Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 26

Thread: Earplugs for loud session?

  1. #1
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    5,191

    Default Earplugs for loud session?

    One of the Irish/Scottish trad sessions my fiddler Significant Other and I attend includes a Scottish piper along with a small group of fiddlers. I play "Irish flute" and mandolin in this session. The venue is a brewery taproom with a high ceiling and concrete floor. Great tasting beer but horrible acoustics.

    It would be tolerable except that the piper usually plays border pipes instead of his smallpipes set, and border pipes are much louder. Piercingly loud. My S.O.'s ears were ringing after yesterday's session and I'm starting think about ear damage and ear protection. Does anyone here have a favorite set of earplugs for noise reduction where you can also hear your instrument reasonably well?

    I'll admit up front that this may be a lost cause, because I'm already bringing a knife to a gunfight when playing mandolin with a Scottish piper. I suspect anything that would reduce the volume enough to avoid ear damage would make it impossible to hear my mandolin, and maybe impossible for my S.O. to hear her fiddle. But I figured I'd give it a try.

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    15,452

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Back in the 80s (last century...) when I was still playing drums with a rock-n-roll band, I was also working a temporary job with the US forest service. One day all employees were called into the office for a seminar on noise exposure and hearing loss. It made an impression on me. After the speaker/slide show/video, we were offered an unofficial (because there was no soundproof room to make it official) hearing test. Despite my years of drums, cymbals, PAs and Marshal stacks behind my left ear, my hearing tested second best of all who were tested. (Who tested best? An 18 year old youth conservation corps girl... no surprise there.)
    So anyway, I did some research and obtained "Sonic sound filters". They were basically ear plugs, although their literature insisted that they were not ear plugs. They were selective in their attenuation with higher frequencies being attenuated more than lower frequencies. Things like cymbals, PA feed back were much more tolerable, yet I could have a normal conversation and have no trouble hearing what was said.
    Technology has advanced since them, and some musicians have custom ones now that are tailored to the frequencies they need attenuated, so perhaps that is worth your investigation.
    Here's another thing. I had to use the "sound filters" always. Practice as well as performances because they basically changed the EQ, and at first things didn't sound good at all. I had to get used to the sound and stay used to the sound.
    Once, we started to play and everything sounded horribly bright, brash and loud! You guessed it, I had forgotten my sound filters.

    So, did they help preserve my hearing? No way to know for sure, but I think so.
    Back in Virginia I used to attend a weekly poker game with friends. One nice evening we were all on the front porch taking a break from the game and the telephone began to ring inside the house. After about 3 rings and no response from the host I asked him if he wanted to answer the phone and he replied "Oh, is it ringing?". Turns out I was the only one on the porch who heard it.

  3. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to sunburst For This Useful Post:


  4. #3

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    I haven't tried these, but they are designed to lop off the extra decibels without muffling the tone.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015WJQ7A...v_ov_lig_dp_it

    It's too bad there's no way to regulate the volume of the pipes, I'm sure your SO isn't the only one suffering in these sessions.
    Last edited by Rob Roy; Jun-13-2022 at 11:06am.

  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Rob Roy For This Useful Post:


  6. #4
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    1,242

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Ringing ears is both bad and a warning. I already wear hearing aids, so I have to be very careful to protect my hearing. When I go to "blues night" at my local, I take off my hearing aids and install earplugs -- foam cones that expand in the entrance to the ear. The bar used to give these away, and now "sells" them for a dollar, actually a charitable donation. They're designed for one use. Similar hearing aids, that can be reused, are available at the drugstore for under ten dollars. They work fine, and do what they're supposed to, block out excessive volume while allowing music through. Pre-covid, I carried a pair of the drugstore earplugs around with me in case I ended up in a loud situation. I don't normally encourage people to use disposable products, but, in this case, I make an exception.

    Now, if I can just get the younger singers to enunciate, I might have some idea what they're saying in those songs they laboured over -- not that I look to the blues for clear pronunciation; I mean in other musical genres.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  7. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,708

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    If my memory serves, sometimes it still works, there is a brand of ear plugs for musicians called Heros. You may want to check them out.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  8. #6
    working musician Jim Bevan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Limache, Chile
    Posts
    775

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    I'll recommend an expensive and mildly complicated route (which I've travelled – PM me for details or advice): install a pickup (if your instrument doesn't already have one), use a little battery-powered headphone amp and wear "in-ears" like the Shure 535's (or 846's if you've got the cash – there are also much cheaper versions of these that I don't have any experience with). The foam will block out quite a lot of the sound, and you'll hear yourself amazingly and enjoyably well.

