I've purchased this book after reading and re-reading Cumpiano & Natelson's great book, Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology, since I was interested in broadening my knowledge and learning about the intricacies of making an archtop guitar.
If you are a small time builder or a hobbyist like me however, be forewarned: this book is an elementary starting point; it is thin in its instructional content. In this book Bob Benedetto seems to gloss over many crucial steps in the practice of archtop guitar building, such as the techniques of top and back plate carving and tap tuning which are arguably the most CRUCIAL skills in making archtop guitars. I suppose that this is fine for people who have experience carving violins or mandolins, but for enthused DIY-ers it is a bit of a bummer. With a lot of trial and error you can figure out the techniques for yourself, (which is probably a good thing - if you have the time and patience) but basically you'd do well to amass practical knowledge about building carved-top string instruments and guitars in general BEFORE reading this book.
For instance, many steps outlined in the book such as installing and dressing frets are incredibly anemic, and presuppose that the reader already has the knowledge and skill to complete the steps without guidance. Fair enough, however good judgement is needed as some steps seem to defy commonsense, such as quickly radiusing the fingerboard on a belt sander. Traditionally this step is done with great care, by slowly planing the surface of the fingerboard with the aid of straightedges and radius-guages. I can imagine a belt sander quickly mucking-up a piece of expensive rosewood or ebony if it isn't set-up properly or if it is used without the utmost attention... So again, what you get out of this book truly depends on what your own commonsense dictates, and what you know about guitar building beforehand.
In all, it would be great if later editions of this book expanded the discussion by thoroughly explaining the proper top and back carving, planing and scraping techniques along with better explaining the subjective process of tap-tuning the top and back plates of the guitar body. (Is one plate supposed to be higher pitched than the other? Should they be "tuned" in a way that they somehow harmonize together, or complement the tuning of the guitar?) I find that the problem with this book is that Mr. Benedetto piques your interest, but then suddenly the discussion is over almost as quickly as it starts.
So far this book is the only one of its kind on the subject of archtop guitars and Robert Benedetto is definitely one of the most reputed authorities on archtop guitar building; so it would be really grand if he would share more of his insight into the craft in later editions. For people who are simply keen on seeing how guitars are built, this is a great book with wonderful illustrations, and as a reference for builders the included full-size templates are superb. Overall though the book could be a bit more thorough with regards to the quintessential archtop guitar building practices of carving and tuning the body.