Instruments and Stories
Are you one of the folks who have been blessed to own one of Homer's fabulous instruments or would like to share your stories about our dear friend?
Please send them to the webmaster or mail to Bill Johnson, 3456 Belvoir Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 so we can share them with family and other friends of Homer's!
Homer with Dulcimers #6000(l) and #5000(r). #5000 is owned by Colista Ledford of Winchester, KY and #6000 by Bill Johnson of Lexington, KY
pictures by Bill Johnson
Dulcimer #6000 in Homer's "La-BOR-a-tory" on April 13, 2005. Only 14 more dulcimers would be produced
Picture of Ledford Dulcimer #6000 taken by Alan Mills
Homer with banjo #537. This is one of 13 bluegrass banjos that Homer built and the last banjo he produced. This instrument is owned by Bill Johnson of Lexington, KY
pictures by Bill Johnson
Homer with his Martin D45 #417429 guitar specially made for him by Martin in 1979 which Homer sold to Bill Johnson in November 2005
Picture by Bill Johnson
This dulcimer number is not numbered or dated, but it is one of Homer's earliest dulcimers. Homer did not number (or date) approximately the first 100 dulcimers he built. He did, however, keep a hand written log of each dulcimer. Inside one sound hole is the hand written inscription "Made by Homer Ledford Ivyton Tenn". The inscription is on the wood and not on a paper label.
There is a unnumbered Ledford dulcimer in existence that is known to be purchased in 1948. That dulcimer is stamped (as opposed to hand written) "Made by Homer Ledford in Alpine, TN". Homer lived in Ivyton prior to living in Alpine, so the dulcimer pictured above had to be built prior to 1948. The listing of dulcimers per this website (taken from Homer’s handwritten records) indicates that only nine dulcimers were built prior to 1948. The 8th and 9th dulcimers built by Homer were teardrop models, so this one cannot be #8 or #9. As a result, this dulcimer is almost assuredly one of the first seven dulcimers ever built by Homer.
Based on other corroborating evidence, it is also possible that it is one of the first two dulcimers he built at John C. Campbell Folk School. Homer lived in Ivyton before attending John C. Campbell Folk School, so the name of the city inscribed on the dulcimer is a significant fact. In addition, this dulcimer was purchased second hand in 1952 from the original owner in New York. Homer sold those first two dulcimers to Southern Highlanders Inc. Guild Shop in New York in 1946, so the fact that the dulcimer was purchased from the original owner in New York is also significant evidence that this dulcimer could be one of those first two.
June 14, 2010. Today we heard from Helen Snyder of Douglas, AZ who has another early Homer Ledford dulcimer with the Ivyton, TN inscription inside of it! In a phone conversation today with Colista Ledford we were told that this is definitely one of Homer's first 200 dulcimers and predates his coming to Berea College in Berea, KY.
Part of Ms. Snyder's comments about the dulcimer are:
"in the 1970s I bought a Homer C Ledford dulcimer from a friend. This one has the words visible: Made by Homer C Ledford Ivyton TN. The (tuning) pegs are sort of chip-carved, ie you can see the individual chip marks on the flat part as they were trimmed after being sawed and sanded to the right size. The frets look like they might have been made from finishing nails and go under 2 of the 3 strings. The sides and probably fingerboard are walnut, and the top and bottom look like white pine or some other wide-grained wood. It's not very well tuned, ie frets are not quite in the right position."
Here are a couple of pictures that Ms. Snyder shared of her rare early Ledford Dulcimer (thanks, Helen!)
Note. This instrument has been purchased by Bill Johnson of Lexington, KY and is now on display in the Bluegrass Heritage Museum in Winchester, KY. Their web site is www.bgheritage.org.
This is dulcimer #6004 and is one of the last to be produced by Homer. It was built in April, 2005.
Homer Ledford Masterpiece #5989
By Marie Mitchell
I’ve been hooked on dulcimers since Merwyn Jackson, founder of the Madison County (Kentucky) Dulcimers, taught me to play Bile Them Cabbage in 15-minutes. Merwyn loaned me a cardboard dulcimer to play with his group while I shopped around for my own instrument.
At the outset I felt destined to own one of Homer Ledford’s handcrafted dulcimers, partly because our paths kept crossing. When WEKU-FM (the public radio station at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond), where I worked, sponsored a local broadcast of the national program, Whaddaya Know, Homer was one of the featured Kentucky performers. He wowed everyone by playing his musical saw.
