Hondo II guitars circa 1980

Hondo II: the First Name In First Bands.   Marketed as ideal beginner-instruments, Hondo II was the US brand name for certain guitars built by the Korean Samick corporation.  According to wikipedia, Hondos were built in Japan between 1974 and 1983.   Samick is among the world’s largest manufacturers of musical instruments, with much modern production of guitars taking place in Indonesia.  Anyways… by the time I started playing the electric guitar, the Hondo II name was already retired and they were simply branded ‘Samicks.’  Not sure what was up with the awkward name Hondo.  Was is supposed to invoke Honda, then known to Americans as a leading manufacturer of motorcycles? Here’s a look back at the company’s big push into the US market in the 1970s. 

The Hondo Longhorns circa 1981; updated versions of the circa 1960 Danelectro instruments.

The Honda II lineup circa 1981. We see copies of: Gibson’s THE PAUL, the Fender Lead II, an early Fender Telecaster, an EVH-style strat, as well as some generic-looking but original instruments.

The Hondo 781 EXP, a lurid instrument sure to inspire fist-pumping.

In 1979 Hondo offered Asian-made licensed-versions (not copies…) of the respected SD Curlee instruments. 

Anyone out there using Hondos these days?  Are any of the models worth recommending?  Let us know…

44 thoughts on “Hondo II guitars circa 1980”

  1. My bench test guitar is one of those SD Curlee Hondos, but someone stripped the finish and logo and dyed it black. Fifty bucks, it was, and plays perfectly up to about the fourteenth fret.

  2. I’m not sure to whom i’m sending this!
    Anyway, i bought in december 1980 a Hondo II les paul in France, (i’m french),
    now leave in Amsterdam, just picked it up back from my parents place, let it checked
    out : neck (bold on) a bit curved , but kan play with it…Playing high notes requires
    some muscles in the fingers!!(strings far up..). Nbr: H7 40AB, sticker “made in Korea
    wich puzzles me cause i thought (wikipedia!) that korean hondo II les paul models started in 1983?
    I like very much the distortion ability, sustain, …En my emotional shit with it!
    ‘d like to know more about it , any internet site??
    I’m just trying to get informations, i’got other guitars (better??), but this one is special
    to me…So, whoever reads this , thanks for your time! Pascal (51 years old).

    1. Pascal, por favor, ponte en contacto conmigo.
      Espero que alguien me pueda ayudar, ya que he perdido el contacto y estoy intentando localizarte en las redes, ha pasado mucho tiempo y me gustaria poder hablar contigo.

      Montse de Asturias España

    2. Much of the info on Hondos is wrong. Very few were made in Japan. Most were made in Korea, from 1974-1988.

      1. Again, this information is from Wikipedia. Please follow the link in the article. If you have definitive proof to the contrary, please provide it to me and I will make adjustments. ED

  3. I have a cherry wood finished Hondo II finished les paul copy. Need to replace scratchy pots, anyone have a wiring diagram?

  4. When I was in high school I played in a working band near Binghamton NY called “Sapphire.” My bass player dreamed of one day owning a Rickenbacher bass but settled for the Hondo II version. Finally he had saved enough money to buy the real thing, but soon decided he LIKED THE HONDO version BETTER, and continued to play the copy. I suppose it may have been the “I’m just USED to this one” factor, but might also say something about the quality of the instrument.

    1. no its true, real ricks have weak e string prob cos the 2 truss rod deal, i swapped all hardware onto ibanez copy, sorted. i have several hondo ii longhorns best money i ever spent….

  5. Hey, that sounds like me,
    Oh it was me, yes I remember that after Bob Twining at the Music Workshop, set it up (the Hondo) it played like a dream, and actually had a little deeper bottom to it than the crisp Rickenbacher. I owned both for 20 years, and the “Rick” was sold in almost new condition.

  6. i got a 2 tone sunburst telacaster deluxe series h757g do any body know anything about these guitars

      1. Mike,
        Those 75* seires guitars were actually pretty nice axes’s. I own several of the Strat copies of the same seires. Aside from the name “Hondo” and the goofy headstock shapes most of them had I really love the tone of the pickups they used in that and the earlier H76 guitars (those had the best pickups). Great for vintage tones, blues, classic rock.

