I may be done playing loud


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I quit loud bands for good about 7 years ago. I don't believe bands have to be blisteringly loud to sound good. As a matter of fact, I think loud volumes distract from the music.

Lef T

I don't wish to play anymore with drummers who play at one volume....LOUD !
I like playing with some dynamics for sure.


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I freaking love playing outside or in a big place with a huge PA cranking...
The stage volume can be set where you want and at times seem quieter than a small club... but having a massive PA cranking out what your doing rules. IMHO.


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As a Doctor of Audiology I disagree strongly with this statement......
I would ask why we have plenty of women with hearing loss, who, at least for many, would not have been exposed to the industrial noise, gunfire, engine noise, intense music levels, etc., to which men are often exposed.
As much as I wanted to be a hard rocker even in my earlier years I never could for some reason handle the loud volumes. When we'd have band practices after about an hour or so I'd have a splitting headache and my hearing would seem muffled. To fair I'm not sure if we were "that loud" or my hearing is more sensitive than compared to others perhaps.

When I turned 30 I started playing in a country band and focusing more on the songs and music and kind of left the rocking behind. I have to have my hearing checked every year at my job and knock on wood I haven't had any shift in my hearing in 15 years and I don't wear ear plugs at band practice or gigs.


I'm with you OP.....playing acoustic jazz. I've found that there is a certain type of player, who no matter the context, (acoustic/electric/whatever) is always twice as loud as they need to be.

I recently went down to a bar to hear a guy I used to play with. He was as I describe above, ALWAYS too loud. It was just a duo in a bar, him on electric and another guy on acoustic. Tiny little bar. It was so Fu$%#%n' loud. Ridiculous


It's been touched upon in this thread but I'd like to stress: dynamics!

I'm older but I still like to get loud...occasionally, and not necessarily for the entire song. Step on the dirt pedal for the solo, bring it back down for the next verse.

And...loud stage volume is unnecessary! Put a mic in front of my 12 watt amp and, to the audience, it's still the voice of god.

Have you noticed on your local classic rock radio that it's compressed to hell in that "everything-louder-than-everyting-else" messy roar? Sucks, doesn't it?

With proper dynamics, you can still get your yayas out and preserve your hearing. Dy-NAM-ics!


I like playing loud if I have drums or a full band to play with.

Otherwise, I don't enjoy playing guitar at those volumes by myself. (anymore)


Silver Supporting Member
I find these days that loud volume hurts my ears and is physically unpleasant. I’m thinking of stopping playing out entirely other than pit band gigs (where things always seem to be more moderate). It’s not an easy decision after all this time and effort.
I would ask why we have plenty of women with hearing loss, who, at least for many, would not have been exposed to the industrial noise, gunfire, engine noise, intense music levels, etc., to which men are often exposed.
Hearing obviously doesn’t improve with age (for any gender), and there are certainly some generic factors involved, but on the average, a 50 year old male who has had significant noise exposure is going to have poorer hearing than most 50 year old females.

Both genders tend to lose the very high frequencies, but, noise induced hearing loss tends to present with a “noise notch” around 3-4 kHZ.

It’s called a noise notch because it’s so consistent with a history of noise exposure, and when I was at the VA, it typically wasn’t a question of if someone had some hearing loss, but how much. You’d see 25 year olds with otherwise great hearing thresholds save for not hearing 3000Hz til significantly higher thresholds, and it was clearly associated with noise exposure as they otherwise heard fine when they entered the service at 20.

Likewise OHSA et al., have clear guidelines for occupational noise exposure for workers in manufacturing etc as there is clear evidence of the need for hearing protection.

There is individual variation is how significant noise with affect someone, but you really don’t know if your likely to have a significant loss until it’s gone.

As such, it’s better to error on the side of caution, no?

If you have a family history of ling cancer you may still get it even if you don’t smoke, right? Well doesn’t it still make sense to not smoke as that certainly isn’t helping your odds ?

Maybe by the time someone is 80 they will have pretty poor hearing no matter what they do, but who wants that to happen at age 40, and from something that is largely preventable ?

Our ears are our most valuable tool as musicians, we really should be protecting them, especially when it’s as easy as using hearing protection, or turning down the amp a bit....

That muffled sensation and ringing you get after a really loud show... that is temporary threshold shift. It’s damage that largely will come back after a day or so, but after repeated exposure, it stops coming back, and that is how you start to hear the world.

Speech lacks clarity, music lacks fidelity, you have a tinnitus perception anytime it’s quiet. It’s not a fun thing....
Have the permanent tinnitus thing at this point and I’m determined to do my best not to make it worse. But at the same time you only live once and I don’t want to quit music, not at all. So I’m doing my best to stick to certain rules:

- No loud rehearsals, ever. I quit the cover band that insisted on rehearsing at stage volumes....totally unnecessary and a sign that they were more about playing rock stars then actually playing music live. All the work you need to get done for a band rehearsal can be done more efficiently at low volume IMO.
- A healthy mix of acoustic type gigs on my calendar....keeps me out playing with less gear to carry around, less volume overall.
-Earplugs a must for teaching lessons and gigging. Take them out to dial in my amp when I’m doing soundcheck then right back in the ears.
-Low volume stage whenever humanly possible. Direct to PA with Helix or miked up amp greatly preferred.
-And finally....those nights when my amp isn’t miked up and I’m bashing away with a loud band....relax and enjoy. I’m minimizing the hearing damage but life is going to get you one way or another. This is the life I chose and I’m going to get out there and live it with little regrets.


Age has nothing to do with it, technology does.
There quite simply is no logical reason to play loud now. P.A. systems have come a long way and any band that is any good at all knows how to use their gear effective and not need to blast their hearing ( and everybody elses) away.
I never enjoyed playing too loud, I love music and always wanted to hear what the band was doing, not just a wall of hair parting sound.
But sadly, decades ago we had no choice.
Now we have plenty of choices. Even the most inexpensive self including mixer/heads have enough ins and outs to run a substantial house mix as well as good monitor mixes.