Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 3 August 1994

A dose of mountain dulcimer history throughout the year

Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 3 August 1994

Postby dbennett » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:41 am

Edd Presnell (1916-1994) died. He was born and raised in a musical family near Beech Mountain, North Carolina.

Edd was a farmer, woodcarver, mail carrier, and instrument maker.

His first exposure to mountain dulcimers was when he was 15 or 16 when he heard future bride, Nettie Hicks, play a dulcimer that her father, Ben Hicks, made. His future father-in-law taught Edd how to make dulcimers and he made his first one in 1935 when he was 19 because, “Nettie was honing for one, her being of of the music-making Hicks, and rightfully the bridegroom wants to pleasure his new bride.” He borrowed the pattern from his father-in-law and made the dulcimer from an old log taken from the ruins of her grandfather’s home.. Edd and Nettie were a dulcimer selling team, he made them and she played them wherever they were set up to sell. Some of the carvings on their dulcimers were made by Nettie.

He and Nettie received the Brown-Hudson Folklore Award in 1974 for dulcimer making and woodcarving. In addition to making dulcimers, the Presnells hand-carved animals from wood, and they traveled around the region to fairs and festivals to sell their work, including at the North Carolina State Fair. Edd Presnell made his last dulcimer, #1,890, shortly before his death. One source ( stated that Edd always included a hair from his beard as his signature on his dulcimers. The headstone for Ed and Nettie has an etching of a mountain dulcimer with the caption, ‘THOSE CARVED HEARTS ARE PLACED AND POINTED TO TALK TO GOD’”

Here’s a short film featuring Edd,220

PRESNELL Nettie.jpg
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