Another encounter was at a Riders in the Sky concert in Frankfort. Homer was the opening act. Weeks later, fresh from a dulcimer gathering in Lexington, my sister and I happened upon Homer at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. He was promoting the updated version of R. Gerald Alvey’s book, Dulcimer Maker, the Craft of Homer Ledford.
At every event Homer was engaging, entertaining and down to earth. I scheduled an interview with him at his workshop for a radio feature. We passed the morning easily, like having coffee with a neighbor.
It was months later that I actually requested a dulcimer. I stopped back by the workshop and Homer showed me some claro-walnut wood that came from out west. There was only enough to make a single dulcimer. Mine. It became #5989.
I didn’t just buy a Homer Ledford dulcimer though. It came wrapped in stories, jokes and memories. No extra charge.
I can’t take credit for any soothing sounds that come out of my dulcimer. Homer had high standards to meet—his own. His creation reflects his pride, passion and precision. I try to do him proud every time I perform with my group or play at church or a nursing home.
I’ve been teaching my eight-year-old daughter, Ruby Margaret Smith, to play some songs on the dulcimer. It’s not just the notes and chords I want her to learn—but to appreciate its history and Homer’s signature imprint on the instrument.
My name is John Pascuzzi. Homer made me dulcimer # 5150 back in 1987, which I still own and cherish. I have a website about odd, unusual and unique musical instruments, and have had a picture of my dulcimer the Homer made in my virtual Gallery online since 1999. The website has evolved and is now mostly about experimental and other unusual instruments, but I still have the dulcimer in there because many folks, even here in the USA, don't know what a dulcimer is or have rarely seen one. Plus it's one of the few truly American musical instruments.
This dulcimer was custom made by the late Homer Ledford (1926-2006) of Kentucky, considered to be a legend and master craftsman of the instrument. It is made from Yellow Poplar wood that is over 100 years old, salvaged from planks that were once slave cabins.
This is my instrument purchased from Homer at the Berea Craft Fair in 1983. It was used on the album Front Porch Pickers Vetco music, on the album Cookin' on a Dull Simmer Bob and Susie Hutchison and on Welcome Christmas also by
Bob and Susie Hutchison and is still one of my favorites. The repaired cracks were from a co-worker sitting on it.
Bob Hutchison, Frankfort, KY Dulcimer #4797
I am the original owner of Homer Ledford's dulcimer number 746. My parents bought it for me in the early 1960s at the "Traipsin' Woman" Festival at Jenny Wiley State Park. It is a three-stringed model with simple diamond sound holes and staple-type frets. The body appears to be butternut and the original friction pegs are of rosewood.
This instrument has traveled with me all over the US from Maine to California and barely survived a house fire about ten years ago that destroyed my Gibson banjo and mandolin and nearly got my Martin guitars.
I am the proud owner of dulcimer # 5572. I purchased it from Homer at a workshop at Appalachian State University. Inside is handwitten "Special" and signed by Homer. He is greatly missed in the dulcimer world.
Please add my name to the list. Thank you.
Elsie I. Cameron
Raeford, North Carolina
I purchased #3397 off ebay sometime in the last two years, probably in 2006. It was before Homer's death.
The four string instrument arrived with the paired strings being the middle ones. The nut is cut to pair either the melody or the middle, but the wear on the saddle indicates, the pairing was always the middle.
It has fine tuners which is what drew my interest. I don't remember the exact price I paid but feel in was in the mid $500. Please feel free to contact me if you want asdditional information.
Many thanks to the people who put up this most informative website.
Marianne Drabek, Houston Texas
I have one of Homers dulcimers. # 4791.
With the original receipt from (Kentucky Guild of Artists & Craftsmen box 291 Berea, KY Receipt No. 24552) dated May 13,1983.
Originally Sold to Mariam Litton of Lexington, KY.
Paper label inside & signed by Homer
Tail piece scribed flower & L
Full frets /W scribed flower markers 3,5,7,&10
Heart sound holes upper & lower
Soft shell case $18.00
1 set Ledford strings which is still in case 2.50
I am myself a dulcimer maker and studied several different makers.
“The craft of Homer Ledford” by Gerald Alvery was an insight to great knowledge and inspired me to further create my own style of instruments.
I feel lucky to have a copy of Homer’s book “See Ya Further Up the Creek” signed to me by himself.
I will continue to search for his instruments as treasures to myself and for my children & Grandchildren.
