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Earplugs for Drummers: Dodge Hearing Loss when Playing Drums

For a drum set, you'll want a pair of headphones and a microphone

 These days, there are numerous types of earplugs that are available. Some are specifically designed for drummers and some are designed for musicians in general.

You'll notice that some of these ear plugs are more expensive than others, but that doesn't mean that they won't work better for you. Just make sure you choose the right ones for your ears.

Keep reading to learn more about the best ways to protect your ears.

What are the best earplugs for drummers?

This article is all about hearing, and how hearing protection is essential to percussionists, particularly drummers.

As a musician, especially as a drummer, it goes without saying that without your hearing; it is going to be very difficult for you to continue in your musical career.

You will look for something that:

  • Protects Hearing
  • Keeps The Sound Quality

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If you require the best hearing protection and do not want to read the entire article, below are my recommended products.

"It’s never going to happen to me, my hearing is invulnerable.”

I know that while most people are pretty proactive about their hearing protection, there are some people out there who say things like “oh it’s never going to happen to me, my hearing is invulnerable.”

Every drummer is surrounded by a wall of sound all the time, and as a result, they must be proactive about hearing protection. Whether you’re performing, whether you’re rehearsing, whether you’re teaching someone else or whether you’re just attending a concert. So what can you do, other than avoiding loud sounds entirely – which is not always an option! You can decrease the sound levels around you, and of course, the most common way to lower noise coming into your ears is with hearing protection devices.

Criteria Used To Select Earplugs

Here I am going to break down three of the most common types of earplugs, which you can use to protect your hearing. To help you decide which method of ear protection might be the one for you. I’m going to assess these three types of earplugs, with the following four criteria:

  • Value for money. Value score will be determined basically by how much these earplugs cost, and how easy it is to get them.
  • Comfort. The comfort score is determined by the overall user comfort when using the earplugs.
  • Convenience. The convenience goal will be determined by ease-of-use, ease of maintenance, and ease of replacement.
  • Effectiveness. The effectiveness score will, of course, be determined by how good the earplugs are at lessening the sound levels around you. How accurate they are reducing the sound levels, maybe they mitigate everything a little too much, and it’s not good for a professional environment. Or perhaps they do it just right, so you can still hear the surrounding details.

Other factors. Including how often you can use them, and where you can use them, will also affect the effectiveness.

Do drummers wear earplugs?

If you’ve ever played drums in a band, you know that wearing ear protection is crucial. Drummers are the only musicians in the band who play with their entire body and don’t have protection on their ears during a show. This is because of the physical exertion involved in playing drums and because of how loud it can be around them while they’re playing.

With that in mind, there are some musicians who don’t think it’s necessary for drummers to wear hearing protection. Two of the most well-known musicians who don’t believe in the need for earplugs are the drummer Angel Taylor and the bassist Martyn LeNoble.

Angel Taylor is a British drummer who played with bands like Corrina, UFO and Saint Etienne. She has a unique style of playing drums that consists of doing very intricate styles at high speed and she doesn’t believe in being protected from noise while she plays, “I don't wear ear plugs because I used to think they looked ridiculous… I just get used to the noise after a while. But you don't!

What are musicians earplugs?

In the 1980s, earplugs were made from rubber. They came in different sizes and colors and were very popular with drummers. Then in 1997, the first plastic earplugs became available. These are now almost as popular as the old rubber ones.

One of the biggest interviews that Angel Taylor ever did was with a magazine called Drummer Magazine where she answered a lot of questions about her life and how she plays drums. When asked why she thought drummers wear special protection on their ears while they play, Taylor said, “When I hear someone talk to me about their problems with noise they often say 'I'm going deaf'.

Do a lot of drummers go deaf?

Yes! In fact, at one time it was thought that drummers went deaf more than any other part of the music industry. The reason why drummers hear less than musicians in other parts of the music industry is because they have to be really loud while they play their drums. The main cause of hearing loss for musicians is loud music. When a musician is exposed to a lot of noise over long periods of time, his or her ear can develop damage.

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich had a lot to say about his hearing. The band has been said to play the loudest live music that’s ever been recorded and that is why Ulrich wears special protection for his ears. While he was talking with a magazine in 2011, he said, “I've never understood why drummers have this 'I can't hear' kind of thing when they're on stage.

How long does hearing loss last?

