Author Topic: Basics when learning to tune toneboards  (Read 96271 times)

Offline BigB

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Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« on: December 03, 2012, 10:40:19 PM »


If you have never tuned a duck call toneboard, this tutorial is aimed at giving some instructions on where to start the process.  There are other tutorials on how to make toneboards, but this will be focussed on getting sounds to come from the toneboard, and learning the basic dimensions and parameters that affect the sound coming from the call.  We will intentionally ruin some parts in this learning process, but it is needed for learning.  No shame in ruining some reeds and cork in this process.  Adjustments to the toneboard aren't as easily reversible as replacing the reed and cork, so always adjust reeds and cork first before tweaking on the toneboard itself.  There is no right or wrong answer when going through this process.  But you will have to go through this process and hear how each parameter affects the sound of the call. 

Here is a handy reference to keep track of the dimensions on the toneboard:




The first step is to take an uncut insert and insert it into the jig.  I am using a RiverMallard public jig for this tutorial, and all of the dimensions in the instructions are based off of it.


Next step is to measure the distance from the end of the tonechannel to the end of the jig (dimension F in the reference pic).  This is a little difficult, since the end of the tonechannel is hidden in the toneboard.  But take a measurement from the exhaust end of the insert to the end of the tonechannel, and then get a measurement from the exhaust end of the insert to the toneboard tip of the jig.


The first dimension we are going to start with, is .500" (half an inch) from the end of the tonechannel to the end of the jig for dimension F.



When cutting the toneboard arc, make sure you file the toneboard to the exact shape of the toneboard jig.  We want to only adjust 1 thing at a time when learning what dimensions affect the sound of the call.  So, repeatability of the toneboard arc will be important at first.




The next thing we are going to do is install a reed.  Cut a piece of .010" mylar .550" wide by 1.500" long.  Cut a piece of cork .400" wide by .700" long. 


Place the reed lengthwise between your thumb and index finger.  Gently bend the reed to see which way it flexes.  The part the flexes outward will be the part that will contact the toneboard surface.



Install the reed and cork onto the toneboard.  Ensure that both the reed and cork are both fully seated against the back wall of the cork notch.  There will be a little bit extra cork that sticks out in front of the cork notch.  This is ok and is intentional.


Cut the excess cork off the side of the cork notch.



The next part now is to take the insert and put it in a barrel.  Blow on the duck call trying to get a variety of quacks from the call, both loud and soft, and also perform a hail call.


Record the following:

1) How hard was the call to blow?
2) How did the call sound?  Was the pitch high or low?  Did the call squeal out?
3) Did the call feel like it took a lot of pressure to blow correctly?



Without adjusting anything, we are going to trim the reed length to see how the length of the reed affects the sound. 

With the reed still in the toneboard, cut off .01-.02" ("a hair") off of the end of the reed.  A little bit makes a BIG difference, so take off as little bit as possible.



Install the insert back into the barrel, and blow on the duck call.  Answer the 3 questions, keeping in mind the changes from the previous try:
1) How hard was the call to blow?
2) How did the call sound?  Was the pitch high or low?  Did the call squeal out?
3) Did the call feel like it took a lot of pressure to blow correctly?

Keep cutting a hair off the end of the reed until the reed is the same length as the tonechannel, repeating the process of blowing on the calls, and writing down the results of the 3 questions.


Continued on the next post:
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Offline BigB

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 10:40:38 PM »

The next parameter we are going to adjust is the width of the cork. 

Take a new reed with the same dimensions as what we started with originally, and install it and the original cork.  Adjust the length of the reed, like we just did until the reed sounds pretty good.  Then remove the reed and cork.  Trim the length of the cork, similar to what we have been doing with the reed.  Reinstall the reed and cork, and install the insert in a barrel.

Blow on the duck call and write down the results of how it sounds.


Repeat the process of trimming the length of the cork, repeating the process of writing down the results of how it sounds.




The next parameter we are going to adjust is the width of the reed.  Cut some reeds that are slightly wider and slightly narrower than the original reed.  Install a reed and new cork in the toneboard, and repeat the process of blowing on the call, writing down what it sounds like, trimming the reed, and trying again.



The next parameter we are going to adjust is the "dog ears" on the end of the reed.  In the previous excercises, we should have found a reed length that sounds pretty good.  Once we find that reed length for that particular toneboard, we are going to cut the corners off of the reed.  Trimming off the corners is called putting "dog ears" on the reed.


Adjust different angles and sizes of the dog ears, and check how each trim affects the sound of the call.




The next parameter we are going to adjust is the tonechannel length.

Insert another uncut toneboard into the jig.  This time, we are going to adjust things so "dimension F" is .450".  Repeat the process of inserting a reed and cork, and dialing in the lengths of the reed, cork and dog ears to get a good sounding call.

