It is no secret that there are possible health risks when playing the drums. While some of them involve simple things like calluses on the hands for drumming too hard, others might pose an even bigger threat like hearing loss.
Hearing damage is one of the biggest concerns a drummer might encounter when playing their instruments. Drums are, no doubt, one of the loudest instruments ever created.
This article will tell you just how loud drums can be especially when compared to other instruments. I will also tell you what symptoms you should be aware of especially if you or someone you care about plays the drums regularly. Additionally, we will go through a few tips on how to prevent further damage.
Let’s get started!
How Loud Is a Drum Kit Compared to Other Instruments
The components of a drum kit, both the drums and the cymbals are specifically made to be loud. They are one of the essential beatmakers in an orchestra and, if you read our brief history of drums, created this way to accommodate thousands of people for rock concerts in the 70s. For this reason, the necessity to create louder versions of drums became more in demand.
In this section, we will be measuring the loudness of each part of a standard kit in comparison with the loudness of other instruments.
How Loud Are Acoustic Drum Kits In Decibels
Acoustic drum kits are the most popular type of drum kits. Even after the invention of electronic drum kits and hybrid drum kits, many still prefer the sound and rebound of an acoustic kit.
An acoustic kit is often composed of a bass or kick drum, two tom drums, a floor tom, a snare, a hi-hat cymbal, a ride, and crash cymbals. Depending on the drummer, however, drum kits can be heavily modified.
- Bass/Kick Drum – Despite being the biggest drum, it is surprisingly one of the lowest in volume at about 105dB.
- Tom Drums – The high tom, mid tom, and floor tom’s volume often play around 110dB.
- Snare Drum – Depending on where you hit the snare, the volume can be different. However, the snare drum is one of the loudest in a set. A hit on the head is around 120dB while a hit on the rim is around 125dB.
- Crash Cymbal – The crash cymbal is the loudest cymbal in a set. When hit, its volume can go up to 113dB.
- Hi-hat Cymbals – A closed hi-hat cymbal can reach volumes of up to 101dB while open hi-hats can reach a volume of 114dB.
- Ride Cymbals – Hitting the rim of the ride cymbal creates a sound that is often found around 101dB. On the other hand, hitting its bell can reach volumes of up to 115dB.
How Loud Are Electronic Drums
Now here is what’s great about electronic drums or even hybrid drums: because of their electronic properties, it is much easier to change their volume to a safer range. All you need to do is fiddle a little bit with its settings or lower the volume on your headset and you are good to go.
It is important to keep in mind that the volume of drum sets often shift along with the range of 90dB to 130dB. However, there are plenty of factors that affect its volumes, such as amplifiers, mufflers, and the like.
How Loud Are Other Instruments
Now that we know the volume level of each part of a drum kit, it would be nice if we had something to compare it to, right?
That is why in this section, I will be going through a few other instruments just so you get an idea of how loud drum sets are compared to them.
- Piano – A piano’s volume often plays between 60 to 70dB during normal practice. However, this can be amplified with a microphone during a performance.
- Violin – A violin’s volume can often be found around 84 to 103dB.
- Cello – A cello’s volume, despite its size, is pretty low and is often at 82 to 92dB.
- Oboe – An oboe’s volume is often at 90-94dB.
- Flute – A flute is a little louder in volume than an oboe. It is often found oscillating between 85 to 111dB.
- Piccolo – A piccolo’s volume in decibels are often found at 95 to 112dB.
- Clarinet – On the other hand, clarinets are often found at 92 to 103dB.
- French Horn – A french horn’s volume is often heard around 90 to 106dB.
- Trombone – A trombone is heard at around 85 to 114dB.
- Saxophone – A saxophone is another loud instrument with volume varying from 84db up to a whopping 134dB.
- Trumpet – Finally, a trumpet’s volume ranges from around 80 to 110dB.
As you can see, out of all these instruments, only the drums, and the saxophones hit an alarming 130 decibels of sound.
Symptoms of Hearing Damage and How to Prevent It
According to a study (1), the safe noise volume for the public should only be around 70dB and below. Listening to sounds that are 85dB and above will eventually lead to hearing loss.
Another study (2) states that musicians, especially rock, pop, and jazz drummers, have a larger risk of hearing loss over time. According to them, drummers are already causing damage to their hearing minutes after they start playing.
If you are a drummer, then you might already be experiencing some of the symptoms that precede hearing loss. Here are some of them:
- Tinnitus (a popping, ringing or pulsing sound in your ears) (3)
- Muffled hearing
- Feeling as if your ear canal is padded
- Feeling the need to talk loudly in order to be heard
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should visit your doctor and consider some practices to help you prevent further damage. Here are some things that you can do:
- Consider getting an electronic set as they are easier to manage in terms of volume
- Consider using earplugs. They are cheap but the effects they provide in helping you prevent hearing loss are immense.
- Consider purchasing noise-isolating headphones. These will prevent loud noises from permeating your ears.
- Consider purchasing ear monitors. This handy gadget automatically adjusts the volume for you whether you are alone, practicing, or doing a gig.
- Consider using drum mufflers. They are silicone pads that you put on top of your drums to lower their volumes.
These are only some of the few things that you can do in order to take care of your health. It is important to take care of yourself, the drummer, first. Being able to play music is fantastic but never at the price of your health.
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How Loud Are Drums In Decibels (dB)? [+ Other Comparisons]