Hearing loss caused by noise usually lasts a lifetime. Every year millions of people experience permanent hearing loss, but the good news is that if you prevent noise damage and protect yourself from it there's no need to suffer with hearing problems your whole life.

Disposable Earplugs

Let’s get into the most common and affordable option for hearing protection, which is disposable (foam or rubber) earplugs.

Disposable earplugs, are the first earplugs that most people think about when you mention hearing protection. These types of earplugs are so common you

They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the most common one is the bullet shape, which is my favorite, but they also come in many other different shapes, colors, and sizes.

Sometimes they’ll even give you a case for it, like this case here. You just pop it open, you never really have to think about losing them, they’re straightforward to replace if you drop them somewhere. I’ve gone through about 40 or 50 pairs of these I guess, and sometimes I just throw them away because they’re dirty.

Disposable Earplugs – Value Rating

So, as a result, the foam earplugs get 5-Stars in the value criteria.

Now the biggest flaw of these earplugs is, of course, they are generic. They’re one-size-fits-all, so they are never going to fit in your ears exactly. Some people have a fit that is very close to perfect; some people get a fit with massive air gaps. Some drummers can’t even get it in the ear hole to begin with, so it can be a bit of a mixed bag.

The material that these earplugs is made of is a cheap foam / rubbery material. It’s not great, even if you get a more expensive pair of disposable earplugs.

They do the job, but they don’t feel the greatest. And they get dirty pretty quickly, if anything gets up onto them they scratch against your ears.

Disposable Earplugs – Comfort Rating

So the foam earplugs receive a 3-stars for comfort

These earplugs are disposable, which means even though it’s not environmentally friendly, it’s completely fine if you lose them. You never have to worry about misplacing something expensive, which just makes it a little bit more stress-free

But when it comes to putting these into your ears, you need to squeeze them, or twist them, or whatever and then you need to angle them around for a little bit and then wait for them to expand in your ears. Now I know what you’re thinking a few seconds to put in your earplugs – it’s not a lot of time! But what if you’re in a professional situation, where maybe you have a set change, and there’s an area of the music that is relatively quiet?

You want to take your earplugs out and then put them back in later on. When you want to put them back in it needs to be quick – so the foam earplugs lose some points in the convenience criteria.

Disposable Earplugs – Convenience Rating

They receive a score of 3.5-stars.


I wouldn’t say foam earplugs up bad at this job, in fact, they’re too good at it. When you put them on, you don’t really hear much of the details of sounds around you. You don’t hear much of the precise frequencies; it’s just a bit muffled.


That’s great if you work in the construction industry, or if you just want to get a good night’s sleep, and your main objective is to get rid of all the sound possible. But as a musician, especially if you’re playing in an environment where you need to be aware of the details around you, this kind of earplug option is not very helpful.

It’s kind of like using bass headphones to listen to classical music; it’s not a very accurate representation. Another thing about these earplugs, is their versatility is affected by the fact that they’re not discrete at all. In situations like concerts where you’re drumming in front of a live audience, and they’re going to be seeing your every movement, the last thing they want to see is two massive carrots in your ears

Disposable Earplugs – Effectiveness Rating

So these earplugs receive a 3-stars for effectiveness

Disposable Earplugs – Overall Rating

So the total score for disposable form plugs is 14.5/20.0

Hybrid Earplugs

Let’s move on to the second option, which I like to call a hybrid earplug. These are high-end earplugs that tend to be a much better fit. Not a solid plug which allows some of the sound to enter the ear, without being as distorted as the disposable earplugs above. My favorite hybrid earplug brand is erasers.
I’ve owned two pairs of erasers (other brands are available, and probably just as good) in the last five years! This article will use Erasers as an example of hybrid earplugs, as this is the brand I am familiar with The price of this type of earplug is usually in the $50 to $60 range.
This type of earplug can’t really receive a 5 out of 5 for value, because they’re a lot more expensive than the foam earplugs. But I wouldn’t say they’re too expensive for something that is reusable.

Hybrid Earplugs – Value Rating

So considering the reasonable price point and how easy it is to get replacements they get 3.5-stars for value

Erasers are not custom earplugs, but they do come in four different sizes: extra small, small, medium and large. So selecting the correct size for you will give you a better fit.

