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Hearing Damage

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by RJRoper, Apr 4, 2001.

  1. I know there has to be others bass players that have had this problem and I’d like some advice on how you’ve dealt with it.
    In the band I play with we have one guy (who will remain nameless) who starts out at a reasonable volume, but as the night goes on he keep turning up, needless to say at the end off the night it’s painfully LOUD. We have told him over and over about the volume, but he just can’t seem to help himself and continues to crank it up.
    So I figure the next best thing for me to do is get some earplugs, I’m just not sure what kind of earplugs I should use. I know there are plenty of different kinds out there but is there anything on the market that is better suited for filtering out all the high volume painful stuff but still let you hear the music well enough to play.
  2. BassicRob


    Mar 28, 2001
    Massapequa, NY
    My viewpoint is, the more money you spend on your earplugs, the better you are. They are your ears, after all. You only get two.
    I have the ones that have the metal diaphragm thingy in it, and the ridges. Usually go for $10-15 or something and they sound pretty good and come with a little case. Those stupid foam things cover up everything, making it impossible to hear yourself.
    Or just get rid of the obnoxious guy. Thats what I did in my band and havent touched my earplugs since. :)
  3. phil_chew


    Mar 22, 2000
    Get rid of the guy. Or threaten him with assault. After all, he is assaulting your ear-drums. And damaged ear-drums are irreplaceable, unlike your equipment.

    I've always felt that if you have to use earplugs or shout at the top of your voice to communicate with your fellow band member standing right next to you, it means the band is too loud.

    Protect your ears.
  4. Why not start at the loud volume? If thats not practical do what we do. We get the singer to stand there while we jame and if somone creeps up he turns it down to keep the balance right. If its soo much of a problem we turn the offending person all the way down. They get the point sooner or later.


    Plus you should wear earplugs anyway.
  5. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Loose the guy, or at least his cord - after a few, he'd get the message.

    And keep a low volume, especially in rehearsal, when you need to hear every nuance and be able to talk while playing. Then you get confident enough to keep it low at gigs, to the benefit of the audiences ears....

    Still, go to an audiologist and get good, custom fitted plugs!

    Also: see and abide what Pacman sais here:

    And DO IT NOW !! (yellin', in case the damage has begun...)
  6. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Get yourself a decent pair of ear plugs and NEVER..NEVER...NEVER do what I did one night at a gig with the loudest drummer I ever had the misfortune to gig with, after the first song myself and the keyboardist decided to stick the earplugs in only trouble was I'd forgotten mine and he only had one of his..so we did the next best thing...soaked some tissue paper in water and stuck that in our ears!!!!!!...needless to say two weeks of being stone deaf taught us a lesson..we were lucky cos our hearing did gradually return...not an experience I'd wish on anyone.

    ("So I stuck a partition in front of me, turned my back and slapped the line......and they never knew it went down".....Chuck Rainey on the recording of Peig for Steeley Dan)
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    The earplugs are what you need, regardless of what you do with the volume offender. You'll run into another guy like that sooner or later, guaranteed. Many times, your own volume will be loud enough to damage your hearing anyway. You need these not only while gigging, but at any high volume event like concerts, etc.

    A good set of fitted, pro-quality plugs (not cheapies, they're worthless) is the best and most important investment in gear you'll ever make. See an audiologist or an Ear-Nose-Throat doctor to have molds made of your ear canals and have them fitted with filters such as the ER-15 or ER-25.

    Don't make the same mistake many of us older players have made....buy the protectors NOW, before you have hearing problems you can't get rid of. Once it's gone, it doesn't come back. It always baffles me why some guys are willing to spend thousands on bass gear, but balk at spending $150 on quality hearing protection. Don't they realize that without their ability to hear all the gear in the world is useless???
  8. I appreciate all the great advice. Getting rid of this guy is really not an option, as he is, for the most part, the bandleader. The best option for me is to get the earplugs. So it’s off to the doctor for a hearing test and fitting for the best earplugs I can afford. Thanks again for all the help.

