Homer Ledford Dulcimer

New and Used Mountain Dulcimers

Homer Ledford Dulcimer

Postby jmascis » Tue Jun 06, 2017 3:01 pm

Hey guys. I'm not sure this is the right section for my post, so an admin can feel free to move it.

An in-law is moving and just wants to get rid of her stuff...she offered me her HL Dulcimer for $50. I don't know how to play the dulcimer (I play guitar and bass), but I purchased it, because it seemed like a good price, and I'm intrigued to learn it.

1. How much is this instrument worth? I haven't seen a photo, but she said it's in very good/mint condition (she doesn't know much about instruments, though, so it might not be mint). I am hoping it came with a case originally because I don't think she'd know enough to case it herself.
2. It's a 1978 model.
3. I read it's hard to play chords on these because they use just temperament. Does this ruin the value of them or make them undesirable?
4. What's a good string gauge and tuning to start with on this?
5. What is the market like for these? Is it stable, or have they been going either up or down?

Thank you.
Last edited by jmascis on Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1978 Homer Ledford Dulcimer

Postby desertdulcimers » Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:36 pm

Hey jmascis,

A Homer Ledford dulcimer for $50, in any condition expect for maybe "in pieces in a box", is a steal. My thoughts on your questions:

1. Like anything, it's worth what someone will pay for it. I've seen Homer Ledford dulcimers sell for as little as a couple hundred dollars to close to a thousand dollars.
2. There's an online registry of Homer's instruments that you can search which provides some additional detail about his instruments.
3. I own two Homer Ledford instruments. They early model I have has staple frets, so melody only. The latter one sounds great played in chord/melody style.
4. I use .010 for the melody strings, .012 middle and a wound .022 for the bass. I typically tune either D-A-a-a or C-G-c-c.
5. Homer's instruments are one of the few "gold standards" in desire and collectibility in the dulcimer world. They hold value all the time.

Hope this helps.

Steve
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Re: 1978 Homer Ledford Dulcimer

Postby jmascis » Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:50 pm

desertdulcimers wrote:Hey jmascis,

A Homer Ledford dulcimer for $50, in any condition expect for maybe "in pieces in a box", is a steal. My thoughts on your questions:

1. Like anything, it's worth what someone will pay for it. I've seen Homer Ledford dulcimers sell for as little as a couple hundred dollars to close to a thousand dollars.
2. There's an online registry of Homer's instruments that you can search which provides some additional detail about his instruments.
3. I own two Homer Ledford instruments. They early model I have has staple frets, so melody only. The latter one sounds great played in chord/melody style.
4. I use .010 for the melody strings, .012 middle and a wound .022 for the bass. I typically tune either D-A-a-a or C-G-c-c.
5. Homer's instruments are one of the few "gold standards" in desire and collectibility in the dulcimer world. They hold value all the time.

Hope this helps.

Steve


Awesome, thanks, Steve. Yes, I looked up the instrument in the registry online, and sure enough it checks out to my in-laws first boyfriend who is still alive. It has his name, address, and date of purchase all right there. Pretty cool to find the provenance online. My guess is he left it over her house and never wanted it. So it's the first owner, essentially. I hope it was packed well from the elements. Since I didn't get a photo, I don't know what to make of the condition. It could be anywhere from a mint/closet instrument to something that was left out. I will report back once I receive it and post photos.

Good to know $50 was a great price! That's quite a range they sell for. Right now I don't plan to sell it because I want to learn it, but if things change I will sell it, so I was wondering what to ask.

By 1978 hopefully they had full frets and were able to chord. I would like to chord on it. I read online that it uses "just temperament" so some chords sound "off". Is that not true?
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Re: 1978 Homer Ledford Dulcimer

Postby jmascis » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:18 pm

Here is a photo of it:

http://imgur.com/a/G466r

I get the dulcimer on Tuesday. To me this looks in great shape...looks like the original case as well. It hasn't been under proper string tension for years, though, and I wonder if that has caused it any harm.

I'm told it has Homer's signature and a note that the dulcimer was made from a slave cabin! It also appears to have a set of strings with his name on them. Also an LP of either his music and/or instructions on how to play it.
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Re: 1978 Homer Ledford Dulcimer

Postby desertdulcimers » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:37 pm

It looks amazing. As far as string tension...it's usually the other way around. It's probably not good to store a dulcimer for long periods of time under string tension and better to release tension for storage. The only issue might be the holding ability of the wooden pegs, but you won't know that until you try to tension the strings.

If you have trouble, here's how I "dress" my wooden pegged dulcimers: Remove the pegs (keep track of which hole the peg came out of) and rub some simple bar soap on both contact points of the peg (where is passes through both sides of the peghead). Insert the peg and twist it around a few times to distribute the soap evenly between the mating surface of the peg and the peghead.

Remove the peg again and run a fine line of chalkboard chalk in the middle of both contact points on the peg...don't over do the chalk, just a fine line. Re-insert the peg, string it up and bring it up to tension. The soap allows the peg to turn freely and the fine chalk line will allow the peg to "grab" and hold to retain string tension.

I think all of Homer's dulcimers have interesting descriptions of the location and age of most of the reclaimed wood he used to build his instruments and it sounds like yours has a fine history!

Enjoy that dulcimer and play the heck out of it...Homer would have wanted it that way, I think.

Steve

p.s. - I would save and preserve those strings and put a different set on the dulcimer, if I were you.
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Re: 1978 Homer Ledford Dulcimer

Postby jmascis » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:04 pm

Thanks for the tips on the pegs, Desert!
I live withing driving distance of Blue Lion so I am going to bring it in for analysis.

Definitely keeping that pack of strings unused.
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Re: Homer Ledford Dulcimer

Postby jmascis » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:54 pm

Good news today! I drove up to Blue Lion and they looked over the dulcimer, and they said it's in excellent shape. They tuned it to pitch and the pegs hold.

I also got to meet Bob and Janita. She played the Homer (we filmed that, it was a cool moment) and seemed to really enjoy seeing this one. Janita took a photo and said she'd discuss it at her upcoming events. She was puzzled by some of the idiosyncrasies and said she'd ask some of her expert friends about them.

The Blue Lion shop was awesome to visit! I went from knowing nothing about dulcimers to somehow finding myself with a Homer and up at Blue Lion. Life is weird.
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Re: Homer Ledford Dulcimer

Postby carney » Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:02 am

Hope you played a Blue Lion Dulcimer! they are wonderful!
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Re: Homer Ledford Dulcimer

Postby philips » Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:17 am

carney wrote:Hope you played a Blue Lion Dulcimer! they are wonderful!


I currently have one and it's really nice with lots of sustain.
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Re: Homer Ledford Dulcimer

Postby jmascis » Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:35 pm

carney wrote:Hope you played a Blue Lion Dulcimer! they are wonderful!


I actually got to "play" (strummed it once b/c I don't even know how to play dulcimer yet) their prototype from the 70s, but Janita played it for a bit and showed me some chord work.
It sounded great. Much more lush and less "traditional" than the Homer.
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