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Can anyone identify this Hondo "Gumby" guitar?


If one particular budget guitar brand from the 1970s and 1980s has earned more scorn and derision than any other maker, then surely it must be Hondo. Hondo guitars were for the most part produced in Korea (you could even say that they were the original Made in Korea guitars), although a few of the high-end models were made in Japan. (See The Story of Hondo Guitars).

I personally couldn't comment on why they have such a bad reputation today, but have heard stories from many former owners and others about what dreadful instruments they were. Of course, there are those who still have their old Hondos and love them dearly, but such people seem to be in the minority. I have to wonder if much of the scorn comes from people who didn't actually ever own a Hondo, but are just repeating negative comments from someone else. They were cheap guitars - everyone knew that - and I guess they were one of the few options available to the budding guitarist on a tight budget, and possibly the butt of not entirely fairly-earned resentment.

Playability aside, Hondo certainly produced some interesting looking instruments. For example, this very pointy Hondo guitar - currently listed on eBay with a starting price of $0.99 - is very reminiscent of the Matsumoku-made Mako Exotec XP-4 we looked at back in November, and surely must come from the same designer. Here's what the eBay seller has to say about it:
Kind of a wacky Gumby looking body w/ 24 fret 6 bolt neck. This is a very interesting and nice playing & sounding old Hondo (not Hondo II). Hard to find much good info on this but it my understanding that the Hondo II Logo starts around 1973 so I am calling this a c. '72. Any inaccuracies are not intentional and if you have info,I'd love to know more about this strangely appealing old thing. !! Anyhow,very good condition,well preserved and ready to go. (Well it could use some fresh strings) Has a straight neck, good frets and everything works. Nice overall cosmetic condition. [...] just a great looking guitar that doesn't even have a lot of pick wear or other scratches. Features mahogany body, maple neck,and rosewood fingerboard with 24 frets. Both pick ups work great & sound clear and there is a 3 way select.
OK, first off I'd say forgot all that Hondo vs Hondo II rubbish. That is a total red herring. There is no way that this guitar is from the 1970s, let alone as early as 1972. I've already drawn the comparison with the Mako Exotec XP-4 which was available from 1984 to 1989. I'd expect this Hondo to be contemporary to the Mako. Furthermore the styling is NOT 1970s, and is very much consistent with the 1980s, the era of hair metal and very very pointy guitars. Note also in the link I've just given, the photos of the Hondo H-1 produced around the same time and almost certainly a sibling instrument to our Hondo Gumby here. Alas, I can find no database of Hondo guitars so as to make an identity. The closest I came to was this, which alas, has too many blanks to be filled in.

I also clearly remember that logo (pictured above) being used on Hondo guitars in the 1980s. I suspect that the Hondo II brand actually reverted back to being simply "Hondo" in the 1980s.

If anyone can fill in the blanks anywhere in the story here, then please comment below. They may not have been the most salubrious instruments in the history of the guitar, but Hondo guitars are a very relevant part of the bigger picture.

G L Wilson

EDIT: MartinF tells us that it's a Hondo H-2 "Metal Master" (see comments below). I note now that the auction has been taken down. Did someone tell the seller what the guitar was? Maybe he'll re-list it.

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