Most call makers make replacement reeds available to their customers. These reeds come in varying degrees of thickness and are cut, or trimmed, in slightly different manners. Reed thickness is matched to fit the call. You can manipulate the reeds in a double-reed call to find a sound you like, but do so with caution. A slight modification can make a big difference in how the call sounds. Be careful not to crimp the reeds.
One of the most basic things you can do is gently move the reeds in and out. By doing this, you can create a higher or lower pitch in the call. "Lengthening the reeds, or pulling them out, will make the call blow harder, and you'll get a little deeper (coarser) sound. It will take a little more air to make it function. Shortening the reeds will make the call blow softer, and you'll raise the tone to a higher pitch," Lacy says.
"You can also move the wedge from its original mark. If you move it back, the call will blow a little raspier. If you move the wedge block forward, the call will blow a little smoother and a little higher in pitch," Lacy says.
Reeds can also be trimmed, or cut, to change the pitch of the call. Harlan recommends using barber scissors or a similarly sharp instrument when doing this. Keep in mind that if you trim the reed too much, you are going to lose a lot of the call's bottom, or gravelly, sound.
Hunters who use the Arkansas-style single-reed call sometimes trim the corners of the reed to find the sound they like. This, however, is touchy business. Most custom call makers would prefer your returning the call to them if modifications are necessary. Experienced single-reed call users sometimes sand their reeds, if ever so slightly, to make them thinner. The thinner the reed, the easier it is to manipulate with your breath. The shorter the reed, the finer the tone.
Keep the inside of your call clean, year-round. Make sure the reed, or reeds, are in good condition. And take time to learn what your call can and cannot do. Listen to live ducks whenever you can. Try to imitate the sounds ducks make, not those of your buddy.
"You do not have to be a world-champion-caliber caller to call a duck," Harlan says. "And you can help yourself simply by taking care of your call."