Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 88

under a trophy, which is kind of a shame,"
Mustard said with a wry chuckle.

JOLT OF VOLTT
The reincarnated Silver Street was much
leaner than it had been in Elkhart, running
with only three or four employees. Mustard
did the painting, final assembly, and setup,
while sales and marketing was handled
by another young musician, Steven Voltt.
It was Voltt who recruited artists to play
Silver Streets, including Shaw. A picture
of Shaw playing a Spitfire surfaced around
the time he was going solo in '84, so Voltt
approached him, and the association led
to Mustard designing two new models, the
Tommy Shaw and the Elite.
Shaw preferred Gibson's scale, but also
liked Strats even if they were too large for
him to play comfortably. His signature Silver
Street became the perfect blend - a Gibsonstyle neck mounted on a down-sized Stratlike body with a pair of humbuckers. By this
time, Silver Street was offering an optional
Kahler or Floyd Rose locking vibrato.
The final Silver Street designed by Mustard
was the Elite, in '85.
"That was our attempt to make a Gibsonstyle guitar," he said. "You can see it was
inspired by a Les Paul Junior, with a set

neck, and they were made with wood from
the Gibson auction."
The Elite evolved from symmetrical
cutaways to a slightly offset shape and was
given Schaller pickups in the then-popular
humbucker/single/single configuration,
with the de rigueur locking vibrato.
Along the way, they made two promotional guitars with bodies shaped like the
state of Michigan.

THE END
Though it jumped into the boutiqueguitar game early, Silver Street ultimately
couldn't compete. When Paul Reed Smith
guitars emerged in 1985, it was also combining Gibson and Fender elements. And it
wasn't the only competition. Guitar players
were increasingly warming to guitars made
in Japan by Ibanez, Yamaha, ESP, or Charvel.
By comparison, Silver Street guitars were
expensive, the company's margins slim.
By a point in '86, Mustard was the only
person working on guitars before the plug
was pulled and the company's equipment
sold to a luthier in Detroit.

RARE BIRDS?
For better or worse, Silver Street guitars
were made by enthusiastic men in their early
VINTAGE GUITAR

88

March 2018

A one-sheet for the Taxi, and a Silver Street flier.

20s. They were completed in batches as orders
came in, and no one thought to keep production records. Neither was there a meaningful
serial-number system. Bruce Hardy guesses
that approximately 500 were produced, but
the total may be slightly higher. Mustard
estimates that slightly more than 300 Taxis
were made in Shelby, along with 50 Cobras, 50
Spitfires, 50 Nightwings, 25 MXs, 50 Tommy
Shaw models, and 25 Elites. Suggested retail
prices ranged from $449 for a single-pickup
Taxi to $889 for a basic Elite.
In the '80s, Dean and Hamer transitioned
from merely building better Gibsons to
become long-running, respected brands.
Silver Street, on the other hand, was on its
way to becoming a footnote to Gibson's final
days in Kalamazoo until its story was rescued
through the efforts of advocates such as
Mustard, Bruce Hardy, and Murray Jackson,
a collector and de facto dean of the brand's
history who runs silverstreetguitars.com.
"Silver Street wasn't a situation where
someone had too much to drink and said,
'I think I'll make guitars and get rich,'" said
Jackson. "They set out to make something
innovative, with attention to quality and
detail."


http://www.silverstreetguitars.com http://www.vintageguitar.com

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
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 3
Vintage Guitar - March 2018 - open - 4
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