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Posted on May 15, 2014November 29, 2015 by Damon GrantAre Your Ears Ringing, and Why You Should Be Worried About It!
The risk to your hearing from noise exposure depends on how loud the volumes are AND how long you’re exposed to them.
A decibel is a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound or the power level of an electrical signal by comparing it with a given level on a logarithmic scale.
One way that noise can permanently damage your hearing is by a single brief exposure to a high noise level, such as a firecracker going off near your ear. The generally accepted standard to monitor any risk to your hearing is based on an exposure to 85 dB for a maximum of eight hours per day, followed by at least ten hours of recovery time (at 70 dB or lower).
I keep my earplugs with me pretty much all the time, and especially if I am heading out to see some music or a social event where there might be loud noise (like a bar or sports arena). Lastly, I try to get my hearing checked (and ears professionally cleaned) by my ear, nose, and throat doctor about once a year. If there is a rattling noise when you play the lowest draw notes of a harp like this, this is caused by the reed actually hitting the lower cover.
Speaking of valves, if you are playing either a chromatic or a valved diatonic (such as the Suzuki ProMaster 350V), you may encounter buzzing noises like this. Finally, there is a reed noise which commonly affects the Lee Oskar, Huang and Suzuki harps, although Hohners are not totally immune to it either. When you play a note normally, you may be surprised to learn that what you are hearing is not the sound of the reed itself, but the sound of a column of air set into motion by the action of the reed swinging back and forth in its slot, the sound of the reed itself being drowned out by the sheer volume of the air column. In addition to the above, there are also some more dramatic modifications to the reeds that are a bit beyond the scope of this article, but hopefully the above remedies will get rid of most of those annoying noises that plague reeds from time to time.
There are certain decibels that you can withstand for longer amounts of time, as they are at a lower deibel level. But hearing damage can also occur gradually at much lower levels of noise, if there is enough exposure over time.
I also have a free app on my phone that is a decibel meter so I can measure the noise around me and see if I need to put my earplugs in. Try to make sure your ENT also has an audiologist on staff, as they can run a bunch of tests and check how your ears are fairing. Often when you play a bent note or an overblow, you will get a high pitched shrieking along with the normal note, sounding like this. However, under certain circumstances, the reed can be set into motion (sometimes even when it not actually sounding normally) and starts to twist diagonally, causing a higher harmonic of the reed itself to be sounded. He found that placing a small piece of adhesive tape on the surface of the reed was enough to damp these unwanted vibrations. Nail varnish (polish) tends to make the reed slightly sharp - in fact I've noticed that treated reeds tend to become increasingly sharp as the nail varnish ages. I definitely monitor the use of my headphones and make sure the volumes are such that I can still hear loud noises like emergency sirens.
I started protecting my ears early in my musical career and I was told I have hearing in the 99th percentile.


