How to protect your hearing – the most important part of your guitar tone

Man playing electric guitar
(Image credit: Getty)

BACK TO LIVE: Guitar players are nothing if not obsessive. We spend countless hours trying to get a phrase or a technique down. Months go by and we’ve thought of little else besides the tonal rectitude of germanium vs silicon diodes, fretting over our amplifier’s response. Our quest for tone is all-consuming, and yet there’s one crucial element that we overlook time and time again: our hearing.

Our hearing, and what we can do to protect it in high-volume environments, is often treated as a secondary issue, but as musicians, what could be more valuable? It is to the guitar player what a sense of taste and smell is to a chef, and if we take care of it, it’ll take care of us. We can read about what the best overdrive pedal is, but only our ears can tell us if it is the right one for us. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.