Remember Hondo? Well, some of us fondly remember this brand, including our own Michael Wright, who shares with us his fond memories of Hondo and… 80’s Hair Metal!
It’s not very fashionable, I know, but I like ‘80s music. I should be too old for it, but I sat out the ‘70s listening to acoustic music from the 1920s and ‘30s and playing classical guitar. I began listening to rock again in the early ‘80s, beginning with Ozzy and Randy Rhoads. Boy could he play! Anyhow, the metal, hair, and power pop bands of those days all put good, strong guitar soloing up front in the mix, and I enjoyed it. (I automatically block out vocals and lyrics, by the way, so I pay no attention to them!) Among the bands I liked was the Canadian outfit Loverboy, who had a hot lead guitarist in Paul Dean. You may be aware of the rare Kramer Paul Dean Signature guitar, but you are likely to be surprised that there was in fact an earlier “signature” model produced by Hondo, of all people! Indeed, several!
Loverboy was founded in Calgary in 1980 and released its first record in Canada in that year. They caught on big and for most of the decade cranked out hits including probably their signature tune, (Everybody’s) Working for the Weekend. It didn’t take long for guitarist Dean to begin working with guitarmakers on a guitar design he could call his own. Apparently he had some prototypes made by a Western Canadian company, though those my never have gone into production.
At some point thereafter he apparently hooked up with Jerry Freed of International Music Corporation (IMC) of Fort Worth, Texas, the owner of the Hondo brand name. Hondo gets little respect from most guitar aficionados, but it really should, both because it contributed quite a bit to guitar history and actually made some pretty good guitars (though not all, it must be admitted).
Hondo was founded by Freed and Tommy Moore in 1969 with the intention to open up guitar production in Korea, at that time a non-player in the guitar game. Japan had taken over from Europe as the primary supplier of budget-level guitars during the 1960s. However, even by the late ‘60s the success of the Japanese was being eroded by their very success and the strength of the yen. Americans, mostly as an after-effect of World War II, had little respect for Japanese products and weren’t willing to pay much for them, even if they were pretty good. When Nixon cut the dollar loose to float with other currencies on the free market, the yen went up, making Japanese products increasingly expensive, a problem in a prejudiced, price-sensitive market like the US.
So, Jerry and Tommy went to Korea and hooked up with a small guitarmaker there that would become, I’m pretty sure, Samick. Japanese engineers from Tokai were brought in to help improve the operation and the Hondo brand was born. Named for the John Wayne western (and late ‘60s TV show). Not unlike the brand name featured here!
Hondo was initially known for its really crappy but cheap acoustics, but then picked up the low end of the copy era. Although by the mid-‘70s it was marketing some better models still made in Japan by Tokai. By the late ‘70s and into the ‘80s Hondo was making some pretty interesting “original” designs.
It was at this point in time when Hondo was hitting its stride that Paul Dean and Hondo crossed paths. As far as I know, this was Hondo’s first (and perhaps only) foray into celebrity endorsed guitars.
There actually may have been as many as three Hondo Paul Deans. There was one made from the Canadian prototypes which was apparently never promoted and probably pretty rare. In the June 1983 catalog the Paul Dean II and III were listed. The PD-2, shown here, had two DiMarzio Super II humbuckers and a BadAss-style stop tailpiece. The PD-3 had three single-coils and a traditional-style vibrato. Both had a black textured metal pickguard and came in a cherry finish with a 24-3.4” maple fingerboard over a 3-piece maple neck. Despite the respectable horse-power provided by DiMarzio, I’m pretty sure these guitars were made in Korea, because Japanese guitars of 1983 had pretty fine workmanship, which this lacks. It’s not at all bad, just not top-notch Tokai.
The Hondo Paul Dean II shown here lasted only about a year, if that. It was not in the 1984 catalog. The Paul Dean III was still listed in ’84. Both are probably quite rare and almost never seen. And close to the end of the line for Hondo.
In 1985 IMC signed an agreement with Charvel/Jackson guitars to market its Charvel line made in Japan. Let’s see. Charvel? Hondo? Which would you choose? Like a bad guy in a John Wayne western (or any by Clint), Hondo bit the dust. The brand’s fate was forever sealed when IMC bought the Jackson company in 1986. Who you gonna call? Not Hondo.
