Can I tune Ibanez Mikro one octave higher?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cagincet, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. cagincet


    Aug 6, 2006

    I don't know if I posted to the correct area, so I will be asking the same question to the official Mikro thread. I have to get a quick answer because I have a good bargain on this instrument, and I don't want to miss it.

    The questions are:

    Can I tune Ibanez Mikro exactly one octave higher (E2 - A2 - D3 - G3) ?
    And if possible, which gauge strings should I use?
    What might be the consequences if there are any?

    Thanks all!
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Should be possible, I can't tell you what gauges to use, but there certainly are folks who can (Jason at bassstringsonline and the folks at Kalium are my go-to's for string gauge questions). I would think baritone guitar strings of the right scale length should be available.
    cagincet likes this.
  3. 12BitSlab

    12BitSlab Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2016
    Liberty Township
    An octave pedal will do the same thing without having to make a changes to strings or the nut.
  4. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Assuming identical construction (not exactly true in reality, but not so untrue as not to be in the ballpark anyway), a string half the gauge of a given one will have identical tension to the latter when tuned an octave up from it. Thus, on a 34" bass, a .05" tuned to E2 is about as tight (in actual pounds, not perceived stiffness which depends on many factors) as a .1" tuned to E1. However, 5/8 scale (28.5") is, tension-wise, about the same as tuning a 34" bass down to C# standard (bridge to bridge, the nut on a Mikro would nearly align to the 3rd fret on a standard long-scale bass), that is to say about 30% less poundage.
    Let's take a balanced tension set as reference, namely .100 .075 .055 .04, and imagine it installed on a standard 34"-scaler; the piccolo equivalent, in tension, to this on a Mikro would be, in commonly-available guitar string gauges, a set built as follows: .059 .044 .032 .024. Adjust to taste, or availability. I'm bringing up guitar strings because they're cheap to experiment on and not terribly different from thin bass strings - your mileage may vary, of course. Yes, they are long enough; should the guitar-style ball-end be too small to anchor at the bridge you can thread the strings into old bass ball-ends, or equivalent objects (nuts, bushings and the like) before installation.

    A slightly off-center option could be a set of single guitar flatwound D'Addario Chromes: .065 .048 .035 .026 would be very tight and not very responsive to nuanced playing - more of a piccolo equivalent of a heavy-gauge bass flatwound set, but significantly brighter. For more expressiveness, I'd at least consider a lighter .056 .04 .03 .022.
    Guitar Strings Online, the companion site of the above-mentioned B.S.O., doesn't currently list single Chromes, but has in the past, and it's at least worth a phone call or email IMO:
    D'Addario Chromes Flat Wound Guitar Strings from Guitar Strings Online
    Just Strings has them:
    Electric Guitar Chromes Single Strings
    (Yeah, I know. What can I say, I really love guitar Chromes...)
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
    yodedude2 and cagincet like this.
  5. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Sure you can. Buy a set of guitar strings and throw out the two thinnest ones. :D
    tfer, pedroims, MMiller28 and 6 others like this.
  6. slap2much


    Apr 4, 2004
    Interested in this thread as I've been noodling around with 'in-between' tunings on a short scale that start somewhere between the A and D on a regular 4 string. A few things to share: first, I've had some difficulty with guitar strings being long enough to reach the tuning machines in the middle where the bridge-tuner length is greatest...also because the ball end is smaller I've had to slip a washer or bass string end over the string so it stays in place. Baritone strings don't have the length issue usually, but may need some help staying in the bridge.

    This set is a pretty inexpensive option to get started with, you can use the top 4 and you'll be in the ballpark tension-wise...(if you're not using the bottom 2 and wanna send them my way I'll pay the postage!)

    Ernie Ball 2837 Slinky Silhouette Short-Scale 6-String Bass Strings

    Also regarding the octave pedal solution -- if you are playing quick runs or in a group setting it gets really difficult to not sound weirdly out of tune, the tracking and electronic modulation start doing funny things especially live.
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  7. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    If they are long enough and the smaller ball ends work with the Mikro's bridge then guitar strings could work. I don't know if they would put the tension where you want it but they might. I believe the guitars are normally set for lighter tension than basses but the longer scale of the Mikro compared with a guitar will raise the tension somewhat. Indeed baritone guitar strings will almost certainly have the right length since they are made for the same or very similar scale length. The tension might also be good since you would be uptuning them by a fourth. Depending on your preferences either guitar or baritone guitar strings could have the best tension for you. If you bought a set of guitar/baritone strings and found the tension of the bottom four strings was too HIGH you might fix that by using the middle four or top four strings instead.

