Protect your hearing.
I’d like to start by first stating that your hearing once damaged does not heel itself. If you cause and keep causing significant damage you WILL develop tinnitus or worse may end up losing your hearing all together.
Experts say that hearing damage occurs at sounds louder than 85 decibels for an extended period of time (a phone rings at around 70db). I believe this is estimated at more than 6-7 hours. But an average drum stroke kicks out around 125db with cymbals being a tad higher. To put this into context it’s the same as An Ambulance siren, pneumatic drill, heavy machinery or a jet plane on ramp. Hearing damage will start to occur after around 4-5 minutes without protection if exposed directly to this. This isn’t to say that after that time you will notice it. The build up of damage could take years before you will notice it happening. But when you do it will be too late.
A rock concert can hit around 140db which is the same as standing directly behind A aircraft on take off. Ouch!! I never understand why musicians of a matter of course don’t wear earplugs for gigs and extended practice sessions. There seems to be this stigma that ear plugs are not cool. Well I’d rather save my hearing so I can still play at 70 years young. Than be considered cool. That or they just haven’t been educated in how damaging high db’s can be. Which I think should be towards the top of the list for any educator?
O and so you know An increase of six decibels equals a doubling of noise produced (a noise level of 96 decibels is twice as harmful as a noise level of 90 decibels).
So how can we protect against this. Get some ear plugs! I know foam plugs don’t cut the mustard as while they protect your ears they muddy the sound and can make the whole experience of playing feel like you are inside a big tin can.
I use specific musician ear plugs. I would recommend custom fitted ones if you are doing daily practices and gigs as these offer the best protection. But they can be costly and start at around £130. But can you put a price on your hearing?
The plugs im using at the moment are fairly cheep. They are the ACS ER20’s. All I have to say is for the price of £5.99 from Amazon you have no excuses not to get them. I use them for both Practice and for gigging (which I don’t do a lot of these days. So they are adequate for my needs, Yours maybe different) they work by reducing the overall volume of the environment not by muffling the sound. It’s like someone turning the volume knob down on the whole room. You can still here every instrument and people talking still comes through nice and clear so you don’t have to keep removing them. Basically the volume goes down from say 10-5 with these earplugs in. Which in turn protects your ears. The quality of the plugs is brilliant. They also come with the handy carry case you can see in the picture to help keep them safe and the neck strap to stop you losing them should one fall out. I have 2 pairs, the first in my stick bag the other hung on my kit. I would recommend them to anyone.
But as I stated before do your own research into this and find out what you need to protect you. Im not a doctor so can’t give you definites. Everyone’s situation is different, as such require different equipment.
I would just like to add its not just the Drums that create this much noise. The Guitars are also close to around the 125db mark. The base guitar been a tad lower. I would recommend everyone in the band wears earplugs.
Another way to save your ears is to get everyone in the band to turn there amps down by 1 notch (in fact get them to have ago at that as a matter of couse it helps in more ways than just saving your ears) . Also tell your drummer to play down. You don’t have to smack the hell out of them all the time. Try lighter sticks, this will also improve your wrist muscles.
Thanks to James Grice for taking the Pictures for me.
Posted on December 5, 2011, in Drumming Bits and Bobs. and tagged Adam Bennett, DB's, Drum Teaching, Drum technique, Drumming, Earplugs, Hearing, Music, Protection, Recording Drums, Recording Music. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.