Insert another uncut toneboard into the jig.  This time, we are going to adjust things so "dimension F" is .400".  Repeat the process of inserting a reed and cork, and dialing in the lengths of the reed, cork and dog ears to get a good sounding call.



By this time, we should be getting the hang of how adjusting the length of the reed, the length of cork, dog ear shape, and the length of the toneboard is affecting the sound of the call.




These directions should provide a pretty good starting point of dimensions to try to get a duck call sounding pretty decent.  The natural progression from here, to get get a really good sounding call, and filing on different parts of the toneboard to see how each location affects the sound from the call.


It's really that easy.  It's not hard.  It just takes some time and diligence to learn how the different dimensions result in different sounds.

Brian
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Offline Barry @ WildThings

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 10:46:51 PM »
WOW what an awesome tutorial especially for us noobies

Thanks
BB

Offline Chris @ STW Outdoors

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 10:55:47 PM »
WOW!!! Big B, this is awesome. For someone who is goin through this process right now, I could not be happier with what you have posted. A little direction can go a long way. Thanks a million. I am sure there are going to be a lot of thankful members.
Chris Wright

Offline RedemptionCalls

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2012, 11:40:51 PM »
Great tut BigB. I remember when I went through this process, and I can really appreciate all that goes into making a good quack. This should be a great guide for beginners.

Offline Willow Creek Duck Calls

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 12:58:38 AM »
I am learning toneboards myself right now. My biggest hurdles are 2 items. 1. Sticky reed. What causes the reed to stick when you jump on a call hard? 2. Too much air is needed to blow the call, but the call sounds decent except it can be flat sounding on the low end.

Thank you for taking the time to do this tutorial, it came at a great time. :beer:
Brad

Offline Drake Dropper Calls

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 02:11:22 AM »
 :bigup:  :bigup: great job. This should help out some new guys to take the plunge in to trying their own toneboards.
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Offline VECtor Calls

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2012, 02:47:04 AM »
Great writeup B.  Thanks for taking the time to put this all together!

Vince
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Offline Bubba

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2012, 01:07:30 PM »
Make this a sticky!! 
I've been waiting a long time for this tutorial. Posted up a request for one on the other site and was told there are too many variables.
This tutorial is perfect for us duck call noobs.  THANK YOU!!!
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Offline Uncle Clay

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2012, 01:22:05 PM »
Thank you SO MUCH for making this tutorial. As a new call maker I have been leary of making my own inserts. This tutorial has changed that and now I feel that I am on the way to making Complete calls.
You are the man!!!!
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Offline Dave @ Hagermans Custom Calls

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2012, 07:04:18 PM »
 Thanks a alot. This needs to be a sticky  :bigup:
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Offline Braz

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2012, 08:10:15 PM »
Make this a sticky!! 
I've been waiting a long time for this tutorial. Posted up a request for one on the other site and was told there are too many variables.
This tutorial is perfect for us duck call noobs.  THANK YOU!!!

And that's why this is the best site on the web.
Braz
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Offline BigB

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2012, 08:35:00 PM »
I've been waiting a long time for this tutorial. Posted up a request for one on the other site and was told there are too many variables.


This tutorial hasn't really revealed any secrets to tuning toneboards. But in reality, there aren't any secrets to tuning toneboards. Experience trying different things will reveal the secrets of the different sounds. And those secrets can only be discovered by trying things yourselves and blowing on the duck call to see what the outcome is.

There are LOTS of different variables in a duck call. And it is difficult for someone to know exactly what variable to adjust when someone wants to know what a certain variable will do to the sound. And that is because it depends on the other variables. If someone says it's high pitched and they want to lower the pitch, a few different variables could be adjusted depending on the other variables. Like to get a deeper pitch, you can either lengthen the reed, widen the reed, or use less dog ears. Knowing which one of those variables to choose first depends on the tonechannel length, tonechannel diameter and shape of the toneboard arc. That is why it is so difficult for folks to provide the exact variable to adjust since it depends on the other variables. But going through the steps outlined here, and expanding on the instructions here to try different tone channel diameters, reed heights, cork densities, and exhaust diameters, that will teach yourself to know what variable to adjust to achieve your desired sound based on all the other variables you have designed into the insert.

And remember- Take Good Notes!

Brian
You won't get money rich in this hobby.  The richness is in the culture, the craft, the friends you meet along the way, and being able to call in a wary game animal with a call that you made with your own hands.

 

Offline Brian Watts Custom Calls

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2012, 08:53:27 PM »
thank you for the time you put into this.i do little duck hunting and need to try and making these and after reading this i think i will try this very soon.. thanks brian

Offline bcalls

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Re: Basics when learning to tune toneboards
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2012, 09:49:36 PM »
Good write up Brian. Yeah a book could be written on tuning and adjusting tone boards and still not cover it all. Each type of tone board could have it own chapter.  :nthrd: