A lesson in stating the obvious
It seems almost daft to say it. A musician, generally speaking, needs to be able to hear what they’re playing, writing or recording. From the timbre of the sounds we’re creating through to the notes we’re using to craft our tunes, there are so many variables that rely on us being able to hear and react. So why do so few of us, relatively, count ear protection as part of our mandatory toolkit?
A cursory glance around the internet reveals some of the biggest names in music history who have either seriously damaged their hearing or, worse still, lost it completely. Phil Collins, Pete Townshend, Ozzy Osbourne. The list goes on. Admittedly these are guys whose livelihood and working circumstances dictated they spent significant periods of their lives surrounded by enormous amplifier stacks, drum kits or PA systems, yet I’ll bet you any money they’d all wish they had considered the effects of this kind of activity on their long term health. The most frustrating thing? There are quite simple steps anyone can take to guard against future problems.
Tinnitus sounds like a particularly nasty affliction, a kind of aural Chinese water torture. Any period of silence you experience gets punctuated by a high pitched whistling sound that simply will not die. Imagine this, constantly, for the rest of your life. Certain medical issues and ailments sound painful, horrendous, debilitating; tinnitus just sounds properly annoying. And again, it can be prevented.
We understand why some people are apprehensive, but put simply musicians should wear ear plugs. After all, it’s vital for the musician to be able to hear and judge every frequency being output by their instrument. Older style ear plugs favoured the sledgehammer/acorn approach by simply blocking off the sound wave’s passage from the air to the ear drum. This tends to result in a pile of low-end frequencies breaking through which in turn causes the musician to over-compensate on the treble controls of the amplification source. Ever been in the front row of a gig where this has happened? It’s pretty awful, we can assure you.
Ear Plugs – for a Lifetime of Hearing
A simple set of ear plugs, ranging from standard foam plugs favoured by anyone from bar staff to motorcyclists, through to more specialised musicians ear plugs like these Fender Touring Series Ear Plugs, can be the difference between being able to hear later in life or not. Sounds dramatic but it’s true. The Fender ear plugs, which feature all manner of filters and attenuation to reduce volume without killing a sound, are designed specifically so no frequency is overly muffled. Rather, the entire spectrum is cut slightly – enough to hear what’s going on, but not so much that you can only pick up the bass.
We know it’s a bit ‘safe’ and ‘uncool’ to worry about your hearing. After all, when did rock n’ roll worry about such trivial matters as health and well-being. But on this particular subject, it’s well worth paying attention and considering how your activities now could impact on your quality of life in the future.