Joseph A Reller
Saint Paul Island, Alaska
I purchased dulcimer # 4868 from Homer in March 1994. The original owner fell on hard times and Homer bought it back from her. He was going to keep it because he liked the sound but he sold it to me to give to my wife Pamela on our 10th anniversary. The dulcimer has a yellow poplar top with black walnut bottom and sides. The handwritten inscription on the inside label says "YELLOW POPLAR TOP FROM SCHOOL FOR DEAF DANVILLE, KY BUILT 1832" and is signed Homer Ledford. Homer told me he liked using old wood because it had relaxed and produced the best tone.
Homer Ledford Mt. Dulcimer # 996, purchased by Peggy Carter of Houston TX in Oct. 1965 at the Southern Highlands Handicraft Guild Fair in Asheville, NC. Butternut top and walnut back and sides. Frets are under the 1st and middle strings, but 3rd fret is under all three strings.
Hi, my name is Peggy Carter from Houston TX. I purchased a Mt. dulcimer, # 996 from Homer at the Craftsman's Fair in Asheville, NC in Oct. of 1965. I still have it. It has a walnut body with a butternut top with three strings and rosewood tuning pegs. The sound holes are small diamond shaped holes, and the frets extend under only the melody string and middle string, but the 3rd fret goes all the way across. His signature is on the inside with the serial no. (It looks exactly like the one owned by Rusty Little in the pictures, except my 3rd fret goes all the way across.)
At the time I purchased the dulcimer from Homer my husband asked him to make me a baritone ukulele. I got it on Aug. 15, 1966 as a gift from my husband on our 7th wedding anniversary. It has a rosewood body and a butternut top with machine-tuners. A small mother-of-pearl dot with Homer's "L" inscribed is inlaid in the flat head. A small metal plate on the back of the flat head has an inscription, "Peggy Carter, 8/15/66." I can't find a signature inside, or a number. It has a beautiful tone and I have used it heavily through the years to accompany my singing... Its so much easier to play than a guitar, and sounds just as good to me!
The people in the picture (l to r) are: Lisa Carter (now Ellsworth) at age 5 holding the dulcimer, my husband's mother, Thelma Carter from Asheville, NC, holding Lottie Carter (now Cantu) age 3. Thelma drove us down to Greenville where we caught a train back to Houston. All of us took turns playing the dulcimer on the trip, during which time my husband, Chuck along with Lisa and me... ALL learned to play "Down In The Valley."
This is a picture of Ms. Carter's rare Ledford Ukelele.
My grandmother, Dorothy Gaines Gonzenbach (of Louisville) went to Berea with her sister, Mary Page Tydings. Her sister convinced her to buy a dulcimer from Homer, and my grandmother ended up using it for years in her kindergarten classes. She used to do "Go Tell Aunt Rhody," "What'll I Do With the Baby-O?", "Goin' to Boston," "Shady Grove," and some others. She used a noter and either her fingers or a quill; I can't remember. She gave it to my mother eventually, who gave it to me. But it was my grandmother and her sister who taught me to play just a few songs. Neither of them seemed to think that they were musicians at all; the dulcimer seemed more for hanging on the wall and getting down only to accompany singing, not for instrumental music. By the late 70s I had played it so much that the wooden pegs never seemed to hold on, so (with terrible guilt and anxiety) I got someone to put geared pegs in. I did keep the wooden pegs, though!
Thanks! Good luck with the website, and of course if I meet other people who have a H.L. dulcimer, I'll send them to you. I am also sending you a photo of my dulcimer, #979. All the best,
Sean (Williams) Olympia, WA
I just purchased a Ledford Mandolin. It is #22 of 23. I purchased it from Elderly Music Store in Lansing MIchigan. My name is Scott Boulis from Wapakoneta, OH. I would like to more about the other Mandolins and is there any other Mandolins than these 23? my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
This is my instrument purchased from Homer at the Berea Craft Fair in 1983. It was used on the album Front Porch Pickers Vetco music, on the album Cookin' on a Dull Simmer Bob and Susie Hutchison and on Welcome Christmas also by Bob and Susie Hutchison and is still one of my favorites. The repaired cracks were from a co-worker sitting on it.
Very fancy - "The Dogwood". Repaired cracks July 1985
I forgot to mention that the
Yellow poplar top came from wood that Homer got from the Danville School for
the Deaf. I don't remember if it was a door or a bench (door, I think) but I
believe it was over 125 years old at the time he got it.
