Thinking I might have to give up drumming.

PaulD

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As I posted many months ago, I played from 10 until my late 20s and had to give it up for practical reasons (job, living situation, etc). About 6mo ago, due to a few things that inspired me, I decided to take it up again and went in full bore.

I bought a leftover Tama Starclassic B/B kit and, importantly, a set of RTOM Black Holes and Sabian Quiet Tone cymbals (I had a full set of Zildjians from back in the day already). At first, I had the set in my basement which is unfinished and has full height concrete walls on three sides. There's really nothing to dampen noise.

Over the last 3-4 weeks, I've been getting headaches and I'd say they occupy about 25% of my day on average. They're mild but still there. I'm a software developer and manager so frequent headaches aren't good for my livelihood.

Since then I moved the drums upstairs to a large, finished room with wall to wall carpet and a sectional sofa. It's much better and the headaches have abated some, but I still have them and notice a bit of ringing. Additionally, I have the bass drum stuffed pretty full of blankets and some memory foam scraps. The beater is a Vic Firth cahon beater (fairly spongy). I've also been experimenting with both Peltor ear muffs and Sony noise canceling headphones.

Today, I got the bright idea to get a SPL app for my phone (should have done that sooner) and I was seeing levels in the 90s. The high hat was the worst.

At this point, I think I need to quit for few weeks and see how things go. Maybe I should sell the acoustic kit and buy an electronic one.

Anyway, sorry if this is rambling. I'm a bit frustrated. I feel like I've gotten a lot of my chops back and I've really been enjoying it.
 

Drm1979

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Man that sucks to hear. Maybe before giving up you should try some other forms of hearing protection before giving up completely. Instead of over the ear headphones try a set of the heroes ear plugs. I've heard really good things about those. I've never been one to use hearing protection and have fortunately avoided any major complications from it. But I do notice a major reduction in volume when I have my earbuds in when I'm playing along to music in my ipod. They are the soft marshmallow type that go in my ear canal. And if you think the cause may be something medical then dont neglect that. Maybe just get a physical to make sure theres nothing going on there. Also if you're looking at computer screens all day that can contribute to headaches. I work in a field where I'm on a computer all day and I've gotten headaches from that before. Maybe just make sure your head has rested from looking at a computer screen for a period of time before you start playing. I'm not a professional in this area just trying to offer some suggestions. Good luck. And I hope you dont have to give it up.
 

PaulD

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I'm surprised nobody has suggested a good set of earplugs.
Those won't come close to solving the problem. I go shooting on a pretty regular basis, or used to at least, including IDPA matches. The exact muffs I'm using plus foam plugs were always plenty and a handgun is in the 140db range.
 
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PaulD

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Man that sucks to hear. Maybe before giving up you should try some other forms of hearing protection before giving up completely. Instead of over the ear headphones try a set of the heroes ear plugs. I've heard really good things about those. I've never been one to use hearing protection and have fortunately avoided any major complications from it. But I do notice a major reduction in volume when I have my earbuds in when I'm playing along to music in my ipod. They are the soft marshmallow type that go in my ear canal. And if you think the cause may be something medical then dont neglect that. Maybe just get a physical to make sure theres nothing going on there. Also if you're looking at computer screens all day that can contribute to headaches. I work in a field where I'm on a computer all day and I've gotten headaches from that before. Maybe just make sure your head has rested from looking at a computer screen for a period of time before you start playing. I'm not a professional in this area just trying to offer some suggestions. Good luck. And I hope you dont have to give it up.
Thanks, I appreciate it. I think I'm going to give it a rest for awhile. I guess part of why I'm a bit frustrated is I hoped the practice pads and cymbals would have been enough, and they're not. Maybe I just need to give it a rest for a week or so. I wonder if I just need to give myself some recovery time from when they were in the basement.

Worst comes to worst, I'll look into an electronic kit but they just seem lame by comparison.
 

Drm1979

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Thanks, I appreciate it. I think I'm going to give it a rest for awhile. I guess part of why I'm a bit frustrated is I hoped the practice pads and cymbals would have been enough, and they're not. Maybe I just need to give it a rest for a week or so. I wonder if I just need to give myself some recovery time from when they were in the basement.

Worst comes to worst, I'll look into an electronic kit but they just seem lame by comparison.
I agree about the ekit. But it is better than nothing.
 

Tornado

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Those won't come close to solving the problem. I go shooting on a pretty regular basis, or used to at least, including IDPA matches. The exact muffs I'm using plus foam plugs were always plenty and a handgun is in the 140db range.
How positive are you that it's the noise from drumming that is causing your headaches?
 

PaulD

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How positive are you that it's the noise from drumming that is causing your headaches?
That's a fair question. I'm not sure if it's the the cause or a contributor. It's certainly not helping but if there was some other root cause, that wouldn't surprise me. I do know my head feels worse after playing.
 

CAMDRUMS

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I have had a lot of experience with headaches and tinnitus from drumming, including quitting for periods of time. If you’re going to play acoustic drums you really need to get some ear plugs. I would recommend a set of custom plugs. The foam and other universal fit plugs will feel like they are reducing the sound but they can often be letting in significant levels. I even had a set of custom earplugs that were not molded perfectly, and my new audiologist measure how much sound they were blocking - at the low frequencies it was not much at all. I got new custom plugs and have had no problems with headaches, and I am playing in bands at up to 110 dB. playing an electric kit would also be a good option if you didn’t mind the artificial feel. Some of the new kits are pretty close to feeling like acoustics.
 

