Fun little blue NBD: My first Ibanez

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by StratoCraig, Dec 29, 2017.


  1. StratoCraig

    StratoCraig Member

    Messages:
    3,038
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Location:
    The Fortress of Solitude
    I've been playing guitar and bass for over 35 years, but in all that time I have never owned an Ibanez. As of a couple of days ago, I now have one.

    I had been seeing comments on various forums from happy owners of the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro bass, a lightweight instrument with a PJ pickup configuration and an unusually short 28.6" scale. GC's web site told me that their price was $179, which struck me as pretty low for a quality instrument, and that the store nearest me had one in stock. I had a 15% off coupon, too, which cut the price to a little over $150. I mentioned it to my wife, not thinking we'd buy it, but to my surprise she was interested in checking it out for herself. The Mikro not only has a very short scale, but also a very narrow neck that fits her hand well. She liked it.

    My own opinion was more favorable than I had expected. The Mikro is a well-made instrument. Ours has no sharp fret ends, no sign of sloppy fret slot cutting, a good finish, controls that feel right, and tuners that work well and smoothly. The sound it makes isn't bad at all. It needed a bit of setup work, as almost any guitar does when you buy it at GC, so once we got it home I added some neck relief to eliminate fret buzzing (the neck was almost perfectly flat) and adjusted the action and intonation. It now plays quite well.

    Here it is:

    [​IMG]

    The one thing I might still like to do is give it a slightly heavier set of strings. The ones that came on it, according to my micrometer, are .040", .060", .075", .095", and while I wouldn't call them floppy (they're nowhere near as loose as the factory-supplied 6th string on a Squier VM Bass VI), I would like a little more tension. However, the nut slots appear to have been cut for exactly those gauges, so I think I would have to open them up a bit even to use a .045"-.100" set.

    In principle, this is really my wife's first bass, but to nobody's surprise I'm spending more time with it than she is. It's a fun, lightweight little thing that looks great, plays well, and sounds good. It's a great deal for the price they're asking.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
    NoiseNinja, ccouch7 and DarrellM5 like this.
  2. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,646
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Location:
    Hills of WV
    I tried a Mikro at my regularly visited pawnshop last week and was surprised how good the fit, finish, and playability was. If I hadn't just bought a Short Scale Jag bass I would have gone for the Ibanez.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
    StratoCraig likes this.
  3. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

    Messages:
    157
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2017
    Location:
    Denmark
    The Ibanez Mikro basses are indeed of amazing build quality considering the price.

    I got a black one that I actually play as my main.

    As you described perfectly crafted, no sharp frets sticking out on the fretboard, and no buzz even at fairly low action.

    Also mine have really stable neck and holds the tuning well.

    Never played a bass that felt more comfortable in my hands to play on, and I owned some 1000+$ basses before.

    I did swap the stock pickups with a pair of P/J EMG Geezer Butler pickups though, as I found the stock pickups lacking a bit in terms of clarity and definition, a huge improvement in tone, though the stock pickups are actually quite decent too for such a cheap instrument.
     
    StratoCraig likes this.
  4. StratoCraig

    StratoCraig Member

    Messages:
    3,038
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Location:
    The Fortress of Solitude
    So, to make a moderately long story short, I now have two Mikros. The second is in Root Beer Metallic and was made in 2016. (The blue one above was made in 2017.) I'll take a picture of it when I can. Aside from color, though, there is little to tell the two apart; they feel and sound pretty much the same.

    However, one thing that I find interesting is that the strings on the new one are the same .040"-.095" gauges as the first one. The reason this seems interesting to me is it shows that my first one wasn't unusual (especially since I bought the two at different stores) and yet the only Mikro-specific string set that Ibanez sells is .045"-.105". So I wonder if this isn't the reason that some people claim Mikros can't be intonated properly. Thicker strings will generally require the bridge saddles to be moved farther back for proper intonation, and based on where the saddles ended up on both of my Mikros, I would guess that a .105" E string would need the saddle to move farther than it can.
     
  5. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

    Messages:
    157
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2017
    Location:
    Denmark
    The intonation problem should be solved by a shorter bridge saddle screw and generally better bridge build on the newest versions.

    Also the neck pocket and the necks are slightly differently cut on these newer models, which makes it easier to get low action.

    Your 2016 and 1017 Mikro's should be equipped like that.

    My 2010 Mikro had the problem though, and I first shortened the E string intonation screw which solved the problem, later replaced the whole bridge, also had to raise the neck in the neck pocket with a shim to allow the right low action that I prefer.

    I use .045-.105 gauge strings by the way, after having used .040-.095 ones for a while myself.

    To my surprise I found the increased tension had a better feel and made it easier to play properly, especially when using pull off technique and the like.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
    StratoCraig likes this.
  6. StratoCraig

    StratoCraig Member

    Messages:
    3,038
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Location:
    The Fortress of Solitude
    Good to know, thanks. I find the .040" G and .060" D strings to be fine, but the .075" A and .095" E strings are looser than I would prefer. However, a .105" string will not fit into the E string nut slot on my first Mikro (haven't tried the second yet). I don't know if a .100" would fit, as I don't have one handy, but all four strings seem pretty snug, so I suspect the nut was cut for the factory .040"-.095" strings. Did you have to widen your nut slots to get the .045"-.105" set to fit comfortably?