  9. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Ears! Oh my! Such a sensitive topic!

    I went to an audiologist back in late 1993 and had a pair of musician earplugs custom molded. Let me tell you that they are WONDERFUL!:D

    What they do, at least in theory, is to reduce all frequencies by an even 15db across the board. While I'm not sure this is totally correct, these plugs don't really cut the highs as much as you'd expect: you can still hear 'em:D They're just not as loud!:D

    Definitely get a pair! For about $100-$150, you can't go wrong! After all, your ears are the cheapest and most useful part of being a musician!
  10. Get rid of the loser, he's out of control. I play professionally with several bands, and if someone did that to me, I would refuse to play with them again. Bassplayers are in demand, guitar players and drummers are not. Also, custom molded earplugs designed to fit YOUR ears are a Godsend.
  11. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    Just wondering, does this guy drink while he plays?
    I play with a drummer who always has to get TWO mudslides everytime he goes to the bar. As you might guess, the more he drinks, the louder he gets(the band leader is guilty of this also, although he's not as bad a s the drummer.)
    Just a thought.
  12. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    There is a physiological reason for what your guitarist is doing. When one listens to a certain high volume for a certain length of time (which varies from person to person), one's ears appear to adjust to that volume making it sound lower than it really is.

    This phenomenon results in a "volume creep" in which one soon turns up the volume until it happens again, then they turn up again, etc. until sound levels that would be killer to someone just walking into the room are reached but are hardly noticed by the person who has been there a long time.

    Many bands are guilty of this even in rehearsals. The band starts out at a comfortable sound level, but sooner or later, one turns up the volume a notch, so the others have to and the volume creep begins to augment higher and higher with each cycle.

    I'm guilty of this with my own car radio, for example. I start out my journey, but within minutes decide the radio needs to go higher, then higher...the longer the journey. I reach my destination, leave the car, shop or whatever, return to the car, hit the "Play" button and nearly blow my ears off. Why? Because while out of the car, my ears readjusted. When I get back in...I can hardly believe I was able to stand the radio or tape player that loud. I turn it down, but within minutes, I turn it up and so on.

    My ears have taken a beating over the years and I NEED high volumes to even hear very well--a sure fire sign of diminished hearing capacity, but I am fifty-seven years old. Your guitarist may have already suffered some capacity himself--having damaged his ears from playing at high volumes, so now he needs to turn up ever higher to the extent it is painful to his bandmates.

    Talk to him about this habit of his and tell him how it is hurting your ears. Hearing is one of the musician's most valuable tools, yet a tool that can be permanently damaged. Tell your guitarist Jason Oldsted's ears ring twenty-four/seven and NEVER stop ringing. Tell him there is not now a known cure for that interminable ringing.

    Ask him if that is what he wants, because that is what he is going to get, if he hasn't already. Also, tell him that is NOT what you want and do not intend to get. Protect your ears with ear plugs. But know that even though I always wore them, I STILL damaged my hearing. If the guitarist insists on playing the "volume creep" game, he goes or you go. Simple as that.

    jason oldsted
  13. Hey Murf you put wet tissues in your ears?! whoa and u didn't get like a ear infection from having water in your ears? ffaarrr(out) lol.

    My ears have become soo sensitive. Ten minutes of loud music and my ears ring. i would be setting up at rehearsal and fishing around for my ear plugs while the lead guitarist is going nutz warming up. by the time i get them my ears are ringing, and ring for the whole night. Because my ear plugs are ok, all i hear is the ringing in my head. lol

  14. NJXT


    Jan 9, 2001
    Lyon, FRANCE
    Get ear plugs, man !
    I recently started rehearsing / gigging with ear plugs and :
    1) I don't get anymore high ringing sounds in my ears (permanent damage !)
    2) I'm half less tired after playing
    3) I play "cooler" because I don't fear anymore the "snare drum attacks" or larsens.
    4) I can hear much clearer all the instruments and nuances in playing.
    Overall, I play better with ear plugs.
  15. Newman


    Jun 6, 2000
    I'm not old or experienced enough to make reccomendations but I do have a few questions of my own about ears and earplugs.