In any case, Paul Dean had bigger fish to fry. He hooked up with Dennis Berardi and Kramer guitars, which was on its way to becoming the largest guitar company in the world. In 1986 the Kramer Paul Dean debuted. But that’s another story.
Loverboy continues to perform. I still like ‘80s music, but only from the ‘80s. And only on the shuffle feature on my iPod. I’m increasingly pulled back to acoustic music from the ‘20s and ‘30s… Sorry Loverboy. But I still do like this Paul Dean II, and it’s a cool—and rare—piece of guitar history! Makes it all worth while working for the weekend…
60 thoughts on “Workin’ for the Weekend. No really! (The Story of Hondo Guitars)”
You are wrong about hondo starting in 1969 because i bought a professional bass model no h 815 for $284.95 dollars in fort worth texas in june 1966.
yours sincerely, Mike Durant
Am looking a Hondo acoustic six string with serial # H158A. Would like to know year of manufacture and ballpark value for like. COndition is average at best and needs some owrk on G string gear knob.
Thanks for your help
hi .I have a les paul copy, set neck 2 humbuckers, it has a gibson style headstock hbut rounded in the middle. it appers to be asain by the pot markings. it is solid plywood and fairly heavy, a nice burgandy color double edge cream binding , block inlays. hears the thing. It has the letter h on the headstock. made up pf 5 gold lines, not a capital H but SMALL h, can you helb me itentify it i think its from the 80′ i can send a picture. could it be a hondo ? thanks. mike
I just purchased an accustic Hondo… at a junk shop in Palacios, Texas.
It’s in ok shape except the bridge is loose… doesn’t seem to have any inside
I had to give $2.00 for it !!!! I Intend to put plastic strings on it.
I’m not a guitar player,,,,,,, yet,,, but I play banjo.
Thanks for the info.
Hello. I have a Hondo acoustic electric model H 124LNM and can not find any information on this . The headstock looks like Martin with Gold Lettering says Hondo Guitars EST 1969. It has 20 frets with the pickup in the fret board between the 18th and 19th fret. The ID tag is inside at the heal of the neck and list information and bottom of tag says International Music Company no Country listed. I have pictures if interested. I have not found any like this even in pictures. I have had this for 25 years and is like new with no fret ware or dibits in board. Thanks, John
I have a Hondo, 737 series Les Paul copy, looks good plays sweet.
I have a Hondo 737 series Les Paul copy. Looks good sounds sweet.
I currently own 2 Hondo guitars a Strat Body model H-720 MCS and a Hondo II Professional. The Strat has a very decent sound and I would match it against any Fender that was Asian made or MIM. The Professional is fantastic and better than the Epiphone LP copies and many other double humbucker guitars .. I use it in the studio and always blow people away getting such great sound from a Hondo II.
I have just acquired a Hondo 737 deluxe with a set neck,trapozoid inlays, and man this guitar lacks nothing. Not much info on these guitars but,what I can say is these Hondo went all out with these ! Great lp copy !
I have just acquired a Hondo 737 deluxe with a set neck,trapazoid inlays, and man this guitar rocks, it lacks nothing. Not much info on this particular guitar, but what I can say is this,Hondo went all out with these. It appears to be made of 2, 3/4 inch pcs. of red mahoghany, with a very nice book matched 3/4 curly maple top.This guitar also has an original Gibson headstock, v vs V open book stock, I’ve never seen one ?
Kudos to Hondo on this one ! NICE guitar !!
HI just picked up a Hondo Acoustic Kneck was split from body I used some Lee Valley Super Glue seems to be holding havent strung it yet should I use Nylon strings? Model is H18 Date on Label is 1981 I payed $20.00 for it
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I had a Hondo 2 les Paul in the late 70`s,quite a good guitar,many guitars later, I just recently purchased a Hondo strat copy, not thinking anything of it as it was a $20 bargain I`ve left it in the guitar racks amongst 18 other guitars in various stages of repair/playability.