    My guess is that the ideal gauges for the Mikro, for me, would be about .040", .060", .080", .100".
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  7. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

    Messages:
    157
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2017
    Location:
    Denmark
    The thing is with the .045-.105 set that it is pretty evenly balanced tension wise.

    The .085 string will fit fine into the A tuner slot, but as you mention the .105 will not fit into the low E tuner slot.

    What I do, when I have cut the .105 string off to a suiting length, is to unravel some of the wraps on the tuner end of the .105 string with pliers, not cutting all the way through to the core of the string, but just enough to loosen the wrap around it, and then with the pliers grab the now loosened wrap and pull it a bit out so that it forms sort of a thinner more spread out spiral around the core of the string until it have been unraveled sufficiently to fit into the small hole inside the peg.

    Hope that makes sense.

    If done correctly the wrap around the string will not unravel further and the string will now be secured in the tuner peg.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
    StratoCraig likes this.
  8. StratoCraig

    StratoCraig Member

    Messages:
    3,038
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Location:
    The Fortress of Solitude
    Yeah, I see what you mean. Hmm. I think widening the nut slots would be my preferred solution, but your way seems workable too.
     
  9. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

    Messages:
    157
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2017
    Location:
    Denmark
    I misread your original comment, and for some reason read tuner peg slots instad of nut slots, the nut slots should from stock be cut specifically to fit a .105 set, as the normal factory strings should be a .105-.045 set (don't know why yours had .095-.040 on them), they are special strings tapered with cloth wrappings at the tuner ends and made specifically to fit the Mikro's shorter scale length.

    D'Addario makes them for Ibanez, and it should be possible to find stores carrying them.

    Think they are called Ibanez Mikro Bass Strings, or something like that.

    However I found the stock strings to be rougher on the fingers than most other strings, so I just buy ordinary long scale strings and cut them to size, using the method I mention above to fit the low E string into the tuner peg.

    Even though some people advise against cutting strings I've never experienced any whatsoever problem with that, at least not with nickle wound rounds, as is my preferred string type.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  10. StratoCraig

    StratoCraig Member

    Messages:
    3,038
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Location:
    The Fortress of Solitude
    Here's the second Mikro:

    [​IMG]
     
    msteeln, 9fingers and NoiseNinja like this.
  11. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

    Messages:
    157
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2017
    Location:
    Denmark
    That Root Beer Metallic one really look asstonishing, especially since it seems you were lucky to get one where the color of the rosewood fretboard is of an almost matching reddish color.

    I guess I am in the same position with my black one, since the rosewood on it's fretboard happens to be very dark.
     
    StratoCraig likes this.
  12. msteeln

    msteeln Member

    Messages:
    1,245
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2009
    Location:
    Ka'a'awa, HI
    are there any outstanding visual points to easily see the differences when shopping online?
     
  13. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

    Messages:
    157
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2017
    Location:
    Denmark
    Not really any distinct characteristics to tell them apart based on an online photo, no.

    If you chose one of the newer models, the GSRM20B, with black hardware in walnut flat natural finish or weathered black, you should get one of the newer versions though.

    Also the newer versions are equipped with mahogany bodies whereas the old ones were either basswood, poplar or agathis.
     
    msteeln likes this.
  14. StratoCraig

    StratoCraig Member

    Messages:
    3,038
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Location:
    The Fortress of Solitude
    From what I've read, it seems that the earliest Mikros were basswood, then they used agathis for a year or two, and those made since sometime in 2014 should all be mahogany. Mine, made in 2016 and 2017, should therefore be mahogany, but since they have opaque finishes, I'd have to look inside to be sure. I suppose simply looking into the control cavity should reveal some bare wood unless there's paint in there too.
     
  15. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

    Messages:
    157
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2017
    Location:
    Denmark
    Some, at least the ones sold in Europe were made of poplar too at one point.

    But otherwise you would be right.

    Mine is from late 2010 and made of basswood.
     
  16. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

    Messages:
    157
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2017
    Location:
    Denmark
    Here's my beloved Mikro by the way, heavily visually modded and with the stock pickups swapped for a pair of P/J EMG Geezer Butler pickups, as well as I put on a new cheap black classic Fender style bridge.

    Also all the controls are dummies, as I hooked up both pickups directly to the output jack plug of the bass.

    Looks pretty beaten up as I haphazardly attempted to drill an extra far neck pickup cavity and failed, so had to fill the unfinished cavity up with filler mass and paint and varnish it over.

    [​IMG]
     
    msteeln likes this.
  17. msteeln

    msteeln Member

    Messages:
    1,245
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2009
    Location:
    Ka'a'awa, HI
    thanx for your reply and being the main reason why I want one of these, you obviously luv your Mikro!
     

Share This Page