So important but often overlooked by drummers and woodworkers alike is hearing protection. I can’t stress enough how much you need to protect your ears. Drumming produces extremely high SPL (Sound Pressure Levels) which will damage your hearing over time. Machines in the woodworking shop create levels up to 110db and sometimes more. Anything over 80db should be protected.
Short term effects involve ringing ears, headaches, and fatigue. Long term is more serious and includes severe tinnitus (ringing in your ear), hearing loss of specific frequencies, and eventually hearing loss all together.
Our ears fatigue overtime, and though we might not notice anything after playing drums loudly for a few weeks/months/years… the damage that the SPL does to your ears in irreversible.. meaning you can’t correct it once they start to fail. Down the road these days of planning a few boards down to thickness, drumming with a big group in a small space, etc.. without hearing protection will catch up to you. It’s not if, it’s when. Protect your ears now, they’re the only ones you’ve got! Too many drummers and wood workers complain of a ring in their ear as they get older. A little precaution is all it takes to not have to worry about these issues in the future.
Luckily modern technology has made it easy and comfortable to protect your hearing. Some of my favorite hearing protection for drumming is little ear buds called Hearos High Fidelity. These guys let you hear the broad spectrum while lowering the sound by 20 db. They are small, low profile and comfortable. The small, cheap foam plugs work ok, but they do no allow you to hear all frequencies at the same level so music is a bit distorted. The Hearos are designed for musicians.
In the workshop I use these SensGard ZEM SG-31. They are light weight, small, comfortable and provide 31db of protection. I prefer these to the larger full cover earmuffs as those are heavy and can get sweaty if you wear them for a while while working. These SensGard stay put, and instead of blocking the sound at your ear, they actually channel it away from your ear… Excellent technology, excellent protection.
Whatever route you take… From a fellow drummer and wood worker… Please protect your hearing!!