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"Official" Mikro Bass Club Part 3

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by smperry, Apr 15, 2014.


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  1. Xad

    Xad

    Sep 23, 2015
    Pennsylvania
    Congratulations! I hope you’ll enjoy the mikro when it arrives!

    I have three at this point :)

    In my (small-sample) experience the poly-coated basses weigh about a pound more than the walnut/weathered-black finishes, but this could be largely differences in the wood, rather than finish - I honestly don’t know. Regardless, mine all weigh between 5.5 and 6.5 lbs, including the Comfort Strappe I have on each.

    My most recent is a 2017 weathered-black mikro. No intonation issues at all with that one.

    As far as the reverse P goes, the explanation I’ve seen is that on such a short scale, it helps to balance the tone across the low and high strings.

    A regular P configuration on a standard scale bass slightly emphasizes the bass on the low strings, and the treble on the high strings.

    With a 28.6” scale, the position effect of the pickup (proximity to neck or bridge) is magnified. Reversing the P configuration adds a little bass back to the treble strings, by moving them closer to the neck, and helps keep the E and A from being too boomy, by bringing them a little bridgeward.
     
  2. Greenstreet

    Greenstreet

    Aug 31, 2017
    Congrats!

    I think you made a good choice. The next step down is a bass ukulele.


    To me, that 1 1/2" makes a big difference. The body on the MiKro is smaller, too, and the strap buttons and bridge are placed just slightly differently in relation to how you hold the instrument, which all add up to an instrument that feels quite a bit smaller and lighter, in my opinion.

    My Jaguar was stolen several years before I got a MiKro, so I can't do a side-by-side comparison.

    Mine are both Walnut Flat, and they're both super light weight. They've switched up both the body wood and the fingerboard wood, so I don't know what the difference would be with the newer ones. That Roadster Orange looks really nice, though.


    I don't think it's really an issue any more. One of mine came with the intonation spot-on out of the box, the other was very, very close. I did lower the nut on both (one is fretless, the other was decent, I just wanted it a little lower).

    Generally speaking, once you've checked the fretwork with a rocker, the first thing you want to do is get the nut where you want it. Don't get carried away- just a little at a time, and make sure you maintain the same slot angle. Once the action is correct at the nut, re-tune to pitch with a strobe tuner.

    Next, get the relief where you want it by making small adjustments to the truss rod. Being new at this, it's a good idea to write down any adjustments you make (1/4 turn counter-clockwise, etc) so you can un-do it if you need to. On a side note, the truss rod covers on these are kind of cool.

    Once the relief is correct, re-tune to pitch with the strobe tuner. You can go ahead and adjust the action at the bridge at this point, but I usually give it at least overnight for the wood to settle, then re-check it before adjusting the bridge.

    Adjust the height of the saddles by turning the two Allen screws on top of each saddle. Again, it's not a bad idea to write down what you're doing, make the adjustments a little bit at a time, and stay symmetrical with the adjustments (if you turn the screw on the left side of the string groove 1/4 turn, you need to turn the screw on the right side of the string groove by 1/4 turn, too. Otherwise your saddles will be lopsided, the saddle contact won't be solid, etc).

    Re-tune to pitch and play up and down the neck, making sure the action is comfortable and there are no buzz issues.

    Now you can go ahead and set the intonation. Use the screws that run parallel to the string. The screw heads are in back, by the hole you put the string through. As Deepender said, compare the open string to the same string fretted at the 12th. If the fretted note is sharper than the open string, move the saddle back a little (farther from the headstock), if it's flatter than the open string, move it towards the headstock. Do one string at a time, re-tune all the strings, and re-check. Once the 12th fret is at the same pitch as the open string, double-check using the 7th fret harmonic, then check using the 19th fret harmonic.

    Once all of the strings are properly intonated, go ahead and adjust your pickup height and you're good to go.

    It's a good idea to re-check your setup when you change strings, and when the seasons change.


    .
     
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  3. Seanmo

    Seanmo

    Jul 26, 2015
    Thank you for all the replies. It has arrived, and there are no intonation issues after all. It is 5 pounds 12 ounces, which makes it even lighter than my lightest guitar, and I can reach the first fret without my shoulder popping. A Mikro is definitely the bass for me.

    However this one has two issues (so far). Heavy fret buzz before the 12th fret on the E string. The action is fairly high - which I prefer. Perhaps I need to play with the truss rod. The other issue is odd. I get noise as soon as I touch the strings. The only thing I can do to stop it is use only the P pickup and then roll the tone all the way back to 0. I've had the same setup and the same cable the last 3 years will all 4 of the other basses I've had (including the single-coil jazz basses and the Jaguar just using the jazz pickup) and have never had this problem. Did they wire something wrong?