Personally, I think my ear canals are pretty big, so I got a large size, and it fits me pretty much perfectly. It’s very snug, but most people will generally get either small or medium. This means the size is going to be pretty much 80% correct – it’s never going to be a hundred percent because it’s not custom-tailored to your ear canal. But it’s pretty close.

The material of this earplug is soft, smooth silicone, so it’s straightforward to put in and out of your ear. It doesn’t hurt or scratch. You don’t have to fiddle around much, and once it’s in, it doesn’t move at all.

Hybrid Earplugs – Comfort Rating

As a result, the erasers lose a little bit from the perfect score because they are not custom made, and they receive 4.5-stars for comfort

The erasers are extremely easy to put into your ears, because they just go straight in, you don’t need to squeeze them like the foam earplugs you don’t do any twisting or anything like that. You also have colored lines on the earplugs to help you determine which one is left, and which one is right.

As they can be reused for a long time, they need to be cleaned. The wash process doesn’t take that long; it’s 2 minutes of warm water, and it’s finished. If you need to do a more involved clean, you can use hydrogen peroxide, but it’s generally quite easy.

Hybrid Earplugs – Convenience Rating

As a result, the erasers receive a 4-stars for convenience.

The erasers have a flat sound decrease profile, which means it preserves a lot of the quality of the sound around you. So it doesn’t sound like a muffled, unclear sound, but instead, everything is just softer, so you can still hear with clarity in a quiet or an orchestral situation.

Because these are clear in color, you can’t see them from a distance. Also, they are very low-profile; they sit very far into your ears, so they cannot be seen clearly by the audience.

Hybrid Earplugs – Effectiveness Rating

That’s why for the effectiveness score the erasers receive 4-stars

Hybrid Earplugs – Overall Rating

This makes the total score of the erasers 16.5 / 20

Custom Earplugs

Finally, the third type of ear protection is, of course, custom earplugs. These earplugs usually cost between $100 to $300. However, some can go higher.

In addition to paying that price, you also have to go and make an appointment with a hearing specialist, and it’s quite an involved process.

Custom Earplugs – Value Rating

If you lose your custom earplugs it is going to be quite pricey to replace them, so as a result, the custom earplugs received 2.5-stars for value.

Of course, the custom earplugs are going to have a very high comfort score because they’re designed for you and your ear canal shape. So as a result, it gets a full maximum score of five out of five for comfort.

These earplugs are even easier than erasers to put in and out, but they also come in varying sizes. I know some custom earplugs are like big Christmas trees, and some are very low-profile. Even so, as they are made specifically for your ears, they should be a great fit

I think the thing that detracts from the convenience score the most is the ease of obtaining. Because they’re not something that you can buy off the shelf, you need to make an appointment with your hearing specialist to measure your ears. Then you need to wait for them to make the earplugs and to ship them to you.

Custom Earplugs – Convenience Rating

If it’s an online order, it’s quite a lengthy process. So, as a result, the convenience score for these earplugs is 3.5-stars

Of course, because these are custom earplugs tuned to your specifications, the effectiveness score is going to be the maximum. This is because you can choose every variable you want.

They can make it not only to your ear canal shape, but also to different specifications for filtering. So if you want it to be filtered a lot for very noisy environments, or maybe you just want it to be filtered a little for rehearsals, this is possible.

Custom Earplugs – Effectiveness Rating

As a result, the effectiveness score is a maximum five out of five

Custom Earplugs – Overall Rating

The total score for custom earplugs it’s 16 / 20

Final Scores

Foam earplugs receive 14.5 out of 20
Erasers earn 16.5 out of 20
Custom earplugs receive 16 out of 20

So as you can see in this comparison, there’s a different solution for every situation. For example, if you’re looking for something cheap and reliable, and you don’t have to worry about anything other than just putting them on, then the foam earplugs are your best bet. They’re disposable, they’re very commonly available, and stress-free

The erasers are still my personal favorites, because they’re discreet they’re well priced, and they work well for a drummer

If you want the absolute best in hearing protection, then go for a pair of custom earplugs. Ask around to see where you can get some for the best price.

Please Note: Just because an ear defender is marked, for example, "Gunshot" - it will still cover other things, like "explosions"

Other Questions

Can drumming cause tendonitis?

Yes! Yes! And Yes! It is a popular fact that vibrations produced during drumming can lead to several injuries. One of those injuries is the Drummer's tendonitis of the wrist, and it is quite common among Drummers. This injury results from the repetitive use of the hand and wrist movements during drumming.

