Ibanez Mikro GSRM20 Review: Mikro Bass, Massive Value

I've clocked more hours playing bass guitar than any other instrument, and I've used everything from top-shelf American-made basses to off-brand pieces of junk you can barely play "Seven Nation Army" on.

When you start delving into the lower price points for basses, you run the risk of getting one that is poorly set up, or made from subpar materials.

Trying to find a bass that sounds good, plays well, and won't break the bank is like navigating a minefield. There are a lot of basses out there that just aren't worth your time.

I'm happy to report, however, that the Ibanez Mikro GSRM20 is an ideal solution for budget-savvy bassists of all ages and skill levels. This short-scale bass does what Ibanez does best: Deliver exceptional value.

Let's go over what makes this bass guitar such a steal. We'll also discuss the pros and cons of a short-scale bass, so you can decide whether it's the right fit for you.

Ibanez Mikro GSRM20: Overview & Specs

Ibanez Mikro GSRM20


  • 22 frets
  • Maple neck
  • Poplar body
  • 28.6in scale bass
  • Knobs: tone, bridge pickup volume, & neck pickup volume
  • Single-coil passive pickups (P style & J style)
  • 6.5 lbs

Why I like it

  • Convenient and portable
  • Small scale bass that delivers HUGE volume
  • Well-defined mid-highs for a bright, slightly gritty tone
  • Very reasonably priced
  • Simple but powerful tone controls

What I Think Could Be Improved

  • Some players may prefer a heavier, sturdier build
  • Some tone control configurations sound a bit muddy
  • Phase cancellation can occur when both pickups are turned up

The Ibanez Mikro GSRM20 is a little bass that packs a big punch. If you have small hands, are pressed for storage space, travel a lot in close quarters, or just like the convenience of a lightweight bass, then it's definitely worth giving this instrument a try.

I should also mention that this is arguably the best bass I've played for $200 or less, and that's including full-scale basses. Let's go over what makes this bass really stand out.

Portability & Convenience 5/5

Ibanez Mikro GSRM20

The first thing most musicians will notice about this bass is its minimal size. The GSRM20 measures 28.6 inches in total, but that doesn't stop it from sounding great. Its compact poplar body and maple neck are well-constructed, and its number of frets is perfectly suitable for most players.

Ibanez always constructs their guitars to be lightweight, but this bass takes it to the next level. Weighing in at only 6.5 pounds, this bass is the perfect size for jamming and jumping around onstage, or even trying some tricks or stunts.

As a "micro bass," the GSRM20 is designed for portability. Anyone who's gone on tour or even just played local gigs knows how much of a difference convenience makes. The faster you can set up and break down your gear, the more professional you'll look, and the more the venue owner will like you.

With a bass this light and compact, your overall transport and setup time will be reduced (not to mention it'll be easier to carry). There's also just something novel about having a mini bass and still bringing the house down!

Tone Controls 5/5

Ibanez has always been great at packing robust tone controls into an affordable package. With the GSRM20, you only need three knobs to unlock a variety of different tones.

The Dynamix P neck pickup and the Dynamix J bridge pickup each have their own separate volume knobs, allowing you to strike the perfect balance between the pickups.

The pickups serve slightly different purposes. The neck pickup captures the roundness of your playing, while the bridge pickup gives a sharper, more mellow tone.

The bass has a great low end, as any serviceable bass guitar should, and you can use the tone knob to dial in a well-defined high end as well.

Overall, the Ibanez has a great tone right out of the box, and it's relatively adjustable for a bass with such simple controls.

If you go buck wild and turn all the knobs to full, just keep in mind that your tone might sound muddy. I like to isolate either the beck or bridge pickup, and then set the tone knob to about 80% for a clear, crisp tone with a good amount of high end.

But of course, experiment and see which tone settings you like best!

Playability 4.5/5

Ibanez Mikro GSRM20

For a bass at this price point, the Mikro actually has amazing playability. It has a comfort slim neck profile, keeping with the Ibanez tradition of slightly skinnier necks than its competitors.

This is, of course, a benefit for players with smaller hands or shorter arms, or perhaps a beginner bass player who doesn't want to stretch too much to hit those tricky chord shapes.

But there's something else unique about this bass's smaller neck: its low action. Ibanez basses have slightly lower actions than most other basses, meaning there is not much space between the strings and the frets.

