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Instrument of Murder
Nothing says evil like a flame-throwing banjo!

So you're an assassin who is also a musician. Unfortunately you cannot kill people with the power of your music alone, and you're not a Musical Assassin. So what are you going to do? Why, have a musical instrument that doubles as a deadly weapon of course. A step up from Senseless Violins, with no danger of your weapon being discovered if anyone opens your case.

This trope covers weapons hidden in musical instruments. For assassins who kill their targets with music, or just hitting them with the instrument, see Musical Assassin. For weapons used as instruments, see Instrumental Weapon.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Midvalley the Hornfreak in Trigun is mostly a Musical Assassin who tears it up with sound waves from his saxophone, but it's also a complicated firearm that he eventually used to commit suicide... not by shooting himself with it, but by playing it after the B-flat got shot out. It blows up.
  • The chancellor of Alabasta in One Piece also used a firearm/saxophone as his weapon of choice.
  • M.M. in Katekyo Hitman Reborn! uses vibrations from her clarinet to microwave and melt things. In a pinch, she can also hit people with it.
  • FLCL:
    • Haruko wields a pull-string-ignition bass guitar. It can also blast doors in half with some kind of firearm function. It's more a question of what Haruko can't do with her guitar.
    • In the final episode, after absorbing Atomsk's power, Naota dual-wields his own Flying V with Atmosk's Gibson EB-0 1961 Model Bass Guitar.
  • Genkaku the Hypermonk from Deadman Wonderland has a guitar that can split into a pair of machine guns. Or, alternately, it turns into a gun capable of punching head-sized holes through people. Take your pick.
  • In Saint Seiya, the Asgardian God Warrior Benetnasch Eta Mime, wears a Cloth reminiscent of a harp. As such, he is prone to laying down Razor Floss around the environment as traps, as well as send them flying towards his opponents to entangle them. Note that his harp's strings are strong, and sharp enough, to crack and cut through solid rock, as well as Bronze Cloths and the very human skin of the Saints wearing them.
  • Samurai Champloo: In the first part 'Hellhounds for Hire' Jin is disguised as a woman carrying a biwa (a traditional Japanese instrument similar to a guitar). When asked to play a song on it, he pulls his katana from the neck, and reveals that he is actually a samurai. He also happened to have smoke bombs hidden in the body of the instrument.
  • Shattered Angels has one of these in the form of the Mana Buster, a modified cello that provides fire support during the final showdown.
  • Gintama: The character Kawakami Bansai can use the strings from his shamisen to restrain people.
  • The Tokyo Mew Mew girls have a habit of using these. Mew Lettuce has a pair of castanets, though at least she shoots water from them, and Mew Pudding has tambourines can that rend the earth and encase a target in jello.
  • Blade of the Immortal: The ridiculously skilled Makie Otono-Tachibana, who specializes in Waif-Fu, wields a double bladed three-section-staff called Haru-no-Okina concealed in a hollowed-out shamisen, a mandolin-like Japanese instrument which she is able to play when not slicing and dicing her enemies.
  • The blade concealed within a Japanese string instrument was popularized by the titular 1969 manga character, Hunter Oryuu, an assassin disguised as a traveling musician. She is better known for her Jidai Geki adaptation from the same year, Female Assassin Hanakasa Oryuu.
  • Nagisa, of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, wields a trumpet that can blow out a stream of bubbles. It's surprisingly quite effective, with the bubbles apparently possessing concussive force.

