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4.4 out of 5 stars
Making an Archtop Guitar
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on November 17, 2014
Excellent book, nice pictures, a full step by step process...
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on October 13, 2014
longtemps cherché enfin trouvé
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on November 29, 2013
very satisfied exactly what we were searching for thank you
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2011
I ordered this book and when it came it had a damaged spine, I contacted Amazon and was quickly send a replacement and issued a label to return the damaged one. Once the replacement arrived I packed the old one in the packaging that came with the new one attached the label and dropped it at the Post Office. All in all it was a relatively painless procedure, well done Amazon.
As for the book, I finished reading it and can't wait to start building one (will have to wait till I finish the flat top I started a while ago, not enough time to get much done). I found it to be very informative, easy to understand, and well written. There could have been more detail on some sections but there is plenty of detailed information on the web, one excellent source is [...] the Musical Instrument Manufacturers Forum.
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on December 10, 2009
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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on July 15, 2004
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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on June 9, 2004
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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2004
I was and continue to be enthralled by this book. I have found no other book on this topic that is superior to or even equal to this book.
Being written by a master luthier there are any number of things that the writer does not explore in much depth; presumably because those things are so second nature to the author that he does not realize that readers might want to read about them. So the book is not enough to be only-source that a would-be builder would need. Many of these omisions are in the books favor; the book remains a managable size and does not need to broken out in to several volumes. However I would have liked a bit more commentary about why one should do things in the sequence that he outlines. Some of the questions I was left with are listed here.
*. Why are the recurves carved after the body is assembled?
*. When and how does one determine the angle of the neck set?
*. How much plate tuning will typically be done before and after assembling the body?
*. How does one build curve into a truss rod so that neck relief can be influenced by truss rod tension?
Much of this information is available from other sources but is not detailed in this book. The balance between brevity and detailing is subjective; for myself he got the balance pretty close.
I particularly like the books formatting and font selection. The font types and sizes are easy on the eyes and lend them selves to being reviewed without having to get too close. I greatly appreciate that I can look over sections of the book while the book is resting on the work bench. Too many of the books on instrument making are published in a format that is simply too small. With this book I can see details in the photographs and understand what is being illustrated.
I particularly appreciated the authors making a point of explaining that (and why) fancier looking woods can be accoustically inferior to the less exotic looking woods and stating that some wood choices are driven by visual asthetics instead of by accoustical superiority. He illustrates this point with a guitar that he built out of slab-cut pine and maple. With this instrument the author makes it clear that a makers intimate familiarity with any and every piece of wood makes far more difference than what it looks like.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2003
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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on November 30, 2002
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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