History of hondo guitars

Written by michael hintz
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History of hondo guitars
Hondo manufactured many low-budget acoustics from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. (guitar image by cherie from Fotolia.com)

Hondo was a manufacturer of low-budget guitars, primarily thriving in the 1960s and 1970s. Founded by Jerry Freed of International Music Corporation of Fort Worth, Texas, and Tommy Moore in 1969, Hondo was originally started to take advantage of the lack of guitar suppliers based in Korea. Japanese companies dominated the booming low-budget guitar market, driven by the success of musicians such as Elvis Presley and the Beatles, but consumers were largely unwilling to spend money for Japanese products, regardless of quality, due to a backlash of the World War II animosity.

Company Origins

Freed and Moore's plan was to capitalise on what they knew already was a profitable market by teaming up with South Korea to take advantage of its lower wage levels. Freed and Moore went to Korea and partnered with a small guitar maker (at the time) that would become Samick, a well-known guitar brand. They brought in engineers from Japan to perfect the production process.

Fun Fact

Hondo's name comes not from the old name for Japan's main island, Honshu, but from a mid-1950s western starring John Wayne, which also was named "Hondo." A television series was later created at about the time of Hondo's inception in the late 1960s, leading to further popularity.

Electric Instruments

By 1972, Hondo had added a line of electric guitars to its offerings. Most of its designs for electric products were based on the model designs of other successful guitar manufacturers, such as the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul.

Later Products

Throughout the mid-1970s, Hondo's success led to the addition of several new products being added to its offerings. These new products included banjos and a variety of other folk instruments to meet the demand in America for a variety of affordable musical instruments.

Brand Reputation

Hondo is known primarily as a producer of cheap guitars and acoustic instruments generally considered to be of quite low quality. Despite teaming up with Samick and other Japanese companies, most of the products that came out of Korea were regarded poorly by the American music industry. Hondo eventually was phased out in 1985 when an agreement was made between International Music Corporation, of which Hondo was a subsidiary, and Jackson guitars to produce Jackson's Charvel line of guitars in place of Hondo.

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