Ibanez Mikro Bass Review – 2020 Guide

Vlad
| Last Updated: January 21, 2021

Good bass guitar can sometimes be simply too large or heavy to carry around.

Luckily, guys from Ibanez have created a very affordable short-scale model model which is supposed to help you out with such problems without trading too much of the sound.

And, we repeat, while being Mikro, this bass guitar should not be mixed for a toy instrument.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Uses the dynamic P pickup
  • Comes with a compact lightweight body
  • A fast and slim Maple neck design
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Ibanez GIO GSRM20SLB Mikro Starlight Blue 28.6' Scale 4 String Bass Guitar w/ Gig Bag and Tuner!

PROS

  • PJ Pickup System
  • Incredibly Portable
  • Affordable and Reliable
  • Small in Size But Not the Sound
  • Ideal For Beginners and Guitarists

CONS

  • Bad Factory Strings
  • Awkward Tone Control

Ibanez Mikro Bass Specs 

  • Type of Guitar: Electric bass guitar

  • Body Size and Type: Asymmetric double cutaway solid body

  • Number of Strings: Four strings, also available in five strings model (GSRM25)

  • Tonewood: Poplar solid wood body

  • Orientation: Available in right and left hand model (GSRM20L)

  • Neck Profile: 1-piece Maple GSRM4 neck shape with 38mm nut width

  • Fretboard: Jatoba fretboard with 22 medium frets

  • Scale Length: 28.6 inches 

  • Color: Black (BK), Pearl White (PW), Root Beer Metallic (RBM), Metallic Purple (MPL), Brown Sunburst (BS) Starlight Blue (SLB), Transparent Red (TR)

  • Weight: 8.4 lbs

  • Pickup Type: Ibanez Dynamix DXP and DXJ passive pickup configuration

Pros

Small in Size But Not the Sound

Short scale models are made for those people who are having a tough time handling the weight and the neck length of the regular size bass guitar. While being significantly smaller, they don't sound so different and in the end, the playing range difference is just about two fret differences.

PJ Pickup System

GSRM20 comes with an Ibanez Dynamix PJ passive pickup system which should clone the sound of the J-bass bridge pickup and P-bass neck split single-coil pickups. And, odd, enough, it actually pulls it off quite well for such a cheap instrument so you will get a pinch of both sonic traits in a single instrument.

Affordable and Reliable

It’s rare to find a decent model at this price and while there is nothing premium on it, we couldn’t find any significant remarks about the hardware and finish it comes with. It’s one of the must-have instruments in the arsenal of every bass player and we strongly believe that everyone could find a proper purpose for such an instrument at this price range.

Ideal For Beginners 

Both guitarists and newbies may struggle playing on a standard (long) neck. Luckily GSRM20 comes with the shortest scale neck on the market and seems like a great middle-ground solution as you’re getting a lot of bass sound quality at a much smaller body.

Also, Ibanez is well known for making their bass guitar necks at almost guitar-like width, so that guitar players can make an easy transition anytime.

Incredibly Portable

Bass guitar can be quite bulky to carry around, especially for traveling. GSRM20 has a significantly smaller scale length and it will be an ideal companion for any vacation or going for a rehearsal in the crowded downtown area.

Cons

Bad Factory Strings

Unfortunately, Ibanez has decided to cut the costs a lot so they provided mediocre strings along with GSRM20. You would do yourself a lot of favor if you purchase proper bass strings along with this instrument and change it upon arrival. Factory strings could be used as a backup spare, though.

Awkward Tone Control

For some reason, Ibanez has decided to go with a strange solution and install two knobs that control individual pickup levels. We find that in setups like this having even a single balance (tone) knob could be an easier way to dial the tone you like.

What Recent Buyers Report

Many semi-pro players were so satisfied with this purchase they even decided to play only on a short-scale bass from now on. They also report that even 10 years-old kids were able to perform on it. The build quality seems to be spot-on as there are no faulty or cheap parts. Even frets are well-polished which is often a problem at this price tier.

They were expecting that this bass guitar won’t have the sound that could match the regular size instrument, but, the field report says that the actual sound differences are irrelevant for them. More experienced players say that it sounds marvelous when you install flat wound strings on it. Most of the time they report that they found themselves picking Mikro Bass for practicing over their main bass guitar instrument. 

