Author Topic: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?  (Read 5505 times)

Offline Bob from Eames Custom Calls

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Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« on: May 17, 2014, 06:32:43 AM »
I've been playing with a Reelfoot design lately, and I'm having some trouble finding instructions on tuning. I'd love to see some pictures of the bend of the reed, and the relationship of the reed tip to the end of the tone channel.

 Anyone seen anything that might help me out?

 Bob
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Offline Joe Short

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2014, 07:25:27 AM »
Henry and Fred have put up the dimensions of many calls, there you will certainly find something worth a look. Personally, I make my reeds 1/16" longer than the tone channel; I believe Henry goes to 1/8". As far as reed tuning, I was taught to use a burnisher (tool used for sharpening cabinet scrapers) to bend it. Lay the reed flat, press the rod of the burnisher down flat over it and pull the reed through to create the curvature that gives you the sound you want. For me, the front "tip" of the reed has a quite distinct curve for the first 3/8" +/-, the rest of the reed has a very slight curve but it is darn close to laying flat on the board
I don't have any pictures presently but could snap some later today if you'd like.
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Offline Henry H

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2014, 08:46:24 AM »
Definitely check out Fred's tutorial.  Like his, my tone channels end 1/8" shy of the end of the reed.  If I remember correctly, Fred's channel has a 6 fall... I'm experimenting but the last one made had a 4 fall.  This and the height of the toneboard impact ultimately define the length of the tone channel.

I'm out of town at the moment, but will try to get pics of reed curvature from my and other calls when I get back,  I'll also try to dig up an excerpt of a Tom Turpin article I found on tuning reelfoots.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2014, 09:32:47 PM by FDR »

Offline FDR

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2014, 02:57:45 PM »
Here are a couple pictures of one of my inserts:




The length of the tone channel relative to the length of the reed  is critical . "Too long" or "too short" and the call will not tune properly. A "too short" tone channel can be corrected by carefully lengthening the tone channel with a scraper or gouge or by trimming the length of the reed by cutting the reed shorter from the back end. Trimming the reed is tricky to do as a little goes a long way.  A "too long" tone channel requires a new longer reed.  My reed design needs a tone channel about 0.060 to 0.100" shorter than the reed. I recommend shooting for 0.100" which is about optimum. You can always make the tone channel a little longer !

You curve the metal reed as described above by pulling the reed under a polished steel rod or burnisher. If you are using shim stock for reed material you should punch the reed in the direction the rolling mill produced the material. A reed punched otherwise will either not tune properly or will not hold tune. The reed has a natural direction it wants to curve just like mylar. Pinch the reed between your thumb and finger and  determine the natural curve. The curve goes up just like mylar.

The next step is to begin the reed curve by pulling the reed under the burnisher. When the reed is beginning "to tune" the call will begin to just quack and then lock up. My curve begins just in front of the wedge and is gentle and continuous to the reed tip. The tip of the reed is about 1/8 inch above the tone board when the wedge is in place. Continue to increase the amount of curve. A little goes a long way!   When the call will both "quack and chuckle" you are close. More curve increases the "bass", less curve increases the treble.

At this point you want to work with the final 1/4 to 3/8 inch of the reed tip. What you will do is increase the curvature of this portion of the reed only. The ability to "high ball" is hidden in the tip geometry!

A properly tuned call should produce 4-7 notes of increasing higher frequency as more air pressure is applied to the call and the higher pressure will not lock the call. A five note call has about the ideal frequency range. Additional range just makes it harder to hit and hold the desired notes.

As Henry noted my calls have about a 6 degree tone channel fall. The depth of the tone channel is controlled by the fall angle and the initial penetration of the tone channel cutter (0.050 inch nominal). Some antique have a lesser fall angle but have a wider tone channel. Some have a longer tone channel and reed. They work also. There are lots of variables that you can control that effect the tone characteristics of the call.

Fred
« Last Edit: August 01, 2014, 12:46:10 PM by FDR »
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Reelfoot, the original duck call. What's on your lanyard?

Offline Bob from Eames Custom Calls

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2014, 02:43:19 AM »
Ok, sounds like some good information there. Thanks guys, that should be enough to get me started, I'll report back when I get the insert built and start messing with the tuning.

 I appreciate all of the tips!

 Bob
My biggest fear is that I'll die and my wife will sell my callmaking supplies for what I told her they cost.....

Offline FDR

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2014, 01:54:48 PM »
I added some additional detail to the above writeup and made it a sticky .

Fred
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 10:31:48 AM by FDR »
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Reelfoot, the original duck call. What's on your lanyard?

Offline Henry H

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2014, 10:47:58 AM »
Bob - sorry, I meant to post this a few days ago.  Here are pics of 4 inserts, 3 from the old masters plus one of mine.  As you'll see, there are differences in both amount and starting point of curvature... all these calls sound very good and have good range.  Bottom line, reed curvature must be matched to size, style, depth, and fall of the tone channel.  Fred's guidance is the best, as he has done the most experimentation I know of... I have not settled on the best channel slope, depth, and reed curvature, and am still experimenting, so if I showed you 4 of mine you'd see differences similar to these... but I thought it more valuable to show some old school inserts.

Sorry the pics aren't great, they're from my cell phone - but if you want something additional or better just let me know and I'll try to make it happen.  Having set up a facebook page to journal my own calls, I'm thinking of setting up another facebook page to catalog reelfoots in my collection as well as those I can borrow and photo (and even let others do the same and add their own photos).  If this sounds of interest to various readers of this post, just reply and I'll try to get something started.

A Turpin call - note fairly minimal curvature, not starting until halfway to 3/4 down the channel.




