Bassists…Why You Need to Protect Your Hearing! (L#119)

Bassists…Why You Need to Protect Your Hearing! (L#119)

Hey, how are you doing? Scott here from
If you haven’t been to the website yet, make sure you do so straight after this lesson
because that is hours and hours of free lessons just like this. And if you sign up as well
and become a subscriber, you get access to the backing track library so you can download
the backing track that you’ve just heard and a hundred other backing tracks, however many
there are. I’m not sure. You can also get access to special member only videos as well. So today, I want to talk about protecting
your hearing. It is a big deal if you’re going to . . . You know, I’m hoping you’re looking
into the future and you’re seeing yourself playing bass for years. If you are doing that
and you are looking at gigging or you are already gigging, you need to take into consideration
your ears. It’s something I wish I’d done years ago. I’ve definitely got a few ear problems.
Well, not a few ear problems, but I’ve definitely got, you know, diminished hearing slightly
in my right ear, and that is because of all the drummers that I’ve been standing next
to, okay? Imagine it. You know, if you just listen to a drummer play on his own without
playing your bass, they’re incredibly loud. So just imagine standing there for, you know,
an hour, two hours right next to the drummer. I always stand on the hi-hat side of the drum
kit. So where the drums are played, that’s where I’m standing, next to that because I
feel that that is the most consistent instrument that they’re playing of all the instruments,
it’s the drum kit. You know, that’s where I want to stand next to so I can really lock
in with that. Well, the problem is that you’ve always got
the drums on one side of your head, on your right hand side if the drummer is right-handed.
If he’s left-handed, it’ll be the other side. But bearing in mind that, you know, a lot
of drummers are right-handed. You generally have the drums on your right-hand side. And
because of this, this is why I really recommend wearing ear plugs, especially on loud gigs.
But even on, you know, gigs that aren’t so loud, try and get ear plugs. I use an ear
plug for this ear a lot of the time. If it’s more of a jazz gig, obviously, you know, I
don’t because the volumes are really low. But any rough gigs or front gigs where the
drummers are really cracking the snare, anything like that, I get an ear plug in this ear. I have molded ear plugs. I think they cost
about $150. I know that’s expensive. What you do is you go to the place that does them,
and they put molds in your ears and then, they send those molds away and the ear plugs
are installed within the molds. The more expensive ones like this, essentially, they take the
entire volume of the band down, but they keep all the frequencies the same. Because if you
use cheaper ear plugs, and I use cheaper ear plugs as well sometimes, certain frequencies
tend to get cut out, essentially the top end frequencies get cut out. So you get a lot
of bass and middle but not so much top end. So that’s why I got the more expensive ones.
But if you don’t want to get the more expensive ones, that’s fine. For years, I have just
used the spongy ones that you kind of roll up and push into your ears. I’ve used them
as well. And, you know, you can use them in both ears. Depending on where you are in the
band, you can pop them in both ears. And then maybe, if it’s too much, just take them out
a little bit. Pull them out. Ease them out just so you can hear exactly what’s going
on or your ears aren’t getting hammered all the time. You really got to listen and look
out after your ears. The main cause of, you know, problems that
people have with their ear is something called Tinnitus, which is a whistling, it’s like
a ‘whiiing,’ all the time. If you’re unfortunate to get Tinnitus, it’s a real pain in the ass
to get rid of. A few friends of mine, drummers, have got Tinnitus, and in fact, two friends
of mine have actually stopped playing live because of it, because they just don’t want
to risk that ringing in the ears coming back, you know. They’re doing more studio work now.
So it can have that much of an effect on your playing. It can, you know, stop two of my
friends playing. They’re just doing studio work now because they don’t want to risk it
coming back. So really look after your ears. Get some ear
plugs, and even if you end up on a gig, I’ve forgotten my ear plugs before, both. I didn’t
have the little spongy ones. I didn’t have the molded ones, and it was a loud gig as
well. It was a thump gig. I just thought, “You know what, I’m not going on stage without
protecting this ear. I’m sitting right next to the drummer.” And I literally got some
toilet roll out of the toilet roll, you know, and then just pushed it in this ear just to
take that vicious top end out of the snare and the hi-hat when you stand next to the
drummer. So next time you’re on a gig, make sure you
take ear plugs into that situation with you if you need to. If you’re doing a jazz gig,
it’s fine. You can kind of style it out. Also, if you’re listening to your iPod, don’t crank
it too loud. Keep it, you know, within sort of, like, you know, a nice level. It’ll really
pay off in the long-run. So hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this little tip today. If you have,
shoot over the website. You can get the backing track that you heard me playing with at the
beginning of this lesson as well, and there’s hours and hours of other lessons for you to
check out as well, everything from my beginner to super advanced. There will be something
there for you. Other than that, take it easy. Subscribe to my YouTube channel. If you like
this tip, click “like” below. I’ll see you soon, take it easy, and get in the shed.

