#1
Hi forums

My band has been on hiatus for a while, partially because our drummer has developed tinnitus. Not necessarily just from playing drums- he does lots of loud things. He's had it for a little while now, and felt like he wanted to try drumming again.

So we had our first jam in a few months, and I could tell it was bothering him. He played with an earplug in his bad ear and when he took it out afterwards, he said the ringing sharply increased in volume for a few seconds, amongst other discomforts. He looked pretty shaken up, I'm very worried about him.

He normally plays an electric kit, but the kit in our practice space is acoustic. He reckons he could make it work with an electric.

Does anyone here have tinnitus, or play with someone that does? Is there any hope for a tinnitus sufferer in a rock band?
#2
Got it. Ear plugs for protection are the only way if you value your hearing. Once it's gone, it's gone.
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#3
I've had tinnitus since I was very young. Just tell him that it sucks, but it's something you get used to, it just takes time. It depends on how bad it is though. Mine probably isn't too bad since I can still hear just fine, but there is always a ringing. Although it doesn't usually get worse with more noise.
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#4
I have it but only a little bit. It doesn't affect my quality of life at all. However, my doctor said if I wanted I could check out a thing called "Tinnitus retraining therapy" which he says works for a lot of people. I don't really know what it is, or what it does, but it's worth looking into I suppose.
#5
I think he's getting used to the general everyday ringing, although obviously it still bothers him. But it seems to get a lot worse after drumming, even with earplugs. I don't want him to injure himself- for someone that loves music so much, I can't imagine much worse than losing your hearing.

Can he ever really deal with the volume level of a live show if he can only just endure an acoustic kit with earplugs?
#6
The stage volume level of a live show can be adjusted. Most, these days, are adjusting it downward. And a LOT of people are wearing in-ear-monitors that allow you to hear everything you need to at much lower volumes.

Neal Schon famously has tinnitus, partly, he believes, because he's always ridden very loud Harleys. Even though he plays with five 4x12s arrayed across the stage, these are turned way down and are largely just there to give him a feeling of playing in a room in the arena settings he's used to with Journey. Most of the sound the audience hears comes from electronics (Axe-FX II's, etc.)

At one point our rehearsals sounded to someone walking in "like a bunch of guys shouting at each other with one guy making tapping noises." Everything, including modeled guitars, bass, keys and electric drums, were fed into a mixer and from there into IEMs. We eventually moved to acoustic drums with electric pads and added a bit of live monitor noise, but that's about it. The PA output can be whatever's needed.
#7
You mention he had an earplug in the 'bad ear'... he wasn't wearing them in both? And what sort of ear plugs are these - cheap, foam disposable ones?

I have tinnitus, this is the third year since I noticed it being there for good now, and I still play in a band (gigging regularly, and rehearsing most weekends). I cope better with the ringing than ever, and I don't think music has made it any worse since I started taking better care.

Before he gives in, tell him to see a specialist (it sounds to me like fear of making it worse is making it appear worse, which is something I imagine we all go through at first) as he doesn't want to become 'afraid' of noises to the point where they ruin his day to day life because he's bracing against any potential volume.

He should also get some good earplugs, they make a huge difference vs the crappy foam ones. There's some called 'noizezz' that aren't too expensive (maybe $20 for US people?) that you can choose from several attenuation levels (he'll wanna try orange or red first) and the pack arrives with the filters and four different sized blank 'plugs' though he'll probably need the biggest size as the smaller ones tend to let sound in as soon as you open your mouth to sing or speak etc. unless he has tiny earholes.


Tinnitus is horrible when you first get it, and something everyone wishes they could 'turn back the clock' and be more careful before they get it, but you just have to learn to accept that it's there and instead of depressing yourself thinking 'what if?', you have to be positive and with each bit of progress (managed to be distracted from the noise in a relatively quiet room, when watching tv, for 15 mins maybe, when first struggling to ignore it, before moving on to being able to get to sleep when pillow is covering ear with bad ringing etc.) and build up your confidence again that it is something you can get through.

Realistically, for a young person now if you still have good hearing you just have to focus on protecting your ears when you should (forget going to gigs/clubs/rehearsals etc. without wearing decent earplugs, or operating loud machinery etc.) and teaching yourself to stay positive about it instead of dwelling on it - you build a downward spiral of negativity if you let it bring you down, and that stress only makes you notice the ringing more, and focus on it more...

PM me if you want more detailed advice on it for your friend, as it's something I care a lot about and researched a lot (last visit, before they signed me off from checkups, my specialist joked I know more about it than most of the trainee audiologists she'd encountered lol), but it's not the end of the world and as long as your friend can protect his hearing, it's even easier to battle (the more external noise you hear, the easier it is to allow everyday ambient noise to distract you from the ringing).
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#8
My dad developed it in his mid 50s. He played drums and went to a ton of concerts. He gathers that this played a major role, though, he barely played drums after age 30.


I recently moved into a house with a recording studio, and now that I'm playing within 8 feet of a drummer and bass player, I am quickly seeing the need for eae protection.
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#9
Get some good ear plugs made for music playing and use them in both ears.

Regular earplugs have so much frequency loss everything just sounds like shit with music, it's probably worth the 20-40 for some ones that don't take out as much of the music.