However, they comment about the odd decision not to include a simple 3-way pickup switch. With the factory setup, you can get the regular J or P tone only if you turn the dial of the other pickup all the way down. Luckily, installing a custom switch is not so hard and any guitar shop should do it for you for a small upgrade price.

What Are the Components of the Ibanez Mikro Bass? 

The Ibanez GSRM20 comes with a double-cutaway Poplar solid wood body with 22 medium-sized frets with Jatoba fretboard on a 1-piece Maple GSRM4 neck using white dot inlays. Based on the finish and the market, tonewood may also be made of Agathis or Mahogany.

The neck width is about 38mm on the nut position and it goes up to 58.5mm at the 22nd fret. The neck size is about ¾ of the regular length coming 5.4 inches shorter and it comes with the regular 21mm thickness at 1st fret and 22mm on the 12th. The headstock tunings are Ibanez chrome stock models and the bridge is Accu-cast B10 model that comes with standard 19mm string spacing. 

What Pickups Does an Ibanez Mikro Electric Bass Use?

Ibanez Mikro Bass comes with Powerspan P split single-coil passive pickup on the neck and Powerspan J passive pick on the bridge with dedicated pot control for both pickups. Along with those knobs, another pot controls the overall volume level of the instrument.

What Strings Does Ibanez Put on Mikro Bass?

Ibanez provides you with a budget short scale 28.59” string set on GSRM20.

What Types of Music is the Ibanez Mikro Bass Best For?

Thanks to the PJ pickup system, Ibanez Mikro Bass can be used in all genres. If you need a precise, mid-range bright sound, you can use the J pickup on the bridge. Genres like funk and jazz will work marvelously with such sound.

But, if you’re more rock-oriented, then add a bit more knob value to the P bridge pickup and get that low-range thump and grit. 

In case you need a bit more of definition, try to find a sweet spot between those two pickups or think about using a pick for that bit of extra attack which may be required in heavy metal music.

What Ages and Skill Levels is the Ibanez Mikro Bass Suitable For?

Ibanez Mikro Bass was designed to be an affordable and portable choice for newbies and semi-pro players at first.

Thanks to smaller neck width, people with smaller hands can perform it quite easily and because of the shorter neck and its light bodyweight, even kids could hold it down without any hussle. It may look much more proportional on them than a regular vintage bass guitar.

Professional players may consider it as a spare instrument they can carry around for a quick jam session, but otherwise, it won’t be their first choice for studio recording.

What Makes the Ibanez Mikro Bass Stand Out From the Competition?

Ibanez Mikro Bass simply stands out because of its portability aspects. It’s not just that it’s shorter than most bass guitars, it’s also one of the lightest on the market coming at only 8.4 pounds. Honestly, we can’t find a better and more affordable traveling bass guitar instrument. 

Needless to say, the PJ pickup system might be the best all-around solution so that musicians of all genres can practice, rehearse, or jam with the tone that resembles their usual sound.

And having all those features at the price it comes with, Ibanez almost has a no-contest win.

Comparison Overview 

Now that you know a bit more about Ibanez Mikro Bass, let’s compare some products and also let’s put down the main difference between long and short-scale models:

Long Scale vs. Short Scale

In general, short-scale frets are shorter and might be easier to play with for those with small hands. On the other hand, due to the string length on long scale instruments, their sound is more resonant and full. 

However, the string length is just one part of the equation. Based on the pickup quality, tonewood, and preamp, those obvious physical cons of short-scale models can easily be diminished so that eventually you’ll get quite the same result, especially during live performance.

In case you’re not sure if you should go straight towards short-scale instruments, medium-scale instruments are coming at 30 or 32 inches as well.

Squire Vintage Mustang Bass vs. Ibanez Mikro Bass

Squire Mustang Bass comes with a larger 30” scale and it provides a better overall feel and sound. For regular adults, this size factor may be ideal.

On the other hand, the bridge seems to be better on Ibanez, especially regarding J pickup volume. They both share about the same neck width and unless you need that extra inches, and remember that a bigger fretboard on Mustang will result in better string tension.

Ibanez GSRM20 vs. Ibanez TMB30

Mikro Bass is a bit shorter scale and has a lighter bodyweight. It is also 22 instead of 20 frets, so if you play often in the high register you may find GSRM20 a bit tight to handle. Price, pickups, and controls are the same, so in the end, it’s all about your choice - do you want more frets and a smaller body or a bit larger body weight. 

