelson is often seen playing is the Grammer G-20.

The Grammer G-20 was custom-made for Willie Nelson by Grammer Guitar founder and luthier, Billy Grammer. It was first introduced to Nelson in 1969 when he needed a new guitar after his old one broke on stage. The G-20 quickly became one of his go-to guitars and has been featured on many of his recordings.

The Grammer G-20 is a small-bodied acoustic guitar with a unique soundhole design. It features an all-mahogany construction, which gives it a warm and resonant tone. The guitar also has a custom neck shape made specifically for Nelson’s playing style.

Baldwin 800C

Another guitar that Willie Nelson has been known to play is the Baldwin 800C. This iconic electric guitar, gifted to him in the late 1970s by country music legend Waylon Jennings, holds a special place in Nelson’s collection.

The Baldwin 800C is a semi-hollow body electric guitar, boasting a unique design and sound that sets it apart from the rest. Crafted with a beautiful maple body and neck, this instrument exudes elegance and craftsmanship. Its two humbucking pickups deliver a rich and versatile tone, allowing Nelson to explore a wide range of musical styles.

With its distinct character and powerful sound, the Baldwin 800C has become Nelson’s go-to guitar for his more rock-oriented songs. Its presence can be felt in the soaring solos and dynamic riffs that have defined his music over the years.

Whether he’s strumming his signature Trigger or rocking out with the Baldwin 800C, Willie Nelson continues to captivate audiences with his exceptional talent and unwavering passion for music.

Martin 000-18

The Martin 000-18 has also been a staple in Willie Nelson’s collection for many years. This acoustic guitar, first introduced in the 1930s, is known for its incredible playability and warm tone.

Nelson was gifted this particular Martin by renowned country music artist Merle Haggard in the early 1980s. Since then, it has been a constant companion on stage and in the studio. Its solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides produce a balanced tone with plenty of depth, making it perfect for both strumming and fingerstyle playing.

With its rich history and exceptional sound, the Martin 000-18 has played an integral role in Willie Nelson’s musical journey. It serves as a reminder of his deep connection to traditional country music and continues to be a beloved instrument in his collection. So, these are some of the other guitars that Willie Nelson plays apart from his famous Trigger.

Each one has its own unique features and sound, adding depth and versatility to Nelson’s performances. From acoustic ballads to electric rock songs, these guitars have been an integral part of Willie Nelson’s legendary career and will continue to be for years to come. So, if you ever have the chance to see Willie Nelson live in concert, keep an eye out for these iconic instruments that have helped shape his sound and define his legacy as one of the greatest musicians of all time.

Martin 000-18

Guitar Collection

Apart from his beloved guitars, Willie Nelson also has an extensive collection of other stringed instruments. This collection includes mandolins, banjos, and even a ukulele.

One notable instrument in Nelson’s collection is the 1929 Martin 000-45. This rare acoustic guitar, known for its exquisite craftsmanship and rich, resonant sound, is highly sought after by collectors and has been played by many legendary musicians, including Eric Clapton and Elvis Presley. Nelson, known for his passion for vintage instruments, cherishes this particular guitar and has been known to bring it on tour with him, showcasing its beautiful sound and sharing its storied history with his audience.

In addition to vintage instruments, Willie Nelson also has a variety of custom-made guitars in his collection. These unique instruments, meticulously crafted by renowned luthiers such as Paul Reed Smith and James Trussart, add even more diversity to Nelson’s sound. Each custom-made guitar is tailored to Nelson’s preferences, ensuring that he can achieve the perfect tone and playability for his music.

Overall, Willie Nelson’s guitar collection is a true testament to his love for music and dedication to his craft. Each instrument holds a special place in his heart and has contributed to the iconic sound that fans know and love. So, the next time you see Willie Nelson on stage, take a moment to appreciate not only his incredible talent but also the guitars that have played such a pivotal role in his musical journey.

Willie Nelson Amps Overview

Willie Nelson is an American musician, actor and activist born in Abbott, Texas in 1933. He is widely recognized as one of the most influential figures in country music, with a career spanning over six decades. Nelson’s signature sound combines elements of traditional country music with blues, rock and folk influences.

One of the key components of Willie Nelson’s iconic sound is his use of amplifiers, or “amps” as they are commonly known. These electronic devices are used to increase the volume and sound quality of an electric guitar, which is a staple instrument in country music. Here are some of them:

Fender Twin Reverb

The Fender Twin Reverb, a legendary amplifier famously used by Willie Nelson, has etched its place as an iconic piece of musical equipment. Born in 1952, this amp has stood the test of time and captured the hearts of countless musicians with its distinctive blend of rich and warm tones. Equipped with two 12-inch speakers and boasting an impressive 85 watts of power, the Fender Twin Reverb delivers a clean and crisp sound that has become synonymous with Nelson’s signature style. Whether it’s the twang of his guitar or the heartfelt lyrics of his songs, this amplifier has played an integral role in shaping the unmistakable sound that resonates with fans all around the world.

Fender Twin Reverb

Martin 10 watt

This smaller and more compact amp, loved by Willie Nelson, is a favorite among musicians for its exceptional versatility and unmatched portability. With its two channels, it allows for seamless transitions between clean and overdrive tones, making it an ideal choice for electrifying live performances. Despite its modest size, the Martin 10-watt amp never compromises on sound quality, delivering a rich and powerful audio experience that is equally suitable for intimate acoustic sets or larger venues with a PA system. Its reliable performance and exceptional tone make it a must-have for any musician seeking both convenience and uncompromising sound.

