How To Tune a Goose Call

Every waterfowl hunter has his fair share of problems out in the field.  It’s just the way goose hunting goes, you have to take the good with the bad.  Anybody that hunts for a while will end up getting a little bit of mud or dirt into their calls.

You’ll have to clean it out and be left with a sound that’s just a shell of its former self.  Sometimes the sound is hollow and other times scratchy.  Knowing how to tune a goose call is a skill every hunter will have to learn someday.  The following tips should point you in the right direction the next time you need to tune your goose call.

How to Tune a Goose Call

Cleaning out your goose call is easy with a little soap and water, but tuning it is another story.  With an out of whack call you’re probably doing more harm than good.

Unless you’ve done this before you probably don’t know where to start.  So how do you tune your call and make sure it’s back in working order after it’s clean?

Which Call Should You Buy?

You can really drop a lot of cash on expensive goose calls with very little return on your investment.  Will you have as much range on a $20 call as you would with a $150 call?  Absolutely not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring in a ton of geese with a budget call.

Personally I use one of These Tim Grounds Ovrehauler Goose Calls, but it really isn’t necessary to spend all that cash.  Expensive calls are going to have a lot more range than budget offerings giving you a little more flexibility.

Geese don’t care about how good of a caller you are and how much range you have. Your call just needs to sound natural and with some fine tuning you can get that out of a cheap call.  With a little practice you’ll be able to get great sound out of a budget call like the Buck Gardner Double Nasty Goose Call or Zink Power Clucker.

Basic Tuning

With every basic set of guts you have with a duck or goose call you have the same basic components.  Unless you’re using something that’s totally out there your call is going to consist of a toning board, reed and a wedge.

Parts of a Goose Call

Once you understand the basic parts of a call tuning it should be pretty straightforward. The guts which actually affect the pitch of your call are made up of 3 basic parts.  You have your reed that moves back and forth producing your sound.  The toning board is what sets the pitch of your call and the wedge holds everything together and maintains the sound.

Mark Your Toning Board

When taking apart your call for cleaning you’re going to want to mark where all the pieces go together.  Make a small line with a sharpie to guide you when putting your call back together.  You’d be surprised just how much a small reference line will help you with reassembly.

If you thought ahead and marked your call you probably won’t have much problem re-tuning your call.  However life isn’t always that simple.  Without a reference line you’ll have to figure things out the hard way.

Tuning Your Goose Call

1.  Without a reference line you’re going to want to put your goose call together as close to how it looked before as possible.

2.  Place your reed on the toning board with the curved edge facing down.  The easiest way to tell if your reed is right side up is to push down on it.  If it’s in properly the reed should sink inside the tone board.

3.  Once the reed is lined up properly and installed on your toning board place the wedge on top.  Line the center of your wedge up with the reference line on the side of your toning board.

4.  Once you get your guts temporarily assembled line them up inside the call.  Loosely place them inside the call and make sure you can push the reed down with your finger.

5.  When pushing down with the reed you shouldn’t hear any catching/popping. It’s really important that the reed is able to actually dip down into the toning channel.  This is the biggest mistake people make when trying to tune their goose call.  The reed needs to be as close to the edge of the tone board as possible while still being able to dip down into it.  Without dipping down it’ll just end up sounding like a party favor.

6.  Once you have the reed as close to the toning channel as you can get it you’re going to want to insert the guts into your call.  Hold the Reed and Toning board between your index finger and thumb.  Your thumb needs to be pressed up against the wedge holding everything tight.  Push all the guts inside the call making sure the reed doesn’t slide.

7. Once your guts are snugly inserted into the call check your reed making sure it’s still in the right place.  You should still be able to dip it down into the toning board without catching.  At this point you’re going to want to put your call back together.

8.  You should try to use the call and if you did everything right it should sound pretty close to being tuned.  All you should need is a little fine tuning to get things right.

Fine Tuning Your Call

After you’ve got the basic sound down you’re going to want to fine tune your call to your specific style.  To fine tune your call simply slide your reed back a little bit until it works well with your calling style.  Your goal is to make it easier to do your normal calls.

Feel The Backpressure

When fine tuning your call try and get a feel for the backpressure of your reed.  You want to get a feel for how easy the reed is moving inside your call.  It should be easy enough to use consistently without producing an unusually high pitch.

Adjusting Your Goose Calls Pitch

Adjusting the pitch of your call is as easy as sliding your reed.  The closer your reed gets to the edge of your tone board the higher your pitch is going to be.  As you slide the reed away the pitch drops down, but it gets harder to play. With a low pitch the reed will feel heavy and difficult to keep stable. You need to find the perfect balance of pitch and ease of use.

Common Mistakes

  • The number 1 mistake people make is placing their reed in upside down.  Your reed should go with the curve and sink down into your toning board.  Backward reeds sound high pitched and just plain strange.
  • Dropping the tone lower than necessary.  Dropping the tone down low might make the call sound more natural, but it’s going to be harder to play.  You’ll need a lot of practice to get the sound right with a low tone.  Remember that moisture and dirt are going to make it even harder to play in the field so bring your sound up a bit.
  • It should seem obvious when you blow your call, but the reed shouldn’t overlap the edge of your toning board.  It needs to be able to move freely without any resistance.  You shouldn’t hear any clicking or popping when you push the reed down.

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