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tuning and machine heads - Ibanez Mikro

 
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MikroMike
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:43 pm    Post subject: tuning and machine heads - Ibanez Mikro Reply with quote

Sorry, total guitar noob here. Please bear with me and speak slowly Wink

I recently bought a black Ibanez Mikro. Does anyone know what kind of machine heads come stock on this guitar?

First off, I want to understand how they rate. I assume they're fairly low end, because, well, the Mikro is not an expensive guitar, and nothing comes for free, right? I really like the overall feel and fit of the guitar (the neck feels especially nice in my hands), but I'm having doubts about some of the hardware. Oh well - it's a budget guitar, right?

Secondly, and more importantly, I want to get some opinions on the potential usefulness of upgrading them. Like a lot of other players of short scales, I think I'm having trouble getting the Mikro to stay in tune. I'm still waiting to see if I just need to let the strings settle in (I've now tuned it twice, stretched the strings a bit with my fingers by pulling gently but firmly away from the fretboard, let it sit for a day or two - I've done that twice now). If that doesn't work I'll probably try putting some 10s or even 11s on it (I believe they come with 9s - can anyone confirm this?). Higher string tension should help resolve this, right?

If all that fails, I may have to look into new machine heads, probably the Grover 406C6 Rotomatic Mini 6 in Line Self Locking Machine Heads. Can someone explain to me exactly what the difference is between these and what I already have? These are described as self-locking. I guess that means that mine are not? Are mine the kind that rely just on tension and friction to hold the string at its tuning?

Much thanks for any help you can give.
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Nick
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The mikro is a 22" scale. That is going to be most of your tuning issues right there with the 9's on it. If you don't want to be tuning up to G standard, I'd recommend stepping up the string gauge to at least 12's which will require some level of setup either with truss rod tightening, saddle height adjustment, intonation, nut filing, or a combination if not all the above.. Then tension the crap out of the new strings so they don't keep slipping down as you wear them in.

I wouldn't bother replacing the tuners til you've got the bigger problem sorted.
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MikroMike
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nick wrote:
I wouldn't bother replacing the tuners til you've got the bigger problem sorted.


Ahh boy.

I never really thought of tuning up to G standard (or anything else), because I donít want to lose that low end, but Iím thinking about it now after reading that list of 18 things that need to be done! Almost all of which is outside my ability to do myself.

G standard is just three semitones up from standard, right? That little of a difference will make my 22.2Ē scale stay in tune with the 9s it has? Even if I could do it (it sounds like the ďeasyĒ thing to do) Iím not sure I really want to, as I also donít want to be forever translating everything (tab, chord charts etc.) from standard tuning.

Anyway, this gentleman here successfully got the Mikro to stay in tune in standard tuning by replacing the strings with 12s and replacing the tuners with the Grover mini tuners. He did both things at the same time, so itís hard to say for sure what did it. Iíd like to just try heavier strings first. But it sounds like even if I could get it to work with new strings and/or tuners, I would probably have to make somre or all of the adjustments you mention, huh?

Thanks for the input.
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cur
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikros are nice little guitars. I think Nick gave you good advice. Slap some 11's or 12's on there is a good place to start. Tuning issues can also be commonly caused by nut slots too tight for the strings. The strings can bind when you do bends causing them to go out of tune. The tuners are probably not great, but even cheep ones usually stay in tune just fine. Gear ratio and smoothness are usually what sucks about cheep tuners.
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Nick
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikroMike wrote:

I never really thought of tuning up to G standard (or anything else), because I donít want to lose that low end, but Iím thinking about it now after reading that list of 18 things that need to be done! Almost all of which is outside my ability to do myself.

G standard is just three semitones up from standard, right? That little of a difference will make my 22.2Ē scale stay in tune with the 9s it has? Even if I could do it (it sounds like the ďeasyĒ thing to do) Iím not sure I really want to, as I also donít want to be forever translating everything (tab, chord charts etc.) from standard tuning.