My name is Martin Bilben. I am in possession of a banjo type instrument inscribed "by Homer Ledford". It has a torn skin and is missing a tuning peg, but is in otherwise good condition. The tag inside has written "spec. order 010". I've had it for a while in this condition; it was given to me and I have no idea who the original owner may have been. I've enclosed some pictures.
Homer Ledford stayed in my home in 1974 when he was participating in an Applachian Festival at SUNY Buffalo. Homer spent three nights and three days with my then husband and four young children. Our youngest, Gabrielle Lyn, received a great deal of kindness and attention from Homer. He would ask about her this way --"Now where is the least one?" When it was time for Homer to return to his home in Winchester, he gave our family one of his beloved dulcimers #2208 and I played it and treasured it for two years until my husband and I divorced. I had hoped to receive it as part of the divorce settlement, but it was not to be. I always missed that dulcimer and thought of Homer many times. Christmas 2006, my children's father saw fit to return this beloved dulcimer to me and I recently had it tuned. It is a beautiful instrument and I plan to learn to play it once again after so many years. I wonder if anyone can tell me how to value this beautiful instrument for insurance purposes.
Shari Delisle, Ph.D.
I have a dulcimer that was made by Homer Ledford. It looks just like the 5th dulcimer on the page of pictures. It is hour glass shaped, with diamond holes.
Three strings with wood pegs. My mom bought it for my father back in the 60's. When I was a boy we were at the Carter Caves folk festival, and my father met Mr.
Ledford. He asked him if he might know anything about this dulcimer that was given to him by his wife. When my father showed it to Mr. Ledford he said "well sir this is one of the first dulcimers I ever made. " If I remember correctly he told my father that he had made ink out of berries and had signed it inside. It has a couple of cracks in it. I live in southern California. I took it to McCabes Guitar Shop, the premiere guitar shop in Los angeles, and they said it was not worth fixing, of course I knew better, and I was later told by a dulcimer teacher that the best dulcimer guy in Los angeles is @ Boulevard music.
I have a dulcimer Homer Ledford made for my sister in 1966.
My mother, Jane Eaton Tate, grew up in Winchester, KY, when Homer Ledford was the high school shop teacher. My father was a Navy officer and when he was transferred from the East Coast to the West Coast in 1965, my mother decided we'd move to Winchester. My father wouldn't be import anyway and my mother hated California.
Anyway, my sister Katherine Eaton (Casey) Tate had a teardrop dulcimer, made by someone on Blacksburg, VA, but it was extremely delicate and my mother wanted her to have a "good" dulcimer that would stand up to daily playing. I believe it was ordered and obtained around October 1966, my sister's birth month.
It's a very simple dulcimer with four small diamond sound holes on the body. It has rose wood pegs. I couldn't find a number on it. It's in excellent condition except that the bottom fret (there's one near the tuning pegs and this one near where the strings are attached) is loose.
My sister passed in 1975 and I inherited it from her. It hasn't been played since I've had it.
I have no idea how much it is worth. If you would like pictures, please let me know, and let me know if you give it a number.
I own # 2956. My name is Jonathan Perry, and I now live in Nashville, TN. I bought the dulcimer new in 1975. Homer was giving a demonstration and playing several of his instruments, including this one. When he finished his set I bought it right off his lap. I was happy to have it, and still am. I now play it with the Nashville Grand Old Dulcimer Society.
Homer was a fine man and a real artist.
Thanks for the update. I’m glad you’re doing this site. It’s a nice testament to the Ledford legacy and to a proud dulcimer (and Kentucky) heritage.
Just wanted to drop you a line and give you the status on this dulcimer and a little bit of it's history. It is still in the hands of the original owner, Mrs. Melba Yankovich and after several moves, it is now with her in Sherman Texas.
Melba first came to Homer Ledford's door to have he fathers fiddle repaired. While there in his shop, she saw this dulcimer, which has a 5 pointed star inlayed on the fretboard and fell in love with it then and there. (Texas gal from the *Lone Star* *State*). At the time, Homer wanted to hang onto this dulcimer since he had built it as a show piece for the upcoming Berea Fair. Melba being Melba worked on him till he gave in, (Did I mention she's a Texas gal?) and he eventually sold her the Dulcimer. (If I know her husband Uncle Johnny, he was probably offering Homer plenty for it. He loves her like none other and he would see her happy no matter the cost.) (I still have this image in my mind of a bewildered Homer Ledford standing in his shop with a handful of cash trying to figure out how he was going to build that replacement dulcimer in time.) Dulcimer #4155?
