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Call-Tuning Tutorial


New member
Jul 15, 2003
Say that fast 8 times.

Anyone want to share their special techniques for tuning open-reed or closed-reed calls?

I noticed Krustyklimber didn't want to share his call-making techniques, so maybe call-tuning is even more secret. But anyway, maybe some of you amateurs out there would like to tell us how you do it.
sorry... not much help here... the only thing I've ever done to my open reeds is taken the bands off to produce a deeper tone which I feel is needed for the coyotes back here
With open reeds, there's a lot of things you can play with. Moving the bands back and forth, different reeds of varying materials and thickness, sanding different tapers on the reeds and so forth. I've even punched little holes in the reeds - makes for a more coarse sound. Some of my favorite open reeds came about by accident. One of them, on a home-made call body, is made from a plastic Dixie cup, and it got a bad kink in it somehow. Looks awful, and really doesn't sound all that good to "my" ear, but boy has it been a productive call.

With closed reeds, there isn't as much you can do. But to do anything, you have to start by getting the reed out of the call. Good call suppliers sell little plastic tools made for pushing the reeds out and pushing them back in. With the reed out, you can play with the "gap". I just use a pocket knife to widen the gap, my fingers to push it back less wide. Do be careful though, you can easily ruin a reed by playing with it too much like this. Not a bad idea to have a couple spares handy before you start "tuning". You can also switch out different types of reeds. They come in a couple different materials, and a couple different pitches.

I think maybe we are getting off on the wrong foot here. I belive that when asking favors, one should not be or present ones self in a rude or distastful manor. Maybe you didn't mean anything by your post but it could certainly be taken in a negitive way.

I would like it if you would clairify this statment as I found it a little abrasive.

Jet,"maybe some of you amateurs out there would like to tell us how you do it."

I'm not sure what you are trying to accomplish with this post but I would like it if you would clairify your meaning before one of the vetran call makers here takes offence to it.

thank you.

slydog custom calls
Slyd, where in the wide, wide, world of sports is that coming from??? HUH???

Man, yall sure got thin skins around here.

I asked for a tutorial on call-making, all I got from Krustyklimber was paranoia. HUH?? At least he gave me a really good link, and much appreciated, Krustyklimber.

I guess I can break it down for you slyd, but I still don't see anything abrasive about my post.

Say that fast 8 times.
That's just a joke, some light humor, sorry if you don't understand that.

Anyone want to share their special techniques for tuning open-reed or closed-reed calls?
This is a request for information. I think maybe they call it an interrogatory statement, I'm not sure, but the ? thingy at the end is always a dead giveaway of a question.

I noticed Krustyklimber didn't want to share his call-making techniques, so maybe call-tuning is even more secret.
Just a theory of mine, and again, a lead-in to a discussion on this subject.

But anyway, maybe some of you amateurs out there would like to tell us how you do it.
Amateurs would be those out those out there who frinkle with their call reeds and modify calls but who are not monetarily compensated for making or modifying calls and therefore would be more inclined to share secrets since they wouldn't be considered to be trade secrets.

Okay, Slyd, what did I do wrong? Please tell me so that I do not start off on the wrong foot, and I certainly don't want to come across as abrasive.

What part pissed you off? So far, three veteran callers have responded-- two quite helpfully and one paranoidly (if that is a word).
DAA, Covered it very well. He hit the nail on the head about open reeds. By experimenting you can come up with some neat stuff.

I was cleaning out my billfold, And was about to throw away a old ATT calling card. It was about half the thickness of a credit card. Made a great reed for a open reed call. You can find yourself becoming a call "junkie". You will start eyeballing all sorts of weird things for there potential to call critters.

I was in a toy store 38 years ago looking for a present for a two year old. There set a little red plastic trumpet with "Holley Wood Tooter" printed on the side. Picked it up and "Tooted" it. Paid 10 cents for it. Still have it to this day, And have know way of knowing how many Fox it has called.
DAA pretty much covered it. My approach is about the same. On open reeds you need to experiment as to where your own mouth makes the best sounds.Myself, I usually make sure the reed tip just barely covers the end of the air channel first. I then find that the call will blow easier if the reed is free from any burrs on the edges.Especially on the very tip.It lets it lay flat on the toneboard with few gaps for air to escape. Take steel wool or fine sandpaper and accomplish this.
Also, you can shave the reed thinner at the tip so air will pick up the reed easier.Just sand it thinner at some point, a little experimenting will tell you the best spot on a particular call.
Open reeds are very intresting to me because you can do a million things to get a different sound or make it work mo bettuh.
Punching holes or dimpleing the reed(or reeds)will change sounds a bit.Filing the air channel wider if possible will change the sound but of course is permanent.
I had a Critr Call Songdog once that the reed split on and it made an intresting sound once in a while.I never really thought much about it. Now I see Ed Sceery has come out with his Sniper series with split reeds. Ill have to try one!

