Ear fatigue?: I cannot recognize low notes after a while

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Ricky Caboverde, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. Ricky Caboverde

    Ricky Caboverde Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Hi guys,
    I'm not sure where this question should go, but I think it fits best here.

    As of a few weeks ago, I've noticed that I am having problems distinguishing the tone of notes lower than A-110HZ from my E string and below. Sometimes I can clearly hear the tone, but occasionally it sounds a few cents sharper to me than it really is (since I test it against the higher octave).

    Has anyone experienced this? Is this some sort of ear fatigue (this happens even during short practice sessions)? And no, my strings are fine since this has happened on both round and flat wound strings--only a few months old, each. Am I just going tone deaf at 34?! :bawl:
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Get your ears checked. It may well be the onset of high frequency hearing loss, paradoxically. You may have been inferring the root tone from overtones you no longer hear as clearly. It started happening to me pretty much as soon as I started playing loud gigs and attending loud shows. Hearing protection required if you want to keep it.
    Lownote38 likes this.
  3. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Earplugs always. Unless I am practicing alone at low volume, I wear earplugs any time I am in a room with amplification in it.

    I can't speak to your situation with any authority, but I have had a couple of instances where my tinnitus has flared up a bit, in such a way as to interfere with my ability to discern certain pitches. During those events, everything sounded out of tune for me. An ENT can educate you more than I can. Good luck!
    Lownote38 likes this.
  4. Fact of life. As we get older we lose some hearing. First to go for me was the frequencies young children speak in. Back to your original question. Solo bass is best done beyond the 12th fret. Why? Those low frequencies do not lend themselves to treble clef melody, i.e. they are hard to hear - they get muddy - I think "muddy" is what you are experiencing. Close notes at low frequencies make mud. Take some of the bass line into the next octave, i.e. use a 10 instead of a 3 will help. The 10 is an easy step away, it's always up a string, same fret, as the 7. If you had a b7 the b10 will be on the same fret, one string apart.

    Major Scale Box.
    G~~|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E~~|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    The second 3 is a 10 (8-9-10). The wider the notes are between each other less mud is produced.

    Yes check with an ENT. They would love to give you a free screening - so they can sell you some hearing aids. LOL Never just one we always seem to need two. I got by for years with only one. Long story, moving on...
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  5. Ricky Caboverde

    Ricky Caboverde Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Miami, FL
    :facepalm: this is so embarrassing....

    It was only my setup. I had changed strings a couple weeks back and only set up the saddle's height to accommodate the change but didn't check intonation. As a result, open E was in tune but as I fret from the first fret up it got sharp. I just fixed that a little while ago.

    Good news, I guess, as my ears are perfectly fine :bag:

    Thanks so much for the replies guys!
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  6. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    It's always worth getting your ears tested. I think ear fatigue does happen, I've noticed it after entire days in the studio that eventually you just start missing stuff out. It's the same with transcribing stuff as well, if I spend a good few hours in one sitting eventually I start making really silly mistakes then upon a fresh listen the next day it is as clear as a bell what I have missed out. It's nice to try and take a rest and return to it a bit later on, it's incredible the difference once you have had some time to recover.
    Ricky Caboverde likes this.

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