Can clean guitar sound natural with hearing aids?

Hi. New to the forum and first-time HA user. Just got a pair of Unitron Moxi 12 aids today. I’ve only had them in for 6 hours so far, but already have some impressions, mostly positive. I could hear the audiologist’s voice clearly, even when she walked away from me and turned her back while speaking. And understanding speech is the main reason I went for the evaluation in the first place, so that was a good test result.

It’s very odd hearing the sharpness of simple things like ruffling sheets of paper again. It’s sort of a tinny, metallic sound almost, but before the HAs those sounds were muffled at best.

But one slight disappointment so far is the sound of my guitar, particularly on the high E string. Both my electric and acoustic sound like I have a chorus effect active - it’s a slight warbling sound, instead of a clean natural sound.

The audiologist set 3 main programs into the remote: #1 automatic; #2 for noisy rooms like a restaurant; #3 for music. The #3 music setting does have sharper highs and more pronounced lows than the other two settings. #2 sounds slightly quieter than either of the other two. But when I mute the HAs, the guitar sounds natural with none of the warbling effect, and when I switch the HAs to any of the other 3 settings, the warbling is there.

Maybe I need to get used to them, but I hadn’t noticed this unnatural sound until I played the guitar. I listened to a few rock songs through my PC speakers and it did seem to sound better with the HA programs as opposed to mute. Particularly, with the #3 music setting, I could hear the cymbals, and the vocals sounded natural.

Do some HAs handle tones like a guitar string differently or more naturally than others? Or would all of them probably add this effect to the sound?

I really never had a problem hearing either the electric or acoustic guitar without aids. I think the 6 open strings range from 82 Hz to 330 Hz, and the highest note at the 22nd fret is 1174 Hz. But there are also overtone harmonics at higher frequencies from what I understand, so I am likely hearing the guitar sounds somewhat muted without the aids.

It sounds like you are a more accomplished guitar player than I am.

I just hit the high e on my Vantage cutaway acoustic electric guitar while my HA’s were in normal mode and music mode. I did not detect the warbling sound that you mentioned. Taking out my hearing aids made my steel string guitar sound like I had installed cheap cat gut strings on it.

Keep in mind though, I am a poor guitarist at best and still use an electronic tuner.

Good luck

I do not practice with my HAs in. Too disappointing. Instead, I use Shure SE355 in ear monitors. But, I send the band through a small mixer and eq correct for my hearing loss. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

On a typical hearing aid, each memory or program can be configured almost completely independently of the others. So you your hearing professional should be able to work with you on the music program to get it to sound good musically.

I had a patient last year who played violin in a symphony orchestra and he actually brought the violin into the fitting so we could fine tune it for him.

Musical instrument frequency chart - it don’t get any better than this. I posted this about a year ago.

I play guitar and I have noticed a few things that can often go wrong when listening to music with hearing aids.

Sometimes the problem is that the hearing aids are processing the sound and/or translating the sound from one frequency range to another. My Audeo Smart IXs have the Sound Recover feature that does this and when this feature is on, the guitar sounds out of tune in some frequency ranges. Trick is to turn off these types of features in your music program so that you are hearing the sound in a clear and accurate manner. A noise reduction feature can also have the same affect and needs to be turned off too.

The other possibility is that you have some nerve damage in your inner ear and this is causing distortion. This isn’t fixable but you do get used to this after a while. If your hearing test shows a low discrimination score on one or both ears, this may indeed be the problem.

A third potential cause is that your hearing aid may be operating close to the power limit of its capabilities for your hearing loss and the guitar notes may be causing the hearing aid’s receiver to distort/clip in a particular frequency range as you hit the maximum power output of the hearing aid.

You can also get funny things happening if you are wearing an open fitting hearing aid and the music is loud enough to generate feedback between the receiver and the microphones. The feedback control software then kicks in and funny things start to happen to the sound as the hearing aids try to control the feedback. The other thing is that many hearing aids are setup in such a way that the sound processing settings automatically change depending on how loud the sound is. So…when you are in a quiet environment, you hear the sound one way. When the noise around you gets louder and hits a certain threshold, the hearing aids switch settings.

I know it sounds kinda complicated and given that I’m not a professional, I’m just describing how they work from a layman’s perspective. The trick is to be a very careful observer, write everything down and carefully explain the issues to the audiologist. A good audiologist who has worked with musicians before usually knows what to do. In fact, they might switch you into a different product/brand because there are certain hearing aids that can be adjusted more easily to suit the needs of musicians.

Just my 2 cents…

Good luck.


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Too awesome…bigbeck…thanx a ton!