Closed reeds take a bit more patience to tweak on.Youll ruin quite a few before you get it right.
Making a gap like DAA explained or sanding the reed thinner,dimpling,twisting and all that will get good sound.Jay Nistetter had a good article in the Trapper on this subject a couple months ago.He's a master at it.
Thank you, gentlemen! And lady. Good info here, looks like a lot of fun can be had with just a bit of experimentation.

i appreciate the helpful insight!
First I'd like to say nothing Jet has said yet has offended me in anyway shape or form.

I totally understand that since you think the experts are holding out on you (something I believed too) that you'd go to the next guys down the line...

I am sorry my paranoia was so evident, but I don't think it's a relevant topic to the community discussion.... night before last I was raked over the coals in the chatroom here, for selling sh***y calls, and for not having ever killed a predator! I was told there was no way I could have the knowledge or skills to make a call until I had called and killed something.
I found the coincedence of your joining this site the following day, and singling me out suspiscious (perhaps that was wrong of me, perhaps not).
And the fact that Mr. Ferguson (who I have had run-ins with before) accompanied you gave the whole thing a bad taste.

If you noticed I do not want to share you are mistaken, I have been helping many other people to make calls and have even sent out free calls and materials with which to do so.
I told you I didn't want to clutter this board up with our discussion and I still would be more than happy to share any information you'd like to know.... as you can see this is not the most conducive environment to have an uninhibited conversation.
I truly did think the best thing I could do for you is to link you to Mr. Cronk's article... where you could get the basics down, and we could discuss my changes and how you'd go about adapting to your own methods in a friendlier manner then it seems to be going here.

Please accept my apology, and my offer to help in any way I can, my e-mail is posted and you can use the e-mail from my website too... I have my instant messengers posted here and there and I'd be glad to use that also.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 07-17-2003 11:10: Message edited by: Krustyklimber ]</font>
Krustyklimber, slow down, man, no need for an apology or anything like that!

Like I said, thanks for the link.

I don't know Turd Ferguson, but he seems pretty funny. That's all I know. Oh, yeah, and blow hard.
No need in all that tuning...just push a button

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I got that one too! But I actually do tune it, sorta. I've got the box for adding my own sounds to the Foxpro, pretty cool!

It wasn't realy what you said, but how it was said and the computer is the worst means of communication because there is no way to read body language and or intent. Thats why I simply asked you to clairify your intent. I don't see how that was to terribly hard or unreasomable. BTW I would have simply e-mailed you to find your intent but thats blocked.
Thank you for clairifing that for us. BTW I wasn't Pi$$ed either just

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> So far, three veteran callers have responded-- two quite helpfully and one paranoidly (if that is a word). <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You see herein lies my main confusion, and where I have to, yet again, make "The Confession"...

I am not a veteran caller nor an expert call maker...
I bought my first hunting license for predators just last Oct. and I have yet to call in and kill one, and I have not been out hunting at all since Feb.
Three unsuccessful months of calling does not make me an expert (though a firm grasp of the English language has made me able to sound like one, which also pisses some guys off).
Recently I have had trouble deciding if I ever will call to kill, or if I will just call to a camera.
This has not been as well accepted as when a veteran caller hangs up his gun because he's killed enough... so I have felt as if I am the target lately (on this site).
And as far as call making, I made my very first call less than four months ago, and didn't make another for almost a month.
That makes my whole career as a commercial call maker less than three months long... not nearly long enough to make me an apprentice, let alone an expert.

If anyone needs to slow down here it's you, you assume a lot in thinking I have information at all... let alone that I would hold out on you.
You made accusations/insinuations I felt I needed to answer (somewhat passionately) and you may have recieved some fallout you didn't deserve that is related to how NOT fun this site has been for me lately.

The offer to take it to another BB, where I and my calls are more accepted, still stands.

Though paranoidically (that is a word), I did the very best I felt I could at the time to help you... even though my gut instinct was to run from the thread like rats from a sinking ship!
I tried to look at you as innocent until proven otherwise... now I am not sure where you lie.

This seems to be the landing zone for the mistfits of the internet, and a pot stirrer like you will find it a lot of fun here I am sure.

Enjoy, good-bye

Krusty I like your posts but your a little anal about things....

You need to not worry about things so much... if you try to make everyone like what your saying better make your own forum and lock block and delete everypost that isnt in your favor... It wont happen it never will....

As far as this place being full of misfits Your right they are all a bunch of misfits....

