David Ley was born in the southwestern United States, in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. As a youth, he showed a strong passion for music, and began the study of the piano and the violoncello at an early age. Later, as a student of arts and sciences at Antioch College in Ohio, he began his first work in instrument building and repair, working for a small independent organ building firm near Boston Massachussets. 

In 1967, he began working in the harpsichord workshop of William Post Ross, who had trained with the internationally acclaimed harpsichord maker, scholar and author, Frank Hubbard. After several years working in both building and restoration of early keyboard instruments, David Ley arrived in France to begin collaborating with Hubert Bédard who succeeded Frank Hubbard as director of the restoration workshop of the Museum of Musical Instruments at the Paris Conservatory of Music. During the following years, David Ley was able to restore a significant number of important and rare harpsichords for the Paris Conservatory Museum, and for numerous other museums and private collections in France and throughout the European continent.

In 1979, David Ley created his own workshop and while continuing with restoration of antique instruments, he has built some of the first authentic copies of historic keyboard instruments consistent with traditional 17th and 18th century practice.  His harpsichords may be seen in the collections of : the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris; Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique et Danse de Lyon; Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Graz; La Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice; Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel; and in the collections of notable musicians around the world.

David Ley has continued his research concerning technical aspects of harpsichord construction in Europe during the 16th through the 18th centuries, and has collaborated with eminent musicians and musicologists such as the late Scott Ross, Kenneth Gilbert, William Christie, Christophe Rousset, Andreas Staier, Skip Sempé, Françoise Lengellé, Mayako Soné, Pierre Hantai, Olivier Baumont, Robert Kohnen, Frédérick Haas and others, for recordings and concerts throughout Europe, Japan and the Americas.