You’re welcome. The creator of that chart did a fantastic job - and it shows. There’s a tremendous amount of info on that single page.

Love that link!

I’m also new to hearing aids… one month. You have a similar hearing result. Mine are Sonic Flip 100s and they have changed everything on the voice end for me, as well, especially during meetings, etc. I have spent a lot of time with my audiologist dialing in my HAs. On the music program, I actually had her add some lows. Because the highs can be brittle (also an acoustic guitar player), adding lows in warms the sound a bit. Because there’s no compression or sound reduction with most HAs on a music program, this is accentuated. I have found that turning the volume down 2-3 clicks when I’m playing cuts that brittleness out. The lows still come through just fine. When listening to music at low levels, I don’t mess much with the volume much, but when a bit louder or in a movie/concert setting, my HA volume goes down - and I hear the higher frequency well. It’s nice to hear the detail in music again. I haven’t had the audi turn down the overall volume on my musc program yet, but may opt to do that this week when I’m in. I have never turned them up, only down on the music program.

We also added some 500hz- to 2khz on my main program, but not on my Noise program because I really need the focus on voice there. We’ve tried a few different settings for the 4th program, but the one I’m keeping is a modification of the music program, which opens all the mics, but also adds medium noise reduction, medium voice focus and we added some lows to that, as well. It’s great for driving while listening to music, or when people sit in the back seat. The noise reduction helps with road noise.

If you play guitar a lot, it wouldn’t hurt to take it in with you on an appointment, but keep in mind that your volume when playing is perceived louder because your ears are close to the instrument. Must make sure you keep headroom to adjust volume up and down in different music environments. After 32 years in broadcasting and playing in a few bands, I was dismayed at hearing loss. But, it’s amazing the difference HAs have made. Because my audi knows my background, she’s not hesitant with me right there with her tweaking frequencies, etc. I’m almost at the point of dialing them in and not going every week or so to tweak more.

Good luck - and play on!


I’ve returned back to my guitar finally after carpal tunnel surgery in both hands. In the intervening time my hearing seems to have worsened and the guitar, though supposedly in tune, sounds so discordant it is no longer a pleasurable experience. Without my hearing aids, it is muffled and with them it sounds artificial and out of tune. Any advice out there? This is hurtful to me.

Have a music program set up. If you have some sort of frequency lowering going on, you’ll likely want it turned off. Ideally bring your guitar in to your audiologist and play it as he/she makes various adjustments. Things I usually hear of people doing is turning off as much sound processing as possible and making the response be as close to linear as possible. Do a search for music on the forums and you’ll find much more detail. If you’re really picky about sound quality, you might be happiest adding a pickup to your guitar and using good headphones without your hearing aids. Be careful with the volume though.


Also next time you’re in the market for a new pair of hearing aids, look for a model that has a wide enough input dynamic range so that it can handle the transient attacks of the guitar sounds naturally and not try to compress and thereby distort it. There are a few models out there that has 114 dB SPL or greater on input dynamic range.

And definitely use a Music program and turn off frequency lowering (if any) like MDB suggested.

One other thing is to turn off the feedback manager if it still doesn’t sound right to you with the suggested remedies above. As part of the feedback strategy, many HAs shift the frequency by a little bit (as little as 10 Hz but may be more), but it may be enough for your discerning ears to pick up on this change.

Not sure where the feedback mgr. is in my Phonak over the ear. Thanks.

Usually it’s not something you can control. It’s something the service provider has to set up for you. It involves running the feedback analyzer, which sweeps some white noise across the frequencies to determine where the feedback occurs and implement a variety of strategies to control the feedback, like limiting gain, slight frequency shifting (in the 10 Hz neighborhood), and phase shifting.

After the feedback analyzer is run, then the feedback manager is enabled in the programming of your HAs by your provider. Then the feedback manager would be “on” all the times. You don’t get to control it by turning it on or off. But you may be able to chose which program has the feedback manager enabled and which do not. So you might be able to just turn it off for the music program only (if you have one) and use this music program when you play your guitar. But for other programs, you can still have the feedback manager enabled. I know my OPN works like this. But i don’t know if other HA brands/models can be done similarly like this or not.

I play guitar sometimes 2 hours a day and am fairly advanced. Ear training is very important and hearing say for example interval sounds properly is a must. There are settings that can eliminate that darn warble and many other things. I bought my own programmer and spent the time myself getting the music settings right. Only way was doing it myself and learning the parameters available on the aids.

I had the same problem with my guitar. I did what others suggested and took my guitar with me. After me playing and telling my Audi what I was hearing she adjusted my music program and I’m now vary happy with what I hear