    Comic Books 
  • In The DCU, golden age Green Lantern foe named the Harlequin had a weighted mandolin that served as a club (and a vaulting pole!).
  • Also in The DCU, the Fiddler, a golden age foe of The Flash, was primarily a Musical Assassin. However, he would occasionally use gimmicked violins containing blades or guns.
  • The preferred weapon of Minstrel Maverick, a Western character from DC Comics, was a reinforced guitar that he used to whack owlhoots.
  • One Justice Society of America foe (from All Star Comics #38) masqueraded as Nero and carried a fiddle that spewed strangling gas.
  • Spy vs. Spy sometimes has weapons disguised as instruments.
  • Brazil once had a superhero, Golden Guitar, who used a gizmo-filled electric guitar to fight crime.
  • While doing a Jack Benny homage, The Joker used a violin bow with a razor blade instead of a string.
  • One-shot Batman villain the Maestro (Batman #149) used a number of gimmicked instruments, including a harp that shot arrows and horns that fired bullets.
  • Although seldom used as a weapon in the comic, Captain Clarinet's clarient from PS238 does possess a number of combat functions.
  • In the Marvel Universe, Dazzler had a foe called Johnny Guitar who wielded an electric guitar that fired sonic blasts. He had a partner in Dr. Sax, and you can probably figure out the rest on your own.
  • The Minstrel, one-time foe of Doll Man, who wielded a flame-throwing banjo.
  • Cacofonix in Astérix uses his ordinary lyre as a blunt instrument whenever he fights, be it in a village brawl or combat with the Romans.
    • In his case, this is arguably less cruel than playing it at them.
  • Jack Point used an electric guitar to kill raptors. Justified in that loud noises are the only thing they are vulnerable to.
  • Spyboy: Yoma Ma - a villain on Spygirl's TV show - uses his violin to fire bows like arrows.

    Film - Animated 
  • While being chased by wolves in Frozen, Anna drives one off by hitting it with Kristoff's lute.

    Film - Live Action 
  • In the movie The Forbidden Kingdom, Golden Sparrow has throwing blades disguised as the tuning pegs of her pipa.
  • The World Is Not Enough had a bagpipe flamethrower being tested in Q's lab.
    Bond: "I guess we all have to pay the piper sometimes."
    Q: "Oh, pipe down 007!"
    • Q has made a couple Instruments of Murder over the years. The Living Daylights featured a boom box with a built-in rocket launcher.
    Q: "Something we're making for the Americans. It's called a Ghetto Blaster!"
  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again. An assassin uses a blowpipe disguised as a clarinet (or possibly uses a clarinet as a blowpipe, the movie isn't clear).
  • The Mariachi from Once upon a Time in Mexico used a guitar that doubled as an assault rifle and grenade launcher in the opening shootout/flashback. The narrator freely admits that the details have been... embellished. The character himself doesn't actually have one, instead using the old "guns concealed in a guitar case" trick.
    • One of his friends does have a guitar that doubles as a flamethrower.
  • Matt Helm movie The Ambushers. An assassin tries to kill Matt with maracas that have built-in guns.
  • Amongst the weirdness in Wild Zero are katanas hidden in the necks of the band Guitar Wolf's guitars, and guitar picks thrown like shuriken.
  • At the climax of Rock and Rule Omar uses his curiously-shaped, futuristic guitar as an axe to severe the power cables of Mok's machine
  • In Casino Royale (1967), Ursula Andress uses the old machine-gun-in-the-bagpipes trick.
  • The Fastest Guitar Alive, a humorous Western from 1967, stars Roy Orbison (!) who wields a guitar/rifle.
  • Banjo in the western Sabata hides a repeater rifle inside his, well, banjo.
  • The killer in Slumber Party Massacre II film uses an electric guitar infused with a power drill.
  • The Town That Dreaded Sundown has a particularly infamous kill which involves the Phantom stabbing a woman to death using a bayonet attached to a trombone. He plays it to make the blade go in and out of her.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie: More like "Instrument of Destruction": When Ivan Ooze says to Zordon, "It's time... to pay the piper," Ooze takes out his piping flute and plays a bit like a literal piper before using the flute's electric powers to damage the entire Command Center and weaken Zordon to a withering mortal.
  • The City of Lost Children has a music box that controls a circus flea, making it inject its host with a nerve agent. The affected person then turns violent and attempts to kill whoever they happen to be with.
  • In Evil Roy Slade, Bing Bell has a guitar which also doubles as a gun.