57 Replies to “Bassists…Why You Need to Protect Your Hearing! (L#119)”

  1. Crackin' tip Scott! I was always too cool for ear protection and made fun of the drummer for using ear plugs.

    About 10 years ago I developed an ear infection which ended up bursting my left ear drum – I actually fell over my bass amp during a gig because of it! Needless to say it made me take the whole ear protection thing a bit more seriously…

  2. Hey Scott, quick question do you recommend any decent but budget in ear monitors? E.g budget under £100? Amazing videos helped me out a ton! 🙂

  3. Guys take this tip seriusly! I've been playing bass for many years and after one year on a music school where I play many houres a day with a live band I got the summing in my ears as well :/ In the beginning it was stopping me from sleeping but I've have learned to live with it now. Get some good ear protection now! BTW good video 😉  

  4. Great tip and very important.  I got some ACS ER25 (-25db) plugs made up.  I went to a local hearing centre who also did a free test to determine any issues, luckily i had survived my youthful music blasting!  I think alot of Boots Opticians supply them too.  
    They take a mold of your ear which gets sent off for your plugs to be made.  Then you can select whichever filter you want (-25db, -15db, -9db).  I went for the -25db filter but wish i had gone with the -15db filter as i think the -25 is a bit much for a bassist and takes too much away.  The filters are removable so i plan to get a -15db filter in the future.  If You go this route they also keep a record of your ear mold so if you want in ear monitors in the future you don't need to get another mold done.  If i remember correctly it cost £148 all in.  Not cheap but when you think of it as going deaf or paying £148, it's a bargain.  I play with a live band 2+ times a week for a couple of hours a time. Use them for any loud environment now though.

  5. Great advice. Too bad when I was younger I valued my ego over my ears as I thought ear plugs made me look stupid. Years of clubbing in Berlin have definitely paid it's toll.

  6. Thank you very much, Scott for making me aware of this!
    Up until now I even argued with the rest of the band if it was really necessary to use ear plugs live and I would have gone on without them if it wasn't for you!

  7. Couldn't agree more with wearing earplugs.

    Working in a studio in a youth centre, I get kids playing as loud as they can for the fun of it all the time, add that with the workshops, the band practice, the live gigs, the college and even home practice.

    Since my first trip to hospital (left ear) I haven't stopped wearing earplugs all the time

    Musicians/concert goers


  8. I use Hearos about $15.  They work very well and I still hear all the frequencies, just quieter. I do have tininess   or slight ringing in my ears from Marshall amps and my old SVT with 2 810 cabs. Thanks for more words of wisdom!

  9. I have inexpensive (but not cheap) plugs that don't cut out too much of the high frequency range. They are called "MusicSafe" and last for 5 years easily (one pair I have for more than 10 years now). I also use them under my motorcycle helmet, on concerts and in clubs.
    Hardly anyone ever discovered them and if so, I never had anyone make fun of me for wearing them. I guess I'm just too intimidating 😉
    Thanks Scott. Pure gold as always.