PaulD

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I have had a lot of experience with headaches and tinnitus from drumming, including quitting for periods of time. If you’re going to play acoustic drums you really need to get some ear plugs. I would recommend a set of custom plugs. The foam and other universal fit plugs will feel like they are reducing the sound but they can often be letting in significant levels. I even had a set of custom earplugs that were not molded perfectly, and my new audiologist measure how much sound they were blocking - at the low frequencies it was not much at all. I got new custom plugs and have had no problems with headaches, and I am playing in bands at up to 110 dB. playing an electric kit would also be a good option if you didn’t mind the artificial feel. Some of the new kits are pretty close to feeling like acoustics.
Thanks. That's very helpful. Can you give me the contact info for your audiologist? I don't live that far from you.
 

CAMDRUMS

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Thanks. That's very helpful. Can you give me the contact info for your audiologist? I don't live that far from you.
My audiologist is awesome. He helped develop a device that makes a 3D imprint of your inner ear, from which they make the custom molded ear plugs. He works with a lot of pro musicians, though I did not find his prices to be any different than other audiologists I had seen. He can also advise you regarding the headaches and tinnitus. I found him to be immensely helpful. His name is Brian Fligor and he has offices in Boston and Beverly MA. https://www.tobias-battite.com/about
 

PaulD

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Excellent! Thanks! I'm going to call on Monday.

Beverly is a bit of a pain for me to get to (I live near 495) but it'd be a lot better than quitting.
 

doubleroll

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Definitely see a doctor and then go from there...options exist But first is your health. Good luck!
 

Targalx

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Good luck on your doctor's visit(s). I am glad you are seeking care. Also: I support your vote in perhaps switching from acoustic drums to electronic drums, if that is what can keep you playing.

That way, you have control of everything, especially the volume and intensity. Coming from someone who has played exclusively acoustic drums for 30+ years, a nice Roland V-Drums or Yamaha DTX kit is quite satisfying to play. The technology is really good these days.

I made the leap into a DTX760 last year and I find it is pleasantly surprising in terms of satisfying my drumming craves. I love being able to play it at midnight and nobody can hear it. I put on the headphones, adjust the levels of each drum/cymbal to my liking, and go at it. I am not much of a "solo practicer" (I'd rather play in a band setting than alone in a room), but I do need to keep my hands in shape and my mind in place.

I hope that you find a solution somehow. There's nothing like playing an acoustic kit -- I totally get that, I feel it, I know it. But, maybe there are alternatives to giving up drums entirely...?
 

cdrummer

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Sorry to hear this, and a few suggestions:

- It may be your posture, not the volume, that's causing your headaches. You may have shoulder/neck/upper back tension from sitting at the computer all day at your job that is worsened if your posture is not good while drumming. Wearing those Peltor ear muffs could also contribute as they squeeze your head quite a bit.

- If you do need to bring down the volume, Sensaphonics silicone ear plugs with the etymotic filters are amazing. Your audiologist can make them, and they're super comfortable as they're soft and molded to your ear.

- My personal go to in a small apartment are the Zildjian Low Volume cymbals and Remo Silent Stroke heads. I can play anytime without the neighbors complaining with that set up.
 

Browny

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The snare and cymbals, particularly the hats, are always worse in smaller rooms. The sound just bounces around and seems to intensify, and those frequencies are ones that typically your ears don’t like. Harsh, cutting, piercing, etc.

I use a set of etymotic ear plugs almost every time I play (sometimes I’ve got shure se215s in with the volume pretty low, maybe the equivalent of 50% on an iPhone). When my band rehearses in a smaller room they’re great, but when we rehearse in this extra large room (our 5 piece band takes up about 1/3rd of the room when we’re set up normally) I have to back the ear plugs out a tiny bit to let a little more sound in, even then it still feels quieter than the smaller room.


For context Im playing a big kit and hitting reasonably hard. 26/13/16 with unmuffled single ply heads, 14x6.5” jarrah stave snare wide open, 16” hats, 20” and 22” old As that get crashed and crash-ridden. It’s a wall of noise when “it goes up to 11”. The ear plugs do wonders...

I also think the ear plugs take some of those extra highs out that disappear over distance, so the drums sound more accurate representations of what they do out in front rather than in the drivers seat. just an added bonus.
 

Luddite

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I had to give up acoustic drums for about eight years due to tinnitus and extreme sensitivity to loud noise. I played an ekit at church. I wasn’t a fan of the feel or the dinky pads, so eventually I bought some Extreme Drum internal triggers, Remo Silent Strokes, a TD11 module and a set of Zildjian GEN 16’s without the module and triggers. I use the Vic Firth headphones (which have really decent noise isolation) and Etymotic ear plugs. With that amount of hearing protection I do pretty good, and the stage volume is ideal for the setting. I’m back to playing acoustic drums at home and use a pair of 3M muffs and some 33db foam plugs. I forget which model the muffs are, but they attenuate really evenly, unlike most muffs that tend to accentuate the bass. Here’s what my hybrid setup looks like:70’s Ludwig three ply, 14/16/18/24 with a Blacrolite:
B260F8D9-8F9A-4B63-90C8-3D1410704621.jpeg
 

speady1

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Not that I'm adding much here, but if wearing earplugs and shooting muffs simultaneously worked for you when shooting, (I'm a frequent shooter, too) it will work for drumming. If it doesn't, you are seriously overplaying.

Avoid rimshots, use lighter sticks, etc. Quitting would be dead last for me. There are always other options.
 

hardbat

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I play mostly jazz. But during a recent 5 years in a rock band, I always used those think foam earplugs that you roll into a thin tube, insert well into the ear. Then they puff up and totally fill up the ear canal. They worked great for me, and ridiculously cheap.
 

Row

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Do you wear glasses for your development work? Making sure it's not your eyes first.
 

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