    Or as bholder said above and Kalium can both help you select bass strings with the proper tension for this tuning on a Mikro. If you find that guitar/baritone strings have too LOW a tension then you would need to go with this option.

    If you keep the total string tension the same as it is with the strings that come with the Mikro then in theory there are no consequences you need be concerned about. If the total tension is different with the new strings then the consequence is that you will have to adjust the truss rod. If the total tension is wildly different then the truss rod might not have enough adjustment range but I doubt you would be happy with the playability of the strings in that case so you are unlikely to find yourself in that position.

    OH, slap2much and I were typing our responses at the same time. See his post for the voice of experience regarding ball end sizes and string lengths.
    slap2much likes this.
  8. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Why am I the first one asking why you want to do that?

    Why do you want to do that?
  9. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Get some piccolo strings and you won't have to worry about figuring out the gauges. I use the D'Addario ones and they sound great.
    Nunovsky, gebass6, aprod and 4 others like this.
  10. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Putting piccolo strings on a 28" scale bass is throwing money away.
    Guitar strings that are half the thickness of the stock bass strings will fit and work fine for OP.
    Piccolo sets are made for 34" scale where guitar strings wouldn't be long enough.
  11. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Sorry, but I disagree. I have a set on a 25.5" scale bass (Samick Mcr1 Corsair) and they sound really cool. And the set was only $15.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  12. This sounds like a boatload of fun. :thumbsup: Watched a few piccolo bass vids on YugeTube and I'm liking the sound and possibilities.

    Got any recommendations for specific brands of strings?
  13. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Guitar strings only cost $5.
    lz4005 and HaphAsSard like this.
  14. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Take your current G string and down tune it to E2. That will give you an idea of what gauges you'll want and what kind of tone you'll get.
  15. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    And generally won't be long enough for the 27" scale....
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  16. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Or take the D and...leave it where it's at, so as to have an upper gauge limit to his options (depending on the gauge of said D at least: a .065 would be pretty tight, and a .07 too much so IMO).
    The Mikro is 28.6" with a toploading bridge, but, respectfully, my personal experience runs counter to this: GHS strings are reportedly wound to 38", and I can personally attest to D'Addarios too being about that long. I've also tried other brands (Galli, Pyramid, D'Angelico, Ernie Ball), on my OLP baritone (30" plus string-thru) and, with the exception of a Thomastik-Infeld extra thin tapewound meant for classical guitars, all cleared the nut and reached the farthest tuners no prob - again, on an instrument with a longer string requirement. Granted, I might have been lucky and picked the exceptions to the rule. The OP doesn't even need to guess anyway, only hit a mom 'n' pops, buy one guitar string for each brand they carry and try it on the bass.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
    dmt and slap2much like this.
  17. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    That's only 1 1/2 longer than a Strat and guitar strings are much longer than needed.
  18. slap2much


    Apr 4, 2004
    The only way to know for sure is to take measurements and see what the total string length + 2 inches (or whatever your winding need is) comes out to. You might be able to get total string length from the manufacturer, or you can just buy a few sets. I have a 4 in line Vox so it was tough to find a set where the top string fit, the Silhouette short 6 one that I linked to above just makes it with barely 2 windings around the peg. Bridge to peghead for that one was a little more than 37" I think. So you should be OK with the Mikro since it's 2+2 and a slightly shorter scale.
    lz4005 likes this.
  19. slap2much


    Apr 4, 2004
    Remember though that the tension at a given pitch will change with the scale length, which is why short scale basses feel more 'floppy' and you have to go with thicker strings to get your typical feel back. When you change both pitch (higher) and scale length (shorter) they have opposite (but not necessarily equal) influences so there's usually some experimentation involved until you find what works best.
    Aaarn likes this.
  20. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    mr. nerve, mr. g. mr. g, mr. nerve.

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