        1. I believe I have 2 of these 70’s Hondo Strat’s, Jason and love them for same reasons. Built like a tank, beautiful tone and Jumbo frets, the Champagne one begs me to play it and I love playing it and hearing it.
          Personally I think you would need to spend $1000 plus (Australian $ in my case) on a actual fender, new or second hand to get the playability and sound of these Strats. No wonder Fender and Gibson wanted to sue the Jap makers in the 80’s.
          Help? I can’t find any ID on my guitars any suggestions.

          1. Check the neck joint. My champagne strat has a sep6e marking. Has a jackson styled headstock/neck… Cannot find anything online. Looks 80s a.f.
            Post if you find a similar marking?

          2. Neither can I. I have a nomad
            three3 x with no identification on it also it has built in speakers. Do you know anything about this model.

  7. I have a Hondo 11{that’s a roman numeral 2} classic guitar made in Korea model E 800, can anyone tell me more about them? I have checked all over and no where do they even mention a E 800. It was given to me when I showed some interest by a teacher who had extra guitars from a guitar club he used to run, the neck is a bit wide and it only goes to the 12th fret then the body starts, it has 3 wound and 3 nylon strings, it has good sound and is easy on the fingers to play.

  8. hi, my names mike, i just purchased a hondo 2 h75, its a great guitar but it has no serial number or any markings other than brand and model. i was wondering what years they were made, cant find any info on them other than it might be early eighties. any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated, thank you so much mike

  9. I have a Hondo II jazz bass guitar my Brother-In-Law bought in the 70’s. It’s sunburst in color and looks like a fender. It has no numbers it just says Hondo II on the headstock. It has 1 tone,1 volume and 2 toggle switches. Would anyone know anything about this guitar?

  10. Just traded an Ibanez Artcore for a 1980 Hondo II Fender Lead II copy. Very nice guitar. Needed a little clean up and a string ferrule and we’re good. It plays nice, stays in tune and the intonation is good. Some say these were made by Tokai but probably made by Matsumoku. Either way, it a nicely made Japanese guitar and that’s what I like. The Ibanez artcore was OK, but the made in China thing always bugged me and I never bonded with the guitar—though it was nicely made I have to say.

  11. I use a ‘made in Japan’ Hondo II Professional copy of the Fender Lead II. I picked it up at a guitar center for $100 bucks. White body, black pickguard and a maple fretboard, 25.5″ scale, single coil in the neck and bridge. It is an awesome-looking, great sounding little guitar and is one of my go-to single-coil solid body guitars. Haven’t seen or heard too much about the Lead II copies, but they’re out there and I for one would highly recommend them. I gig with it regularly and it’s one of the finest guitars I own. Outstanding value for the money and rugged build quality too, this baby could fall off the back of a truck without going out of tune, and chips and dings only make it look cooler to me since it’s so worthless, haha

  12. Yes I have a Strat type that just says Hondo 11. I really wanted a real Fender strat but couldn’t afford one. When I finally bought one I was very dissapointed that it didn’t sound anywhere near as good as the Hondo. I’ve still got it, the Fender went years ago.

    1. Thank you. I’m about to buy one in the next few days and I wasn’t sure what they are like, you’ve put my mind at ease 🙂

  13. This page is wrong, Samick never built a single guitar in Japan. Only the Hondo Professional Series was made in Japan, all other Hondos were made in Korea until 1992.

    1. I gathered the information on this page the HONDO GUITARS wikipedia entry. Please follow the link in the post to read this entry. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of wikipedia. If you have some definitive proof to the contrary, please provide it to me and I will happily modify this page. It is certainly not my goal to spread misinformation. ED

  14. Hello, I would like information on HONDO H90N (Made in Korea) guitar?
    Real plain except for around the hole there is decoration, kinda like Indian design ?)

  15. Hi there,
    I have a Hondo II professional, looks a bit like a Gibson Les Paul. I am trying to find out some info on it as I am looking to sell it. The serial number is 0070115 and it says made in Japan on the back of the headstock. Any help would be much appreciated, thanks

  16. I have a Hondo II Professional copy of the fender lead II,My Hondo is yellow with maple fret board,one humbucker that has 2 DPDT mini toggle switchs,half power and Rev poles for a great phaser sound,I paid $15. for it in 2001 so I could use it for parts,After setting it up and replacing 1 switch I was so happy with this guitar I still have it minus the stickers,The body is solid wood and the finish it very thick like the old fenders.I play this more then my Gibson Gold Top LP or my Epiphone Korina Explorer,This guitar is heavy,solid and great to play.