  10. Hey, really important advice. Everyone who loves music should do it. I have plugs from Alpine, for 20€ and they are very good. Almost frequency-neutral.

  11. Great Scott !!! I have Tinnitus from my spoiled ex wife screaming in my ear for four years… I finally buried her in the backyard; with the others.

  12. I bought a pair of custom-fit plugs several years ago, and they've been fantastic.  I got them for playing with my band, but I take them to concerts as well.  Because they're frequency-neutral, you hear the music very enjoyably, but when I leave I pull the plugs out and I can still hear the crickets chirping outside.

    One thing: before I got the custom plugs, I used a couple of different types of regular plugs, and I got pretty used to the sound of the band that way.  As a bass player, I sort of liked them because I could hear the bass better than the other instruments.  Almost like having a personal mix!  But in the end I prefer playing with the neutral plugs, because I can hear the others much better and fit my playing in with theirs.

  13. Just bought a set of Alpine dual attenuation plugs ($17.00) based on your recommendation.  I've had tinnitus for many years but shunned the little orange rubber plugs as they cut the sound down way too much.  Thanks once again for all you do.

  14. Oh man, one of my friends who I work with is a singer, he NEVER wears ear plugs, his hearing is knackered. Constantly misses things I tell him at work. The amount of times I've told him about wearing ear plugs at practice and he still doesn't! Metal band too so it's very loud. I wear whatever ear protection I can, I actually find it painful to not wear any plugs whilst in a room with a loud band. 

  15. ETY-plugs are fantastic for people who want a cheaper alternative (about $13 bucks) that doesn't cut frequencies.  I use them on all my gigs and after a while I forget I'm wearing them simply because of how normal the sound is.  I also find that I can hear clearly enough to talk with the other band members between tunes without having to remove them, but since they are tethered together, it's very easy to pull one out and let it drop onto your shoulder and then quickly put it back in as it's danging right there.

    I just wish bands didn't feel the need to have such a high stage volume.  Sometimes I wonder if it's because they have all made themselves partially deaf and now just need to keep cranking it up to compensate.

  16. we use inner ear monitors in my band, which effectively do the same thing.  I usually keep one out so I can hear the ambience.  We even had a gig where I went direct into the board and the bass was only coming through the mains and our inner ear monitors.  That was a little weird…

  17. Diminished hearing at the right ear..same problem here…drummer at the right etc. Since I started playing live again after many years I started using earplugs since the very first rehearsal with my new band. These are the moments to get used to it. Now I don't want and cannot play without my (professional) earplugs anymore. I do enjoy my gigs much more then in the 90's because I can hear myself thinking…;-). Hearing protection is important in every loud enviroments! Thanks for the video Scott!

  18. What a cool looking bass! Looks like it fell off the back of a truck haha.. still sounds great! Loving your videos, super helpful.

  19. I'd just like to point out that I used foam earplugs for years and my hearing still got damaged! I guess the bands I played with were very loud. I use the molded ones now, but the damage to my ears is PERMANENT. 

    Great video Scott!
    Hopefully some younger players will take heed. I hear the "I wish I'd listened to the warnings about protecting my hearing when I was younger" or something along those lines a lot.


  20. I've got tinnitus using earphones from Spencer Davies Group – Gimme some lovin') My right ear is ringing and it never stops. There are some low bass frequencies in that song. It's not screaming loud but it's a strong energy push on the ears. Wouldn't it be possible to construct earphones with an EQ & limiter, you could hear everything but it keeps the volume under control. I would like earphones with EQ for other reasons as well, it doesn't exist or does it?

  21. ProGuard do some lower range mouldable ear plugs for about £15-25, I have a pair and they do their job just yes you loose a little high end. I have had them for about a year now and they are still great 🙂

  22. Same here. Drummers on the right. What about really small pubs where the crash is a foot from your ear. The arsehole complains when I ask him to lower it or I move it further away even though my hearing is far more important than his crash being absolutely perfect even when I have no room to even put my bass horizontal. That sucks.

