Bassists more likely to suffer from tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Frenchy-Lefty, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. After 30 years of bass playing and music production I have developed some mild tinnitus syndroms and two of my friends and mentors, both pro Jazz Fusion bassists, have developed some severe tinnitus problems.
    I was talking to a friend who said "no wonder, we are always stuck by the snare when playing live". I am not so sure about that. Are bass frequencies more condusive to tinnitus? Any doctors or experts in the room?
    What says you?
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Could be the proximity to the front/side of the drums where most of us find ourselves.

    Could be that IEM buds that handle bass are stupid expensive so most of us put it off and keep getting blasted by speakers.

    It could be that most guitar players point their rigs at their freakin ankles and turn it to 11 so they can hear themselves.....meanwhile peeling the skin off my face across the stage.
    obimark, gebass6, kkaarrll and 6 others like this.
  3. @two fingers, I like where it is heading: guitarist bashing. :hyper:
  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    From what I read, it affected higher frequencies more.
    Phyzzbin, gebass6, cazclocker and 3 others like this.
  5. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    From what I've read the root cause is the overall volume.

    Just playing bass through headphones with high volume will cause tinnitus.

    And standing next to a loud drummer for years is problematic.
  6. In my case, headphones definitely caused it as I was doing a lot of music prod and did not play live when it all started.
    I would say that, if anyone, the drummer is the most at risk because of the snare drum frequencies.
    Overall, anyone who spend a lifetime playing live music or listening to music at high volume for a sustained period of time is at very high risk. You don't really realize how sucky it is until you get it and wake up at night with a little whistle in your ears. Marcus Miller himself lost most of his hearing on one side.
    zon6c-f likes this.
  7. christle


    Jan 26, 2002
    This. I really started to notice it a lot this year and made changes. I noticed hearing loss in my right ear even after using proper IEMs or plugs and the sharpness of the cymbals was starting to hurt.

    Agreed. I've met and played with a number of drummers that have suffered mild to severe hearing damage. I've also found that they tend to play even louder to compensate for the hearing damage. It becomes a self perpetuating cycle. One drummer in particular made it worse by playing louder and louder and wanting everyone else louder so he could hear us. It was sad because we could see his hearing deteriorate, despite using protection. We had to part ways because he wasn't willing to change, wanting to rehearse at concert volumes. Even with us using ear protection he was putting us at risk. That was change I alluded to earlier.
    zon6c-f likes this.
  8. I've heard low frequencies are less likely to cause damage than high frequencies.

    Obviously, both are capable of damage.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
    zon6c-f, SJan3 and Frenchy-Lefty like this.
  9. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    In one of my audio production classes the teacher explained that there is an involuntary muscle in the ear the flexes once the sound level gets too loud to protect your hearing. The problem is that the attack of the drum is too fast for the ear to react. She also said that some of the most busy studio drummers she knew were deaf from a combination of that, having to turn the band up louder in their headphones to be heard, and having their drums set up in small isolation booths.

    Rev J
    Groove Doctor, zon6c-f, JRA and 2 others like this.
  10. farace

    farace Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    The worst ringing I ever got was from standing near cymbals. There seemed to be one magic spot where the sound sliced right through my head to my ear drums, and I found it a couple of times.

    (Another particularly painful time, as an audience member, was at an Iggy Pop concert, and once again it was a cymbal crash that did it.)
    Ian Lewis, Phyzzbin, zon6c-f and 5 others like this.
  11. mikewalker


    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Two words:

    heynorm, Ian Lewis, Phyzzbin and 12 others like this.
  12. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    ... severe tinnitus here, and a permanent disability ... music, flight line in the Air Force, running saws and machinery doing construction work for years, in my 60's, male with high blood pressure ... take your pick why, I was a prime candidate (see below) ...

    ... some info from my literature:

    Risk factors
    Anyone can experience tinnitus, but these factors may increase your risk:

    • Loud noise exposure. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage the tiny sensory hair cells in your ear that transmit sound to your brain. People who work in noisy environments — such as factory and construction workers, musicians, and soldiers — are particularly at risk.
    • Age. As you age, the number of functioning nerve fibers in your ears declines, possibly causing hearing problems often associated with tinnitus.
    • Gender. Men are more likely to experience tinnitus.
    • Smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of developing tinnitus.
    • Cardiovascular problems. Conditions that affect your blood flow, such as high blood pressure or narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis), can increase your risk of tinnitus
  13. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Sorry to hear about your tinnitus. Now that you know take action and protect your ears! Lots of good threads on here.
    zon6c-f, SJan3 and Frenchy-Lefty like this.
  14. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.

    Sorry I couldn't resist.

    Rev J
  15. Believe me, I am not complaining especially in comparison to my friends who got it so much worse they had to stop teaching bass and gigging and can't bear any kind of noise.

    In other hand, it should be a cautionary tale for all the young players out there: Protect yourselves, learn to rehearse at low volume - it will also make you a better player btw - or you will really hate life when your hearing is messed up. And it will be as the symptoms occur much later after the damage has already be done.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  16. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    This ^^^
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  17. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Headphones......understand that US Walkmans did not have the volume limiting that the Euro counterparts did, you have to wonder why?

    Wearing cans in the studio to me was always iffy. I always thought the bleed through volume tended to drive up the headphone volume.

    Not even crazy about mixing for long periods as the ears get fatigued and I don't remember seeing any good factual based guidelines on how long between breaks, and how long those should be.

    I'd be more likely to think the snare and guitarist have more to do with your tinnitus. The peak and possibly consistently high volume is bad.

    Your bass, might be taking out your low freq hearing if you are really loud, but would think you would have notches in your overall range.

    My money is on loud all the time guitar.
    zon6c-f likes this.
  18. I a slight case of it, meaning it is happening, but not enough to interfere without my daily. I too believe it is a combo of bass frequency and standing so close to the drummer's cymbals. I can tell you I didn't have this problem until after many many years of performing live, I was in a hair metal metal for nearly 10 years, but the drummer was also not actually in ear shot being on high drum riser. So the weekend warrior gig I have been at now for 12 years I have notice it more. Mine is a low (so far) consistent ring. Which I notice more when everything else is quite.
    zon6c-f, Nightman and Frenchy-Lefty like this.
  19. MTN.bass72

    MTN.bass72 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2010
    Blue Ridge, Ga
    It doesn't happen due to a particular source.. it's from repeated loud environments .. I was on drums for 10 years in very loud bands before going to bass.. never had an issue... about 10 years ago.. I experienced a popping sound in my left ear while pressure washing, job at the time, have had the ringing ever since.. didn't help matters that I was in an ambulance.. big loud metal box.. for five years.. now both ears are affected.. quite annoying at bed time
  20. BassUrges


    Mar 14, 2016
    I have mild tinnitus from my LE days. Even with protection, 200 pistol shots in a few seconds during rapid-fire practice is loud.

    First thing I did when I picked up bass again is buy some rubber musicians plugs.
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