    Simpler than the pickup/headphone amp is simply place a recording device (eg a Zoom HN1) directly in front of you (like, on the table, if it's a normal anyone-need-another-Guiness? session), and use the headphone out – you'll also get a nice recording of yourself.
    mandoscales.com
    technical exercises for rock blues & fusion mandolinists
    free downloadable pdfs & mp4 backing tracks

  9. #7
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Key West
    Posts
    14,333
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    ... I'm already bringing a knife to a gunfight when playing mandolin with a Scottish piper.
    I believe you may have already hit upon a successful method for dealing with the situation - subconsciously, unknowingly, perhaps wistfully. Applying the knife effectively to the piper's bag should disable the offending noisemaker. Problem solved.

    As has been advised in other contexts - it ain't what ya got, it's what ya do with it that counts.

    But seriously - do you think the piper would be amenable to using his smallpipes? Are you the only one with a complaint? He should be willing to make an adjustment to get along with everyone else.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

    Blues Mando Social Group
    Gibson Mandolins Social Group
    North Florida Mandolin Players Social Group

    Finders Keepers, my duo with the astoundingly talented and versatile Patti Rothberg. Our EP is finally done, and in DiscMakers' capable hands

  10. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to journeybear For This Useful Post:

    NevinRanald 

  11. #8
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Co. Mayo, Ireland
    Posts
    3,428

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    I played guitar and drums in punk bands for many years. I tended to scoff at wearing earplugs of any kind because they always made it difficult to hear my bandmates but in one exceedingly loud band that I was in I finally broke down and ordered some - having tried and discarded all kinds of different earplugs these were the ones that were keepers - "Earasers" https://www.earasers.net/collections...-hifi-earplugs, they cut out the high frequencies and reduced the volume yet still allowed me to hear every note and every word my bandmates played/sang and they were also comfortable to wear and stayed in place, unlike other ear plugs I'd tried out.
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 JP "Whitechapel" tenor banjo
    2018 Frank Tate tenor guitar
    1969 Martin 00-18




    my Youtube channel

  12. The following members say thank you to Jill McAuley for this post:


  13. #9
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    5,191

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Thanks for all the feedback, and I especially like the knife suggestion, but don't Scottish pipers carry a dagger as part of their traditional regalia? This could get ugly.

    I'll get some -16db earplugs and my S.O. and I will use those... very obviously... when we're doing sets with the piper. Maybe that will be enough of a hint. I'm not sure I'll be able to hear the mandolin that way but it's worth trying. And maybe I can find a way to encourage a switch to smallpipes. Those are a much more session-friendly instrument.

  14. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to foldedpath For This Useful Post:


  15. #10
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    1,242

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Thanks for all the feedback, and I especially like the knife suggestion, but don't Scottish pipers carry a dagger as part of their traditional regalia? This could get ugly.

    I'll get some -16db earplugs and my S.O. and I will use those... very obviously... when we're doing sets with the piper. Maybe that will be enough of a hint. I'm not sure I'll be able to hear the mandolin that way but it's worth trying. And maybe I can find a way to encourage a switch to smallpipes. Those are a much more session-friendly instrument.
    If he's really outfitted, your Scotsman has three blades, a sgian dubh, a dirk, and a broadsword, so I'd be careful about attacking his pipes. It's a compliment to your hearing that you can hear your mandolin at all in these sessions. I've pretty much given up on mandolin in sessions with a number of guitars and fiddles plus an accordion or pipes. My fiddle gives me a fighting chance.

    By the way, Journeybear wasn't the first to come up with that idea: https://www.countrylife.co.uk/luxury...l-dress-218140
    Last edited by Ranald; Jun-13-2022 at 10:30pm.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  16. The following members say thank you to Ranald for this post:


  17. #11
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    17,337

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    One of the Irish/Scottish trad sessions my fiddler Significant Other and I attend includes a Scottish piper ...the piper usually plays border pipes instead of his smallpipes set, and border pipes are much louder. Piercingly loud. My S.O.'s ears were ringing after yesterday's session and I'm starting think about ear damage and ear protection....
    I remember going to a Battlefield Band concert where the band played a number, while the piper was tuning up in a closed room behind the stage, and he was louder than the band through a PA system.

    As Oscar Wilde allegedly said about bagpipes, "Thank God there's no smell!"
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  18. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to allenhopkins For This Useful Post:


  19. #12
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Key West
    Posts
    14,333
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    By the way, Journeybear wasn't the first to come up with that idea: https://www.countrylife.co.uk/luxury...l-dress-218140
    Oh, I had no illusion that I would be. The wee beasties have been the subject of much revulsion and surely violence over the years. I recall that they were even outlawed while Scotland was under English rule - they were considered weapons of war. I believe that edict ushered in a couple of centuries of welcome quietude.

    According to some the definition of a Scottish gentleman is someone who knows how to play bagpipes but doesn't.