    Now I have a clicky/crunching sound after most mid frequency focused sounds in my right ear. It's the muscle twitching or the ear drum moving. Happens when watching TV and people are talking. Even now with the sound of my typing. Very annoying. Had it for years now and no one has a clue how to sort it or even what it is. I have used expensive custom moulded ear plugs for about 3 years now but did 2 years in a very active function band without and that's what did it I think.

    Not sure the advice is that great when saying you only wear them sometimes and only in one ear. Both ears for every gig should be the norm. Use lower filters if it makes it easier. I can't gig without my 25db filters now. Accidentally left them at home once and it was an awful experience.

  23. Hey Scott –

    I've got molds as well and have been warned about putting one mold (or IEM) in and the other out. Ends up being detrimental. I've found that putting my molds in early in the evening and just let my head adjust to my surroundings.
    I also play with some pretty hard hitting drummers that hit like mac trucks. I stand right next to Zigaboo Modeliste and let me tell you, he's not a young cat but he hits like he's 20!

  24. Hi Scott, would you mind telling exactly which molded ear plugs you use. You mentioned them at about 3:31 in the video. Said the cost about $150. I would really love to get a pair. Thank you.

  25. Hey Scott, thank you so much for the tip! what kind of strings did you use in this video? (i.e. flatwound, roundwound, Rotosound, D'Addario?)

  26. Excellent advice
    I don't play in a band but play back tracks at  home.
    After 30 plus years in heavy industries the old ears have taken a beating.
    So I hope you younger people pass along Scott's important message 
    Thank youThank you

  27. Just wondering if anyone can help me out. I'm fairly new to bass and I'm really enjoying Scott's lessons but I have one quick question. What is that black sort of ledge thing below his strings on his bass? I've seen basses with them, I've seen them without and mine certainly doesn't have one.

  28. I never 'hear' of too many people using them for rehearsals, yet have found this to be the time when I need them most due to room size generally being smaller than live venues. Worst thing have found for the soul band I play in is that our cheapest studio has reverb on boomy frequncies giving horrid noise levels! Am yet to work out how to master the art of protecting ears & being able to work well in there.

  29. Take it from someone who's is dealing with the symptoms from decades in the biz both on and backstage. And from playing in bands since i was a kid.  Being on production crews touring the world it was sometimes easy to forget to protect the ears. Many times we just didn't think it was that loud . But little did many of us know that it is an accumulating factor that over time slowly will haunt you. For me it finally hit a few years ago when the tinnitus settled in to stay then the hearing loss develops. It wouldn't be so bad if the tinnitus wasn't present, masking what i can still hear. Remember : There is no cure for tinnitus. Research is ongoing but they are still trying to understand how the brain tries to interpret sounds translated into electrical energy from nerves so damaged. The brain is trying to make sense of what little is coming thru via those damaged nerves sending garbled signals, hence tinnitus.  A fascinating yet very sobering read if one wants to know more, just Google it.

    So be aware, take precautions because music and communicating with your friends families etc are not worth losing because you want to turn it up a little bit more,  cause in the end you'll be turning it up just a little bit more to try and make out what your friends are saying and listening to !

  30. Get custom molded ER filters, because your ears are far more expensive than what custom molded filters cost. Plus, the sound remains practically the same the volume is just cut by a certain amount of decibels. -15dB Works great for the louder gig, a drummer might want to use -25dB. 