A Johnny Marsh call




A Dennison (I think Earl rather than Tom, but not certain)




One of mine



Offline Bob from Eames Custom Calls

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2014, 11:31:36 AM »
Wow, that's alot of difference in those calls! Different tone channel widths, different reed curves.... I guess the only way to figure out what is going to work is roll one out and start screwing around with it.

 Do the Reelfoots blow like a Arky at all, or are they horribly different to run?

 Bob
My biggest fear is that I'll die and my wife will sell my callmaking supplies for what I told her they cost.....

Offline Henry H

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2014, 12:52:59 PM »
I don't find them all that different, but I'm a grunting diaphragm caller.  I suspect it is different for each person.  They do require a bit more air - not that you have to blow harder, just there is a lot more air going through them due to more air capacity within the call, so more lung capacity is required to sustain a long highball, for example.  A slightly undersized exhaust will reduce the air necessary and make them a bit quieter... slightly oversized requires more air and makes them louder.  Fred's tutorial has great exhaust instructions and recommendations.  I don't hunt a lot of open water, so I tend to go on the undersized... or use my hand for additional back-pressure on one's I've opened up.  I do find I lock up Ark-style calls more frequently now, so perhaps I've gotten conditioned to putting more pressure on calls now that I've started messing with reelfoots.

Warning:  these things are addictive to make and blow, you may not go back!

Offline Bob from Eames Custom Calls

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2014, 06:58:06 PM »
Warning:  these things are addictive to make and blow, you may not go back!

 Great, now I'll proboably be camped out in front of the local wood supplier like a junkie waiting for his fix :hysterical:

 I'm going to roll out an insert tonight and see what a mess I can make :beer:

 Bob
My biggest fear is that I'll die and my wife will sell my callmaking supplies for what I told her they cost.....

Offline Henry H

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2014, 11:24:48 PM »
Warning:  these things are addictive to make and blow, you may not go back!

 Great, now I'll proboably be camped out in front of the local wood supplier like a junkie waiting for his fix :hysterical:

 I'm going to roll out an insert tonight and see what a mess I can make :beer:

 Bob

Bob - how are your reelfoot call coming along?

Offline BigB

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2014, 09:00:10 PM »

 Do the Reelfoots blow like a Arky at all, or are they horribly different to run?

 Bob


I'm in the camp that says that Reelfoot calls blow way different than Arky calls.  Arky calls require a lot of diaphragm air, with a lot of mouth cavity manipulation for the proper air presentation into the call.  A Reelfoot call requires a long constant air flow, that tapers and falls off at the end.  It's tough to describe, but if you watch this youtube video, it'll give you the idea.




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Offline dogcatcher

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2014, 11:09:28 PM »

 Do the Reelfoots blow like a Arky at all, or are they horribly different to run?

 Bob


I'm in the camp that says that Reelfoot calls blow way different than Arky calls.   Arky calls require a lot of diaphragm air, with a lot of mouth cavity manipulation for the proper air presentation into the call.  A Reelfoot call requires a long constant air flow, that tapers and falls off at the end.  It's tough to describe, but if you watch this youtube video, it'll give you the idea.




Brian

I am going agree but to also disagree, I think the style/method that it all fits together is what makes it a Reelfoot call.  The Arkansas and Louisiana toneboards are based on the design of how it is made, one uses cork with a slot the other a wedge.  The Reelfoot uses the wedge, but in a different manner and the insert and the wedge become one in a larger bore. 

I have a slew of old Reelfoots, and a handful of newer ones, some take more air that I can muster, some take less, I also believe that the Reelfoot can be refined to the level of todays Arkansas and Louisiana boards.  The same as some of the current crop of callmakers can build a better sounding call than 30 years ago.  Now that the Reelfoot is making a comeback, I predict a new generation of Reelfoot calls that will sound better than the old ones.   I have one that a callmaker sent me that I think has a better sound and is easier to use.

The hold back will be if callmakers continue to try to just make them as they were, and not try to improve them.  To keep trying  make them sound and look like the old Reefoot calls is fine, but from some that I have gotten, they can be improved.   Making copies is okay, but trying to build a better one would be my goal.

Marvin
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Offline Prairie Game Calls

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2014, 08:06:08 AM »
Big B said it best if your use to blowing a arkie style the Reelfoot is going to be different and will take some time to pick up on. I think that is my attraction to them.
Besides looks.

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Offline Joe Short

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Re: Good tuning instructions for Reelfoots?
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2014, 07:45:20 PM »
It may seem contradictory, but I am inclined to agree with both Brian AND Marvin. In the traditional sense and based upon the way Reelfoot calls were originally designed, running one is immensely different than an AR style. However, being the maker of said calls, one can make them to be tremendously similar to an AR call by changing certain aspects of the call. My preferred slope is 6, I'm torn between 4" and 4.5" on the barrel length. I have run 5" barrels which do require noticeably more air, as well as shorter barrels which seem to make it easier to choke up, I have also varied the slope from 4.5 to 8, it seemed like the higher the slope the louder the call got and a longer barrel made it easier to get the air under the reed. I settled in at 6 after a lot of tweaking, finally deciding that I have found a nice middle ground between the high hails of a traditional Reelfoot and the ducky lows you can typically get with a J-frame. Now, all of my testing the tonality may mean absolutely nothing as I cut each reed by hand and there will certainly be inconsistencies in doing so, not to mention that different sections of the same reed material can vary in thickness and resilience. I do know that they sound pretty darn good and you can run 'em like nobody's business without hacking up a lung. More importantly, the only thing that quacks like a Reelfoot is a mallard hen.
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