Homer Ledford


Kentucky Governor Paul Patton (l) and Homer Ledford

at the Kentucky Governor's Mansion 8/8/97


Homer Ledford was born and raised in the Tennessee Mountains, a part of the Appalachian chain. At an early age, he began making musical instruments, his first being a "match stick" fiddle. At the age of eighteen he was given a rehabilitation scholarship to attend the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, North Carolina. There while recuperating from rheumatic fever, he made his first dulcimer.

Mr Ledford attended Berea College in 1949 and transferred to Eastern Ky. University where he received a B.S. degree in l954. He taught industrial arts in Jefferson Co. and in Clark Co. for ten years.He resigned in 1963 from teaching high school industrial arts to become a full time instrument maker. He has completed 6014 dulcimers, 476 banjos, 27 mandolins, 26 guitars, 18 ukuleles, 13 dulcitars, 3 dulcijos, 3 dulcibros, 4 violins and one bowed dulcimer. Mr. Ledford’s craft is represented in the Smithsonian Institute by a dulcitar [an instrument of his own invention], and registered in the U.S. patent office, a fretless banjo and an appalachian dulcimer.

Mr Ledford is also a fine Bluegrass musician. He organized the Homer Ledford and the Cabin Creek Band in1976 and they have been performing ever since. In 1989, the band performed in Ecuador and in 1991 they performed in Ireland’s First International Bluegrass Festival in Athy, Ireland. They were invited back in 1992 and 1997. Mr Ledford was honored by his hometown Winchester, Ky. when in 1986 they named the Homer Ledford Bluegrass Festival after him. The Festival ran for three consecutive years, each time bearing his name. Mr Ledford has performed solo concerts in Japan on a ten-day tour, with the Japan-American Society of Kentucky. Mr. Ledford plays 13 different musical instruments.



He shared the stage with Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys at the Homer Ledford Bluegrass Festival--Invited by the Japan-America Society of Kentucky to play solo concerts on a ten-day tour of Japan--Opened for Bill Monroe at the Kentucky Theater, Lexington, Ky.--He played for the Kentucky Music Educators Association, Louisville, Ky.--Gave a concert for the 1994 Southern Region 4-H Leadership Forum, Rock Eagle 4-H Center, Eatonton, Georgia. He opened for the Allison Krauss Bluegrass Band at the Kentucky Theater, Lexington, Ky. --He performed for the Lands End catalog people in Milwaukee, WI.--Entertained the last five governors of Kentucky including Governor Paul Patton. This program was broadcast live on KET [Kentucky Education Television]. Mr. Ledford also entertains for schools, colleges, universities, nursing homes, etc.  Homer has also been featured in KET’s “Homer Ledford:  Instrument Maker”  which is described by KET as “a chronicle of the creation of a dulcimer, from conception to finished instrument, interwoven with the life story of Winchester craftsman Homer Ledford, America's premier dulcimer maker.”  Homer was also one of the original inductees for the Kentucky Walk of Fame and received his sidewalk star in such good company as Rosemary Clooney, Loretta Lynn and Patricia Neal.  He was posthumously awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree from Eastern Kentucky University on December 16, 2006. 



Eastern Kentucky University produced a twenty-one minute documentary movie of Homer Ledford and his work and music.

He was interviewed and did some special music on the show entitled: Personal Conversations With Dennis Wholey--Produced by KET America.

Homer was on Japan’s national TV network [NHK] documentary on Bluegrass Masters in Kentucky as a part of a series about American Cultures.

The McLain Family Band filmed Mr Ledford for a Kentucky Education Television documentary. Appeared on the Milton Metz Omolet show, in Louisville, Ky. Did a special appearance on WSM TV Nashville, Tenn.-- The Bob Braun Show , WLW-TV, Cincinnati, Ohio.


Homer Ledford on

Kentucky Educational Television



Homer Ledford on Public Radio International's

"Michael Feldman's Whad' Ya Know?" national broadcast 1/22/2000



Featured in Artisans of the Appalchians, by Edward Dupuy, 1987.

In By Southern Hands, by Jan Arnow publications, Oxmoor House, Birmingham

Kentucky Crafts, Handmade and Heartfelt, by Phyllis George Brown.

The Rural Kentuckian, published by Kentucky Rural Electric, May 1989.

Homer and his work featured in a two-page article in Lands End catalog, April 1989.

The Kentucky Encyclopedia, Published by the University of Ky.

Dixie Frets, Luthiers of the Southeast, Published by the Council of the Traditional Arts and distributed by the Hunter Museum, Chattanooga, Tenn.

History of Clark County, by Dr. Thomas Clark, pub. 1996

Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions by Ralph Lee Smith,, Published by Scare Crow Press, inc., Sept. 1997.

Woodsongs by Michael Johnathon, published by North American Imprints, 1996.

Dulcimer Maker; The Craft of Homer Ledford, [Homer’s Biography]. Written by R. Gerald Alvey and published by the University of Kentucky Press, 1984.

See Ya’ Further Up the Creek.  A collection of Stories and Poems by Homer Ledford, 2004



By Homer C. Ledford

When you hear the sounds of the old CLAWHAMMER banjo, you know it’s Homer Ledford about to do his famous ‘MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST’ and novel act. This is not your "run-of the mill" show--it is quite unique!

First he plays a couple of tunes on the banjo, and then he gets someone from the audience (this may be a young person, a senior citizen, or, yes, even the Governor!), to come up and help him play, Homer notes the banjo and his helper strums the head part of the instrument. After the banjo thing, he plays and tells about the Appalachian dulcimer--A very beautiful sound. Another fun experience is to watch Homer get out his new development which he calls THE FIDDLEFONE, an instrument made up of scrap wood from the shop, an old style spring wound phonograph arm, two fiddle strings and set up and played much like a fiddle. This part of the show is always a big hit also.

Next, he picks up the ole HOG-LOT fiddle he made years ago as a teenager. The curly maple wood came from an old tree that grew in his dad’s hog lot. Homer plays this thing behind his back, under his arm or any way except the right way! This makes you want to get right up and dance, or whatever! By this time everyone wants to know what in the world is in the red, white and blue box marked "beware, animal inside". When he finally opens the box and gets it out, everyone is surprised to see it is a "chimp" style monkey powered by a battery. The monkey plays the cymbals while Ledford dances a doll on a string and plays a banjo all at the same time. Homer handcrafted the doll that is complete with big red boots, overalls and an old flop hat.

Last, but by no means least, Homer introduces everyone to, yes you guessed it, the MUSICAL SAW. As soon as he gets it all tuned up real good, he will play you such tunes as MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME, DOWN IN THE VALLEY, or other good SAW tunes such as I SAW The Light, I SAW Mommie Kissing Santa Claus, or ArkanSAW Traveler! To have the audience sing My Old Kentucky Home has proven to be a big hit.


Homer Ledford Playing the Musical Saw


 Learn from Homer Ledford about the Musical Saw! (Sound files courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society).

Hear Homer Ledford playing the saw. (350k WAV file)

Hear Homer Ledford talk about the musical saw. (450k WAV file)


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Rev. 12/22/06