    Tinnitus is a b*tch… I have a slight tinnitus. I've read somewhere that it's actually a brain 'disfunction', where your brain at some point stops trying to process loud sounds and simply goes "f*ck it: beeeeeeeeeeeeeep" … 

  31. All great stuff, Scott. 🙂
    Folks, you need to know that ALL hearing damage is irreversible and permanent, and ANY time you hear any 'residual noise' in your ears (buzzing, whistling, dullness) after e.g. being at a gig or listening to your MP3 player or whatever, what you are 'hearing' is — hearing damage.
    I once had the pleasure of meeting the awesome jazz drummer Martin Drew, who told me he is now stone deaf in his left (hi-hat) ear thanks to years of gigging; so please do yourself a favour and don't end up like Martin!
    I do use earplugs when I go to concerts and some — like a Candy Dulfer one I went to a while ago — are RIDICULOUSLY OTT loud: she literally sounded better outside the hall and in the street! (And even WITH earplugs in; I genuinely couldn't handle the levels in the hall at that concert.)

  32. Hey, thanks so much for this.  I've just started playing gigs regularly and I can tell I have some tinnitus developing.  (Years of concert going doesn't help either.)  I've been getting concerned about it and wanted to do something proactive to protect my ears.  I'm hoping to use them for another 50 years or so.  Thanks! 

  33. Greatest advice! haha I also use tissue paper if I don't have anything else. It's good enough on small stages or pubs with smaller amps. I got tinnitus for 1 year after playing with my right ear towards the amp. It's horrible. Since then I always use plugs or…paper.

  34. I don't gig but I always bring earplugs whenever I go to a concert, I even bring two pairs (one good and another cheap) just in case!

  35. Also, there are cheap re-usable ear plugs that reduce the whole frequency spectrum, you can get those for something like 30$

    I don't know how they compare to the molded ones, but I have some from "Crescendo" and they're really good.
    I never play drums without them, and it will be the same if I go further with the bass

  36. Great Videos!  I've found that if you shave down a baby carrot to fit your ear, it works fantastically well.  The carrot is porous enough to allow the sound through and yet blocks the harmful volumes.  Also, you can absorb a small amount of Vitamin A into your body while you are playing by using this method.

  37. You're a star. Very sound advice. I do 3 hour rehearsals with our band and always wear ear plugs. The louder your band and the longer you play for, the more you need them.

  38. Great advise Scott, I ALWAYS wear my earplugs, been wearing them for years and can't play a gig without them !!

  39. Great video Scott – just discovered your channel, a really fantastic trove full of bass info! Quick question – can you recommend anywhere to get custom earplugs made? I have been using the spongy type ones, but would like to upgrade.

  40. Been a fan of EarPeace plugs. They reduce volume without cutting too much frequency. They are pretty cheap, ~$15 per pair…they include an extra plug, the HD version has -11db and -15db filters, and they have a nice keychain carry case so they are always with you. There are obviously better plugs, but for the price and features, i look no further. They're practically invisible in the ear, and they come in several skin tones.

  41. I'm with you brother. I, too, have more hearing loss in my right ear (thanks drummers). Because I didn't protect my hearing when I was young, I got hearing aids about 3 weeks ago.

  42. I have tinnitus and poor hearing because I thought wearing hearing protection was lame. Don't be like me. Get ear plugs.

  43. Hey Scott,

    good advice, but as a hearing aid specialist, I must say: this might not be enough. By pulling the ear plug out just a little bit, you can take it out completely aswell, it will have the same effect. When you play a loud gig with lets just say 95dB or something like that, it only takes less than an hour to damage the ear. If the pause between gigs is long enough the ear recovers (almost) completely. But if you play gigs like that every two or three nights or even just once a week, your ears don't have enough time to recover and after a while you'll have permanent damage. And hearing loss is ALWAYS permanent. Just believe me guys, the 150 bucks for customized earplugs are a damn good investment and you can use them for at least three years. Some even come with interchangable filters (second filters usually costs extra, around 60$ a pair maybe), that way you can have a light filter for small Jazz Club things and a stronger filter for the big stages.

    So please guys, always wear your earplugs from start to finish. Keep two or more sets of the cheap foamy ones in every gigbag, just in case.

    Oh, and tinnitus is permanent aswell, you just learn to live with it. 😉

    keep on groovin'

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