Mesa Boogie Lone Star

The Mesa Boogie Lone Star, a relatively recent addition to Willie Nelson’s impressive collection of amps, has rapidly gained popularity among musicians. This exceptional amplifier features two channels, each equipped with independent equalization controls, enabling artists to fine-tune their sound to meet their precise specifications. With its remarkable 50-watt power and a wide range of versatile sound options, the Mesa Boogie Lone Star effortlessly solidifies its position as a valuable addition to Nelson’s already impressive arsenal of amplifiers. Its unmatched tone and exceptional craftsmanship make it a cherished gem in the world of music amplification.

Mesa Boogie Lone Star


Why does Willie Nelson play a guitar with a hole in it?

Willie Nelson’s iconic guitar, famously known as the “Trigger,” bears the marks of its storied history. After years of relentless strumming and countless performances, the instrument proudly displays a large hole on its body, a testament to the enduring passion of its owner. The fateful incident that caused this unique feature occurred during a concert back in 1969 when Nelson accidentally dropped the guitar on stage. Rather than seeking immediate repairs, Nelson made a bold choice to embrace the imperfection and continued to play his beloved Trigger. As time went on, this distinctive hole not only became a physical reminder of Nelson’s dedication to his craft but also a symbol of resilience and artistic authenticity.

What is the significance of the hole in his guitar?

The hole in Willie Nelson’s guitar is often seen as a symbol of his longevity and resilience as a musician. Despite being dropped and damaged, the guitar still produces beautiful music and has become an iconic part of Nelson’s image. The hole also adds character to the instrument, making it unique and recognizable among other guitars. It serves as a reminder that even imperfections can be celebrated and embraced, further cementing Nelson’s status as a legendary artist. Additionally, the hole has inspired countless musicians and fans alike to embrace their own flaws and find beauty in imperfection.

Has Willie Nelson ever considered getting his guitar repaired?

Despite the numerous offers he has received over the years, Willie Nelson has never considered getting his guitar repaired. He has stated that he will continue to play the Trigger as is until it falls apart. For Nelson, the hole in his guitar holds sentimental value and is an integral part of its history, making it irreplaceable. He also believes that repairing the instrument would alter its sound and take away from its unique charm. Ultimately, the hole in Nelson’s guitar is a testament to his rebellious spirit and unwavering dedication to his craft.

What other iconic items does Willie Nelson own?

Aside from the Trigger, Willie Nelson has several other iconic items that have become synonymous with his name. These include his signature braids, bandana, and cowboy hat that he wears during performances. He also has a vintage tour bus called the “Honeysuckle Rose” which has been featured in multiple films and documentaries about Nelson’s life. Additionally, he owns a small town in Texas called Luck, which serves as a venue for his annual music festival.

All of these items have become iconic symbols associated with Willie Nelson and his enduring legacy in the world of music. As a true icon, Willie Nelson’s impact goes beyond his music and extends to the objects and stories that have become part of his legend. From his beloved guitar to his distinctive style, each item reflects the indelible mark that he has made in the world of music and popular culture.

Does Willie Nelson still use the same guitar?

Yes, Willie Nelson still uses the same guitar, known as the Trigger. Despite its age and damage, the iconic instrument remains his go-to choice for performances and recordings. In fact, Nelson has been seen playing the Trigger in recent years, showcasing its enduring quality and importance to him as a musician. The guitar has become an extension of himself and continues to be an integral part of his live shows, creating a nostalgic and sentimental experience for both Nelson and his fans. The Trigger will always hold a special place in Willie Nelson’s heart as the guitar that has been with him through thick and thin, making it more than just an instrument but a symbol of his incredible journey as an artist.

What kind of pickup does Willie Nelson have in his guitar?

Willie Nelson’s guitar, the Trigger, is outfitted with a custom pickup designed by Bill Lawrence specifically for him. The pickup is a single-coil model and was installed in 1971 after Nelson’s previous pickup stopped working. This unique pickup adds to the distinctive sound of the Trigger and has become an important part of its overall character. It is also a testament to Nelson’s dedication to his craft, as he sought out a specific pickup to maintain the tone and quality of his music. Today, this custom pickup continues to play a crucial role in Willie Nelson’s iconic sound and remains a key component of his beloved guitar. Overall, the Trigger with its unique hole and custom pickup serves as a symbol of Willie Nelson’s enduring spirit and the legacy he has created in the world of music.

Why is Willie Nelson’s guitar named the Trigger?

Willie Nelson’s guitar was famously named after Roy Rogers’ horse, Trigger. The name was given to the instrument by one of Nelson’s bandmates as a playful nod to his love for Western films and music. The name also stuck because it perfectly captures the energy and impact that Nelson has with his music, much like how Roy Rogers’ horse was a beloved and iconic figure in Western culture. Today, the name “Trigger” has become almost as synonymous with Willie Nelson as his own name, solidifying its place in music history and adding to the legend of this iconic instrument.

Useful Video: Willie Nelson and His Famous Guitar: The Tale of Trigger

Conclusion Paragraph

Willie Nelson is a famous American musician, actor, and activist. He has a long and successful career in the music industry, winning multiple awards for his contributions to country music. Nelson is also known for his activism and support for various causes such as farmers’ rights, animal welfare, and marijuana legalization. His favorite guitars are named Trigger and of course, he has a tour bus called the Honeysuckle Rose. Nelson’s music is loved by many, with his unique voice and style making him stand out in the country music scene. He has released numerous albums throughout his career, with hits such as “On the Road Again” and “Always On My Mind” becoming iconic songs in American music.


  1. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2023/apr/27/willie-nelsons-30-greatest-songs-ranked
  2. https://guitar.com/features/interviews/story-of-willie-nelsons-trigger-most-famous-acoustic-guitar/