…Echoes in your head

Tinnitus has become my constant companion. It’s the first to greet me every morning. It pierces the precious silence when I go to bed. It’s really becoming kind of a pain in the ass.

Now it’s far from debilitating for me at this point. I can still go about my business during the day. There’s enough background noise, conversation, TV and radio to distract me from it. But sometimes when I’m sitting in my office at work, it reminds me that I’m not alone.

There are many possible causes, but for me it’s no surprise. I’ve been an electric guitarist for going on 21 years now. For almost 20 of them, I’ve spent a little time every week in really loud environments. I’ve always been on the stage-right of the band, so it’s no surprise that my left ear is far worse off than my right.  For eight years, with OFB, I’ve had a drummer just over my left shoulder. Until the last few years, I never really wore ear protection at all. And if you were there, and you think back to some nights at Wonderful’s, you have to understand that only a fool would be in there without ear protection.

I’m starting to experience some hearing loss, too.  Again, there are many who are much worse off than I am. But it’s starting. Background noise is starting to become a bit of a problem for me when I’m trying to have a conversation.

Of course, it’s a problem of my own making. (I don’t mean to sound like I’m blaming drummers for this.) I’ve always used tube amps. And tube amps ALWAYS sound better when they’re louder. I got a new Deluxe Reverb RI a few months ago and I’m in love with the way it sounds. Of course, I’m in love with it when the volume knob is set at 3 and above…which is blindingly loud.

Anyway. I’m seeing a specialist in February. As I go through it, I’ll try to record my thoughts here. Maybe it will help other local musicians? I mean…not as much as earplugs…

Joel Krauss

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