About 2 years ago, I came across someone playing a dulcimer on the net and thought it had a beautiful sound and it might be something I could learn to play. I went on to do as much research as I could, learning about the Luthiers of today and the great Luthiers of the past including Homer Ledford. Eventually, I settled on a builder and placed an order. While I was waiting for it to be delivered, the subject of dulcimers came up during a phone conversation with Aunt Melba. She mentioned that he had a dulcimer too. I was thinking since she had played the piano some that she must mean a hammered dulcimer, but she said no, it was a mountain dulcimer and that she bought it from a very nice man in Kentucky name of Ledford. I about fell out of my chair! Here I am just about to start my journey and already there is Homer Ledford in the family!
Melba and Johnny moved from Kentucky to Austin Texas around 1980 and had been living there until just recently when Johnny's failing health forced them back to Sherman. The dulcimer is in great shape and I insist she keep it out so she can enjoy it. I have left her some CD's of dulcimer music and I bring my dulcimer with me when we visit for added inspiration. Happily, she is now taking some tentative steps on learning to play.
Shady Shores, Tx.
I have just purchased no 5166 in Bristol, England (I live in South Devon, England, UK)
I note this is listed as: “[number starred] All walnut, 3 string - donated to Gene Freeman for being so nice to let me have all the special walnut. Shipped to Frankfort, July 30, '87”
However, I wonder if there were 2 with this number as this is a 4 string dulcimer (and from the head looks as if it always has been) although there are actually 5 string grooves in the nut and bridge and five holes at the end to take ball-end strings. The printed label is signed and the word ‘special’ and the number (which is not starred) are handwritten. It is an hourglass model with heart shaped holes and 4 carved flowers instead of dots on the fingerboard. It certainly could be walnut.
I am happy for you to add this information to the list and would welcome any comment about the serial number.
With best wishes,
This is a further note in respect of Dulcimer 5166, which as I said I bought in Bristol on 15 October 2009. I now have further details from the original owner. This means that either there were two 5166s or the one currently listed on the website is incorrect.
The dulcimer is a 4 sting hourglass with heart shaped holes. It was made in 1987 for the late Chi Allen and purchased .by his wife Phoebe Cooper. It was exported by Homer to London, England and a handwritten note from Homer in the case says:
Sp Dulcimer No 5166
Western Cedar top;
All Ky Black Walnut body;
Nickel silver frets
Clear flat lacquer finish
Thanks very much for your order and for your trust and faith in me. I highly appreciate that.
I sure hope it arrives safe and is satisfactory
Homer C. Ledford
I would be happy for these details to be added to the website.
With best wishes,
My name is Gerald Embs, I have been a friend of Homer Ledford for a number of years before Homer passed away. I have serial # 11- F-style mandolin that Homer built, it is curly maple and the last F-5 style that Homer dove tailed the neck in, it is very precision built after serial # 11 which I have, Homer doweled and glued the necks in which is just as good, dove tailed takes so long . Homer told me mine was the last one that he was going to dove tail in. My mandolin has some history behind it. Homer worked in a saw mill when he was in his early 20's he took some curly maple wood in trade for some labor , in 1994 Homer built 2 mandolins from this wood Mine was the first cut, it is just plain but beautiful , after I bought it Homer wanted to in-lay the neck I told Homer you built it that way so I am going to leave it that way. I have the paper work also the paper that Homer filled out so I could insure it, also it is in the hard shell case that it came in. This is my story. Gerald Embs
Hi Bill, you ask if I had any pictures to share of the mandolin, no I do not but I will try to get some, yes you can post my story, I am 66 years old, had bad luck when I was 55 years old I hurt my back also have nerve root injury, I was at Homer Ledford's shop just about every day when he was building serial # 11 mandolin little did I know at time I would be the owner such a wonderful mandolin, Homer told me this one had more volume than any mandolin he had ever built? After he built #11 it was out of sight, I ask Homer one day where was the mandolin, he told me it is in the other room waiting for me to purchase it. I told Homer I cannot afford it, long story short after about a month I came up with the money to buy it. according to Homer someone in Ohio was trying to buy it at the time, but he kept it until I made up my mind if I could afford it or not. Thanks for the reply. Gerald Embs---------------- I also live in Winchester Ky. across town from where Homer lived.
