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Get To Know: Mouth Call Cuts

Photo credit: JJ Reich

Many different elements affect the sound of a mouth call – factors like three reeds versus two reeds, thin latex versus thick latex, and tension placed on reeds when they are pressed into the frame. However, slices in the reeds, and gaps removed at the end of a latex reed, most dramatically affect the call’s turkey sound.

Here’s a detailed look at how the sound, pitch and tone of a diaphragm mouth call can change with a simple stroke of a scissor.

Common Cuts

Most names for cuts in the top reed of a mouth calls come from the shape caused by scissor slices. For example the Split V cut refers to two V-shaped slices placed in the center of the reed. When chunks of latex are removed to make a Bat cut, it is loosely looks like the outline of a head and wings of flying bat. Many call makers have their own nicknames for similar-looking cuts.

No matter what the call maker names the design, there are several common cuts the majority of call makers use:

  • Cutter: One quarter-circle notch removed for one edge of the latex.

  • Bat: Two quarter-circle notches removed, leaving a V-tip shape in the center of the latex.

  • Split V: Two angled V-shaped slices in the center of the stretched reed, but no latex is removed.

  • Modified V: Two wide-angled V-shaped cuts in the center of the reed, with small pieces of latex removed.

  • Combo: One quarter-circle notch removed for one edge of the latex, and one slanted slice in the center. Think of it as a half Cutter and half Split V.

  • Ghost: An upside-down U-shaped section removed from the center of the latex.

Various Sounds

When the reeds are cut it produces rasp in some form or another. Generally speaking, the more latex sliced and/or removed equates to more rasp. For example, a simple Split V cut will create a less raspy yelp than a Modified V style call because less latex was removed. The Combo cut provides the most rasp due to both the deep notch and slanted slice in the latex. The location and size of the cuts are also important, off-set or deep cuts impact the sound too. Additionally, all call makers slice and dice differently bases on their own designs. This means calls that look similar could sound very different.

Intended Function

Cuts in latex also impact the call’s intended purpose. Typically, the Cutter cut creates fast yelps, but the Ghost cut will kee-kee easier. How a caller uses the call — meaning how you control tongue pressure and amount of air blown — directly impacts the sound of a call. But every caller is different, and one person may be raspy on a cutter call while someone else calls more clearly with that same call.

Why all the different styles of cuts? That’s simple: More cuts mean more options! Every caller has his or her own way to operate a mouth call. Experiment with various cuts to find a perfect fit the type of calling you’re after, or the specific turkey sounds (yelps, kee kees, purrs, cutts or cackles) that you want to produce. There’s a pile of styles to choose from – it’s up to you on which scissor stroke to select.

JJ Reich




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