I plugged into my 67 Playmaster valve amp today and started playing my guitars,Pacifica, MIM Strat,Shadow LP Jr,Yammaha rx212,modified squires,76 Suzuki(Greco) strat and a bunch of others and then picked up this Hondo, tuned it and OMG! This guitar is incredible,tone,volume and mojo,its going in for a full setup,outplayed all of my guitars totally! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.The clean sound emulates most bands i.e (Cars) with no pedals and the cranked single coil spews rock venom from the full throttle 40 watt valve amp.
Once in a lifetime you find it, never thought it would be a Hondo!
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My wife recently purchased for me a 761 strat copy with the E v h stripes. Red body with yellow striping. My guess is that this is a early 80’s model. I remember hondo guitars b /c as a kid-early teen in Arizona, there was a store named house of guitars in Phoenix that sold exclusively Hondo products. Good guitars; the hondo professional line was great, and musicians on a budget could rely on them. My 761 is a little beat up; in 2014, I’d expect a 30 + year axe to have wear. It also has withstood time in a good way. The 3 s/c pups chime like an old fender. If I remember correctly hondo used dimarzios in their mid to high end models. I played this one in a shop bf wifey bought it. Played thru a boogie full stack n some chorus fx. Sounds great n the vintage fulcrum bridge Is stamped “made in japan”. Covered tuners that surprisingly hold tune well. 21 frets; maple all around. Heavy body. Resonates well. Really gives the feel/sound of an older fender. Play thru a peavey bandit (another relic item!!) n digitech multi fx rp300. This is a good solid guitar. Searching carefully, ppl can, IMO, find a hondo gem. Thx n happy hunting !!
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Interesting article. I do remember Paul Dean having a signature model made by Odyssey guitars in Vancouver BC. These were most likely the prototypes for Hondo, and probably a far superior instrument.
I bought yesterday a Hondo II classical 7/8 measure –no product code&no serial number in the label….nice to have a guitar that is worth nothing in a world of cash!
I have an opportunity to buy a Hondo II at an auction house here in London to resell. Ought I to do you think? Are they rare?
My first “baby” ever… A Hondo ll archtop fatboy HL5…. Huge, heavy and solid but most of all… the sheer smooth sound of this instrument…. Magic! Bought in the eighty’s and it’s still going strong after hundreds of gigs throughout Europe almost 30 years ago. I still own it and nowadays it’s an eyecatcher in my livingroom . Still in perfect condition! If you ever encounter one of these in good condition… don’t hesitate buying it…. It’ll be worth your money twice !
I have a Hondo acoustic guitar model H315 in pristine condition. I played it only about four times until an injury. It has been stored in a Mediera case in a cedar closet all these many years. I can’t remember when it was given to me except it must have been in the early 60’s. Can you give me the year it was made and what it might be worth today. Thank you.
I’ve got an 80’s Hondo H1 that I call Spike.
It’s definitely a hair band style guitar.
Just stopped by to see if you had any info on that.
Mike D, did you find the make of you guitar with the gold small letter h with 5 lines on the headstock? I have an acoustic guitar with no other markings but that. It is about 45 years old and I would like to know what it is. Any ideas anyone? I have looked up SEVERAL different ones and have not yet found anything like it (logo wise). It looks like a Yakimaki guitar style but its not.
I have a Hondo H115 in case like new received in early 70’s. Anyone have an idea of value? Like an old friend to have around but still trying to learn a song or two.
Hi there ,ive got a Hondo guitar it is a twelve string,and the model nr. is H159A,are these guitar of any signivecent value or is it just another cheap inport from the east,this spesific guitar was made in Korea,Any info would be apreciated.
Hi, I have a Hondo concert model 016N, anybody know a value? Google doesn’t come up with anything…
I have a “New (never played)” Hondo H3 ” Death’s Dagger” that I kept in a Glass case on display in my Music Store..I has been in a Hondo custom case for the past 7 years under my bed.. I would like to sell it to someone that would appreciate it! It has only 1 knob “VOLUME” in the 80’s that was the only knob ever wanted or needed! (843) 506-0983…Bruce
Your short history omits that at one point Hondo partnered with or was at least licensed by Dan Erlewine to produce an “Automatic” replica. I have seen vast numbers of guitars but have only seen one of this model.