Our advice would be to go for TMB30 if you have big hands. For regular and small hand players GSRM20 is a better choice.

Jackson Minion Bass vs. Ibanez GSRM20

This is a fair fight as both instruments come at identical 28.6” scale length and PJ pickup setup. The thing you should know about this comparison is that Fender owns Jackson, so it’s most likely they have provided the pickups for this instrument.

The main difference between those two models is in the P pickup position - Ibanez has reverse P, while Jackson comes with a regular setup. In theory, this should result in Jackson having more “smiley EQ” sound while Ibanez should provide better articulation.

Conclusion 

Overall, Mikro Bass is an instrument that’s not supposed to change your main guitar. It was designed to be more portable and allow you to practice and jam no matter where you are. With such considerations and the price it comes with, it’s a must have a piece of gear for all traveling musicians out there.

People Also Ask

Now that you are a bit more aware of the pros and cons of short scale bass guitar instruments let’s cover some usual trivia about them and resolve questions like should an adult play on a short scale bass, how hard is it to play on it and other technical aspects regarding GSRM20 model:

How Long is an Ibanez Mikro Bass?

Unlike regular 34-inch fret length, Ibanez Mikro Bass GSRM20 comes at 28.6 inches.

Where Are Ibanez Mikro Bass Guitars Made?

GSRM20 is made in China and Indonesia as a part of the GIO series.

What is the Radius of an Ibanez Mikro Bass Neck?

The neck radius remains the same, just like on most Ibanez bass guitars - 305mm 

How Many Frets on Ibanez Mikro Bass?

Ibanez Mikro Bass comes with 22 medium-sized frets. The regular bass guitar comes with 24 frets.

Is an Ibanez Mikro Bass Good For an Adult?

You shouldn’t be fooled by the name of Mikro Bass. Besides neck length, there’s nothing small around it. It comes with fewer frets, but the fret size remains about the same in the lower end. It’s just a compact and more portable model that can fit both adults and youngsters.

Is the Ibanez Mikro Bass Hard to Play?

Playing Ibanez Mikro Bass won’t be any different than playing any other bass guitar. As a matter of fact, just like with other Ibanez bass guitars, the neck width will be much more suitable for guitar players so they may appreciate this model even more as it’s both playable and affordable.

Can You Play Slap on Ibanez Mikro Bass?

Unlike other Ibanez bass guitar models, GSRM20 is actually even better for playing slaps as it comes with PJ style pickups which can generate both P-Bass fat slap ideal for modern music or bright and a brighter and more percussive J-Bass sound, just like slap is supposed to sound in general.

How to Care For an Ibanez Mikro Bass Guitar

Maintaining a bass guitar is quite an easy job. You will need a basic cloth and water to remove most stains and fingerprints. We strongly advise you to use chemicals only as the last resort. Speaking of electronic parts, a contact cleaner with a needle applicator may come in handy to reach the spots behind those pots.

How to Set up an Ibanez Mikro Bass

First of all, if you need to change strings, please try to find short scale strings set. If you can’t find exactly 28.6” on the market, try looking for 30” first. 

Also, due to the string length, the tension will be lower, so try to adapt yourself to it instead.

What Colors Does the 5-String Ibanez Mikro Bass Come in?

While the 4-string Mikro Bass model is available in 9 different colors just for the USA market (more colors available for Europe and Japan), 5-string models can’t brag with such a variety as they come only in Black (GSRM25BK) and Pearl White color (GSRM25PW).

Vlad

I'm a 35-year-old rock-oriented professional musician from Belgrade, Serbia with 20 years of field experience in various areas of the music industry. After graduating from elementary music school I joined my first band Alogia in 2001 which had incredible initial success with the debut album and became one of the greatest Balkan heavy metal acts ever. We have recorded several studio and live albums and played as an opening act for Whitesnake, Apocalyptica, and Paul Di’Anno. Meanwhile, I got a chance to collaborate with Roland Planet shop and get familiar with various music equipment for more than a decade. For the last eight years, I have done live audio mixing for numerous bands and other live and studio events, including some TV audio mixing for national television broadcast as well. Currently, I’m playing keyboards for one of the most authentic Serbian music rock legends - Dr. Nele Karajlić, also known for his work with Zabranjeno Pušenje and No Smoking Orchestra.