Chris -- I don't know if there is a perfect book for everyone in existence. Probably not, since we're all so different. I wrote mine to fill a niche: There was not (until a couple weeks ago) any book available for the KIT guitar builder, that dealt with the specific concerns and problems of building kits vs scratch guitars.
Ya gotta admit, most of those of us who start with kits might have never built a guitar at all if we had had to start with raw wood; we might not have had the knowledge, tools, initiative, etc.
Well, the funny thing is, many potential builders (I think) feel that way about kits, as well. They just aren't sure enough of their skills, or what is required, etc. So, they never get started. Some who get started don't finish because they don't have much support provided at their
building level -- which is different from the kind of support you would get from Al Carruth or Rick Turner over on the Luthiers Corner, or similar folks on the OLF or MIMF.
That was why I wrote the book,and that was why I started this website -- to cater to the level of us kit builders. I have learned a lot in this forum AND from all the books. I have studied and read all of them: Sloane, Siminoff, Kinkead, Cumpiano/Natelson, Williams, and a bunch more (downstairs right now) ... and I found that they all absolutely ignore the specific needs of first-kit builders and potential kit builders. Also, Cumpiano, for example, uses a complete different building process from any kit on the market; I imagine it could be adapted to a kit, but would it yield a better guitar? Doubtful.
I'm not posting this to say *mine* is that perfect book, because I don't think there is one.
Mine's just a book and will be helpful along with other books, this forum, other forums, etc. As someone said above, everybody builds differently -- and everybody's need for information (and for how the info is offered) is different, too. So, no perfect book exists ... and I don't think any "totally useless" book exists, either.
Having said all that, I also have to say this: My expressed goal in writing my book was to cover kits from every angle (though it purposefully does not contain a complete detailed construction manual for any kit), and to provide the very book you originally asked about. I wanted to write it early in my kit guitar building years, too, because the methods one uses after gaining experience tend to become "the right methods," yet maybe they are not the best methods to use for a specific kit. Simply because of the materials and parts supplied, each kit requires (or at least tends toward) different procedures in building. When you ask an experienced luthier how to do something with a kit, very often, you will get an answer like, "Why did you start it that way in the first place? That's the wrong way to do it, but here's how you can go back and get on the right track." Often, his answer is not helpful because he isn't talking about what you need addressed; he's naturally talking about what he normally does. What else would he offer, since he isn't you and hasn't built your kit? I've built your kit and others; if I hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to write the book from the same viewpoint as yours: That of a kit builder rather than an experienced luthier.
Whether or not I have succeeded with the book is of course up to the reader/user to decide. But my goal was to provide an overall book that would guide the reader to buy the right kit, help give him or her the confidence needed, get the tools required (and build a few that are helpful), and generally assist in the building process in various ways. Hopefully, I succeeded. You guys who have graciously ordered the book (and those others using this forum who still will order a copy) can tell me where I was successful and where I was not. I look forward to reading a few detailed reviews.
Sorry this got so long!
(to purchase the book)
(free instructions on Stewmac/Martin kits)
(coming soon .... miscellaneous but not major stuff)