However these guys are probally some of the most honest real life people I have ever met(this is why we are called misfits) they dont hide behind internet names. they call it like they see it and say what they want...

If you or anyone else wants to goto to some sissy site where people want to lock block and delete post there are plenty out there and you should have no problem finding one( I can point you to a few of them).... No one is stopping anyone from doing it...
There is no ass kissing here (well except for me and elkhunter).....

Have you ever heard the word penis envy

Just curious


You should try not to use anal and penis in the same post... you never know how that could be taken.

What do you see it, that I am anal about?

I don't really give a crap who likes what I have to say and there is no way I would want to see anything ever deleted or blocked, but I also don't let people say things about me that aren't true, and when they do I am going to defend myself.

I didn't want to take this to my own forum, but to one where there are actually call making "veterans" who will take the time to type out an answer... instead of twice as much typing, telling why it's too much typing to answer you.
Your (and Sly's) attitude here is exactly the type of interference I was trying to avoid.

What are you if you don't fit in with the misfits either?

I am not hiding behind my screenname, my e-mail address and true name are listed, if you call directory assistance my Ph# is listed there as well (Sly can confirm that)... there's even a picture of my ugly mug.

I have heard of the words penis and envy, but I honestly don't suffer from it, nor am I put off by the Wallet Boys who just purchase their way into a sport (no wallet envy either).

Thanks for your thoughts,

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>You should try not to use anal and penis in the same post... you never know how that could be taken. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thats very true...
I understand what you mean by trust me I know all about this....
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I don't really give a crap who likes what I have to say and there is no way I would want to see anything ever deleted or blocked, but I also don't let people say things about me that aren't true, and when they do I am going to defend myself<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Defend yourself by all means...

I just saw that you were quiting the forum and thought it would be a loss... Your whit is pretty good...

Basically it will quiet down pretty soon... lots of new faces and everyone wants to be the big boy on the block, its kinda like a testing time kinda like when you first meet a hot chick and do alot of

then you get to know each other and you get no more
a little less
and alot of

Cheer up krusty its only the internet...
and BTW where in washington are you from? I was from puyallup...


As a kid we moved almost every year, and I went to lots of new schools... I completetly agree that this is just playground pecking order being established, and perhaps I am too good at that game still.

I know this is only the internet, and I think I have taken the load of crap slung on me lately quite well... ask the moderators who were in the chat when the boys let me have it, I have fairly thick skin...
But even the thick skin of the bull succums to the relentless prodding of the Picadores lance.

I didn't mean to imply I was leaving the board... just that thread, and that whole line of spotlighting me, or my calls.
I have to wonder how much easier things would be for me now if I hadn't ever considered making calls for sale.
Right now I feel like filling the orders I have, and throwing in the towel.

Let the famous hunters be famous, I just wanna fade into the background like a good camo job. I still have many things to learn, and some of it might even show up here.

I am glad that you appreciate my wit... that seems to be a rare thing these days.

I think I need another time-out...


P.S. It says right down here, I am from Seattle.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 07-17-2003 23:05: Message edited by: Krustyklimber ]</font>
Krusty.... see what trouble you just cause....
You damn near started a riot.. I love it....

No seriously I thought you were leaving due to the problems which I found to be kinda strange for you.....

What chat room was this? the varmit one or other hunttalk one?...
most of us that are in chat kinda kept chat problems complety separate from the forum... this was to to things are eraced and chat and its mor of a free for all in there anyway... kinda a vent hole .... Havent had problems on either the board or chat in many many moons. we learned to live with it after a while...

You always going to have people not like your calls and then you will have people that will love them.... its the way the world works. I personally like cheap calls due to the fact they are easy to replace. but one day I will buy an expensive one...

But hey let them bash your product all they want and at the same time you will have others who praise themm... Keep on making the calls...

How expensive are they?

oh yeah wit is a good thing and old farts have alot of it

Brief pointers on tuning closed reed calls using JC Products or Wintriss reeds.

A voice consists of a thin piece of metal or plastic called a blade. The blade rests on a tone board. As air passes over the thin stock, it causes the reed to vibrate against the tone board. Air is forced to pass through an air channel that is incorporated into the tone board. A small amount of backpressure is created and is controlled by the intensity of the airflow. Controlling the airflow cause changes in tone, and volume. Backpressure is further controlled by the call body design and use of the hands. The end of the voice has a split in its design, which allows it to snugly fit into a call body. Should a reed become loose, the split allows it to be widened to re-establish a tight fit inside the call.

All sounds will attract animals whether they are predators or prey. Dogs, cats, deer, birds, neighbors all come to various sounds. Many times my neighbors have come wandering outside in attempts to figure out just what the heck they were hearing. More than once some lady has come rushing out of her home to rescue a crying baby only to find me tuning a reed for one of my predator calls. Since I am more interested in calling predatory animals instead of my neighbors, I need to adjust the sound by tuning my reed.