    Thanks again for your help.
     
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  4. Xad

    Xad

    Sep 23, 2015
    Pennsylvania
    One thing I’ve found with all my mikros is that the fret ends are SHARP. Finger-slicing sharp.

    I have a set of small diamond files that I used early on to take the edge off, but found that the Fret-end dressing file from Stew Mac works much better, and has a “safe” edge that makes it much less likely you’ll scratch the fingerboard or neck.

    Getting the fret ends nice takes a bit of time, because both sides of every fret will need some work. But once it’s done, moving up and down the neck will be a joy, instead of leaving a trail of blood :)
     
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  5. Greenstreet

    Greenstreet

    Aug 31, 2017
    Could be the truss rod, but I'd check the frets first.


    Sounds like a ground issue. There's a wire that runs from the control cavity that's sandwiched between the bridge and the body. If the stripped end of the wire isn't making good contact with the bridge, and/or it isn't connected to the ground in the control cavity, it will buzz in the way you described. That's the first thing I'd check.


    .
     
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  6. Seanmo

    Seanmo

    Jul 26, 2015
    The first thing I noticed on this was that not only were the fret-ends not sharp, but there was a nice curve to the edge of the rosewood fretboard. (As it happens this has a 2017 serial number and it sure looks like rosewood.) The neck is really nice and the scale makes it easier to play. I just achieved a higher score in Rocksmith playing my Clifford Brown custom of Sandu, so I am a fan of the Mikro in general.


    Greenstreet: If it is the frets, what do I do to fix it?
     
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  7. Greenstreet

    Greenstreet

    Aug 31, 2017
    .

    Check 'em out with a fret rocker if you have one. If you don't have one, they're only a dollar or two on Ebay, but the shipping takes weeks. Still, not a bad thing to have on hand.

    In a pinch, for quick "in the field" spot checks, I've used a flat credit card. It's not a precision tool, but it gives some ballpark information.

    Using the edge of the short side, place it across the 22nd, 21st, and 20th frets. Try rocking the card back and forth like a see-saw, using the 21st fret as the fulcrum. It shouldn't rock at all. If it does, it means that the 21st fret is a little higher than the two on either side of it.

    Repeat on the 21st, 20th, and 19th frets, then on the 20th, 19th, and 18th, etc.

    When you get to the point where the short side of the credit card won't span the three frets (probably around the 8th or 9th fret), go ahead and switch to the long side of the card.

    If you have some obvious high spots, just remove the strings, set the truss rod flat, and run a Sharpie marker across each fret. Using a level sanding beam and some 300 grit paper, run the sanding beam back and forth parallel to the neck (perpendicular to the frets), using long, even strokes across the entire neck (from the first fret to the 22nd fret). Check the marker lines periodically. The sandpaper will remove the ink from the high spots, any spots that still have ink on them are the low spots. Just keep gently and evenly sanding across the frets until there is no longer any ink visible.

    I'm guessing that the 12th fret under the E is high, which is why anything behind that fret would buzz.
    If you don't find any obvious high spots with the rocker, it could be a relief issue.


    .
     
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  8. deepender

    deepender

    Jan 7, 2014
    Maryland
    Beautiful description of a good setup.
     
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  9. deepender

    deepender

    Jan 7, 2014
    Maryland
    That noise issue is odd.

    It's opposite of any noise issue I've seen, which is noisy when the strings are NOT touched.

    I honestly don't know if grounding, a bad pot, or what else could be at fault.

    I'd probably be tempted to return it as defective.
     
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  10. Seanmo

    Seanmo

    Jul 26, 2015
    Thank you all for your thoughful replies and good advice, including about what to do about my shoulders.

    Here's the promised picture from my 14 year old digital camera (astonishingly the original Canon battery still holds a charge!).
    gz5Abng.

    So now that I've had some more time with it...

    Before I tried your credit card trick (nice suggestion!), I eyeballed the 11th fret and then used a guitar pick between it and my thumb and pressed down on the E string side as hard as I could. I have no idea if I moved it even a thousandth of a millimeter, but when I used my credit card, there was no (unwanted) rocking at all. Better still, when I hooked it back up the buzzing was gone. I didn't expect it to be that easy and was not looking forward to sanding the fret(s). But then I like my action high and it's quite possible I'd still have a problem if I lowered the action. But no string buzz at any fret so I'm happy.

