Ibanez Gio Mikro with Schaller Locking Tuners

I was always after a guitar that is smaller than a normal guitar but fully featured with standard tuning. It had to come with a soft bag. Oh, and I wanted standard string spacing and an adjustable neck. And no tremolo. And it had to be easy to play for my 9 year old son. And it had to look good, in my case this means to look like a normal guitar, not a toy. Anything else? Yes, once I would find this guitar I would add 13-pin output to it to be able to connect to my Roland and Axon synthesiser equipment. Easy to find? Sort of.

First I had my eyes on the Squier Mini Strat and the Ibanez Gio Mikro, both 3/4 scale guitars. Browsing the web I tried to figure out if one of them could be right for me:

  • guitar staying in tune -> seems to be a problem with both guitars
  • single coils versus humbucker -> they are both very cheap pickups, s then I prefer the humbucker for having no hum at least
  • well, nobody said that the single coils on the Mini Strat were cool, but people said that the humbucker on the Ibanez is decent enough from clean to distorted
  • many people advising to get the Ibanez, hardly any voices for the Squier when it comes to comparison between the two -> couldn’t really figure out why and I didn’t get the chance to put my hands on the Squier
  • the looks: Ibanez looks cooler
  • price then in 2013: the Ibanez I found for just 260 Swiss Francs (which was 210€ or 280$ at the time of buying, but in Swiss Franc that’s nothing!)
Fender Squier Mini Strat
Fender Squier Mini Strat

 

Ibanez Gio Mikro
Ibanez Gio Mikro

So I didn’t look any further and…

I bought the Ibanez Gio Mikro

When it arrived I had to put decent strings on it, adjust the neck, set up the intonation, and… it wouldn’t want to stay in tune at all. The tuners were absolutely crap very bad. They remind me of the very inexpensive Dixon tuners. The sound was okay, well, the humbuckers don’t sound like expensive pickups, but I didn’t expect that ‘okay sound’ coming out of them. One of the reasons I wanted standard string spacing was, that I can use normal guitar parts for replacement. And one day I’ll surely find something to replace the pickup models.

I started with strings ranging from .009 to .042. Too thin. The intonation wasn’t there, the string tension was just too low.

The guitar came with a cheaply made soft-case and even though it is not much shorter than a normal-scale guitar it makes a huge difference when playing the guitar and transporting it. I still can’t believe that just a very few inches can make such a big difference. It feels like a real guitar and a toy at the same time. Fingers stretch easily over more frets than on a normal-sized neck, bending strings is unbelievable easy and moving around with this small thing is just fun.

The reason I wanted standard string spacing was, that I can use normal guitar parts for replacement. Let’s start.

Make it a usable guitar

Conclusion so far:

  • I need thicker strings (go for .011 minimum!)
  • I need new tuners for this guitar

Mod No 1 – Replacing the Tuners

For my guitar, only the best… I got myself some Schaller M6 Mini Locking Machine Heads. They didn’t fit straight in and probably no replacement tuners will fit into the Ibanez Mikro. The holes in the head had to be widened up to 10mm (25/64in) and the screw holes had to go into different positions. Unlucky as I was, they were in nearly the same position. So I had to fill up the existing screw holes and carefully drill the new holes right beside the old holes with a very sharp wood drill bit.

Widening the through-holes is a bit tricky, use a very good metal drill bit. Never widen holes with a drill bit that’s meant to drill wood (drill bit with sharp and pointy tip). Your hole will become oval shaped then. And all drilling should be done using a drill stand.

New holes drilled for the Schaller machine heads
New holes drilled for the Schaller machine heads
Schaller Locking Topmount Mini M6 Tuners in chrome
Schaller Locking Topmount Mini M6 Tuners in chrome
Schaller Locking Topmount Mini M6 Tuners in chrome
Schaller Locking Topmount Mini M6 Tuners in chrome

Mod No 2 – Making this guitar to control synthesisers

This is not where I stopped. I also added a Roland so-called Devided Pickup to this guitar. And I show you that in Part 2 of my Ibanez Gio Mikro Modding.

Contact

Do you want me to change the machine heads on your guitar? Do you live in Switzerland near Zurich? Then use the form below to get in contact with me.

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