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5.0 out of 5 stars "Hands Over the Secrets" -- Amazing...
To me, this represents an important work. It is an artist's attempt to save and record the heritage of crafting finely-made archtop guitars. If you've ever seen a Benedetto guitar, you know the level of craftsmanship that Bob's family has always had in their guitars. Here, in a detailed "how-to," he imparts what no doubt in his mind represents the bread-and-butter of...
Published on Nov. 30 2002 by Jeffrey A. Smith

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A good idea that wasn't fully developed
What a let down! In the guitar making category this is the only book I've found devoted to archtop construction-and it stinks. The pictures are the only concellation.
If you're an experienced guitar builder, you will be able backward engineer your way into designing the necessary fixtures and jigs to make a decent instrument; but, if your're new to the craft this...
Published on April 21 2003


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A good idea that wasn't fully developed, April 21 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Making an Archtop Guitar (Paperback)
What a let down! In the guitar making category this is the only book I've found devoted to archtop construction-and it stinks. The pictures are the only concellation.
If you're an experienced guitar builder, you will be able backward engineer your way into designing the necessary fixtures and jigs to make a decent instrument; but, if your're new to the craft this book will only frustrate you. One photo, for instance, has a caption beneath it to tell you the eight bridges pictured are in various "stages of construction". Most of the book is organized this way. The author also approaches the construction process as it relates to his specific shop tooling. When he does allude to another method of performing a task, he fails to offer any of that information, which will leave a beginner combing through other books to discover how to approach his work.
Another gripe I have is that the text is overly large for the content. It comes accross as "padding" the content to make up for a lack of substance.
The author is, by all accounts, a gifted luthier. It's a shame so much effort was put into selecting quality paper and great photos, only to let sparse writing detract from the book. At best, this is a overview of archtop construction.
Save your money folks!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good pix but lacking in detail, Oct. 23 1998
This review is from: Making an Archtop Guitar (Paperback)
Is this a book of self promotion? Or is the author genuinely interested in sharing his knowledge of archtop construction?
I enjoyed the book, but have many questions left unanswered. The author spends too much time settling issues that are of little interest or scientific value (such as the effect of the tail piece on string tension), but seems to gloss over areas where the inexperienced luthier needs most help (the theory and practice of tap tuning). I find it surprising that this book actively promotes itself as a guide to tap tuning when the info on this subject is barely touched on. He also offers very little on neck angle, bracing patterns, headstock angle, etc.
The archtop guitar is a very 'young' instrument (only about 100 years old) created based on the theories behind violin construction. I was interested in this author since he is also a violin maker, and expected him to take the trove of knowleged behind violin construction that's been developed over centuries of tradition and apply it to this new instrument. He failed to do that completely.
This book disappointed me. But I did enjoy the pictures. No one can argue that Benedetto makes beautiful guitars, and numerous pix testify to this fact.
On the plus side I am glad to finally see in print someone argueing against the use of the typical screw adjustable saddle and bridge. I've always thought that to be weakest feature of the archtop design.
This book is NOT for someone who wishes to seriously study archtop guitar design and construction. Although if you have built guitars before then this book has enough for you to make an archtop.
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3.0 out of 5 stars interesting teaser, Dec 10 2009
This review is from: Making an Archtop Guitar (Paperback)
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars some interesteting aspects, June 9 2004
By 
This review is from: Making an Archtop Guitar (Paperback)
There arent too many books on building archtops, maybe because this book does such a good job; it covers the major aspects very well, provides handy hints, and dispells a few urban myths along the way. This book explains the concept of tone tapping - although a newcomer to guitar making has no terms of reference to what the desired tone should be at each stage of the process - maybe in the future Bob could provide MP3's or a CD? The book does use a large font face - but its the quality of content that matters most, and on face value there's pretty much a lifetime of learning that Bob has poured into text. I really like this book, areas like binding, bracing, neck joins etc are thorough, and the diagrams + b+w photos are generally good. There's a couple of sketchy areas - mainly the process of creating the arch using a pillar drill to various depth before you start carving - this is a key area as specific depths are required at different points of the timber, but this is very lightly talked about, and instead refers to a non existant diagram for further information.
As it stands its not too far away from a 5 stars.
with a bit
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Hands Over the Secrets" -- Amazing..., Nov. 30 2002
By 
Jeffrey A. Smith "jasncompany" (Athens, AL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Making an Archtop Guitar (Paperback)
To me, this represents an important work. It is an artist's attempt to save and record the heritage of crafting finely-made archtop guitars. If you've ever seen a Benedetto guitar, you know the level of craftsmanship that Bob's family has always had in their guitars. Here, in a detailed "how-to," he imparts what no doubt in his mind represents the bread-and-butter of what goes into a Benedetto.

This is the equivalent of a guitarist publishing a video and giving away all his "licks!"

In my experience, the only kind of person who would do what Bob Benedetto does here is someone who truly believes that the secret lies not in the "how to" but in the "how many." Most people will never build as many guitars as Bob Benedetto has built, and those who don't can only come close to his level of expertise. But with this book and Bob's expert and detailed advice, a talented woodworker can get darned close.