    I found myself IN a bagpipes joke once. I was playing at the nightly Sunset Celebration here one night and having my usual pitiful woes, and began playing for myself - if anyone were to throw something into the case, fine, but I just wanted to have some fun. During The Who's "Substitute," an oldish fellow came by, listened to me finish, tossed in a buck, and said he liked that, reminded him of home. I asked where that was, he said Scotland. I told him there's someone playing bagpipes at the far end of the pier (yes, he's made to stand there so as not to annoy everybody). He said, "Ach, I canna stand the awful things. There's a pipe band in my town. They rehearse about three miles from my house and they're still too loud." After a bit more chat he went on his way, but came back by in a little while. He said, "I listened to him for about ten minutes and I didn't recognize a single tune."

    So I say, we're not the only ones who have a problem with them. But I think we knew that ...
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

    Blues Mando Social Group
    Gibson Mandolins Social Group
    North Florida Mandolin Players Social Group

    Finders Keepers, my duo with the astoundingly talented and versatile Patti Rothberg. Our EP is finally done, and in DiscMakers' capable hands

  20. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to journeybear For This Useful Post:


  21. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,708

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    I used to be a printer decades ago, the presses were loud. After too many years I started wearing earplugs. My boss didn't think I could hear the press well enough to catch something not sounding right, so I wouldn't damage the press. After a week I could not only hear better, but when the PA would announce a phone call for someone everyone looked at me, I was the only one who could hear what was said, and I would point to who the call was for. You might be surprised how well you can hear if you wear the earplugs after a while.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  22. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to pops1 For This Useful Post:


  23. #14
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    South of France
    Posts
    1,834

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    I used to be a printer decades ago, the presses were loud...
    Yes but with tinnitus the crashing cacophony from the printing press is inside your head. Earplugs don’t stop that.
    I occasionally wear ear plugs just to get a sweet night’s sleep.

    About the pipes in general, they all have a place, there are lots of different sessions and different pipes too. I actually really love hearing Northumbrian small pipes and those medieval instruments https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawm or oboes
    which I believe are easier to play.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Jun-14-2022 at 1:00am.

  24. #15
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    4,653

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Roy View Post
    I haven't tried these, but they are designed to lop off the extra decibels without muffling the tone.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015WJQ7A...v_ov_lig_dp_it

    It's too bad there's no way to regulate the volume of the pipes, I'm sure your SO isn't the only one suffering in these sessions.
    I have been using hearing protection for decades, whenever any band gets too loud for my taste - and often am the only musician doing so.

    The ER20's are among my favorite of the "musician's earplugs" type. I highly recommend them. I keep a set on my keychain at all times.

  25. #16
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    Posts
    833

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post

    I found myself IN a bagpipes joke once. I was playing at the nightly Sunset Celebration here one night and having my usual pitiful woes, and began playing for myself - if anyone were to throw something into the case, fine, but I just wanted to have some fun. During The Who's "Substitute," an oldish fellow came by, listened to me finish, tossed in a buck, and said he liked that, reminded him of home. I asked where that was, he said Scotland.
    Billy Connolly lives in Key West , I'm told. His Parkinson's is pretty advanced but he was still joking about it, last report I saw.

    He was a decent banjo-frailer. I wonder if he ever played in public in KW?
    Bren

  26. #17

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    tinnitus is not worth it

  27. #18

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Roy View Post
    I haven't tried these, but they are designed to lop off the extra decibels without muffling the tone.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015WJQ7A...v_ov_lig_dp_it

    It's too bad there's no way to regulate the volume of the pipes, I'm sure your SO isn't the only one suffering in these sessions.
    I second the recommendation for these Etymotic earplugs as a great low-cost solution. I've been playing at too-loud blues jams for decades and these really help. In addition to reducing ear strain, I find I can also hear nearby speech more clearly, like when I'm at a show and talking to someone in my party.

    Sadly, some reviews say these aren't the same as the old ones. I need to replace mine so I'll give them a try; hopefully they just had a short bad run.

    The only downside I found was that when playing Hammond organ, I can't quite hear the high drawbar levels well enough, so I have to rely on presets. Of course, nobody notices that but me, and it's subtle distinctions I'm trying to hear, not notes per se. These days I don't have drawbars handy anyway, so it won't matter.

    A mandolin should be easy to hear clearly with these earplugs.

  28. The following members say thank you to JeffLearman for this post:


  29. #19

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffLearman View Post
    Sadly, some reviews say these aren't the same as the old ones. I need to replace mine so I'll give them a try; hopefully they just had a short bad run.
    I've used them in the past, and just happened to order two pairs for a new situation. I also hope the new ones match my previous excellent experiences....
    ----

    Playing a funky oval-hole scroll-body mandolin, several mandolins retuned to CGDA, three CGDA-tuned Flatiron mandolas, two Flatiron mandolas tuned as octave mandolins,and a six-course 25.5" scale CGDAEB-tuned Ovation Mandophone.