Anyway, this gentleman here successfully got the Mikro to stay in tune in standard tuning by replacing the strings with 12s and replacing the tuners with the Grover mini tuners. He did both things at the same time, so itís hard to say for sure what did it. Iíd like to just try heavier strings first. But it sounds like even if I could get it to work with new strings and/or tuners, I would probably have to make somre or all of the adjustments you mention, huh?

Thanks for the input.


I would basically just try the G standard tuning to see if you like the tuners already on it once you have enough string tension for them to do their job. I have a 24" electric with 10's on it and even they feel like rubber bands that didn't hold tune in E standard. I tuned it up to G just to make it playable and it holds tune much better, until I get around to stringing it with 12's or 13's. Anyway, the trick is after tuning it up to G, pull on each string a little, making it go flat, then tuning back up to pitch. Keep repeating the process until pulling them no longer affects the tuning-that should give you a much more stable tuning. Also make sure not to pull too hard on the lighter strings, it's easy to break them this way if you're not careful. Apologies if you already knew tuning up this way but it is a common beginner's mistake and allows Guitar Center to sell way more sets of locking tuners than people actually need them Wink

If the tuners work OK in G standard with 9's, they should be fine with 12's in E standard. Based on what you've said about your level of experience, I would take it to a reputable shop and have them set it up properly with 12's. This usually costs about $40-$50 in my area, but is well worth it, especially on a new guitar that hasn't been gone through yet.

Disclaimer: I don't have any personal experience with this specific model, so I can't say that the tuners are actually good or not. I would just give them a fairer shake as outlined above before assuming they're worth replacing. A lot of the newer budget models from the big brands have decent functioning hardware, that is usually just lesser in terms of the quality of the chrome plating.

Hope this helps.
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jbuonacc
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

how about you just try going up a guage to 10s and see how it goes?

my son had a mini Epiphone SG which would never stay in tune. i figured the tuners were crap, and never got around to changing them or the stock strings. i recently went to sell it and threw a set of 9s on it as i had some packs of EBs here. let it sit for a bit and suddenly it was a different guitar, stayed in tune fine. this was in E standard, with 9s. 22" scale. yes, they were pretty flabby, but you don't need 12s unless you're into that sort of thing.

i recently got another 24" short scale and was worried about putting 9s on it, mainly due to all the crap i've read here in the past. seemed like it took them a little longer to settle in, but they're fine and i'm glad i don't have anything larger on there. they actually feel 'tighter' (or at least just as) than 9s on a Strat sitting next to it. might go back up to 10s some time, to see how that is. f'ck anything more than that though, need those big bends for my trash blooz rock.
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MikroMike
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to everyone for replying.

cur wrote:
Tuning issues can also be commonly caused by nut slots too tight for the strings. The strings can bind when you do bends causing them to go out of tune.


Thanks for this thought, it hadnít even occurred to me. And Iím guessing that binding at the nut is even more likely if I start throwing 10s and 11s on there, right? Man, I had no idea that guitars are such finicky things.

cur wrote:
Gear ratio and smoothness are usually what sucks about cheep tuners.


Iím not sure I really understand the advantages of a high gear ratio. Is it just that it allows you to make smaller adjustments more easily?

jbuonacc wrote:
you don't need 12s unless you're into that sort of thingÖ need those big bends for my trash blooz rock.


Aside from playability/bending concerns, what are the SONIC consequences of string tightness/looseness. If I throw 10s, 11s or 12s on this thing, will it continue to sound more ďpluckyĒ with each increase in string gauge? Do tighter strings also give better sustain? Iím sure there are other things Ė please school me, as Iím pretty clueless about this stuff.

Nick wrote:
I would basically just try the G standard tuning to see if you like the tuners already on it once you have enough string tension for them to do their jobÖ If the tuners work OK in G standard with 9's, they should be fine with 12's in E standard.


That sounds like a good idea. Iíll try it.

Nick wrote:
Based on what you've said about your level of experience, I would take it to a reputable shop and have them set it up properly with 12's. This usually costs about $40-$50 in my area, but is well worth it, especially on a new guitar that hasn't been gone through yet.