    Literature 
  • In the Fables novel Peter and Max, Peter Piper ends up killing his evil brother Max Piper, the Pied Piper of Hamelin with a magic flute. It was made of a giant's finger bone and very sharp—-his brother was gloating and off his guard, and Peter stabbed him.
  • The novel Mothstorm by Philip Reeve has hostile aliens whose primary weapons seem to be sedative-tipped darts blown from things that are consistently described as looking like bagpipes.
  • In Juliet Marillier's Bridei Chronicles, Faolan is a musician and an assassin, and he strangles someone with a harp string at one point.
  • The end of Friday the 13th: Carnival Of Maniacs has Jason going on a rampage at a music video recording he was being used as a prop in while comatose. He kills one of the band members by throwing a cymbal with enough force to slit the guy's throat.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Mandalorian instruments can often double as these. Their idea of a flute has a sword blade attached.
  • In Star Trek novels (building on background material from the Original Series films), the Andorians often carry a flabjellah - a combination sidearm and musical instrument.
  • In Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold, the main characters hire a band of thugs who pose as musicians. One of the thugs has his lute built around an axe, on the theory that the lute will break on impact, leaving only the axe in his hands. It almost works, but he gets so tangled in the wreckage that he's unable to pull it free from his first victim to defend himself. He dies.
  • In the Phryne Fisher mystery The Green Mill Murder, the mute in a cornet is used as a blowgun.
  • One of Samuel R. Delany's Nova protagonists has senso-syrinx, a complex futuristic instrument capable of projecting holographic images, complete with sound and odours. The thing is, it includes a laser to create holograms, has a very sharp focus and runs on near-inexhaustible batteries. As the bad guys learn the HARD way, with it's maximum output focused on a person, it can knock them out with horrible stench, blow their eardrums out and not only blind them with a laser, but set them ablaze.

    Live Action TV 
  • Get Smart had a gun hidden in a violin, and a double-barrelled flute that acted as an airgun.
  • In The Goodies episode "The Stolen Musicians", the Goodies use a euphonium as a cannon, only to be outgunned by the Music Master's pipe organ that doubles as a multi-barrelled artillery piece, but are saved when the symphony orchestra arrives shooting bows from their violins.
  • Ibuki of Kamen Rider Hibiki has a gun that can transform- by shifting the parts around- into a trumpet. It actually works in reverse from normal: he uses the gun to implant bullets in the Monster of the Week (who is naturally Immune to Bullets) then switches to the trumpet to create a resonance that blows it up.
    • All of the Riders use these. Hibiki straps a taiko drum to the monsters and proceeds to beat them to death with taiko drumsticks (and even without the drum, the drumsticks can shoot fireballs), and Todoroki uses an electric guitar that doubles as an ax.
      • It can get fairly silly with some of the minor Oni Riders, who use weaponized tubas and triangles.
    • The Kamen Rider 555 Hyper Battle DVD had the Faiz Sounder, a boombox that transformed into a powerful sonic cannon. This was the winning contest entry Toei had for a new weapon for Faiz, which like all other weapons in the show, was based off a real world object.
  • On an episode of The Muppet Show there was a sketch featuring a performance of the William Tell Overture that ended with the cellist firing the bow from his cello to shoot an apple off Beauregard's head.
  • In the Doctor Who special "The Christmas Invasion", the robot Father Christmases wield brass instruments that double as weapons, including a trombone-flamethrower.
  • In the MI High episode "The Visit", the enemy spies use an alpine horn that spews knockout gas.
  • An episode of Friday The 13th: The Series featured a cursed violin. The violin itself wasn't used as a weapon, but the blade hidden in the bow certainly was.
  • One enemy agent in The Avengers had a clarinet with a blade that would slide out of the bell when the right key was pressed. He used it twice: once to kill a fellow he caught trying to steal the McGuffin, and once in an unsuccessful fight with Steed ... who remarked that the instrument probably played "sharp."
  • Burt uses a guitar as a club to take out Smokey Floyd.
  • Eaglebones Falconhawk and his brother Eagleclaw from The Aquabats! Super Show! duel against each other with guitars that shoot lasers.
  • An early Murder, She Wrote episode, "Death to a Jazz Beat", offered an inversion; a jazz clarinetist who was planning on firing his back-up band before signing a huge recording contract was murdered by a poisoned clarinet reed.
  • A sketch on You're Skitting Me had a girl attempting to return a recorder that acted as a blowgun. In the end, she store swapped it for one that fired a disintegrator ray.