  17. Hondo II professional strat here. Came with grey-bottom pickups like in the Tokai’s. Made in japan. Other than a slightly thinner neck, this is a fender-beater from that era. Fenders (and esp. gibsons) were resting on their laurels until the japanese invasion came…lots of crap, but lots of stunners as well. A top of the line aria/yamaha/tokai/daion/vantage/westbury etc…just beat the pants off of USA made gits in fret finish and playability at that time (unless you got a custom gibby or fender)

    For the price, hard to beat these. I have had all the above…and my favorite usa made early 80’s strat was eventually replaced with a hondo professional II. The money I made off the fender went to the hondo plus a blackface champ…so there. And yes, the hondo plays as well or better than the fender.

    My hondo is made in japan…

    1. Just came across this page…Awesome. I own a 1980/81 Hondo II Strat copy that I bought brand new for $175.00. New Fenders were $500.00 at the time and out of my price range. Mine is dark brown (gloss) with black pickguard and maple neck. I absolutely love this and it plays better then any Fender Strat I’ve ever played. I have modified mine with a cracked mirror pickguard, EMG pick-ups and a Floyd Rose locking tremolo. Cranking out of my new Fender 100w Champ in “Metal-2000” mode, this baby screams for miles!! Heavier then hell!! Top quality wood and craftsmanship…….will never part with it.

  18. I have a Law Suit HONDO LES PAUL Copy that will go up against any real les paul as far as playability, tone and weight.
    Every fret play easily and cleanly, the tone is unbelievable.
    I have a ton of Gibson and fender guitars to compare this with and the only difference after a fret sand is the guitar mfg’s name.
    The guitar wood, pickups makes no difference, if a guitar is poorly made it won’t sound right or ring.

    You’ll simply need to Fret sand, shape crown and polish the frets. Lastly check out wiring 50’s or 80″s wiring style, cap values for tone you like.

    Set up the action and you’ll have a low action playing guitar just like the real thing. It’s really a matter of preference and budget after this setup.

    Your the one playing the guitar with strings from 7’s to 14’s you’ll have the final say and judge what to keep and how much to spend on the next guitar.

    What ever happens, have fun and keep playing your heart out.

    1. I have a 748 deluxe I think as it never had the proper truss rod cover. It’s a heavy pig with a set neck open book Gibson headstock with the old Hondo logo, and apon further dissection I found that this one appears to be sandwiched with 2 , 3/4 inch layers and only a quarter inch cap. The music store owner had it as a personal player and claimed it would go toe to toe with a gibby any day and this baby sings sweet but the build is not that of a Gibson with those stats . Would like to hear other comments about the earlier ones .

  19. yeah i got a samick fender copy its heavy and can play it without the amp to practice the wooden tones are very rich

  20. I have a (probably) late ’70s Hondo II P bass copy. Has a single humbucker sized pickup vs. the traditional staggered Fender P bass single coil pick ups and is hidden by the metal pickup cover (along with the bridge cover). Plays great, sounds real good. The neck is a monster. With original era case. Don’t let the Hondo name fool into believing these basses (and guitars) are no good.

  21. On Labor day weekend, I picked up a Hondo II Les Paul copy, off of Craigslist for $80.00. The serial number is gone, as well as any other numbers. It is a bit beat up and am in process of repairing and making it playable again. I may be putting a Warmoth replacement neck on it, as this one is in bad shape. After much researching on the internet, I would say it is an early 1980’s H-732 model. I have the Hondo fever now! Check out this website. samick.wikia.com/wiki/H-732 . The finish matches this one. equipboard.com/items/hondo-ii-h732.

  22. I have a Hondo II sunburst Stratocaster. The bridge is not like most. There is no tremlo bar, not even a place for one. I bought it brand new around 1979. I has endured severe weather changes. As at several points I did not have a can back in the day & rode a bicycle carrying my Strat. I played heavy metal using a BOSS distortion pedal & a Rickenbacker amp. Also used a BOSS flanger from time to time. The neck is still pretty true, only real change was that I put on Gibson speed knobs. I don’t recall the selling price, I traded a bass amplifier head for it at the music shop

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