Goose Call Basics

Goose Call Making Basics:

"How do I make a goose call?"  We get this question a lot, and it would take multiple books to cover that one little question, so we thought a quick "Q&A" of the basics was in order.

One needs to remember that probably 80% of call making is about what YOU want, so there is no right or wrong answer.  As well, no one can really tell you what to do because they don't know what you really want, so they are left using their own preferences which may lead you closer to what you search for... or quite possible further away from it.  Our general rule when it comes to call making and finding what you are looking for is "TRY IT", you never know what you'll find.

Which guts should I use?

Choosing guts (should you opt to use molded guts rather than make your own and learn the true art of call making and tuning) has no short cut.  Goose calls are different that duck calls in many ways, but one thing remains constant between the two...  it takes time and experimentation.  Goose calls have many variables, unlike duck calls where the majority of the variables are addressed with the tone board, goose calls rely heavily on three factors:  Barrel dimensions, Keg Dimensions, and lastly the gut/reed combo.  The dimensions used in a goose call, in our mind, accounts for about 70% of the sound and the guts only about 30%.  With the right barrel/keg dimensions, about any gut is workable and with the wrong dimensions, no gut may be even usable.

As a suggestion, if you are new to short reed goose calls, start with the  SR1 as a matter of course (keep in mind it is a beginner style gut - easy to break over, doesnt do a lot of the trick stuff, etc...)   You will likely want to try other guts as you get better and more familiar with things.  With the SR1 reed/wedge locating tabs, you can remove some of the tuning issues while you are first starting out.  Couple that with its standard .625" (5/8") bore, its much easier to fit parts together with standard tooling.  Once you have the hang of it, experiment away, file off the locating tabs to allow for trying different things... the perfect sound to your ears can only be found by you and your combination of dimensions and guts.  This is the main reason we do not have a minimum order quantity - so that you can experiment with all the different guts without having to have tons of parts laying around you may never use.


If dimensions are so important, what measurements should I use?

Another loaded question that really can only be answered by experimentation.  In general (keep in mind this is very general and not written in stone), shorter calls overall will produce a higher pitch and longer calls, a lower pitch.  Combinations of longer barrels and shorter kegs tend to lean towards easier to break over, higher pitched calls that can be difficult to get the low goosey sounds.  Short barrels and long kegs usually require less back pressure, can be harder to break over, but have more versatility at the expense of being a bit harder to control.  Too long of a keg with a short barrel can get you into a position of the call breaking over too easily and being quieter.  The magic lies in the proper combination of barrel and keg length, gut choice, and how you blow the call. Bore dimension changes add to the variability...  big open kegs will take more air, are generally louder, and the by product of a large back bore is similar to that of shortening the keg and the inverse is generally true with smaller bored kegs.  To get an idea of the variability just from bore dimensions, think about what the air and sound waves do within each part of the call.  Larger bores = slower air speed, Smaller = faster, increased back pressure slows the air, reduced back pressure increase it.  Not to mention the effects the flow has in the turbulence of the air within the call, which affects sound, operation, and volume.  See how experimenting starts to become the only way to find what you're looking for?

Our suggestion for starting place on dimensions is a 3" barrel and a 3" keg, 1" worth of o-ring tenon, yielding a 5" long call.  With the SR1 gut, a three step bore in the barrel is a good starting place: 7/8" for a little over 1", then step down to 3/4" (this step is for gut clearance - with out it, the guts might hit the wall of the barrel and make it impossible to assemble) for about 1" and then the remainder at 5/8".  For the keg, start with 5/8" through...  from there, play with the exhaust back bore/taper.  With the SR8 guts use the same keg dimensions to start, but with the barrel, go 7/8" for a bit over 1" deep, and then 3/4" through.  From there, its experimentation city... length changes of about 1/8" will start to show changes in the sound and how the call operates. 


How do I tune the guts when I have my parts made?

Everyone has their own style of tuning, their own methods, their own "madness" :D  Tuning will take some time to learn.  There have been many "tuning" threads on the various forums, might be worth some searching and reading up on how various people do it and see if a method you read about fits your liking.

In general, if the guts have locating tabs on them, tuning is fairly simple for the beginner.  As you get more advanced, you can play with the reed thickness and position with sand paper or a file, altering the tabs or sound board surface.  With standard guts, which don't have the locating tabs, a little more practice is involved.  The jist of tuning any gut follows these general guide lines.


I want to make a wood call but it keeps splitting at the guts, why?

Wood calls and guts have a hard time getting along because of swelling, shrink, the wedge effect of the guts, and moisture.  There are many ways to combat this issue.


I want to make a call using sub-5/8" guts, where can I get a drill for that size?

The simple answer to that questions is, "You cant".... well not affordably - and drill bits tend to (most of the time) drill oversize (drills are typically not very accurate and a gut bore for goose calls require pretty tight tolerances.   You will need to drill undersize and use a reamer or sand paper to open the bore up to size.  We carry chucking reamers in a few of the more common goose gut, bore, and tone channel sizes.


Don't Forget the Forums!

There a couple rather large forums full of people able to help guide you or answer that question that has been plaguing you for months.  Check 'em out!


Hopefully the basics of goose call making here has helped get you started and in the mindset of what is possible, and why you should experiment until the duck pond freezes over.  So much is possible, you just have to find what fits your ear and your style.

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