    Real Life 
  • The shakuhashi (Zen bamboo flute) of Japan; initially it was just a normal flute, no military applications attached. However, when the samurai that normally used it became unemployed and unable to use their swords by law, they beefed the flute up to be strong enough to be used as a club, thus becoming their main weapon of defense.
  • A sufficiently large hard instrument case works as a decent Improvised Weapon, if you're not too worried about the instrument inside. Actually, scratch the "sufficiently large;" it hurts plenty to be hit in the head with a flute case.
  • And then there's the 1812 Overture. No less than 16 cannon shots are written in that piece.
  • Piano wire can be used as a garrote.
  • Gene Simmons' bass looks like an axe. Unfortunately it only functional as a bass.
  • The shawm (an ancestor of the oboe) was used as a weapon from time to time.
  • An unspecified spy service apparently at least once modified a flute to fire a single pistol round. The instrument was still fully functional for musical purposes.
  • The Clave: http://www.trsdirect.com/ Although listing this as real life could be a stretch.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Noise Marines in Warhammer 40,000 can do this. If blasting the enemy with The Power of Rock doesn't work, they can simply beat the enemy to death with their daemonic, spiky guitars and superhuman strength.
    • The Exorcist applies this principle to a pipe organ... then attaches it to a tank. Too bad the Exorcist couldn't hit the broadside of a Titan.
  • In Silver Age Sentinels, Feedback is a rock star turned superhero who wields a guitar that focuses his powers into energy blasts.

    Video Games 
  • In Shadow Hearts 3, the last party member you acquire is a Mariachi with an arsenal in his guitar. Shotgun, flamethrower, multiple rocket-launcher rack, machine gun... all packed into a single guitar which, oddly enough, still sounds just as sweet.
  • In Ōkami, Waka has a flute that turns into a Laser Blade.
  • Lyude in Baten Kaitos uses a weird trumpet/gun as his weapon. His Magnus cards reveal that it's actually a weapon specifically designed for use by assassins. No comment on why the Honor Before Reason party member is using it.
  • I-No of Guilty Gear uses a shapeshifting electric guitar. She can either smash people with it, or create cacophonic sounds to defeat her opponents.
  • Motochika Chokosabe from Samurai Warriors 2/ Warriors Orochi 2 rocks out on his shamisen to attack.
  • Somewhere on the border between this and Senseless Violins, there's a brief cutscene in Shogun: Total War that shows a ninja assassinating his target with a poison dart blown out of a flute.
  • One of the power-ups in Total Overdose are two guitars that act like machine guns, in a clear homage to the Once Upon a Time in Mexico example above.
  • A couple of characters in Eternal Sonata use musical weapons, such as a clarinet/gun/mallet and a fencing rapier shaped like a conductor's baton.
  • Rocketbilly Redcadillac's electricity-shooting guitar from Gungrave: Overdose. The artbook says its name is "B.L. 20,000V". ("Blue Lightning 20,000V"). Made by the Electrigger Company! Despite being weak with melee fighting, Billy can do a little dance that causes his guitar to spin around him, bludgeoning mooks.
  • Kaph's guitar doubles as a gun in Luminous Arc 2.
    • From the same game, Sadie, the Breeze Witch, uses a trumpet as a weapon. It's surprisingly effective.
  • Some of the ranged weapons in Kingdom of Loathing are musical instruments that double as weapons.
    • The Stolen Accordion is the default weapon of KoL's bard class, the Accordion Thief. The Accordion Thief also has singing as a basic attack.
  • In Devil May Cry 3, one of the coolest available weapons is Nevan, a guitar that shoots lightning, controls bats, and turns into a scythe.
  • In Brütal Legend Eddie can electrocute people with his guitar.
  • Possibly inspired by the shakuhashi from above, Suzume in Mini Ninjas uses her flute both as a close combat weapon and an improvised boat paddle.
  • The Arcanite Ripper of World of Warcraft fame is an axe that doubles as a guitar.
  • The AI Weapons in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker are primitive Vocaloids put into big, heavily-armed tanks.
  • Bards and their more powerful counterparts in Ragnarok Online fight with their musical instruments. What doesn't entirely make sense is how they manage to throw/shoot arrows (depending on the skill) by swinging it at their opponents. They can also be Musical Assassins by spamming songs, but it takes more effort, mana, and time.
  • Kimmy Howell of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has a flute that turns into a double-ended Laser Blade.
  • The Hero from Ephemeral Fantasia has a sword hidden in a guitar.
  • The second boss of Zool is an electric guitar that rains fireballs on you. You also face violins that shoot their fiddles at you.
  • There was an old Christian-themed computer game (called Knights Of Virtue if I recall) which featured among its weapons the "trump of fire" and "trump of lightning", a pair of trumpets that, if pointed at your enemy and played, wouldn't make a note (just a "ffffff" noise like someone blowing into a tube, fancy that), but would rain down fire or lightning on them.
  • Almost all of the main villains in Lollipop Chainsaw are Musical Assassins, but Lewis Legend also wields a guitar with a built-in machine gun.
  • In Mabinogi, one of the weapons you can have is a lute with spikes on it, useful both for hitting enemies with and casting Magic Music.
  • NetHack features the Frost Horn, the Fire Horn and the Earthquake Drum. Yes, they're Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Big Band from Skullgirls takes this trope to a whole new level. All of his attacks are based off of band instruments ranging from standard drums to wind instruments and even firing missiles modeled after trumpet mutes.
  • Melody of Smashmuck Champions uses her keytar. Her playing is so infamously loud it causes sonic waves, has literally brought several houses down, and once woke up the dead. (Said dead is now trying to date her.)
  • 47's Weapon of Choice is a piano wire, used as a garrote.
  • Will from Illusion of Gaia bonks enemies on the head with his flute.
  • During one mission in Assassin's Creed: Revelations Ezio and the other Assassins pretend to be minstrels to infiltrate a party and protect Prince Suleiman from Byzantine killers. Towards the end, one of them charges Suleiman, but Ezio breaks his lute in half and stabs the killer in the heart with the handle.