This is the sound of a reed that is not correctly centred in it slot and the reed itself is catching on the side of the slot. Sometimes, particularly when attempting to produce an overblow, you will get that high pitched noise by itself.
These "notes" can also be produced by bowing the reed in the manner of a musical saw, but unfortunately for us, they are rarely harmonically related to the pitch we are trying to play, so the results can be very unpleasant to hear. You can also try to help this along by gapping the reeds optimally for your playing style - by and large, reeds with lower gaps are less prone to this diagonal torsion. Often a reed will be much sharper when cold, then start to return to its correct pitch as you play it.
These vibrate in response to sound waves, while the outer hair cells convert neural signals into tension on a membrane. If I am playing drums somewhere I try to use my in-ear monitors as I can keep an eye (or an ear) on how loud the music is coming back to me.
My ENT actually said, “You have eavesdropping level hearing and can probably hear through walls if you wanted to.” However, most people don’t get it checked until it is way too late. Then there are sensing and vibrating cells that carry these vibrations to the brain where in the auditory brainstem, these are converted into audible sounds we can recognize. You can see the two charts I added to get an idea of how loud certain sounds are acceptable, and for how long. If I am in a situation where wedges or floor monitors are used, then I use my earplugs without question. In fact, Lee Oskars in the lowest keys have recently been given an extra lower cover to give the reeds more room to swing freely. One treatment I stumbled across totally by accident, involves adding something in the corners of the reeds to damp these unwanted vibrations. Wax treatment tends to have less effect on the pitch, but leave your harp in a car on a hot day and the wax can melt and run along the edges of the reed, sealing it into the reedplate.
It’s that same ringing after turning up your headphones too loud while going for a run, rocking that new Kanye track. It is usually resulting from altered blood flow or increased blood turbulence near the ear. When these hair cells (stereocilia) are overworked (usually exposed to excessive noise levels for long periods of time) they go into shock producing the ringing you hear. The musician type earplugs are great as they lower a lot of the damaging frequencies and you can still discern pitch, in case you need to sing or adjust intonation on a horn, etc. If you gently push the reed towards the plate, you may be able to see where the reed is catching. On low C instruments such as the Hohner 364 and 365, the lowest draw reeds swing so far that a slight reshape of the cover is not going to help too much. I originally used nail varnish (AKA nail polish), but around the same time, Bobbie Giordano was working with a similar treatment using beeswax, although my personal preference would be the orthodontic wax you are able to get from most pharmacies. You should be able to find this product at your local hobby store, but as I said, almost any sort of adhesive tape will do the job.


Also wax seems to be a shorter-lived cure than nail varnish, although both treatments will require reapplying from time to time. If this happens continuously, they can cease to respond at all to certain frequencies resulting in hearing loss. You can align the reed by using the small reed wrench that comes with the Lee Oskar repair kit (although be warned - this is too large to fit the heel of a Hohner reed), or you can lever it sideways by inserting a thin feeler gauge along the side of the reed that is catching. One way to reduce the travel of the draw reed is to place a valve over the outside of the corresponding blow reed. If you are getting this noise when you are drawing a note, then the offending reed is the draw reed; likewise, if it is happening during a blow bend or an overblow, then it is the blow reed that is to blame.
I prefer to place it on the underside of the reed (ie, the bit that is visible through the slot), but it seems to work well enough on both sides. TurboTape alters the tuning slightly on application, but after retuning it should stay constant. That is because there are several different causes for it and most of those are the same conditions that cause hearing loss. With a little bit of trial and error, you should be able to get the reed set so that there is a nice small margin of daylight visible along both sides of the reed when you hold it up to the light. The placement of the tape isn't too critical either, but if you place it somewhere near the middle of the reed, it will affect the tuning to a lesser extent. However, if you use Micropore tape, it can absorb moisture from your breath, causing the notes to flatten as you play. The most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss (loud noises causing damage), but it can also be caused from a side effect of some medications or from an abnormally low level of serotonin activity as a couple of examples.
Sometimes similar sounds can occur as a result of a small burr of metal on the edge of the reed, or a tiny bit of debris caught in the slot.
In fact, adding the valve enables you to get a single-reed bend (like on a chromatic harp) that may actually be more useful on the extremely low harps.
Also, adhesive tapes can often "bleed" over time, allowing sticky stuff to lurk on the surface of your reeds ready to trap all manner of unwanted debris.
Gently plucking the reed should be enough to cure the latter and the former can be removed with some careful scraping with a scalpel or sharp craft knife. You will probably need to raise the tuning a little on the draw reed, as well as widening its gap, to prevent it from stalling under sharp attack.
One tip - if you get a this sort of noise when bending a draw note, but not when playing the unbent draw note, check the blow reed. The good news is, fitting the valve, retuning and adjusting the draw reed do not require you to remove the reedplates from the comb, so it's a nice easy modification to try for yourself to see if you like the results.



Hearing loss measured in decibels 33
Ear gauge necrosis fibrinoide




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