Iím pretty sure I can manage a restring job. I need to learn anyway, as I donít want to be the type of guy that has a shop do absolutely everything on his guitar. Iím okay with putting is some learning time, so if you can give me a good resource for anything that I might be able to do DIY with minimal tool investment (letís say under $30), that would be much appreciated. I downloaded the Ibanez ownerís manual, which goes through the basics, so if nothing else I have that.

Thanks again.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbuonacc wrote:
E standard, with 9s. 22" scale. yes, they were pretty flabby, but you don't need 12s unless you're into that sort of thing.


"That sort of thing" being having a guitar without flabby strings?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I picked up a Squier Mini for my daughter a while back. Simply replacing the strings with 11s with a wound G improved things immensely. I didn't really have to do anything in the way of nut filing or the like, but I did use the strings themselves as a bit of a file, rubbing them in the slots a couple times.

The necks on these are short enough that the change in tension shouldn't make much of a difference to how they bow, so, likely no truss rod adjustment. You'll likely want to intonate, though... which you generally have to do now and again anyway, especially if changing string gauges.
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MikroMike
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ankhanu wrote:
You'll likely want to intonate, though...


I still don't really understand what that means. But I did request some books about guitar maintenance from the library, so hopefully that will give me a clue.

Thanks for the feedback.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nick wrote:
jbuonacc wrote:
E standard, with 9s. 22" scale. yes, they were pretty flabby, but you don't need 12s unless you're into that sort of thing.


"That sort of thing" being having a guitar without flabby strings?


nah, "that sort of thing" like the strings feeling like solid metal rods under your fingers (12s) and 'fighting' bends. like i said, i've got 9s on this 24" scale and they don't feel loose/flabby at all.

EDIT: not like i suggested using 9s on the 22" scale, just that i had done it and it really wasn't as bad as i thought it would be. also stayed in tune pretty well, far better than with the junk stock strings on it. all i'm saying is that he might not want to go from stock 9s all the way to 12s, especially as a beginner guitar player (?? guessing). 10s should be perfectly fine for that guitar, as far as tension and tuning.

good question regarding the tonal effect of larger guage strings. for what i do, i've found that 9s give a more "open/acoustic" sort of sound and more control over the strings, while i could see a heavier guage working better for "tighter" sounding chords and fast riffing.

still, going from stock 9s (?) to 12s is a hell of a stretch.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still, I would recommend doing what Nick and I have suggested in using heavier strings (probably 99% of everyone on this site will tell you to start there). Nick suggested 12's, I think maybe 11's, but maybe heavey bottoms (10-52's) would do it. In my experience, faulty tuners out of the box are generally not the issue. Tuning problems with shortscale guitars can usually be traced down to light gauge strings, poorly strung strings (someone installed them wrong), binding or improperly cut nut, possibly binding bridge saddle on a tremolo guitar.

Just changing strings properly may fix the problem. Changing to heavier strings will probably do it. If you hear a "ting" when tuning up then it may be binding in the nut slot.

It could be a bad tuner, but Ibanez is not a maker of toy guitars, and this guitar is not intended to be a toy guitar even though it is small. Tossing toy tuners on any of their guitars would be marketing mistake.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ankhanu wrote:
Simply replacing the strings with 11s with a wound G improved things immensely.


I actually like the sound/feel of wound strings more than plain steel, so I like this idea. I'm looking for some like this to put on order. My problem is that I'm not sure if what I'm looking at is compatible with my guitar. Like I said, I'm a noob.

The Mikro has a string-through design, so I need the strings with a ball end. I thought it would be easy to search for them, but I'm finding it's not. Am I using the wrong search term by using "ball end?" I've also had Elixir strings highly recommended to me because of their coating/durability. I'm not set on that exact brand, but I do like the idea of not having to change strings often if they're not broken.