6 Stars! Oh... oh well, 5 then!

Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars In producing this book Bob Benedetto has..., Nov. 3 2002
By 
This review is from: Making an Archtop Guitar (Paperback)
In producing this book Bob Benedetto has shared a lifetime of experience and produced a legacy for future archtop guitar builders. A reasonably competent woodworker can learn how to make an archtop with the assistance of this book. Yes, as one reviewer comments, it does have many high quality photographs of Benedetto's guitars and I don't find this a nuisance as they are very inspiring. Of course, you cannot learn tap/tuning from a book but there is a series of videos if you require more guidance on this subject.
There are some minor 'gaps' in explanation but that is exceptable (I am still trying to figure out how to make a fretboard tapering jig). The book is worth reading even if you do not intend to make an archtop, it is simply a joy to see how a craftsman produces these wonderful guitars. My impression
is that no secrets are kept back and that Bob Benedetto has left us a great 'craft' inheritance.
If you intend to make archtops, be prepared to invest in many unusual tools or to make them yourself. Also look on the Web and you will find several people who have recorded their attempts to follow the methods in this book.
If you are interested in archtop guitar making do also read, Acquired of the Angels, the biography of John D'Angelico and James D'Aquisto (author Paul William Schmidt). It contains very little on making guitars but is an interesting historical account.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In producing this book Bob Benedetto has shared a lifetime o, Nov. 3 2002
By 
This review is from: Making an Archtop Guitar (Paperback)
In producing this book Bob Benedetto has shared a lifetime of experience and produced a legacy for future archtop guitar builders. A reasonably competent woodworker can learn how to make an archtop with the assistance of this book. Yes, as one reviewer comments, it does have many high quality photographs of Benedetto's guitars and I don't find this a nuisance as they are very inspiring. Of course, you cannot learn tap/tuning from a book but there is a series of videos if you require more guidance on this subject.
There are some minor 'gaps' in explanation but that is exceptable (I am still trying to figure out how to make a fretboard tapering jig). The book is worth reading even if you do not intend to make an archtop, it is simply a joy to see how a craftsman produces these wonderful guitars. My impression
is that no secrets are kept back and that Bob Benedetto has left us a great 'craft' inheritance.
If you intend to make archtops, be prepared to invest in many unusual tools or to make them yourself. Also look on the Web and you will find several people who have recorded their attempts to follow the methods in this book.
If you are interested in archtop guitar making do also read, Acquired of the Angels, the biography of John D'Angelico and James D'Aquisto (author Paul William Schmidt). It contains very little on making guitars but is an interesting historical account.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Use this book as the first step, Nov. 30 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Making an Archtop Guitar (Paperback)
While I would recommend this book, even to a motivated novice, I would caution those who are hoping that everything will be completely spelled out, and you'll be warned of all the things that could go wrong. This isn't an "Idiot's Guide to Building an Archtop." Benedetto is a bit vague in some rather crucial areas. That said, it is the best book on the subject. Admittedly, if he were to try to anticipate every wrong turn a reader might make, the book would not read as well. Part of me appreciates his lack of condescension. The other part of me, though, felt unprepared to move forward in a few spots.
I make my living as a woodworker, so I didn't really have any problems with the carving, joinery or finishing parts, but I imagine that a novice woodworker might run into some trouble. Since this was my first guitar, the more lutherie oriented parts gave me a bit more pause. I don't think I would have gotten the quality of result that I did without the outside sources to which I referred. The sections on fretwork and set up are, for example, barely adequate. The basic information is there, but there is a dearth of any hints, and I discovered that fretwork and set up are areas in which one needs hints.
Again, I recommend the book, but with the caveat that you'll want to read more elsewhere.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a nice overview with good pictures, July 15 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Making an Archtop Guitar (Paperback)
Warning, this book may cause you to run out and buy a Benedetto as it did me.
This is a very nice overview of archtop guitar making, addressing almost every facet of the art, even including "marketing yourself and product". Some very enjoyable points are made by Bob drawn from his wealth of experience, but if you had hoped to build your own guitar as a result of reading this book, you would be in trouble. I would have loved to see more detail and instruction in the various elements of construction; not so that I might make my own archtop, but to gain a greater appreciation for the true experience of the undertaking.
I may purchase Bob's set of videos just to see more about how it is done.
By the way, I can now say that Mr Benedetto is an amazing artist and craftsman, and his instruments are every bit as good as reputed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a critical book for an archtop buyer, too!, July 22 1999
This review is from: Making an Archtop Guitar (Paperback)
As an archtop owner and player for nearly thirty years, I would call this book a must read for anyone who is interested in purchasing a vintage archtop or buying a new one. Benedetto leads the reader into a deep appreciation of the painstaking detail that goes into The Making of an Archtop. He describes the level of attention that should be evident on each component of the guitar, and how it effects the player (and the price) in the end. The significance of learning the process of material selection, construction sequencing and design considerations might well lead the reader towards a custom made instrument. This book is a credit to all the independent luthiers out there whose trade is no longer a secret.
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Making an Archtop Guitar
Making an Archtop Guitar by Robert Benedetto (Paperback - Jan. 1 1996)
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