    Web Comics 
  • In Girl Genius, Sleipnir O'Hara has the 'Hot Pipes', a set of bagpipes that shoot fire.
  • Telv's steel-plated banjo from Planescape Survival Guide .
  • Keychain of Creation has the deathknight Resonance Ben, who just recently upgraded to an entire band.
  • As the example mentioned above, piano wire: In a flashback arc of And Shine Heaven Now, after Jeeves refused to teach Walter a complicated technique with their weapon of choice, monofilament, Walter nicks the piano wires from Bertie's piano to practice on his own, and later uses it to hold back a vampire while the others escaped.
  • In one Skullkickers side story there's a whole band of those. Axe blades in a lute, hidden sword in a flute, harp doubles as a bow, and hurdy gurdy is a flamethrower.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The King from Darkwing Duck has a guitar that fires destructive energy beams.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer of Seville", Homer's stalker Julia uses a blowgun concealed in a conductor's baton.
  • In the Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! episode "Operation Dog and Hippie Boy", the evil hippie robot Groovy Don carries a laser beam firing guitar.
  • Transformers Animated's version of Soundwave has an electric guitar that turned into his attack bird Laserbeak. At least until Prime used him as an axe. (Sorry!) While some examples of this trope can look rather silly, most fans agree that this is the version of Soundwave that is, aesthetically at least, the most awesome.
  • In SilverHawks, Bluegrass wielded a sonic blaster guitar as a weapon while his Evil Counterpart Melodia had a keytar that fired laser blasts shaped liked musical staves. Got an Actor Allusion Shout-Out in the Galaxy Rangers ep "Battle of the Bandits" where the Rangers and a pack of Slaverlords started firing their "modified" guitars at one another. Doug Pries played both Bluegrass and Gooseman.
  • The Cosmic Guitar from Loonatics Unleashed which, amongst its other powers, could fire energy blasts.
  • The Music Meister from Batman: The Brave and the Bold had a smoke-spewing pipe organ he used to cover his escape and laser firing microphones that formed part of his Death Trap. In fact, any weapons he had followed this theme.
    • And in "Night of the Batmen!", the Vigilante has guitar that doubles as a rifle.
    • In "Powerless!", the Scottish Joker in the Jokers of Many Nations has a set of bagpipes that fires missiles.
  • In Adventure Time, Marceline the Vampire Queen has a bass-guitar shaped like an axe. It tends to get used like a guitar, though, which is not to say it hasn't been involved in asskicking.
    • If her father is to be believed, the instrument started life as an axe and was turned into a bass-guitar later.
  • The Inspector Gadget episode "A Star is Lost" has a dart-shooting piano and an electrified harp in MAD's music studio.
  • Bob's Burgers: Banjo from the Spaghetti Western that Bob and Gene watch has a banjo that shoots bullets.
  • Quick Draw McGraw, in his occasional disguise as the masked vigilante El Kabong, would whack his opponents on the head with a guitar.


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