Go to www.threetguitars.com “From My Hands to Yours”

I first heard about Judy Threet through ASIA – the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans. The association publishes a quarterly magazine called GUITARMAKER, where I read an article of hers entitled “The End of Our Golden Era”. The article was very interesting, informative and understandable, and made excellent points about the field of guitar building. The high quality of the article made even more sense when I learned later that Ms Threet used to be a recognized philosophy professor at the University of Calgary. In 2007 I met her at the Montreal Guitar show where she was displaying her guitars, and I managed to talk to her for a few moments. Believe me the pleasure was all mine, and I was lucky enough to purchase one of the few remaining copies of a booklet called Inlay Design and Execution – A Conversation Between Design And Materials.

In her booklet, Judy Threet talks a lot about chatoyance – “and what’s that ?” you ask. It’s the way that a piece of pearl reflects the light. Sometimes it’s bright, and other times it’s darker, but no two pieces are exactly the same. So in effect, the inlay artist can “paint” an object using the chatoyance to define the borders and texture of the object.

Three of my very favorite examples of her work are pictured below. Go to her website to see more examples of her work – it’s well worth the time.

Chatoyance Plus

Polar Bear

In the Polar bear inlay, note the way the hind quarters are separated using the chatoyance of the pearl. Also, the way the light reflects off the bear’s face / cheek. Judy writes – “For fun, notice the sole of the bear’s back foot (I went to the zoo, took an entire roll of film, and discovered (among other things) that polar bears have fur on the bottoms of their feet – for traction on ice.)”

Peek A Boo


The Owl inlay is just simply gorgeous. The tree trunk wood is bocôte and if I had more space in this newsletter I’d wax on about this piece forever. Suffice it to say that I personally love it. Each piece of inlay and the way it interacts with the wood is so well thought out, and she has a reason for every bit of artistry that goes into each detail.

Heads Up !


Isn’t this beautiful – I smile every time I see a picture of it. It’s just so well done. Even the fact that the goslings are not following momma and are instead crossing in front of her, tells a somewhat humorous story. Thank God Mom is indulgent !

By the way, notice how the truss rod cover blends into the headstock In an interview on the internet Ms Threet mentioned that she searches through her collection of wood to find just the right wood, with just the right grain, for each piece, be it truss rod cover or any other component of the guitar. And, she has a very large collection of wood.

Now, go back and see if you can discern the truss rod cover on the “Owl”.

Ms. Threet’s guitars are very much sought after, to the extent that in April 2005 she had a three year waiting list. Anyone that’s lucky enough to have one of her guitars surely cherishes it greatly.