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Tuning Tips

There are 3 parts of a duck call that affect the sound it produces:

  1. Reed
  2. Cork
  3. Toneboard (Insert)

What we have tried to provide below are some tips on tuning your call to your own voice.  

The reed is where 90% of the tuning is done.  A good cut on the toneboard can be made to sound like a number of different calls simply by trimming the reed in different ways.

Starting with a long reed, there are 3 easy ways you can try trimming your reed.

  • Trim the back of the reed to make it shorter.  The shorter the reed, the less air (back pressure) required to make the call work.  Additionally, the shorter the reed the higher the tone’s pitch.
  • Round reed: with 220 grit or finer sandpaper gently sand the end of the reed so as to shape the end of the reed in an even round shape similar to the profile of the end of your thumb.   Once the front end of the reed is round you can trim the back end of the reed to make the length of the reed fit your voice.
  • Dagger reed:  With a sharp pair of scissors cut “shoulders” onto te end of the reed so that the end of the reed is flat (straight) and the corners of the reed are dog-eared instead of the rounded curve a long uncut reed has.  Adjusting the length of the straight “dog-ear” sides as well as the length of the flat/straight part on the end of the reed will both affect the sound.  

It is important that your cork fit snuggly.   Genuine cork will expand or swell as it gets wet, making it fit more snuggly.  Poly cork on the other hand wont swell very much since it is largely composed of rubber.  The most important thing about the cork is that it fit snuggly.  It is possible to make your cork fit too tightly and an overly tight cork will reduce the reeds movement when calling and therefore will weaken or flatten the sound.

The height of the cork will affect the sound the call produces.  A taller cork will reduce the amount of back pressure the call requires, whereas a shorter cork will increase the amount of back pressure the call requires.  As you trim the cork shorter you will find that it has more “rasp” on the top end (loudest calling), however it will lose some of the tone in the low end quiet calling.  If you trim the cork too short it will start to sound like a deer grunt.

The toneboard on your call is foundation for the sound.  It is the mechanism that pushes the air that you put into the call up and into the reed.  The toneboard is what the reed contacts as it moves back and forth as it is blown. 

A “cut” is the shape of the toneboard.  There are many different ways to cut a toneboard.  The shape of our toneboard is one that we believe is not only a good one, but is a shape that will work well for most folks voice.  We have made the material of the BSOD to respond well to sandpaper and files.  If you are so inclined there are lots of slightly different sounds you can get out of your call by cutting on the toneboard. 

Some people cut the end of their insert flat, others cut the end of the insert at an angle, others use a variety of a rounded end similar to our cut.  If you choose to cut on the toneboard we suggest sanding slowly with a 220 grit sandpaper so you don’t take too much off too quickly.  Work on your toneboard with caution….you can definitely take it too far.

Feel free to contact us if you want some more detailed help on cutting your toneboard.