    There is no neck dive. Using the Perri's Leather same strap I used on SS Jaguar, which dove like crazy, there is literally no neck dive. Very impressed/happy with that. I was supporting part of the weight of the Jag with my left hand and I don't with this Mikro. Since I like these tuners, I'm glad I won't have to spend another $100 trying to reduce the weight of the neck with Ultralights.

    I used to fiddle with where to rest my arm above the wrist on my right hand when playing the Jag. The smaller body and shape of this works perfectly for me. I don't have that feeling of losing circulation to my right hand that constantly had me changing positions - not just on the Jag, but on all my previous basses. Nice!

    I am able to play difficult passages in songs faster immediately in spite of my left hand still not "knowing" where the frets will be in this scale length. Can't wait until I relearn the position of the frets! Anytime a product can either improve my playing or my sex life I'll endorse it (one out of two isn't bad). ;)

    I opened up the electronics panel and couldn't see any obvious issues (wires loose or touching each other, etc.). Ironically I played the Jaguar for the past year with the tone rolled all the way off just because I like that sound. When I do the same on this Mikro, there is no noise at all. As such I'm going to live with it since it has to be a minor electronics issue that will get sorted when I eventually replace the electronics years from now. I really didn't want to pull the bridge off, but it wouldn't surprise me if doing so would reveal the real problem as suggested above. I'll have a look around Christmas when I have more time, but I can live with it since I prefer the sound that gives no noise anyway.

    One of the few things I don't like compared to the Jag is the where you plug in your amp cable. I've always thought the Strat got it right. Not only is it more effort to plug the Mikro in, but the cable connector hits my right knee sometimes when I'm sitting and adjusting to play higher on the fretboard - just like on one of my Teles. I do, however, like the knobs on this one. In fact I'm wondering if I can replace the ridiculously heavy knobs on my Tele with some of these cheap plastic MikroKnobs™.

    The only "finish" issue I've encountered is that the back of the neck is a little rough near the body (could have been sanded a little better). But I've encountered that before with budget guitars and I don't play around the 20th fret enough to even bother with it. I like the color but I thought it would be... more metallic. But when the finish is properly applied to a $179 bass, you really can't complain about such things. (The original 1951 Fender Precision bass cost $199 or nearly $2000 adjusted for inflation (about the price of a new Elite American model!). To give perspective, this $179 Mikro only costs the equivalent of $18 1951 dollars! And believe whatever you want but the average Mikro is a better built/more consistently shaped body/neck bass than the average early 50s Fender if for no other reason than the amazing CNC machines all companies now use to cut the wood/necks. Of course we'd all rather own a '51 P, but it's amazing the quality we get for these prices these days.)

    I'm not a fan of whatever nickle-wound strings they put on this. But of course I know they are meant to replaced and one of you mentioned using "Labella Low Tension Flats", which I am going to track down. I realize they may be a bit floppy, but the current strings have too much tension for me. (For what it's worth, I'm still using the "crappy" stock strings after three years on my Jaguar! Maybe it's because I have the tone all the way to zero and like 'em dead sounding, but I haven't had a reason to change.)

    The neck width (from the top of the fretboard to the bottom) must also be smaller than the Jag. I always had trouble using my pinky to hit notes on the E string and now I don't. I've been disappointed playing bass that some passages that should be easy are hard for me because the higher fret is just out of reach because of my small hands. Not anymore! Between that and not having to worry about my shoulder when going high up the neck, I am really happy with this bass. I still can't believe it's lighter than my Tele, which others tell me is so light that it feels like a toy. It seems like I won't have to think about my physical limitations when playing anymore. Which brings me to...

    I think Carol Kaye mentioned in some YouTube video I saw that the Fender Precision was developed by Leo with the help of a Southern Cal bassist who was 6 foot 4 and played it like a Spanish/classical guitar. I realize that in 1950 an electric bass like the Precision had to seem tiny for those used to uprights, and that had to be a consideration for Leo in terms of what scale/size to make it and not have it called a novelty. But I can't help but wonder if Leo had made it a 30 inch scale with a smaller body if we might not all be playing "short" scale electric basses now. I have a Squier fretless bass in full 34" scale, and I love it. But I'm probably not going to play it again and will wait until I can track down a rarer-than-moonrocks fretless version of the Mikro. Or I'll go all Jaco on a new one and defret it myself (I'll refrain, however, from throwing into the Pacific). I don't think I'll ever play even a 30 inch scale ever again. I'm not a pro and can get whatever sound I want via Amplitube. But put me in the camp that believes full scale electric basses are an historical mistake and that Leo got it wrong.

