Forget going deaf. In all likelihood, you won’t actually go stone deaf from listening to loud music or playing shows without hearing protection. Deafness is something you will wish for when you get tinnitus. Ever had a mosquito fly into your ear? That horrendous, high-pitched whine that makes you smack yourself in the ear? Imagine having that ALL THE TIME, 24 hours a day. It’s like an STD you get from unprotected listening instead of unprotected sex. Ear plugs are condoms for your hearing; wear them while you have fun so you can keep having fun.
2. It sounds better
Now, this depends largely on what kind of plugs you have. I recently got fitted for some custom earplugs, which was actually really fun. And although they will set you back more than a bag of foamies, imagine how much you’ll spend on those cheap shitty ones over your lifetime and how much better it would be to just get some good ones. Foam plugs roll off a lot of the high end, but a good pair of fitted ones just lower the overall volume evenly with almost no roll off. The difference between fitted and no plugs is a revelation you need to experience, and I wish I’d done it so much sooner. Being at/playing a show is superior to listening to a recording for a number of reasons (atmosphere, crowd response, social interaction, the visual aspect) but the most important one is physically feeling the vibrations of the music passing through your body, which is not at all lessened when you tone down the painful screaming volume that is passing into your sensitive ear drums. You might think, “well, the pain goes away after a few minutes.” But the damage continues even after you’ve gone numb to the pain. Don’t be a tough guy.
3. Huh? What? Come again? Speak up, sonny!
Don’t let this be you. You won’t be young forever, and you want to be able to hear the music you play for as long as you can.
4. They’re a lot more stylish and cheaper than hearing aids, and you don’t have to wear them all the time.
Unlike with hearing aids, when you’re done with the show or rehearsal you take them out and go about your normal life. If you don’t wear them for the 3 hours of rehearsal or concert a week you’ll have to eventually have something ELSE you wear in your ears just to function. Then you’ll have to get fitted ANYWAY, and pay waaaaaaaay more than the plugs would have cost, plus there’s the kicking yourself. Chicks dig the hearing aid look, but only in retirement homes.
5. Nobody likes the guy at rehearsal who’s constantly turning himself up despite already being louder than everyone.
Once again, don’t be that guy. So damn obnoxious. This causes the overall volume to creep up as everyone turns up just a little, then a little bit more…. Then everyone else starts to become as deaf as you.
I know. I’m not paranoid, I realize that for the casual concertgoer or weekend warrior, you’re not going to suffer any of these problems from 2 shows a year or the occasional bar gig. But if you’re a serious musician and intend on spending real time in front of a blaring amp next to a slammin’ drummer then protect your most important asset, because prevention is the only really effective treatment.
So don’t wait. This should be an essential part of your rig and just as important of a tool as your instrument if you are a professional. So find yourself an audiologist and get some plugs made by any one of these fine companies (sometimes your audiologist can make them too):
Here’s what it’s like to get fitted: