Carved archtop guitars, probably more than any other plectrum instrument, offer the maker great latitude in voicing and tuning their individual response. While not a completely "exact" science, the voice of a given instrument can be vectored toward a given set of qualities that a player desires, via numerous variables which are under the control of the builder. Each builder, in turn, adopts individual working practices which produce somewhat predictable outcomes. This is how each finds that recognizable "sound" that he or she may become known for.
The flexibility between exerting ones own inflection, and providing for a customers requirements, by varying the individual designs, practices, and procedures involved in a guitar’s construction, lies at the heart of what we call the “Art” of Lutherie.
There is a good deal of straight and direct “engineering science” applied in Lutherie as well. It is an absolutely necessary function of producing a structure with the lightness and elasticity to “sound”, while simultaneously retaining the structural stability to avoid self-destruction. However, given the fact that we work in materials with widely variegated physical properties, there simply doesn’t seem to be a way to describe this process in a completely straightforward, formulaic, manner.