This is intended to improve playability, and this may be true for guitars. For basses, however, you do run the risk of unwanted fret buzz if you play too forcefully. This is something to consider, but it's not much of a drawback considering the amazing overall value that this bass brings to the table.

The maple neck is nice and smooth, and the frets are spaced out perfectly, with no jagged edges. I also like the white dot inlay configuration to help you remember which fret is which.

Additionally, the scale is long enough to play just about any piece of music you want to, and the nut width is sufficient for giving the strings room to breathe so you don't accidentally hit the wrong string.

Pickups 4/5

The Ibanez Mikro GSRM20 uses P- and J-style pickups that are both passive and single-coil. These are cheaper versions of the types of pickups that are used in all sorts of basses, including the world-famous Fender P Bass.

The main difference between these and more expensive pickups is the amount of time that has been put into their construction. The wire inside top-of-the-line pickups tend to be meticulously hand-wound for a very precise tone.

The GSRM20's pickups, on the other hand, are assembled in batch processes, which means they're not built with as much precision. This is okay though, because it's the only way Ibanez is able to get its price so impressively low.

The Ibanez Mikro's pickups are wound quite tight, resulting in "hotter" pickups than many other models of basses. this simply means they have a higher signal output, resulting in a very bright and powerful sound.

This is great because it can mask imperfections in your playing, and even level out your sound to some degree. The downside is that much of the character of the wood is drowned out as well, which can make it harder to play with dynamics and finesse.

Overall, for this price point, I'm plenty satisfied with these pickups. They do lend themselves more to some musical styles than others though. They sound great for slap bass and also with a pick, because having a bright, aggressive high end is an essential aspect of both of these playing styles.


Like the idea of a short-scale bass, but want to explore other options that are out there? We've got you covered! Let's take a look at my top 3 alternatives to the Ibanez Mikro GSRM20.

Squier Mini Precision Bass

Squier Mini Precision Bass Electric Bass

The Fender P Bass is the most popular bass guitar in the world. Squire, the budget-friendly version of Fender, makes a nice mini bass that you can pick up for the same price as the Ibanez Mikro.

The Squier P Bass has a poplar body, maple neck, laurel fingerboard, and spit single-coil pickup. It also sports the iconic Fender bass look, which is cool for a bass of minimal size like this.

While the Squier has less robust tone controls than the Ibanez, the tone it does offer is a very solid one. It has the classic P bass passive pickup sound, and you can really hear the metallic qualities of the strings, giving it a nice heavy sound.

Turn the tone knob down to roll off the high end for a more muted tone that is great for reggae, jazz, and other styles. Since this bass is made by a Fender subsidiary, it shouldn't be too hard to get some recognizable tones from it.

Gretsch Junior Jet Bass II

Gretsch Junior Jet Bass II Short-Scale

Here's a bass for anyone interested in getting the iconic Gretsch look in a smaller package. With a basswood body, maple neck, and walnut fretboard, the Gretsch Junior Jet delivers a remarkably warm and full tone.

I really like the two single-coil pickups that almost do a humbucker impression, both in their looks and their performance. The tone is nice and clear and relatively free of unwanted noise and grit, which is quite impressive for a budget-friendly bass like this.

I'm personally not the biggest fan of Gretsch's visual approach, but that's because I play more modern styles of music, and Gretsch has a very retro aesthetic.

As such, it's worth mentioning the Gretsch Junior as a good choice for someone in the market for a short scale bass that captures the spirit of classic rock, blues, and Americana.

Kala U-Bass Nomad Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar

Kala U-Bass Nomad Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar

Kala's U-Bass takes the bass guitar in a whole different direction. The versatility and overall value of this instrument is through the roof, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it in this review.

A U-Bass uses black polyurethane strings that have their own inherent tonal qualities. They have a very warm, rounded feel, and they behave slightly differently than steel strings in all sorts of ways.

One benefit of a U-Bass is that the strings are easier on your fingers. Another benefit of this particular model is that it can be played acoustically or electrically. Portability, versatility, and ease of use all in one package? Sign me up!

In Conclusion

Ibanez Mikro GSRM20

There's no question that the Ibanez Mikro GSRM20 is a little bass that pulls off some big sounds. If you appreciate the standard Ibanez neck shape and overall lightweight build, then chances are you'll love this bass.

There's just something freeing about having a pint-sized rocker that you can easily whip out and jam with. Whether you're in your garage, at a gig, or jamming with friends, the Ibanez Mikro GSRM20 will help you musically express yourself to the fullest -- and it won't weigh you down in the process.

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