Hi there - I have a Homer Ledford dulcimer from my grandmother, Grace Middleton of Hodgenville, Ky. There's no date, but the handwritten inscription inside the body reads "Made by Homer Ledford, Winchester, Ky.". I couldn't find any record of it on the website, and we don't know how she acquired it (I originally thought it was from Warren May).
It's been most enjoyable reading about Homer's life and craft!
Best Regards - Don Middleton, Boulder, CO.
Received it today 2/25/10
Ralph and Shirley Hall
I've been meaning to get in contact for a few months now, I was given no. #5300
as a present from my parents for my 21st birthday in September (It having been
made in the year I was born, 1989). During its life it has sustained some minor
damage to its top, which will be restored (I am a student Luther, so its in good hands), and seems to have lost its original
tuning pegs, but is otherwise in good condition and sounding lovely!
It has a label in one side and on the other is signed in ink 'By Homer Ledford 5300'. It is an exceptionally fine instrument.
I also have several very fine instruments by an excellent London based dulcimer maker, Frank Bond, who was making from the 1960s to 80s - I wonder if Frank and Homer knew of each other.
Alex Potter (London, England).
1/17/11 Homer Ledford built dulcimer #2272 for me when I
lived in Lexington, Kentucky. I am an architect. Homer and I spoke at length
about the top material to be used for my dulcimer.
He chose to build the top out of salvaged yellow poplar from the Howard Hall Dormitory at Berea College (1867).
The legacy of that building has resonated in my dulcimer since Homer lovingly crafted her. What a beautiful instrument. I see "craft" dulcimers, all of the time, and am appalled.
I am proud to say that the instrument is in A-1 condition and has lived in its case when not being played.
Todd Bryant Rose
1/16/2011 Four years ago my Mother, Margaret Rose, gave my sister and I two Homer C. Ledford dulcimers. The one numbered 5362 - now owned by Beth M. Rose Dwyer, Buena Vista, CO and the one numbered 5363 - now owned by Susan K. Rose Kuklin, Buena Vista, CO. Inside mine (5362) it says "Yellow Poplar Top from Church built 1847 Clark CO KY." our parents went to three Elderhostels to learn to play their dulcimers. She gave them to us four years ago with the direction that we had to learn to play them also, not just own them. So this September we went to an Elderhostel in Louisville, KY and we did learn and are continuing to learn to play them.
Beth M. Rose Dwyer
Ledford dulcimer #5362 now owned by Beth M. Rose Dwyer, Buena Vista, CO Ledford dulcimer #5363 now owned by Susan K. Rose Kuklin, Buena Vista, CO,
6/4/2011 Hi, my name is Jeremy Kline. Homer was a family friend, although I didn't personally know him that well, since he died while I was still fairly young. However, my mother had him make me a custom guitar in October of 1999, when I was 8 years old. Your website said he made 26 guitars, but according to the description he typed up and the sticker inside the guitar, mine is number 28, and I think it's probably the last one he made.
Yeah, it's a beautiful guitar. I remember when he was making it, he asked me what I thought about all sorts of little details that he put into it. My favorite part is the carving he did on the heel of the neck with my initials hidden in it.
7/21/11 Here are two pics of dulcimer 4875. Made for Dewey A. Thackston. Purchased by Jeff Thackston
I wanted to add a couple of things about Dulcimer made by Homer Ledford. It is numbered 4875. The list says “jeffry thaxton”. That was me …. Jeffrey Thackston. The label says “Cherry from a mansion in Lexington Ky over 100 years old” and signed by Mr. Ledford. I came to his shop and asked him to build the Dulcimer for my father Dewey A. Thackston (hence the initials DAT on the dulcimer). My dad was a minister (dove, cross and Bible inlays) and friend of Ken Henderson who is an accomplished Dulcimer musician. Mr. Ledford was very amused by the story he told about the dulcimer …. He told me that he thought it was funny that the cherry was from an old mansion that served at one time as a house of prostitution. I am not sure if he thought he “redeemed” the wood by making an instrument made for a preacher … or if he just liked the irony. I suspect the latter. I was saddened to hear of Mr. Ledford’s passing and would like to give my best to his family. Feel free to give the family my contact information. My father recently passed away and I have the Dulcimer in a case prominently displayed in my house. Before Dad died one of the things he would ask me to do was take out the dulcimer and play “Amazing Grace”, it was a great comfort.
