Your ear-holes (canals), that is!
Hearing protectors – you should buy some. I’ve got some slight scarring on my right ear-drum, likely due to too many loud concerts when younger. The last thing I want to happen is for tinnitus to develop. With tinnitus, you hear a constant ringing ALL OF THE TIME. It never stops. I had a mild case years ago (likely before my ear drum healed up) and let me tell you, it was AWFUL. You really don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and I really missed the “sound of silence”. I used to think the cause was a hole in the ear-drum but supposedly that’s not necessarily the case (disclaimer: I’m not a health expert). Have you ever had ringing in your ears after a gig – possibly lasting until the next morning? Every time you get that, it can cause permanent damage. The noise levels at gigs these days can be horrendous and I’m always shocked to see people standing right in front of amplifiers at the front of a gig. I think it’s very irresponsible both of the artist and the venue!
It’s not macho to damage your hearing. If you’re a musician, it’s even worse as your hearing will get worse quicker so you wont hear the same thing as you used to years before! I visited my local audiologist and had moulds made of my ear canal. These got sent off and I’m now the proud owner of ACS Pro 17 earplugs (17dB attenuation). I encourage you to check them them out (or anything similar). They’re barely noticeable when inserted into the ears and after band practice and every gig I play or attend, I never hear any ringing and I feel a LOT better for having protected my hearing.
There is an even better way to do things if you gig, and I’m guilty of NOT doing this. I tend to stand in front of my loud amplifier with the hearing protection in – the amplifier has to be loud to reach the back of the room and it’s not ideal for those high-intensity sound waves to be pounding away at you. A better way is to mic up the amplifier (to the mixing desk and then through the PA) such that it’s not blaring at you, and use in-ear monitors (the sound guy can route a mix back to you through your ear-plugs!) – again, ACS earplugs can handle this. If you have a good sound guy, it’s also a much better way to control the sound at a venue.
One bit of bad news, and I hope you’re not one of the unlucky ones… I’ve hear that tinnitus can sometimes just “develop” as you age or after you have had a specific medical condition. One incident that pops into my mind was somebody who got tinnitus after a bad bout of chickenpox in his later years. Very unlucky for him as he was a gigging musician and always wore ear protection!
If you don’t have hearing protection then I suggest you close this webpage right now and look into buying some. Otherwise, how are you going to fully appreciate my music!? 😉