"The distance between the reed and the tone board has everything to do with the sound of the call. I have seen calls go out of my shop sounding perfect. Then, about a week later, folks will come back and say, 'You know, Mr. Harlan, this doesn't sound right.' I'll take the call apart and pull the reed out, lay it down, and it looks like the reed is craning its neck upwards. It has been bent. You have to treat that reed with the utmost care. You don't want to pull it up and pop it; you want to retain the stability of that reed as much as you can."
Any number of materials have been used as reeds over the years. These include German silver, brass, copper, phosphorous, bronze, tin, wood, cane, and now, perhaps most prevalent, plastics. Mylar is by far the most popular substance used today. Equal to the variety of materials employed were the physical alterations undertaken while attempting to create the perfect sound. Reeds have been pounded, scraped, bent, sanded, trimmed, heated, and filed.
This experimentation has resulted in an understanding of what these manipulations can produce, and personal preferences in regard to what works best. These days, however, such exercises usually are not necessary. All calls mass-produced by a manufacturer may not sound exactly alike, but they should be close.