The Guitar Shotgun: Yes, It Really Is Both
Watch Reverend Peyton play, and then shoot, a 12-gauge, three-string slide guitar.
Nothing knocks this guy’s guitar out of tune…not even using it to fire a shotgun shell.
That’s right, Reverend Peyton of Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band posted this video of himself playing a homemade slide guitar constructed from a fully functional 12-gauge Winchester Model 37.
In the short clip above, he plays a lick, then cocks the gun and fires it at a target, before going back to playing. (And yes, he keeps the muzzle pointed in a safe direction the whole time.)
This story from guitarworld.com says the one-of-a-kind three-stringed instrument was built by Bryan Fleming, a designer of guitar pickups (the devices that translate the vibrations from electric guitar’s strings and sends them to the amp). Although the guitarworld.com story doesn’t list gauge or model, Reverend Peyton told Range 365 that the shotgun guitar is a 12-gauge Winchester Model 37. That single-shot model was manufactured from 1936 to 1963.
The shotgun guitar is an example of an extension of the so-called cigar-box guitar movement, in which electric guitars are made from salvaged materials that aren’t typically used for instruments.
Old school cigar-box guitars, made in the late 1800s, were acoustic chordophones that used an actual empty 50 or 100 count cigar box as a resonator with the strings connected to the box and, at the other end, to the top of a broomstick handle or a wooden slat, much like a washtub bass.
An electric guitar can be made from almost any platform that can hold at least one string at both ends and can mount a pickup in the middle, plus a power source. Check out this video of Jack White making a simple slide guitar from some nails and piece of scrap wood in this clip from the documentary, “It Might Get Loud.” One of the things that makes guitar so alluring to many players is that you can swap out most of the parts, such as upgrading the pickups on an existing guitar, or, well, just putting some on a shotgun
The only question is, couldn’t Rev. Peyton have played something a little more appropriate? Maybe “Janie’s Got a Gun,” or “Saturday Night Special,” or even “I Shot the Sheriff”?