What does tuning a reed really mean? Many of us have heard about tuning a reed and some of us can even describe what tuning a reed involves to some degree. Tuning a reed is not difficult. It can be done at your leisure while sitting around your campfire or watching the ballgame on TV. You can’t do it while driving to work because you need two free hands.

Certain sounds typically work better when targeting certain species. Fine-tuning a sound will help you to be even more successful in “bringing in” your targeted specie. The more successful callers know this and use it to their advantage. It is impossible to put down in words the sound objective. Establishing a proper sound takes many failures to determine what works the best for your style of calling.

I can make your personal call sound much different than you because I blow a call differently. I cup my hands different. The intensity is different. The cadence is different. Everything is different. With this in mind, I will tune a call by utilizing the generally accepted criteria that beginning callers should employ when calling predatory wildlife. If I had to put a sound down in words it would go something like this…. “Waaa, Waaa, Waaa. Owww, Owww, Owww”.
For the moment we will assume that everyone knows the proper way to remove and install reeds into their calls. (If you are unsure, reeds are always inserted and removed through the mouth-piece end of the call.)

Most enclosed reed calls use reeds that are made by JC Products. Faulk’s makes their own reeds from the old tooling used by Wintriss from years gone by. This tooling was designed initially for brass reeds. Several call makers offer reed replacement kits should your call need a sound overhaul.

Reeds are very fragile. Care should be exercised when handling. Many times reeds are ruined by careless handling. Once the thin reed material is bent, there is no way to repair the damage.

Reeds can be scored to make the pitch higher by creasing the thin blade with a thumbnail or a pocketknife blade.

Reeds can be shaved thinner to achieve different sounds. The old school of thought was “thinner-is-better”. Contest callers would shave the blades so thin that many times the reeds would split. This was disastrous when competing in a calling contest. In order to make the reeds sturdier and keep them from splitting during some crucial moment, a single drop of airplane glue was oftentimes placed on the "flat" of the reed near the base. (trick of the trade)

Using A Knife:
A knife is placed perpendicular to the reed and scraped across the metal to shave away small amounts of metal.

Using A File:
Reeds can be filed to make them thinner producing a raspier sound. The photo shows how an Emery board is used to take off metal from the reed edges. After you have finished tuning your reed, it is extremely important to remember to carefully replace the Emery board back where you found it. If your wife or girlfriend confronts you about using it, always reply… “Emery who?”

The following photograph shows how a razor blade is slid between the body channel and the reed until the razor blade stops. Sometimes thumb pressure is applied by pressing down on the reed flat to form a pronounced ridge. This raising of the reed causes a raspier sound.

The dimples on the top reed, which prevents the two thin blades from sticking together, easily identify double reed voices. Double reed voices must be bladed in between the two thin blades in order to adjust the sound and tone. The result is a real nice sound but the drawback is that it is now easier to over-blow and lock up the two reeds. The tendency of new callers is to over blow anyway and this reed would be an effective tool in teaching beginners NOT to over blow.

The end of the voice body is equipped with a slot used for adjusting the compression fit to the call body. Sometimes a voice may become loose and fall out. If this is the case, the diameter needs to be enlarged. This is accomplished simply by placing a knife blade in the slot to slightly pry it open.

It is inevitable that a caller will fiddle with the reed in his call at some point in time (more than once). This "curiosity" instinct generally results in a ruined reed. After a few phone calls and a couple trips to the sporting goods store, a new reed is acquired and Mr. Fiddle Fingers is just about back in business. Well, almost. The first attempt in installing a new voice is the tendency to push the voice into the call body too tightly. This crushes the metal gap of the slot together and in extreme cases causes them to overlap. The resulting sound (if any) from the newly refurbished call is horrible. In this case, the voice needs to be carefully removed and the slot recreated by using a knife blade to restore a gap.

I had one fellow tell me a very sad story of how he followed all of my instructions and tuned his reed to perfection. He was very careful not to damage the fragile blade. He was completely confused as to why his call didn’t work when he put his newly tuned reed back into his call. When I quizzed him as to the problem he encountered, he explained that his call would not make any sound when he blew into it and how it only made sounds when he sucked on it like a straw. I just walked away thinking there’s a lot more work for me to do.

This should keep you busy for awhile. Don't try this unless you have a back-up call to use because you WILL booger a few reeds up.

Edit: Forgot to mention that detailed photos are shown in the Trapper Predator Magazine. Actually conned my wife into being the finger model.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 07-18-2003 08:52: Message edited by: Jay Nistetter ]</font>
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