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Thread: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

  1. #1
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    StewMac just posted this re: The Erlewine Shop in Austin, a discussion of Trigger

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    Over and over again, it gets shop time between tours I expect.
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    On a TV show that I was watching about 10 years ago Glenn Campbell said he gave Willie a guitar that was the same make as Trigger and in pristine shape and Willie never started using it, I guess he figures trigger is his trade mark so to speak and will play it until it just falls a apart which might not be too long...

    Interesting videos though...

    Willie

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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    About 20 or so years ago I was talking with Chris Martin who just hates to see Willie's guitar in public. He has told Willie he will fix it for free, but Willie say's no thanks. I told Chris that it is good advertising that a national performing star like Willie has enough confidence to tour with a guitar with a hold picked in it. That Martin's can handle whatever you throw at them. Chris said he didn't care he wanted to fix it up so it looks nice. Well now it is a couple decades later and the guitar looks worse, but is still seeing lots of stage time. Some things just take a licking and keep on ticking. Oops, showing my age.
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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    Thanks, "John Cameron Swayze"
    You're not that old "pops"!
    There's an interesting story about that little advertising phrase.
    Remember them strapping a watch to the prop of a Johnson outboard and firing the thing up?
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    Registered User Nathan Kellstadt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Some of the info is in the video above, but if you enjoyed the video, this article goes even further. If you're a fan of Willie (if you're not, I don't want to be your friend), it's worth a look.

    http://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/trigger/

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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    [QUOTE=There's an interesting story about that little advertising phrase.
    Remember them strapping a watch to the prop of a Johnson outboard and firing the thing up?[/QUOTE]

    I remember that, and the elephant stepping on the watch. They had some good ones.

    Just doing the math, I talked to Chris in '90, I was 40. How time flies. Wait wasn't there a commercial about that too.
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    40+ years ago, I was working in the grain elevator of a flour mill in California. We were moving some Montana spring wheat through the grain cleaner and out to the mill. I was walking by the grain cleaner when I heard a rattle and a clunk and found a Timex in the cleaner's tailover bucket. That watch had been through at least several trips into and out of various silos in our elevator and no telling how many more in its journey from a Montana farm. I wound it up and it ran fine. I wore it for several years after that.

    I always thought of John Cameron Swayze whenever I looked at that watch.
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    I can totally understand the bond between Willie and his beloved guitar. They have been partners in his remarkable career just like Bill and his Loar. Don't do any more then it needs to play.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I can totally understand the bond between Willie and his beloved guitar. They have been partners in his remarkable career just like Bill and his Loar.
    One of my greatest musical aspirations is to find that special mandolin, (like Bill's Loar, or Willie's 'Trigger') that I can truly bond with. I had that bond once with an electric guitar, but it only lasted about 6 months before the guitar got ruined in a freak accident.

    The search continues.

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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    I haven't found my Trigger equivalent mandolin yet but this custom made for me parlor guitar has been my partner for 12 yrs, and definitely has reached Trigger status to me. I really wish this would happen for me mando wise...
    Dare I say this? "The search continues" coming to a future forum near you...

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    Last edited by Demetrius; Aug-10-2017 at 9:02pm.

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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    If Willie can play a 'distressed' instrument I should quit fretting about the minor scratches on mine.

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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    Demetrious - That's lovely. If i'd bought a Parlour sized guitar instead of a Dreadnought sized one, i'd still be playing acoustic guitar. After playing mandolin,playing the one that i bought was like trying to play a wardrobe !!,
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    Erlewine is an absolute master. I had him put a new neck on a J-45 once and the job was perfect. He happened to have a Gibsonmade neck blank in stock. Willie and many other players trust him completely. "Trigger" is probably not as fragile as you might think. I know she goes in for regular check-ups.

    I always have found it interesting that Willie uses a classical guitar strap just like mariachis. Of course, that is exactly what "Trigger" is. Maybe that is why there has always been a "latin" feel to the music.
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    Demetrious - That's lovely. If i'd bought a Parlour sized guitar instead of a Dreadnought sized one, i'd still be playing acoustic guitar. After playing mandolin,playing the one that i bought was like trying to play a wardrobe !!,
    Ivan
    The Gibson J-45 I had was just too big. Now it's mandolin and my late 20's tenor guitar, Irish tuned (like an octave mandolin)...just the right size.
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    I have read that the real "secret" to Trigger is the Baldwin piezo pickup that was transferred to the Martin N-20 from a Baldwin guitar that the company gave Nelson, and which was "trashed" in an on-stage (though not during performance) accident; supposedly a drunk got on the stage and stepped on the Baldwin in its case.

    Here's what the Texas Monthly wrote after an interview with Nelson:

    The thing is, Willie didn’t much care about the guitar, a [Baldwin] 800C Electric Classical, which had a thick, beefy neck. The guitar had been a promotional gift from Baldwin—a piano company—in 1968, along with a C1 amp. What Willie really liked was the sound he could get from the guitar’s pickup, a revolutionary Prismatone piezoelectronic model, made with six tiny ceramic sensors. Before the Prismatone, acoustic players like Willie had to play into a microphone, which meant they were usually drowned out by the band. The new pickup allowed him to play an acoustic guitar onstage with a band and actually be heard, especially with the C1 amp, a solid-state piece of machinery that was designed by Baldwin’s organ engineers to work with the Prismatone via a special stereo wiring system. The amp had a brushed aluminum top and five colorful “Supersound” tone buttons—red, lime green, yellow, blue, and purple—that evoked the groovy sixties. “Hear it,” promised the Baldwin catalog, “and you might think it’s a happening!”

    Jackson* couldn’t salvage the guitar, he told Willie over the phone. It was too busted up. Jackson did mention, though, that he had a Martin N-20 on hand and could transfer the pickup into it. Martin was the premier maker of steel-stringed guitars; the N-20, which had been introduced the year before, was a nylon-stringed, or gut-string, guitar, an attempt by Martin to make inroads in the Spanish-style market. Willie liked gut-string guitars well enough, but he was a little uncomfortable buying one over the phone. “Is it any good?” he asked. “Well, Martins are known for good guitars,” Jackson responded. Willie asked the price. Seven hundred and fifty dollars, Jackson told him. “I had just bought a roping horse for seven hundred and fifty dollars,” Willie recalls. “So I said, ‘That’s pretty cool.’ ” He bought it, sight unseen.


    *"Shot" Jackson of Nashville, Dobro and steel guitar player, developer of the Sho-Bud pedal steel and Sho-Bro acoustic resonator guitars.

    This is not to say that the Martin itself didn't appeal to Nelson, apart from its pickup; but the rare Prismatone apparently is the crucial variable that has kept Nelson using Trigger for decades, even as he wore it to a condition that most would consider "trashed" as well. As far as I can make out, it's a piezo pickup with individual elements for each of the strings, rather than just sensing overall top or bridge movement. I'm not enough of a pickup expert to know whether there are other six-element piezo pickups, but Nelson clearly loves the N-20 with its Prismatone.
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    I have read that the real "secret" to Trigger is the Baldwin piezo pickup that was transferred to the Martin N-20 from a Baldwin guitar that the company gave Nelson, and which was "trashed" in an on-stage (though not during performance) accident; supposedly a drunk got on the stage and stepped on the Baldwin in its case.

    Here's what the Texas Monthly wrote after an interview with Nelson:

    The thing is, Willie didn’t much care about the guitar, a [Baldwin] 800C Electric Classical, which had a thick, beefy neck. The guitar had been a promotional gift from Baldwin—a piano company—in 1968, along with a C1 amp. What Willie really liked was the sound he could get from the guitar’s pickup, a revolutionary Prismatone piezoelectronic model, made with six tiny ceramic sensors. Before the Prismatone, acoustic players like Willie had to play into a microphone, which meant they were usually drowned out by the band. The new pickup allowed him to play an acoustic guitar onstage with a band and actually be heard, especially with the C1 amp, a solid-state piece of machinery that was designed by Baldwin’s organ engineers to work with the Prismatone via a special stereo wiring system. The amp had a brushed aluminum top and five colorful “Supersound” tone buttons—red, lime green, yellow, blue, and purple—that evoked the groovy sixties. “Hear it,” promised the Baldwin catalog, “and you might think it’s a happening!”

    Jackson* couldn’t salvage the guitar, he told Willie over the phone. It was too busted up. Jackson did mention, though, that he had a Martin N-20 on hand and could transfer the pickup into it. Martin was the premier maker of steel-stringed guitars; the N-20, which had been introduced the year before, was a nylon-stringed, or gut-string, guitar, an attempt by Martin to make inroads in the Spanish-style market. Willie liked gut-string guitars well enough, but he was a little uncomfortable buying one over the phone. “Is it any good?” he asked. “Well, Martins are known for good guitars,” Jackson responded. Willie asked the price. Seven hundred and fifty dollars, Jackson told him. “I had just bought a roping horse for seven hundred and fifty dollars,” Willie recalls. “So I said, ‘That’s pretty cool.’ ” He bought it, sight unseen.


    *"Shot" Jackson of Nashville, Dobro and steel guitar player, developer of the Sho-Bud pedal steel and Sho-Bro acoustic resonator guitars.

    This is not to say that the Martin itself didn't appeal to Nelson, apart from its pickup; but the rare Prismatone apparently is the crucial variable that has kept Nelson using Trigger for decades, even as he wore it to a condition that most would consider "trashed" as well. As far as I can make out, it's a piezo pickup with individual elements for each of the strings, rather than just sensing overall top or bridge movement. I'm not enough of a pickup expert to know whether there are other six-element piezo pickups, but Nelson clearly loves the N-20 with its Prismatone.
    There are many available six element piezo's out there now. The basic electronics of them haven't changed so the new ones are unlikely to be an improvement on the one he has.

  22. #18
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    Drip a little more epoxy inside and you'll get a few more years out of it. That one will be in the CMHoF someday.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    And now, part two of the Stewmac video is posted

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  25. #20
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    Default Re: Repairing Willie Nelson's Trigger

    I remember seeing pictures that Mike Edgerton posted a few times in the past of the inside of the Gibson factory showing some of the power tools in use - don't remember if any of the polishers could be seen in those pics, but if so, the polisher in Mark Erlewine's shop might be the same one shown in those pics! Pretty cool to have a piece of equipment from the steam engine days, and from the Gibson factory no less.
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