I hope this web site is still active and really don’t care that the information is updated …. I would think that the Ledford family might want a story about how much Joy their father brought into our family’s life, even though I only met the man a dozen times.
I recently purchased one of Homer's dulcimers. Number 5370. It was originally
sold to Anna Mae Spanula at 9265 Lindberg Blvd Olmsted
Falls, Ohio. It has ANNA in pearl on the fret board. I don't plan on selling
it. It has a new home.
Ralph and Shirley Hall
11/22/2012 My father gave me this dulcimer years ago. It appears to be made of poplar. It has been in my possession for about 15 years. My father purchased it in 1988 for $176.00. Also in the case was an old Lands End catalog in which a similar Ledford dulcimer was for sale for $300. I will never sell it...plan on leaving to my son also. Can you tell me anything about this dulcimer? How many were sold through Lands End, and is this one? Could you tell me an approximate value? I have attached some pics showing design and label which was hand signed and numbered. Please add my name to the archive as current owner of this wonderful instrument.
Thanks in advance for any information you can provide! Sincerely,
7999 Vann Road
Newburgh, Indiana 47630
1/28/2013 Hello, My name is Joe Hearon, I am from South Carolina born and raised. I now live in Little River Ca. My wife Anita and I came across this Dulcimer on a wall of some people we were helping to move. For our help they gave us a few things (maybe did not have room for???) We ended up with this wonderful instrument. I looked the dulcimer over and under and finally inside one of the triangle sound holes and there it was Made by Homer Ledford, #80 it is a three string dulcimer. I enclosed a picture of the dulcimer. Thanks for any extra info. Thanks Joe and Anita Hearon Little River Ca.
9/3/2013 Submitted by Curtis Carlisle Bouterse
First dulcimer, unnumbered. [7.5.2012 email]
I recently obtained an
unnumbered Ledford dulcimer which came from a thrift store in Midland,
Michigan. It looks identical to the Ivyton dulcimers
on the site. It has walnut sides, scroll, fingerboard, and endblock,
with pine-like top and back. The pegs, end pin, and perhaps the two nuts, are a
lovely, light butterscotch-colored wood which seems to have a slightly mellower
grain than maple. The scroll is slender and untapered;
the whole instrument is light and responsive. The frets are wire staples under
the first two strings only, however the placement is faulty: mostly flat until
the upper notes which are sharper. I may be able to render it playable, at
least in the lower range, by shortening the string length with an additional
nut. It is signed under the lower left diamond soundhole,
in pencil, directly on the back: [Made By/ Homer C Ledford/ Winchester, Ky.].
Please let me know if you have any more information about this instrument.
I also have a fretless banjo (#123-M) which I purchased directly from Mr. Ledford in the 1960s and have played often ever since. I was born in Carlisle, Nicholas County but currently reside in San Diego, California
Second Dulcimer, unnumbered. [11.21.2012 email]
I recently bought another unnumbered Ledford dulcimer, through eBay, from a seller in Florida. It has moderate damage (which I will repair) but in a limited area. It is unnumbered but marked, in pencil, under the lower left soundhole: Made by/ Homer Ledford/ Winchester, Ky.
The instrument has diamond soundholes with a pine-like top and plain walnut fingerboard. The wire frets are only under the first two strings except for the 3rd fret, which goes under all three. The string length is 27 1/4" and the pegs are Homer's characteristic chipped-edge rosewood style. The pegbox is tapered (thus likely newer than my other example I reported in July) and is made of a highly quilted, dark wood (probably walnut but, perhaps, an exotic) as is the tail block and the sides. The back is a nicely-figured walnut, though not as quilted as the sides, etc.
It probably sustained a blow to the upper right bout which cracked the top in several places and chipped some of the figured wood from the underlying top of the sides (the interlocking grain of the wood being rather unstable). The fancy wood makes it one of the most attractive examples of a Ledford dulcimer I have seen.
I hope this is enough information to locate it in the logbook and I would certainly like to know the number and approximate date.
Third Dulcimer, #946 [6.23.2013
I also have another of Homer's works I bought from a Goodwill store in Dayton, Ohio. It is of walnut, has staple frets only under the first two strings (plus a long 3rd fret) and has mechanical tuners (original?). It is numbered 946, which should be ca. 1963.
Thank you for your continued good work,
(The last picture is a comparison of the 3 at various points.)
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