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Short-Scale 5 String Bass shootout - Ibanez GSRM25 miKro VS ESP LTD B-5JR

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ThinCrappyTone, Oct 17, 2016.


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  1. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    A few years back I decided to go short scale. I needed lighter, smaller basses due to some annoying physical issues. I was especially intrigued by the micro 5 string basses from Ibanez and ESP, so decided to grab them both, as they're pretty inexpensive as basses go.

    After about a year of owning and playing both, I thought it might be useful to create an a/b comparison video. It's here:



    I ran through a bunch of techniques (please forgive the sloppy execution) to show how the basses sound across a range of styles and attacks. Also tried them with some overdrive.

    Some thoughts after having owned and played these for about a year:

    These basses are both cool. They're both about the size of a strat, but a few pounds lighter. Growly and fun to play, with a surprisingly useful low b.

    The ESP has one split single coil, the ibanez has 2 single coils. But the ESP output is hotter than the Ibanez.

    The ibanez neck is completely unfinished raw wood. The ESP has a clear coat.

    The ibanez is made in Indonesia, the ESP in Viet Nam

    They're both put together surprisingly well IMO (for the price). Very solid basses.

    The bridge on the ESP is beefy and solid. The jackplate is metal and really nice. Surprisingly nice touches at this price point.

    The Ibanez plays great. Nice action right out of the box. It's balanced very well and feels more like a real bass, just smaller. I also like the tone a lot. And there are a lot of tonal options between the two pickups, especially as you play with the volume knobs.

    The ESP is more difficult to play. I dig the tone. It's raw and dirtier with less sparkle, but cool. One thing I should mention is that the body is very small. Feels a bit out of balance with the neck. Wicked neck dive. Also, I find my right hand isn't in the best position naturally for picking. Though this smaller body might indeed be perfect for a different body shape or type.

    All in all, I am very happy with the purchases, especially for the price. I play the Ibanez though mostly. Really like it.
     
    SlimS, Akami, banditcosmo and 3 others like this.
  2. Well, not to put too fine a point on it but IMHO these are actually sub-short scales with 28" or 28.5" scale lengths, aren't they?

    I think only the 4-string version of the ESP has survived, or at least I never see the B-5 JR for sale anymore. I remember when the 5-string version came out and I was intrigued but then I saw it was a 28.5" scale and I passed on it. They sure are light and compact though; I'll give you that.

    I'm curious as to who makes a B string that will properly fit on those basses.
     
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  3. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    >these are actually sub-short scales with 28" or 28.5" scale lengths, aren't they?

    Indeed, they're noticeably smaller than a typical 30" short scale bass. Both the ibanez and the esp are 28.6" scale
     
  4. stock strings on the mikro are diaddario I believe. I'm sure you have to special order them. Ive only known one person with a 5 string mikro and it only had the four strings on it because the previous owner couldn't find a 5 string set to replace the stock strings with.

    I had a four string Mikro and I loved it. It suffered damage at the hands of an uninvited 4 year old house guest and was never the same afterwards. Eventually I sold it. Annoying neighbor kid came into our house uninvited looking for my kid, and decided to play with the guitar that was on a stand. My kids know not to touch them without asking. It was knocked over (the sound of which alerted me that someone was in my house). The third fret came loose where the side of the neck hit the stone fire place on its way to the floor. I tried pressing the fret back into place but it just never played the same way after that.
     
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  5. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    Nice comparison. I have both of the miKros, the 4 and the 5 and find that they are great sounding and easy to play.
    I sure don't know what I am gong to do about strings in the future, though!
     
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  6. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    > It suffered damage at the hands of an uninvited 4 year old
    Ouch! That's just painful!!
     
  7. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Here is a photo comparing scale lengths: 34" - 30" - 28.6" - and a strat thrown in for reference
    full?d=1476823495.
     
    SlimS and Akami like this.
  8. I believe that DR has a set of Black Beauties for the 5'er. I'm sure companies would make a custom set, LaBella would probably be a good place to start if you wanted flats. Octave4plus would probably do a custom set too! They make a custom set of flats for the Ohana OBU-22.
     
  9. I've read that the 5 string has "better" pickups than the 4. What would you say about that?
     
  10. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Hi Don. I had both the 4 and the 5 string Ibanez Mikro's for a while. Honestly, I thought they both played and sounded killer, and not much different from each other.
     
    drblooze likes this.
  11. Cool...What strings have you used on them?
     
  12. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Just the ones that came with them. The original strings are still on the 5. They're about a year old, and that's what's on it in the video above. The 4 was only in my possession a little while. But the strings sounded great to me while I had it.
     
    Don M likes this.
  13. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Hey so it turns out you can get strings for the mikro 5 direct from ibanez. pretty psyched about this :) IEBS5CMK - Ibanez Mikro Bass Strings (5 String)
     
    RandyC likes this.
  14. HaphAsSard

    HaphAsSard

    Dec 1, 2013
    Italia
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  15. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    I've got the Mikro 5. I got 30" scale strings for it from Jason at bassstringsonline dot com. They worked just fine. No weirdness or anything with them.
     
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  16. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    ah yes... this is exactly what happened with the 30" scale DR's I tried. B was too long to taper at post, and its too fat at that point to fit in the post slot. Like me when I try to put on my mesh half-shirt from the 80's.
     
    RandyC and el_Bajo_Verde like this.
  17. HaphAsSard

    HaphAsSard

    Dec 1, 2013
    Italia
    I wonder why that is. I mean, since they're made precisely for the instrument. Of course, here and in other cases one could add something like an extra ferrule between the ball-end and the back of the bridge, but not anyone would agree with such a makeshift, aesthetically or in principle.
    On a related note, DR also makes another B string labelled "short" scale, available here:
    DR HI-BEAM Single String .120-.135
    In actuality it's more of a medium-scale given it has a 34" winding length so, while I'm sure it's a fine string per se and it's a good thing that it exists at all for instruments that accept it, it's guaranteed to be even worse of a fit for 5-string Mikros.
     
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  18. RandyC

    RandyC

    Nov 23, 2016
    YEP. THOSE ARE TOO LONG.
     
  19. HaphAsSard

    HaphAsSard

    Dec 1, 2013
    Italia
    Ouch.
    (Rare thing that I'm right, and half of the times it was lousy news...)
     
  20. RandyC

    RandyC

    Nov 23, 2016
    That Ibanez link appears to still be valid and you can put the product in your basket....but $38.00 w/shipping?!* ouch. lol. Apparently there is not a huge demand for these and I WILL be happy that I can get a set just to have for my ESP. I love that little dude. I have been playing 45 years, so whomever enquired if adults can play these: Yes, joyfully!
     

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