Ibanez Mikro, redeemed

More on the Mikro:

The Grover tuners arrived a day early, courtesy of Amazon. The exact designation for them is 406c-6 in-line Mini Rotomatic, locking tuners. They are a drop-in replacement on the Mikro; they install with ease.

The improvement was instantaneous, with the guitar now able to hold tune at standard pitch. The 18:1 gear ratio is pure pleasure.

However, no good deed goes unpunished, so of course the low E string ( .052 inches) barely fit through the peg hole and required a minor amount of drilling and fiddling before it would thread thru the peg. Then the locking mechanism bit thru the 4th string entirely, and left it too short to use. I had to crack open a second set (I hate to do that!). Maybe it was just part of the ‘getting familiar’ part of our relationship; at any rate, the tuners are behaving very nicely now and the guitar is finally up to snuff.

Ibanez’s bad for fitting the Mikro out with CHEESE tuners.

Although the new tuning machines bring the Mikro up to the $200 range, it’s still a reasonable return for value for me because the short scale is such a good fit for my hands, and the neck is sweet and fast. The fact that the Mikro is among the shortest of the short scales was a big part of it’s appeal for me.

While we were poking around, we pulled the pick guard (one end lives under the end of the fretboard so you have to pull back and up to remove it). As we suspected the PU’s are two-wire jobs, which means that if we want to do any trick rewiring we will need a pair of four-wire PU’s first.

Raising the pitch, as I had done to get enough string tension, put the guitar up into a higher range. Playing it was a little like playing a super-charged, six string Ukelele. I will have to get reacquainted with it at the lower pitch.

Since short guitars need progressively heavier strings, I put on a set of D’Addario Jazz Light Half Rounds – (012 – .052). It’s too soon to tell about them because the combination of high action and heavy strings is not a good one for finger style playing. I will need to work on the action (probably today) before I can make sense of things. I like the sound of them though, it’s mellow and jazzy

Since I changed the tuners and the string gauge at the same time, I’m not sure if lighter gauge strings would have worked OK with the new tuners or not, but I think I will try an in-between weight, such as the D’Addario EXL 116 (.011-.049) when it’s time to change strings again.

We aren’t out of the woods yet, we still need to tame the action but we are very happy with the Mikro. It is getting a lot of playing time, and I only play guitars I like. Buying any guitar is a personal decision, but if you’re interested in short scale guitars, the Ibnanez Mikro is worth looking into.

2/14/2013 update:
Soon after this original post, we found the right sized allen wrench, put on our magnifying glasses and set to work. The strings were about 3/8th s of an inch (.375″) off the fretboard when we started. Now they are at about a fat 1/8th (.125″) which is way more acceptable. We started to pick up some fret buzz somewhere around the 20th, so we raised the action back up a hair and called it quits. Hard to say if you can actually use the frets after 19 or 20 anyway; the spaces between them get pretty small.

When we reset the intonation, we found that one or two of the saddles needed a little nudging before they would move, but move they did.

A real luthier could probably squeeze a little more out of the action, but for now it’s OK. As a project guitar, the Mikro turned out pretty well; it is definitely a player at this point. About the only mod left would be a PU change and re-wire job, but that’s all in the future for now.

Ibanez links:
Ibanez History
Mikro series

About Scale Length
Scale length


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10 fingers, two hands
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