Does anyone know of a product that hits all these points (wound G, Elixir-like coating, ball-end - something like 10-50 or 11-52)?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cur wrote:
Still, I would recommend ...


right on.



not sure about other brands with 'coated' strings, but here's the Elixir page with specs.

http://www.elixirstrings.com/guitar-strings/electric-nanoweb-guitar-strings.html

no mention of a wound G, but i noticed that Amazon reviews mention that the G is wound on the heavier guages (12s and maybe 11s?).

also, most all strings have ball-ends on them.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use d'Addario EXL115W. They're not coated, but they're cheap, and you can at least see how the gauge works for you as you look for something similar with a coating.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cur wrote:
Nick suggested 12's, I think maybe 11's, but maybe heavey bottoms (10-52's) would do it. In my experience, faulty tuners out of the box are generally not the issue. Tuning problems with shortscale guitars can usually be traced down to light gauge strings, poorly strung strings (someone installed them wrong), binding or improperly cut nut, possibly binding bridge saddle on a tremolo guitar..


I think Iíll order the 10-52s and start there. After all, strings are cheap, and things arrive by mail pretty damn fast these days. I should have my guitar maintenance book from the library by the time they get here, and I can sit down and give myself a guitar maintenance / restringing lesson. Iíll also be mindful of how well the strings are passing through the nut slots. Hopefully the 10s will do it. If thatís not working Iíll probably either buy and try 11s, or take it into a guitar shop. But does the typical guitar shop even know what to do with a short scale?

Iím looking at some of the maintenance kits Iím finding online, and the bulk of it is really basic stuff I already own, like screwdrivers, cutters, cloths, ruler etc. I think the only thing I actually need is a string winder (is this actually necessary? or just convenient?) and small metric allen wrenches (1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, and 4mm). Unless someone can actually recommend dropping $10+ on some ďfretboard conditioner,Ē I think Iím better off just purchasing those few things separately. Unless Ė is there something Iím missing? What are common problems I might encounter, and what tools will I find out I donít have once I encounter them?

jbuonacc wrote:
also, most all strings have ball-ends on them.


Good to know! I figured I had tobe misunderstanding something, or not making the right assumptions.

Thanks to everyone for giving this noob an education is basic guitar things. If I had been into guitars when I actually used to hang out with guitarists in bands and whatnot, I could have picked up this knowledge a long time ago, but back then I was ďjust a drummer.Ē
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, there are no special tools required for almost any guitar repair... it's all standard stuff. If you already own it, don't buy it again.
String winders are just a convenience, a bigger handle to quickly turn the tuning machines.

MikroMike wrote:
Ankhanu wrote:
You'll likely want to intonate, though...


I still don't really understand what that means. But I did request some books about guitar maintenance from the library, so hopefully that will give me a clue.

Thanks for the feedback.

Basically, as you shorten a string (keeping tension and density equal) it will vibrate at a higher frequency (pitch). Instruments like guitars that have frets have the frets spaced at specific intervals intended to produce a specific pitch... but it's not perfect. Due to all kinds of little nuances the fret spacings are kind of ideal averages, not absolutes, so as you move up the neck the pitch may be produced slightly sharp (higher) of flat (lower) than desired. The goal is to have each note ring as close to true as possible.

You'll notice that at the bridge each of the saddles (the part the string goes over between where it's anchored and where you play it) is moveable. This allows you to shorten or lengthen the string slight amounts to adjust the overall length of the string, and thus the pitch achieved at any given fret. In essence you want to adjust the saddle position so that when your string is properly tuned when open, it's still producing the same note (an octave up) when fretted at the 12th. If it's a little flat, shorten the string (move the saddle towards the nut), retune and test again. If it's a little sharp, lengthen the string (move it away from the nut), retune, test again. There are other methods of intonating, but the intent is the same all around, and this is an easy one.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

go incremental on the string gauge. you might find your issues go away with 10's or that they're improved but not solved. i've been on 11's for my 24" shortscales for 10 years or so (10's for 25.5").
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

D'Addario Jazz Light 12-52!
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