It can occur in drummers that play the drums for a long period of time without a break. This injury involves an inflammation of the extensor pollicis longus tendon that runs along the back of the wrist, closest to the thumb side.

Any repetitive action from a non-ergonomically correct position that entails movements of the thumb and wrist to the "thumbs-up" position can put a strain on the long tendon to the thumb. In extreme cases of drummer's tendinitis, tenderness, pain, and attritional tearing can occur.

Why do drummers wear wristbands?

Drummers wearing wristbands have become a trend in the percussion community. Some of them use it because it's stylish and fashionable, but others use it because it actually protects their wrists from getting rubbed raw against the bass.

Drummers have blisters on their wrists because of the contact between the wrists and the bass. In order to prevent this as a drummer, you can start wearing wristbands to reduce the occurrence of injuries. It is also used to reduce the stickiness and sweat off of that part of the brass, so your movement isn’t restricted.

Why is the drummer always in the back?

One of the reasons drummers are most times sitting at the back is because drums are generally large. Drums are big or sometimes gigantic and, so as not to restrict the movement of other band movements, the drummer, as well as his drums, have to be behind.

Another reason is because of acoustics, putting the drums against the back of the wall on the stage maximizes their natural acoustic output, especially in the bass frequencies. Also, drummers are always at the back, so the singer's or singer’s mic does not pick the drums set. We could also consider the fact that if drummers are in front, the bass might drown out the sound of other instruments.

Recommended Products From Article

These are the best products available, as mentioned in the main article.

EARasers Noise Cancelling Earplugs - Reusable Noise Reduction Musicians Earplugs for Concerts, Djs...
  • Premium Hearing Protection - EARasers High Fidelity Earplugs reduce damaging decibel levels to protect your ears in noisy areas without hurting sound quality. These are designed to block harmful noise while retaining sound quality; whether playing the guitar, drums or visiting a music festival musicians have to be able to focus on the different layers of instrumentation. Kill the noise hear the voice.
  • 21 dB Peak Musicians Comfort Filter - The world's first flat frequency response best earplug that reduces up to 13 dB average -19 dB Peak filtering of dangerous sound. EARasers do an adequate job of bringing down the overall volume, blocking background noises, snoring at a comfortable level while preserving sound clarity and sharpness. Hearing protection that delivers the full spectrum of sound!
  • Ear Fit Design - Earplugs soft silicone design is based on one of the market's most widely used hearing aid tips. The Smart Seal technology conforms to the shape of your ear canal for a more comfortable fit that you can wear all day. The open canal shape and filter placement are specifically designed to allow sound to travel closer to the eardrum before being filtered, creating a more natural and clear sound that keeps the musical layering intact. These are also reusable and virtually invisible.
  • Reusable - Earasers can be cleaned and reused, and when the silicone tip starts to get old, they can be "Renewed" with new silicone sleeves. These invisible, high fidelity earplugs will fit everyone’s ear, they are great for both men and women.
  • Only 1 For All - EARasers utilize a unique attenuation "V filter" to provide an overall 5dB EPA protection rating. You can use these versatile earplugs for concerts, musicians, drummers, sporting events, nightlife, focus, meditation, noise sensitivity conditions etc. It's great fun for the whole family and the bridge club. No sweat, tickle, or itch, made for all-day comfort at home or work. Won't muffle music or voices as foam plugs do.
dBud 64894 – High-Fidelity Ear Plugs with Two Volume Settings. -24 dB and -11 dB. One Simple Slide...
  • Noise-reduction in two settings
  • -30 db and -15 db, Attachable leash and with built-in magnets, Three eartip sizes always included
  • Mechanical, no electronics, no battery
  • If affected for tinnitus, this is protective
  • Advanced acoustic filter

Last update on 2023-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


If you require more information, please check these references

Hearing a different drummer? Convergence of human resource management in Europe — A longitudinal analysis , article, "www.sciencedirect.com", retrieved on, Mon 26-October-2020

Exposure to music and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) among professional pop/rock/jazz musicians , article, "www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov", retrieved on, Mon 26-October-2020

Temporary and Permanent Hearing Loss Among College-Aged Drumline Members , article, "journals.sagepub.com", retrieved on, Mon 26-October-2020


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Nick Le Page

Experience : Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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