Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hondo II Les Paul

Hondo started making cheap copies of Gibson Les Pauls, but most were based on Standard designs. This Hondo II is probably from the 1970s and it's pretty unique in that it looks almost like a Les Paul Custom. It's got beautiful inlay on the lawsuit era headstock. A search on the Internet shows that it's hard to find this particular model. Now, while this wasn't a high end model by any means, as it's got a bolt-on neck, it really looks like one otherwise.

I picked up this guitar completely covered with rust and about 30 years worth of thick dusty grime. It needed a lot of cleanup, and some of the wiring looking like it had literally been yanked out.

I replaced the plug and some wiring, hooked it up and was surprised at the pleasant tone. It doesn't have the hot humbucking sounds of modern Les Pauls. It's got a more round sound, softer. Then again, maybe it's because I have the pickups lower from the strings. Still, I like the sound of this guitar. Here's a clip of me noodling around with it.

The action is just a tiny bit higher at the highest frets than brand new Epiphone or Gibson Les Pauls, but if you like the blues, this is a fun guitar to play with. The only drawback to the guitar is that there's a little nick out of the binding on the finger side of one of the lower frets. I doesn't impeded my playing, but if you pull a lot, you might notice it. The guitar bottoms out a bit in some places, but hey, it's a Hondo. You're getting a guitar that's just about as good as an Epiphone, but looks prettier and sounds more unique.

One of the things I love about this guitar is that the paint and nitro cellulose finish is thin enough that you can see the relief in the wood. It's just gorgeous in person. The only thing that looks a bit out of place is the replacement pickguard. I'm going to look for one with more of an aged white or cream edge.


mrz80 said...

Pop the covers on those pickups. I had a similar 70s era Hondo II bolt-neck LP copy. The pickups were actually rather sloppily wound single coils hiding inside those nice aged humbucking covers, and were microphonic as all get-out. I eventually gutted and completely rewired mine; once that (and new tuners and a new pickguard) was done, it was a pretty decent guitar. Wish I'd never gotten rid of it. :-)

Jeffrey Engel said...

Thanks for your comment and sorry I'm only just now getting around to noticing you left the comment and moderating it for publishing in the first place.

As for the guitar, I did sell this a while ago but you're probably right about the pickups.

I do have some small regrets for selling it because it really was a beautiful guitar. However, whenever I hold a real Gibson Les Paul Custom in my hands and run it through a Vox AC15, it's so obvious the difference... night and day. I'll take the LPC over the Hondo II anyway. The only problem is that the LPC is $3000-4000 while the Hondo is $200-300. ;)