Custom Ear Plugs
Being in a loud band can obviously be tough on your ears and your hearing. No one wants tinitis.
In the old days, I had a set of Sonic IIs and I almost never used them because I wasn't happy with what they did, and what I was hearing. I had tried foam plugs, but even after adjusting them, I couldn't hear what I was playing with enough detail (pitch on bends and vibratos) to function.
My drummer showed me a pair of custom ear plugs made by an audiologist, custom molded to the ear canal, with interchangeable filters that you can pop on and off to change how many dbs are rolled off. For example, there is a 10 db filter, a 15 db filter.
Most importantly, unlike foam ear plugs and most others, these filters roll off the volume with a flat frequency curve. That is, they don't take all your highs or all your lows, they supposedly leave the frequency ratio the same as it is in the room, and just cut volume like a volume knob.
So here's how you get some. You Google Audiologists in your local area. Places that make and sell hearing aids. Here is a national chain in the US that I used:
Call a location near you and ask them if they do custom ear plugs for musicians. Most do. Make an appointment. I went in. Discuss what you want. They use a syringe to shoot this foam gel into your ears. It is not unpleasant or sticky at all. The stuff dries hard in like 3 or 4 minutes. They pull them out, and ship them off to a lab to make them with whatever filter you want. Mine were made by Westone, but there are lots of companies making similar plugs. I got the one's that roll off 10db. They told me they'd be ready in a week or so, and they were.
First of all, because they are custom made for your ears, they fit properly and are very comfortable.
More importantly, in a loud, band rehearsal environment -- small room with reflections coming off the walls, I could hear everything perfectly, but just 10b quieter. All the highs, all my bends and vibratos, everything I need to hear was there. No sharp pain from nearby drum cymbals or certain freqencies coming off the head-high PA sticks. Best of all, at the end of the evening -- no ringing ears!
The only thing I noticed was that if your songs demand dymanic volume changes -- going from quiet to full volume (with a volume knob or volume pedal), it may take some time getting used to how quiet is quiet with the ear plugs in.
THESE EAR PLUGS ARE A BIG WIN! You really DO get what you pay for. If you need ear protection, I highly recommend you take 10 minutes to get fitted for something like these.
They are not cheap, but weighed against damaging your hearing, it's kind of a no-brainer. They are certainly cheaper than a lifetime of hearing aids and batteries if you destroy your ears.