    Love mandola?
    Join the Mandola Social Group!

  30. #20

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    My 80's story is seeing Motorhead open for Slayer. Motorhead had multiple Marshall amps stacked behind them and were the loudest band I had ever heard.....THEN Slayer comes out with 3X the equipment and volume -- my ears actually had ringing for three days before I could hear normally, something I had never experienced playing onstage with my own bands. I remember it was hard to sleep during those three nights....can't be good for your ears.

    I think my hearing is pretty good, but my wife likes to watch the news with captions on tv, and I can see a difference on certain words between what I heard and what the caption says. But, I can still enjoy music so far. It does make me wonder when we discuss the subtleties concerning the sound of certain tonewoods...if everyone is hearing the same thing?
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Jun-14-2022 at 11:16am.

  31. The following members say thank you to Jeff Mando for this post:


  32. #21
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    15,452

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    ...It does make me wonder when we discuss the subtleties concerning the sound of certain tonewoods...if everyone is hearing the same thing?
    Everyone is definitely not hearing the same thing, and in fact many are not hearing what they think they are hearing.

  33. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to sunburst For This Useful Post:


  34. #22
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Key West
    Posts
    14,333
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    Billy Connolly lives in Key West , I'm told. His Parkinson's is pretty advanced but he was still joking about it, last report I saw.

    He was a decent banjo-frailer. I wonder if he ever played in public in KW?
    I did not know any of that. Not that he lives in KW, nor that he plays banjo, and decently, at that. (Yes, I know - a decent banjo player is one who can play but doesn't. ) I knew about the Parkinson's, though. Sad. He's one of the funniest comedians I've ever heard.

    I see he used to be in a band with Gerry Rafferty before Stealer's Wheel. Didn't know that, either. He may well live here but I'd never know. I just don't hang out in bars much, not that I ever did that much. I know people who do, and have met famous people that way - Norman Reedus, Peter Fonda, others. Paul Cotton (Poco) lived out his days here, played once a week at my favorite bar, couple of my friends in the band. There are other famous people who live here or have property - Kenny Chesney, Oprah, Enrique Iglesias, others - but I think they generally prefer to fly under the radar when they're here. PS: The wiki does put him here, since 2018.

    BTW & FWIW ( and a nod to the topic ), the piper I mentioned above is from Connecticut, not Scotland, though he dresses traditionally.
    Last edited by journeybear; Jun-14-2022 at 12:17pm. Reason: just one more thing ...
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

    Blues Mando Social Group
    Gibson Mandolins Social Group
    North Florida Mandolin Players Social Group

    Finders Keepers, my duo with the astoundingly talented and versatile Patti Rothberg. Our EP is finally done, and in DiscMakers' capable hands

  35. #23
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    631

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    I'm going to recommend the most expensive approach - custom fit musician's earplugs. These are available from any audiology clinic and will run you a couple hundred bucks. They are made from molds of your ear canals, so they fit super snug (critical to attenuating volume), and contain a valve-type of filter that allows all the frequencies to pass, just attenuated. You can hear everything perfectly clear, but the volume is reduced.

    I started wearing them maybe 15 years ago when the tinnitus from too many years in loud bands and especially headphone listening began to get really noticeable. I wear them any time I go to a concert or even a jam with lots of players or in a venue like you describe. It has been well worth the investment.

    You don't get any hearing loss back, ever...
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

  36. #24
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Forest Grove, Oregon
    Posts
    2,256

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Did I miss the ‘get rid of the piper’ comment? Seriously, if he’s damaging your hearing, and probably others, and has no respect for other folks hearing, he needs to go if his behavior can’t be modified.

    Or you can not go.
    Not all the clams are at the beach

    Arrow Jazzbo
    Arrow G
    Clark 2 point
    Gibson F5L
    Ratliff CountryBoy A
    00-21 (voiced by Eldon Stutzman)

  37. #25
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    5,191

    Default Re: Earplugs for loud session?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Did I miss the ‘get rid of the piper’ comment? Seriously, if he’s damaging your hearing, and probably others, and has no respect for other folks hearing, he needs to go if his behavior can’t be modified.

    Or you can not go.
    In other circumstances both those options would be worth pursuing. In this particular situation, the piper is one of the two session anchors. The other is a very good fiddler who is in a band with the piper, so he's basically a fixture at this session.

    I could just quit the session and play elsewhere, but I do enjoy playing a few pipe tunes with this group, especially the fun Gordon Duncan pipe tunes. It's fun to play with a piper if you're into this repertoire. On the other hand, preserving my hearing (and my S.O.'s) is more important, so we'll see if earplugs are the answer.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •