As you may know, Willie Nelson has used a Martin N-20 since 1969 when it quickly became part of his unique signature sound. As a result of that connection, this model Martin has become legendary.
The only difference between Willie’s “Trigger” and this one is that in late 1969 Martin switched from Brazilian Rosewood back and sides to Indian Rosewood. According to Martin’s website, its serial number dates this one to the last few weeks of 1969, so it is definitely Indian Rosewood here.
But this guitar, made scarcely months after the end of the Brazilian era is definitely one of the most beautiful and highly figured Martins we have seen. It is extremely pretty wood and some might mistake it for Brazilian but without any of the liabilities. Martin uses the term “wild East Indian” for grain like this. It certainly is that.
This N-20 has a scale length of 26.4” nut to saddle, an East Indian rosewood head plate, ebony fingerboard and rosewood bridge.
It has three-ply top binding, white side binding on each side and the same white back purfling. The backstripe is twin stripes of spruce or maple with a dark line in between. The tuner slots are rounded and the tuners appear to be original – being black chrome over gold with filigree patter.
The headstock is raised at the top and indented – an unusual design for Martin, but then the N-20 is an unusual guitar. The fingerboard measures 2 1/16th” at the nut. The bridge spacing is 2 ¼”.
In 1969 Martin made only 262 N-20s, and in the decade from 1970 they built 635.
This one is a delight to play – very comfortable neck, no fret issues, structurally sound and with a rick, dark sound somewhat unique to these uncommon Martin gut string guitars.
Comes in a later hard shell case in good condition.