MINNEAPOLIS — After three nights in a row next to Ted Nugent’s giant stack of Marshall amps, I received a gift from a guitar hero: earplugs.

Nuge may be tone deaf on some topics, but not hard of hearing. Because he is partially deaf in one ear. Protecting his ears is very important. He opened a drawer in the case and held out my first pair of plugs, the Super Sonic II.

That was 1976, and I’ve been wearing earplugs ever since. Not the foam ones; they block the sound. No, more complicated. Like those old Super Sonic II’s, inch flanged rubber with a small metal diaphragm to reduce high frequencies. They may look dumb – like something sticking out of Hermann Munster stuck in your ear canal – but they serve an invaluable purpose.

I don’t have ringing in my ears when I lay down on my pillow after a rock concert. Or the next morning.

I’m not going to get scientific and tell you that rock concerts are usually between 105 and 110 decibels, which is much louder than recommended. Good earplugs—not the free ones you can get at Minneapolis clubs mandated by a 2014 ordinance—allow you to hear music clearly but cut out all frequencies, from high to low, that can cause ringing and permanent hearing damage.

Treble at high volumes has plagued countless musicians—Pete Townshend of the Who’s, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, and even Barbra Streisand to name a few—leading to tinnitus (persistent ringing in the ears).

Over 45 years and 9,000 gigs after my close encounter with the Nuge, my ears are fine according to my audiologist, although some readers may disagree.

I wear earplugs to every concert (and sporting event) unless it’s acoustic instruments. No need to be macho or ashamed of it. Savvy musicians protect themselves with either custom-made earplugs (molded to fit their ears) or in-ear monitors that they can control the volume.

I’ve gone from the Super Sonic II to more comfortable, responsive, and less obtrusive—and less obtuse—ear buds. And they have sexier names like Eargasm and Earasers. Definitely beats words like tinnitus and hearing aids.

Splurge if you like custom-made earplugs, which usually start at around $100 a pair. There are other high-quality reusable headphones at modest prices that will allow you to hear all the necessary nuances at concerts without ringing in your ears.

Here’s a sample with prices listed by the manufacturer.

Rubber bands. The earplugs I’ve used for a few years are small, clear silicone ones that contour to your ears, with a tiny filter and a little pull to help remove them. Available in small, medium and large sizes, they are discreet and comfortable. A word of caution: I’ve had them fall out without realizing it, leaving me with an orphaned earplug. Reduction: 19 decibels. $49.99, earasers.net

Vibes Hi Fidelity. Despite getting snubbed from “Shark Tank” in 2017, these plugs from the Minneapolis-based company are thriving. With a round silicone ball on the end of a straight plastic stick, they have a special filter. “It looks like you have a plastic jewel in your ear,” said a dude next to me at a recent concert. Each comes with three interchangeable sizes to fit any ear. Reduction: 15 decibels. $26.95, discovervibes.com

Fender Professional Hi-Fi. A product from a well-known guitar manufacturer, they remind me of my old Super Sonic II, except they are clear, not brown, straight silicone plugs with flanges and a small plastic pull. With two interchangeable tips, they fit snugly, but look a little outrageous. Their cool carrying case resembles a large guitar pick. Reduction: 20 decibels. $29.99, fender.com

Earos One. Conceived by the former director of MIT’s Acoustics and Vibration Laboratory, these black flanged cones fit snugly. On the outer end is a flat black plastic “shell” that helps secure them in the left and right ear. It looks like you have in-ear headphones. Comes with one set of extra cones. Reduction: 17 decibels. $40, earos.com

EarLabs dBud. Designed in Sweden, these plugs are ambitious. Their feature is two settings: Louder – bright (11 decibel reduction), loud – slightly muffled (24 decibel reduction). These black silicone and foam devices fit like headphones, attached by an annoyingly thin black cord so you don’t lose them. They come with three pairs of small, medium and large foam tips. The soft rubber cover does not close tightly, so the plugs can get dusty. $59, dbud.io

Fans enjoy the atmosphere during the third day of Lollapalooza Chile 2019 at O’Higgins Park on March 31, 2019 in Santiago, Chile.


Previous articleWOCAP presented the award to Compass – The Lima News
Next articleShots fired at the Kobe Bay restaurant in Toledo on Monday