Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 87

The company's
NAMM display and
a flier handed out at
the event (right).

input from artist relations rep Ken Willard, who'd also spent time in the company
workshop, and Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw)
the Nightwing, an offset double-cut with
asymmetrical "French curve" on the lower
bout.
Bruce was putting in long hours and continued to devise ideas for new accessories.
Silver Street, however, had its hands full and
Craig chose not to expand its line. Tension
over the situation came to a head in mid
'83, and Bruce promptly exited.

NORTH TO SHELBY
In many circumstances, the loss of its
main product designer might have meant
the end for a guitar company. However,
Craig Hardy was sitting on a stash of components, an investment in tooling, and
business interests in Shelby, Michigan. One
of his companies made artificial gemstones
and another was a machine shop. So, in mid
'83, construction began on a new building
while parts and equipment were shipped
from Elkhart. Ads were placed in local
newspapers seeking a spray painter. One
person who saw the ad was the sister of
former Shelby resident Dan Mustard, who
in '83 was working as a house painter in
Kentucky. Mustard applied and one of his
references was a friend who knew Craig.
Mustard was offered a job before the new
factory was finished.
Shipping of parts from Indiana was
not the final association between Silver
Street and Gibson. By '83, Gibson's move
to Nashville was almost complete, and
those who chose to remain in Kalamazoo became the core of Heritage. Some
became consultants, including Charlie

Garrison, head of Gibson's finishing
department for nearly 40 years. Garrison
spent a month or two schooling Silver
Street's new finisher in the art of applying
nitrocellulose lacquer.

THE LES PAUL VIBE
Mustard was in awe of his new mentor.
"There's a very good reason why Silver
Street guitars, especially the sunbursts, have
lots of Les Paul vibe - Charlie Garrison,"
said Mustard. "Charlie taught me it's not
just putting on the lacquer; wet-sanding
and buffing are the hard parts. It only takes
a second of too much pressure to ruin a
finish! Nitrocellulose finishes helped put
Silver Street on the map because so many
companies were switching to polyurethane
at that time."
While many Gibson-made parts were
used, the new factory was outfitted with
state-of-the-art equipment including pin
routers and cutting machines just before
CNC.
Silver Street benefitted from having access
to local hardwoods direct from mills, and
their own kilns.
"We also had Craig's machine shop,"
Mustard added. "Whenever we needed
patterns or fixtures, they'd make them.
So, we could build to very tight tolerances."
When Gibson finally shut down in
Kalamazoo, a lot of the equipment and
materials were auctioned. Silver Street
purchased an overhead sander and pallets
of wood including mahogany and figured
maple. Later, Silver Street got a contract
from Brunswick to make bases for bowling
trophies.
"A lot of that old wood ended up sitting
March 2018

87

VINTAGE GUITAR

Craig Chaquico (here in the '80s with a Cobra)
still digs his Silver Streets. "I remember how
cool those guys were and how refreshing
it was to talk to people who understood
the needs and aesthetics of guitar players,
especially professionals who might play
onstage in situations where sound and
performance were very important," he said.
"The neck, frets, and the tuning pegs were
all first-class and the humbucker in those
mahogany bodies sounded so good whether
I was playing a rock song like Jefferson
Starship's 'Jane' or a groovin' blues tune
when I played with Boz Scaggs." Other
notable artists who played Silver Streets
included Chris Hayes (Huey Lewis and the
News), Jonathan Cain (Journey), Michael
Stanley, Don Barnes (.38 Special) and Rick
Springfield, who bought three and used one
in the video for "Rock of Life."


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - IFC
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