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Anyone else have this hearing problem?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by PattiMichelle, May 9, 2010.

  1. PattiMichelle


    Nov 16, 2009
    This is related strictly to the bass - and it's always frustrated me (I noticed it in my 20's!!!). I tend to hear lower notes up to a half-step above their true pitch. I notice it more these days because we have the low-B available. I know it's in my ears because I can move across the fretboard in octaves and dont' hear any beats but my ear tells my brain honest-to-god for sure the note is getting sharper as it goes lower and by reaching the low-B string it sounds a half-step sharp. Maybe it's just a headphone thing? Is this a known issue?

    I've looked in physics-of-hearing books and they don't mention this issue - but I assumed that's because probably only bass players would notice it. I wonder also if it's related to xylophone modes in some strings.

  2. I've noticed that I have a hard time actually hearing the pitch of the lowest strings, so I bought an electronic tuner.

    In my case I was in the Navy and had a lot of muzzle blast from the 5-inch/38s and 3-inch/50s, so they took their toll on my hearing.

    Later I was a boiler operator, then (thankfully) got a degree in Biomedical Sciences and that took me out of the realm of loud noises - but I still managed to hurt my hearing anyway (motorcycles, campaigned funny cars at the drags and flew1930s full-sized replicas of pylon racing aircraft) so I still get the ringing and just thought that pitch-shift was normal to everyone.

    I guess not though - and it may be rather isolated and you are the second person to make mention of that.

    Did you ever notice that if you yawn during the playing of a song, that the pitch can change too? My hearing doctors at the VA say it's a natural phenomena and it's nothing to worry over or about.
  3. rosanne


    Sep 30, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Sometimes when playing something I hear on a recording I will search for a note that is (literally) unavailable on the fretboard. It will seem to lie between two fretted notes. Yet that is the note I'm hearing in my head.

    So at that point I tell myself there is something wrong with my hearing and I make a mental adjustment - can't describe this really - and start listening in a little different way. That will usually (but not always) fix the problem.
  4. MX21


    Sep 28, 2007
    Grass Valley, CA
    I noticed the same thing when playing Thursday night. I was hitting some low notes and thought I was sharp compared to the rest of the band. I checked tuning when I got a chance and it was right on. Would be bad if I played fretless.
  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I've had this happen a couple times when recording short sample riffs using the lowest notes--it will sound great to me when I record it, but when I post it here people are like "wow you are out of tune".
  6. This happens to me quite a bit. Man, is it annoying...:mad:
  7. bassist50


    Mar 3, 2010
    30.9hz is at the lower regions of the human ears hearing range. Even young, properly working ears, don't hear these regions that well. Many bass players use this as an area to drone. All things considered if you're like me; between ridiculous stage volume, guns, machinery, and ex-wives; you're ears have taken a beating. So plan on 50-100hz being the bottom end of where you really can "hear" a note. Even that for some is complete mush.

    Don't forget, just cause you can't "hear" the note does not imply you cannot FEEL it! Gotta love the undertones!

    Or would you rather be and elephant? They can communicate for miles below the human listening range!
  8. PattiMichelle


    Nov 16, 2009
    I know what you mean about the mental adjustment... I actually think I found the problem here - the headphones! Those low notes drive ears into a nonlinear response. Some neighbors moved out so I was playing through the amp (no headphones) and there was no problem. So I guess it's pretty easy to damage hearing with a bass through headphones - I had no sensation that I was playing loudly through my headphones as I do when playing a standard guitar. Maybe this also happens when playing loudly in a room, too, but I haven't checked - if I turn it up loud, my whole apartment starts to buzz, and I don't have any bass gig experience.

    I think it's a problem like was mentioned - human ears don't hear that well at the lowest frequencies, so we turn it up, and at the same time this drives our ears into a nonlinear mode. Hearers of a band, say, can hear the other instruments so they automatically adjust? Speculation...
  9. Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Anytown USA
    Also remember most headphones cannot reproduce extremely low frequencies very well. ;)
  10. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    And here I thought it was just me.....

    I wear custom-fitted hearing protection that is supposedly designed to still allow me to hear the full range only quieter and I've gotta admit I sometimes have the same problem with anything Bb or below on a standard tuned 4 string P. I have my actual bass freq turned down fairly low but It's like I ether hear it wrong or occasionally not at all. I can feel it however and everybody else in the band and out in the room says I sound fine.

    I'm a big believer in hearing protection, having worked in loud situations, etc. as well & I have a tractor that at the right freq. is almost unbearable after an hour or so. Also, my Dad is 73 and wears hearing aids. After being around him and dealing with his hearing loss, I'll gladly use hearing protection!!!:spit:
  11. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    I don't know what kind of headphones you're using, but your ears are probably hearing just what the 'phones are reproducing. Unless you have some high-quality headphones, they probably can't handle the low notes, and don't convey them accurately.
  12. lbanks


    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
    Yep. Happens to me and the Doctor say I'm not doing too bad but some change is to be expected... at my age. Smiley25.
  13. Man good to hear this is not that uncommon! It happens to me too, both at rehearsal and playing live, I hit a low note and it sounds out of tune, so i look at my left hand and i verify I'm fretting the note i'm supposed to, so i keep going. happened again and again through a couple of songs, and i kept checking my tuning between songs, and i was in tune.
    It's not that I don't hear the notes, they sometimes sound a bit out of tune.
    I think it's time to have my ears checked just in case.
  14. I've been noticing the same thing lately. Notes low on the E string sometimes seem to be out of tune, and I can't really seem to tell if they're flat or sharp. Then when I'd check my tuning it would be spot on. None of the people I play with have complained about my tuning, so I have to trust that I'm in tune. It's got to be an age thing!
  15. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Maybe it is; I'm no spring chicken and I have noticed the same thing. It's usually on the low notes on the B string when I have sort of a dark tone going.
  16. Suspect it's an issue of hearing fundamentals and harmonics differently.

    I know what u r referring to tho. Try tweaking MP3's with the open source program, BestPractice. I find many mp3's are slightly off speed.

    U must be an engineer....physics and nonlinear in just a couple of posts.

    Peace and long life!
  17. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    That's not what he is talking about; he is saying that verifiably in-tune low notes on his bass sound out of tune to him. I have heard the same thing, especially with low notes on the B string when I don't have much midrange dialed in.
  18. mophead

    mophead Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2004
    Texas Panhandle
    Damn son, its a wonder you can hear anything!
  19. The worst noise was the Double-A Fuelers running 8,000 RPM on a full tip of nitro.

    Next week:
    Braille bass lessons. Yeah - I've had seven surgeries in one eye and three in the other for detached retinas.
  20. ^^^^^^This.

    I have noticed this phenomenon when the bass is EQ'd a certain way, or the room is throwing the bass freqs around in a certain way. If certain harmonics are getting overly excited due to EQ or room conditions, it will throw your ear off.

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