I still have my old black with white trim Hondo H1 “Lightning Bolt” guitar from about 1983, with the case still in great shape. Awkward as hell to play if you’re anywhere near mic stands or other players, but the pickup was great and it actually plays well. It mostly just hangs on the wall now though, because it’s not great for sit down playing, but still better than a flying V.. The trem is set up flat on the deck and only good for dive bombs. Ahh, the 80s… gotta love’em!
Hi, I just bought a Hondo H-117 , at the goodwill store in the original case for $10.00 it is nice and straight and has one string in the middle, and sounds really great just the one string, I better get cleaning it up and new strings on it, says 1981 on the sticker inside,
Odyssey Paul Dean, one of 50 made
Ok, this looks like a good place to post my periodic “Seen this?” blurb. 🙂
30+ years ago I lived in Phoenix for a while. When I moved back to my then-native Maryland after [circumstances redacted] I left my early80s bolt-on HondoII LP copy with a friend on “indefinite loan”. A few years passed by, with intermittent contact with said friend, during which time he was playing the thing semi-regularly. Well, after a while I got the itch to have it back, but by then he’d lost track of it and best he could determine after asking around was that his grandparents had given it to Goodwill or sold it at a yard sale or somesuch.
Thus my somewhat Quixotic quest (“Sancho, bring me the lance- there’s a windmill!”). If anyone in or recently in the Phoenix area has seen this critter, I’d love to hear about it. The guitar in question is a late 70s bolt-on Hondo II LP copy, white, with rectangular inlays. The tuners were replaced with Schaller M6s; the pickguard was replaced with a b/w/b sandwich; the original knobs (which perversely I still have) were redone with black ones, the neck pu is a no-name PAF copy, and the bridge PU is a DiMarzio Dual Sound. The biggest identifier, though, is the row of four micro toggles running diagonally between the neck volume and bridge tone knobs.
I realize it’s remarkably unlikely that I’ll ever see the thing again after all these years, but I figure heck, it’s worth a shot. It was my first decent (or semi decent) electric, and I miss it terribly.
I have a Hondo H75 1981 with a unbranded Humbucker DiMarzio and a modified fender 91 single coil in the neck 😀 !
I have just purchased a Hondo strat style, but the head is shaped like a hockey stick head. Can not find anything on it, except it might be during the Charvel period, but all I’ve seen online is the same classic head style. Any help, I have pics. Thanks.
Got a Deluxe 935 Korean made / ES 335 copy ) that I bought new in the early 80’s … still looks good and the pick-up’s are really sweet
I have a h48hs Hondo ACCOUSTIC, I’ve had for over35 yrs. The info.I get, just tell me that mod. Is missing.I HAD A GUY LOOK AT AND HE PLAYED IT, HE HAS A GUITAR STORE AND TOLD ME IT PLAYED BETTER THAN ANY GIBSON OR MARTIN THAT HE HAS EVER PLAYED. E MAIL ME PLEASE IF ANY ONE HAS INFO.ON THIS MOD.
I currently own 4 Hondo electric guitars because I love them! I restored a explorer shaped model to resemble Rick Nielsen’s (Cheap Trick) checkerboard guitar. It turned out awesome! Then I bought a 760 sparkling red fame, which is really cool. Then I picked up a red with white stripes Eddie Van Halen style guitar – which my son confiscated from me! Finally, I got my hands on a Paul Dean II with DiMarzio super 2 humbuckers – doesn’t get much better than that!!!
yesterday I found a Hondo fame series 7603. does anybody know something about it?
Anyone know the color of the H762 TT.
Tiger Tail or Traslucent Tobacco possibly.
i have 16 flying v’s that are hondo and other names but all are built the same in almost every way. 25 yrs ago i purchased a sunburst bently series 10 w hardtail bridge. 2 yrs later a red lotus w tremolo. i own a first, second and third edition hondo v’s. Second is my favorite.
and I just got a Hondo II strat with “lace sensor” style pickups and a strange paint job imitating those Fender guitars which were made of paint-injected wood? Looks very well made Repeat VERY well made. Actually the body is larger and thicker than my $20.00 Fender Squier Strat. The neck is wide and thin. Hell I am keeping it.I paid $5.00 for it. Let’s face it: if you pay $10K For a 1962 Strat, you are an idiot with money.
