The Basics of Call Tuning
The basic part of a call that has the most impact on performance is the reed. More specifically, the length of the reed.
The following table shows what will happen to call performance when the reed is adjusted from its current position.
You can use the following table to determine how you need to adjust your reed (lengthen or shorten).
How you adjust the length of the reed again depends upon the type of insert used in your call. The 4-piece insert is very common to many calls and offers the advantage of being adjustable without having to physically alter any parts (no cutting, grinding, or trimming of any component parts). At this point, we do not want to do anything to your call that will physically alter any component.
Adjusting 4-piece Inserts. To increase or decrease reed length, only move the wedge in relation to the reed and the sound board. Before you remove the insert parts. make certain that you have marked both the wedge and the sound board as shown in figure 20. And make certain that you have marked the end position of the reed on the sound board. Remove the Wedge. Reed, and SoundBoard from the Bell End.
Only move the wedge a small distance. See Figure 21 for an example of lengthening the reed. Start by moving the wedge .005 to .010 thousandth of an inch The reed and the soundboard must remain in the same position. Reassemble the wedge. reed, and sound board while holding the wedge in its adjusted position. Test the call with the wedge in its new position. You may have to repeat this adjusting step several times (each time making minor adjustments in the wedge) before you get the improved performance that you are looking for. Figure 22 shows the reassembled insert. This applies to any 4 piece style call (duck, goose, single reed, double reed).
Adjusting 3-piece Inserts. With 3 piece inserts, the best way to make adjustments is to cut a longer or shorter reed. This is best because it allows the cork or wedge to be fully seated in its slot and the reed is also fully seated in the wedge slot. When the call is taken apart for cleaning, these two pieces are easily and consistently returned to their original position. A fully seated wedge and reed arc the way calls are usually originally adjusted. If you do happen to have some extra reeds, you will be able to cut a longer or shorter reed instead of using the following process. More details on cutting reeds will appear in our next series part on Advanced Tuning.
With 3 piece inserts, there are only two adjustments that you can make: First you can lengthen the reed by pulling the reed away from the wedge in small amounts (See Figure 23.). Make your adjustments in small amounts (like .005 to .010 thousandths of an inch). You should still have a reference mark on the sound board to show how far you have moved the reed.
The second change is to shorten the reed by moving the wedge away from the back of the wedge slot (See Figure 24.). This example shows an extreme amount of movement which is for illustration purposes only. The wedge should be moved in very small increments like .005 to .010 thousandths of an inch. For reference purposes. almost all single duck call reeds are .010 thousandths of an inch in thickness. Double reed calls are usually .014 thousandths of an inch for the top reed, and the reed next to the soundboard is only .010 thousandths.
Whether you are adjusting the reed or the wedge. test your call as thoroughly as possible after making the adjustment. Complete testing includes the feed chatter, clucks, hail calls, greeting calls, and single quacks. This must be done to insure that your call is still capable of a complete range of sounds. Adjustments can enhance or improve a certain sound like die quacks or feeding chuckle, but you may limit your calls performance on high or loud sounds.
Keep in mind, that a small adjustment like we have described above, can make a very significant change in the performance of your call. Make your changes carefully, and when you get the performance that you are looking for, make some additional reference marks to show where your reed or wedge needs to be placed.
Now would be a good time to get in touch with you call manufacturer to see if you can obtain some replacement reeds or cork wedges for your call. It is a great idea to have these items on hand or available in your call bag. Some call makers include extra corks or reeds with your call when it is originally purchased. It is certainly something to look for when you purchase your next call.
It is also possible that even after making some adjustments to your call that you may not be completely satisfied with the calls performance. If this is the case, you may want to contact an experienced caller and have them review the adjustments that you are trying to make. You can always readjust the reeds or wedges to their original position.
For best success in your tuning efforts, make small changes and be patient.
This article is by Jim Hensley written for The MINNESOTA DUCK .AND GOOSE CALLERS ASSOCIATION-
It appeared in the Spring-Summer 1999 Newsletter