    1. Is it the lows or the highs that damage your ears? Like for a drummer, everytime he hits the snare really hard I blink and it almost hurts be. Not anywehere close to the same feeling when he hits the bass drum really hard.

    2. Once again, I'm only young and in a band AND go to alot of concerts. I don't want my ears to be damaged when im going into my 30's but I don't wanna be that kid who wears earplugs to a concert and especially when I'm in front of people playing. I'm planning on buying some cheapy earplugs for rehearsals because I don't want to damage my hearing but I don't wanna dish out more then $30 (don't tell me i should because I'm definately not gonna go to an ear specialist and pay $150 for some anytime soon)

    3. Is it possible to get earplugs under $50 that are kind of... well... invisible? I'd kill myself if I had to play a concert with a pair of those dorky crap plugs that barely work.
  16. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Newman, do you EVER have it all wrong, dude! Why in the world would you care more about what somebody else thinks than about your own health/hearing? Anyone, and I mean ANYBODY who would say or think less of you because you chose to protect your most valuable asset as a bassist is just plainly an idiot. No bones about it...a fool. Why would you care about the opinion of a fool?

    There's nothing "dorky" about playing gigs with plugs. Check closely, and you'll see a large percentage of major players using them. If you don't, I can guarantee you you'll regret it. This comes from personal experience. I didn't use them when on tour, but it was due to ignorance. I'd give anything to go back and change that now.

    Worried about feeling like a "dork"? Try having to ask everybody to repeat themselves at least twice, and soon having your bad hearing become a joke among everyone you know. How about having to have your wife or girlfriend whisper all the dialog in a movie so you can keep up with what's going on. It won't take very many of those "painful" snare cracks and you'll be there...it's a fact.
  17. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Good question! The answer is that both can damage your ears! Highs generally are reproduced with much greater efficiency, which makes it SEEM that the highs are hurting your ears. However, lows can do as much damage to your ears. The danger is that in order to reproduce the same perceived volume in lows as you'd hear in higher frequencies, you need to crank up the volume a lot more. Therefore, the decible rating on the lows may actually be higher than you think, which can trick your ears into thinking the lows are not as loud as you think they [the lows] are. Therefore, this is very tricky, and always pay attention to your ears!;)

    If you're not going to an audiologist to spend $150, either buy the cheapies, which will at least protect your ears but make everything sound muffled, or plan on getting fitted for much more expensive hearing aids! As a musician, if you're not paying homage to the most sacred part of your musical tools (your ears) because you don't want to look dorky, then I don't feel the least bit sorry for you!

    Invisible? The foam ear plugs that you can buy for about $3 will protect your ears. But, they make everything sound really muffled...there's lots of different options. Maybe you can check with an audiologist for recommendations.
  18. Newman


    Jun 6, 2000
    oh did i mention i don't even think we have a audioligist on our stupid province. I live in a small town in P.E.I. and i doubt there's one anywhere near here. I'm gonne try to find a decent pair of earphones maybe around $30 that don't just kill the sound and don't stick out to much. keep the replys comin!
  19. At your next gig, try turning way down. Keep your volume down for several songs. See what the rest of your band does, especially your drummer. I've done this and it REALLY sends a message. This way, hopefully you will have the rest of the band on your side when you confront your guitarist.
  20. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Newman,,,How much would you consider paying for your axe and rig?

    Prepare to pay triple of that for hearing aids.
    Or, pay what it takes preserve your hearing.

    I've got a *very slight* tinnitus. Not much at all, compared to what others say. It still keeps me awake at nights. I still have to ask people to repeat themselves a lot. I still have a major drop in hearing at about 3kHz.

    All that because I once was young and thought I was Superman, or something.
    You'd find, that a lot of us "midlife" aged would like to go back and turn the volume down....

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