I have a Hondo 935 Deluxe I purchased used from a friend back in the early 80’s. It has two humbuckers and plays very well although it is finickity to tune but stays in tune once you get it set. The action is a tad high but has an adjustable height bridge. I enjoy playing it and it’s several notches up from being one of Hondo’s cheap, not well made modles.
I have one of the ‘pre Hondo’ Paul Dean guitars that Paul had built by a small company near Vancouver, BC called Odyssey. Paul told me they built 50 of them, then he had Hondo use basically the same design for his Hondo Paul Dean signature guitar.
can anyone give me any insite as to if Hondo acoustic guitar model h35 is any good can find much about it online
I got a h28h from 1981.
Does anyone knows what its worth?
Ive got my Hondo childs acoustic guitar from the mid 80’s. the head snapped off and my dad stuck it back on. you would think its a piece of crap but it isnt. I love that guitar. always in tune. has a dull sound but its great and other guitars dont sound like it.
CAN ANYONE COMPARE A H90 TO A H350??
@ Ray on December 22, 2017:
Scroll down 3/4 of the page for picture and more info.
In 1988, a new headstock appeared along with the new Marker logo. There was also a reversed version of this headstock used.
Note: This headstock was still used in the early ’90s on Hondos not made by Samick.
I have a Hondo H307 what is it worth? Berfect condition.
Hi, Great article!
I have been a huge Paul Dean fan for many years. He’s an interesting character who has been in some of Canada’s best bands… from Scrubaloe Caine, to Streetheart and of course Loverboy. Seeing your article with its pictures reminded me of a gig I attended in which Paul played a Frankenparts type of guitar that was a Strat body with a bridge humbucker and a Telecaster neck. He blasted this hybrid through a Hiwatt amp and it sounded RAW. When I look at the Hondo and the Kramer they both have attribute of his earlier mongrel Strat/Tele. Just sayin!
I wanted to learn to play but didn’t want to spend $$ if i didn’t stick with it. I got an H308 classical solid body for free in a trade. It has a small hole in the top & scratches all over, BUT with new tuners & nylon strings the deep, rich tones are amazing !! Can’t wait to learn how to pick well to do it justice.
I have a virtually unused Longhorn double neck, 12 string, six string. Looks beautiful. Weighs a ton. Sounds very good. Amazing with electric sitar and a multi-effects pedal. A very weird guitar that makes unique sounds. Apparently, it is relatively rare, especially in pristine condition. If it wasn’t so heavy and too nice to risk scuffing it, I’d play it.
I have a HONDO H676 12 string. bought it new has been sitting because I cant play anymore. Needs some work to be in pristine shape. New top nut pick guard minor cosmetic touch-ups. How much is it worth.
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H175 1982….good condition….what’s it worth
We have one of the Odyssey Paul Dean II in our studio ,its such a
oddity an a wonderful sleeper gutiar. I have only seen & played one of the other builds by Hondo Paul Dean II when they first came out and got a bad rap due to bad timing of the glory days of gutiar rock & Hondo being a start up company, they are very closely the identical instrument. These guitars have a sound of their own. If set up correctly by a veteran guitar tech I would definitely make the investment add one of these rare no gimmicks guitars to any collection.I have had to re introduce the younger players to one of the first signature Gutiars made . It has a nice light feel that has a clean or buzz saw sustaining guitar that sings ,,of course any player from the 70s ,80s or 90s identity instantly with the sound of this FM Radio platinum selling guitar sound of Loverboy & Paul Dean gutiar playing. The sound is wonderful, its great to be one Lucky ones that own one ! If you see one a buy it ! IMO
Has anyone ever heard of the Hondo H 38HS ACOUSTIC GUITAR? I can’t find info on this model anywhere. The 35HS I’ve seen sell for more than $500 but I have 38HS w/case and its near mint. I can’t find one mention of it anywhere though. Pls help.
My first guitar was a Hondo LP copy back in 1982. It got me started on my guitar journey….but after a few years, it stayed in my closet more and more. I took it out and start playing it again. The neck started warping…so bad I could have used it to shoot bow and arrows. Then I was going to redo the body and noticed it was made of plywood. Then again it was $150 in 1982 and it started my journey.