Just about every hunter chooses a call on how it sounds to him or her in the store. Or you buy one online and hope that it fits your style. Either way, you need to know how to tune a call to your satisfaction. Here is call tuning broken down into steps that are easy to follow. These tips are for single-reed calls duck calls.
Determine the sound you are looking for
People have personal preferences for everything in life and calls are no different. Some like a call with a lower pitch that requires more air pressure. Others like a higher pitch with less effort required. Figure out what style you like, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Or call a duck.
Find your preferred reed length
A general rule is the longer the reed is, the lower the frequency. If your call was tuned that way from the factory and you like it, roll with it. Otherwise to change the pitch you must shorten the reed. Make sure the reed is as far back as possible in the tone board before you start cutting, you may just need to push it farther in below the cork. Get yourself a sharp pair of scissors and shave off very small sections of reed, I mean small, about 1/15th of an inch. Keep doing this until you have the sound you are looking for. For future reference, take a permanent marker and make a mark on the board where the reed ends. This will be important as you replace reeds in the future. Remember that the shorter the reed is, the less volume the call will have.
Want a raspier sound?
Many old mallard hens just have that raspy quality to their quacks and this can be deadly in calling. The way to achieve more rasp is to lightly sand the board with a fine grit paper. You don’t want to remove material, just rough up the surface.
Your call will inevitably pick up trash under the reed with use so disassemble and clean the call periodically. Corks will harden with time so you will need to replace them. These are easily attainable from call manufacturers as are replacement reeds. Mylar is the choice for reeds today and it is very tough but they still can split. That’s where the mark on you tone board really comes in handy as all you have to do is trim to that point and be back in business.