Do you have tinnitus or other hearing loss?

This is something I don’t know much about, so it would be cool for me as a teacher/musician to hear about it from people experiencing issues in this area. How do you feel it affects your playing / overall experience of listening to music? Any coping strategies or things that help minimize symptoms?

I have mild tinnitus from playing in bands for a good few years. Kind of annoying as it makes me fearful to go to too many gigs. Luckily mine isn’t too severe and sometimes months go by and don’t notice it…

  • If I’m stressed and/or not getting enough sleep my tinnitus hits me with a vengeance. I guess it’s a useful feedback tool to tell me to chill.

  • I’ve found magnesium reduces the symptoms. Perhaps because it’s a mineral that relaxes the body or maybe something else, I dunno. Specifically, magnesium oil like this (it can be hard increasing magnesium levels with supplements for various reasons no such problem with oil)…

  • Biggest bit of advice, use some form of earplugs when playing in loud environments. There are some great options out there that work great.

  • At this stage it doesn’t affect my experience with music but I imagine music would sound that much sweeter if I had a full range of hearing!

Would love to hear other people’s experiences


Chris - Thanks for the tips. I have occasional ringing in the ears… nothing diagnosed or that I call tinnitus yet, but I’m sure it’s there.
Earplugs - yes.

One thing that blows me away is - sound engineers. I’ve never seen a professional sound engineer put in earplugs, and they listen to more loud music than any of us. Every night. And THEIR job is to dial in the sound for optimal listening. What is life like for those folks??

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I have serious hearing loss. Part loud music but mostly from the Marine Corps. I wear hearing aids. When I play I just turn the hear aids off and they serve as an ear plug. I also have a pair of custom ear pugs that I bought at a motorcycle rally that work great. Protect your hearing everyone, it’s important!

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Interesting! Maybe the sound of tinnitus should be called “The Chill-Out Song.” :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes! I should talk more about how much I love custom molded earplugs sometime. Total game changer for me.

Right? Seems like the best thing to do as a live sound engineer would be to learn your craft using custom molded plugs, so that putting in plugs doesn’t “mess up your ear.” Because getting ear damage over time WILL mess up your ear. Like a story I heard about mixing/mastering in the 80’s being heavily affected by the widespread use of cocaine among engineers (and musicians of course) and how that affected their perception of the high end and stuff - does anyone know more about that? I’m remembering this from like half a story I heard once in a studio.

So 24 years in the military including 3 in an artillery unit. As much as the military actually cares about hearing protection (and they actually do) you just can’t have your hearing protection in ALL the time. Despite plenty of good hearing protection and constant preaching about using it, I don’t know a single person of my, ahem… “vintage” in the military who doesn’t have at least high frequency hearing loss and tinnitus to some degree.

But man those howitzers in the artillery unit back in the 90’s. One shot is 171db. That’s 21 db louder than an airliner taking off. And they’d shoot a “battery 4” mission, so 6 howitzers firing simultaneously on the first round followed by 18 more rounds as fast as the gun crews could manage. I was a combat medic, not on the gun line… so sometimes I didn’t get any warning that a fire mission was about to start… no way could I get my hearing protection in place in time. I’d just have to slap my hands over my hears and hope for the best. Obviously I have pretty severe tinnitus now.


@JoshFossgreen I lost about 15-20% of my hearing last year due to the radiation and chemotherapy for my throat cancer. I struggle sometimes to make out different tones and sounds, but musically it hasn’t affected me that much, other than I can’t distinguish the low E from the low F.
Also, as I commented to you in another post (regarding what you should do in your next course), when you speak on your videos I have a hard time telling whether you are saying G string, D string, or E string.
Ironically, being married to a deaf person, I’ve already become accustomed to using closed captioning on the television.


Yeah that’s interesting. Is there a way I could language it, or enunciate it differently that would make it pop out better for your hearing situation?


My suggestion in my comment back then was to either enunciate it more clearly, or even better, pop some graphics on the screen. With your clever and innovative sense of humor, I’m sure you could come up with some fun graphics :rofl:

Truly, I didn’t have that much of a problem when you said the E string because your hand was clearly on the E string. But the D and G strings being so close together, it was hard to tell which one you were plucking.

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Ah sorry, I didn’t look at the other thread again. Suggestion definitely noted for the future. Maybe I should sing their names operatically at the correct pitch every time? :stuck_out_tongue:


I played bass in the seventies, when hearing protection was an unknown entity.
We rehearsed in a small cellar under a church.
We had a drummer who was permanently cranked up to eleven.

According to my local hearing care professional, my tinnitus is at a level that he would expect it to drive me crazy – but it doesn’t. It’s a constant ring at around 8000 Hz, or rather, it’s two rings, slightly out of tune, so it oscillates.

The net result is that

  • I have trouble following conversations in noisy environments, and
  • everything from 8000 Hz upwards gets drowned out by my tinnitus.

When under stress or in noisy, busy environments, it worsens to the point where it doesn’t exactly drive me crazy, but it does get out of the background and gets irritating. The only way out is… get this… listening to music.

But then again, listening to music (as in “real listening”, not using it as background noise) has been a coping mechanism for as long as I can remember, so there may be some psycho-somatic pollution here.

I have no trouble whatsoever understanding you in your videos, and my overall experience of listening to music has not changed.

Having said that, I am a firm advocate of using hearing protection.


I have constant ear ringing from the military as well. I also totally get lost in high levels of ambient noise. As another poster stated earlier, MUSIC doesn’t work the same way. I can hear it no problem. The ambient noise thing really comes into play when your trying to have a conversation in a loud room. My guess is because al of the voice frequencies are about the same. A single voice speaking is no problem, different types of sounds mixed together are no problem. As far as a solution goes, I feel whats happening on stage more so than hear it.
For that reason I like having my amp or a monitor pretty close for the vibration and in ear rigs I’ve used all seem to be difficult at best. If I’m in a situation where they don’t want gear on stage like many church settings, I just try and position myself close to the subs.


My buddy plays drums and in addition to the usual age deterioration curve for age 67 has the static and crackling type of tinnitus due to having had an acoustic neuroma that was zapped with radiation. He reports the noise tinnitus to be far more annoying than the already annoying tone tinnitus. It’s better or worse and he constantly attempts to guess causality, usually determining that what he thought was a cause turns out to be random or otherwise more complicated. It seems consistent that road noise from a long car trip is a consistent trigger. It seemed that having his head under water swimming was a calming factor for tinnitus, but he developed a rash from the chlorine and had to quit. One explanation is that the ear makes it’s own noise when not receiving enough stimulus (different than what happens with road noise). When he first got a hearing aid the tinnitus seemingly ceased almost completely. It has crept back in since. He still seems to think it’s better with the hearing aid, but not nearly as good as when he first got it. It’s all very difficult to isolate and track down. What’s interesting is that I can verify his critical listening skills are completely in tact He makes very detailed accurate observations about music that most people would never be able to articulate. He can’t hear the hihat in many recordings, but it doesn’t change his ability to observe if the tonal balance is off when evaluating gear. I don’t think he fully believes me when I tell him how good his end perceptions are despite his measurable physical limitations. He doesn’t report any reduction in the enjoyment of music, only the fear that overdoing either playing or listening will trigger the noise and crackling, so he still listens with careful attention to how much he thinks he is loading his ears.


Too many loud shows and clubs when I was young and dumb. Constant tinnitus in both ears since my 20s.