    I do wish Ibanez would offer at least an SR in this scale. I wonder what the percentage is of these basses that are bought for adults and if Ibanez is missing a chance to compete with the Fender Mustangs. I'd pay $349 for a the short scale equivalent of the SR300E. And bring back the fretless!

    In summary, I'm a happy member of the Mikro club and very much appreciate all your help. If being a member is still a thing here, I'll take whatever number is next. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018
  11. Kevdel

    Kevdel Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    Maryland
    PM me if you want to try some. I have 5 or six of the plastic knobs taken off a couple Mikros in the parts bin.
     
  12. johnp352

    johnp352

    Aug 19, 2005
    Chicago
    Endorsing Artist: Rick Turner, GK
    well it is Halloween and the zombie threads are ...

    When I read this i thought yea! someone thinking along the same lines, then I realized you meant downtuned..I am going to try the same tuning an octave up..btw, D'addy flat GUITAR strings work like a charm on these basses.
     
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  13. deepender

    deepender

    Jan 7, 2014
    Maryland
    Nice. Congrats.

    A bunch of us have tried to contact Ibanez (myself included) to try to convince them to make an upgraded version of the Mikro.

    So far, we've not got any response, but they have issued more finish options and the walnut version.

    I guess they like the modding cult they have created.
     
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  14. Xad

    Xad

    Sep 23, 2015
    Pennsylvania
    Some pages back we looked around pretty hard, and came to the conclusion that Ibanez has never produced a fretless version. But a few of us here have defretted their Mikros, or, as in my case, had someone do it for me :)

    I’m happy to have a fretless Mikro - having two otherwise identical basses, one fretted and one fretless, makes switching back and forth really easy!
     
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  15. OldFunBass

    OldFunBass

    Nov 5, 2016
    Florida
    Great looking bass! I have the exact same model/color. What you said about the strings is correct. I don't know what brand they put on there at the factory but they were horrible. When I first got mine, I thought I had tuner issues because it would not stay in tune for more than a couple of minutes of playing. Even after a week of use. So before I overacted and ordered new tuners, I had the sense to change the strings to a short scale version of the type I normally use, and all my tuning issues went away instantly. Still have the stock tuners on it with no complaints. I did eventually change the PU's to the EMG GZR set, but the stock ones were a lot better than I had expected for the price.
     
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  16. Keyosuke

    Keyosuke

    Oct 9, 2017
    I think being a member is still a thing, but the guy (bonz - darrell) maintaining the members list numbers was looking for someone else to take it over and nobody stepped up. I'm tempted to give it a shot, but I've been too busy with other musical activities. As long as we're still posting, it's still the club, and I've learned a lot from it, since I bought my bass a few weeks ago.
     
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  17. JACink

    JACink

    Mar 9, 2011
    Spain
    A quick question for those of you that own the 5 string Mikro (if I may).

    Do you have any issues getting strings to fit the 5er, or is it like the 4 string where (almost) any short scale strings will work?

    I currently have the 4 string but I am considering the 5 string to tune it EADGC (I have 34" scale basses for BEADG), however, I would like to confirm the availability of a nice selection of strings before I get it, as the intention is to use it quite a lot for my looping adventures.

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  18. johnp352

    johnp352

    Aug 19, 2005
    Chicago
    Endorsing Artist: Rick Turner, GK
    Good choice with the high C. I have mine tuned to a piccolo (albeit a "downtuned" Piccolo d-g-c-f, an octave up from a downtuned bass)) and it seems almost made for that. And as I have noted here before , a lot of "guitar" strings can be used on the Mikro..as well as most baritone sets..think a little beyond "bass strings" and you'll see a lot of options.
     
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  19. JACink

    JACink

    Mar 9, 2011
    Spain
    Thanks @johnp352 , however, looking at guitar strings I don't see anything thicker than a .090 and they seem to be pretty rare. I am not sure I would want to go below .100 (or even .105) for the E string at this scale length.

    Do normal short scale (intended for 30" scale) fit the Mikro 5?
     
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  20. johnp352

    johnp352

    Aug 19, 2005
    Chicago
    Endorsing Artist: Rick Turner, GK
    Oh, I wouldn't do that either, <.090 is too light for me as well..though OF COURSE some people do that ;( I was just thinking about your High C string, and if you just buy a short scale 4 string set, you might be able to get a guitar high C for less $$. I play a lot of basses (ok 3) that have that setup, and have experimented for what seems like decades (actually IS decades) with different ways to get a good short scale high C, both flatwound and roundwound..tapewound too....and somewhere in this club there's a page of ss strings that will fit the Mikro. Do I know where it is? did I bookmark it when I found it? ....
     
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