I've had a bunch of Ibanez guitars new and used over years... several dozen or so but this is my first mini! My 7-year old daughter (and her younger sister) has taken great interest in music, piano and "guitar" to the point where she wants to learn how to actually play guitar. Even better is she wants to have me get her started & teach her
Unfortunately they - along with any visiting friends - have taken great interest in the precious few guitars that I still own. Having musical instruments under the bed or in a case/close doesn't work for me... min are displayed & safely hung (toddler-proof) on the wall. They're not "7-year old proof" however and as the kids grow so does their ability to reach & unhook things & grab nice guitars off the wall. LOL. Instead of waiting for the inevitable crashed guitar and "i'm sorry daddy" I decided to run out and buy an "after christmas" present of a "mini" guitar for kids to play.
Once this spark went off in my head, I immediately searched Jemsite.... nothing on the forum, product reviews or product finder. Hmmm. Now the dreaded google, which in regard to products has reduced itselft to an inline, ad-infested flea-market with vendors galore, many pretending to be real customers. Google did however pull up a few sites to confirm what SIZE i should purchase.... 3/4 size scale for ages 6+ (depending on size of the child). I didn't see any in stores but you'll see some even smaller 1/2 scale "toy guitars" designed for younger kids. Ibanez, Fender, etc. do not make those size guitars.
With no reviews or solid first-hand info on these 3/4 size 22" scale guitars I knew I'd have to go to the dreaded local guitar superstores. First and most importantly was that I wanted to see the actual size of the guitar with a child holding it. I wanted to compare it to a child holding a full sized guitar as well. I also really preferred to examine... see... hold... play the guitar. The most important buying factor for a 7 year old is color/style but for me it was "can this reasonably maintain it's tuning and be a playable instrument to learn to play guitar". As a total mini guitar newb I didn't know what to expect or what I'd need to settle for. With credible reviews for the Ibanez Mikro I'd like to think I can save others from needing to shop locally but in my case online purchasing was ruled out. That also eliminated (or made the last resort) Daisy Guitar Debutante Mini series which has some cool single/double cutaway... sparkly girly models in 3/4 size.
If you've dealt with kids that age on a regular basis you have no doubt also learned to plan ahead to avoid potential land-mines. Plus I try to be considerate to kids, though not every adult mind you LOL. With time of the essence I reviewed a few guitars on the web and made a few calls to see what was in stores before going out to purchase the guitar. Based on my preliminary research here is what i narrowed it down to (expecting to pay $100-130 + tax) ...
Ibanez Mikro - locally they said "black only" which my daughter didn't like based on the superstore webcart (it's actually rather unappealing to me too). I didn't think to go to ibanez.com for useful info but in retrospect their website is more useful - who knew! - than any other site from google search. At the time of this review, Ibanez has two Mikro 2 models and a 3rd lefty version of the shark attack. They all share the same feature set with cosmetic differences (three colors for maple/dots, two colors for rosewood/sharks).
Fender Squire Mini in Black or Red. This was what I was planning to purchase as she wanted the black one with white pickguard. Not her first color choice but acceptable... she even called a friend to get her opinion. LOL.
Epiphone mini guitar (store guys had no real clue of colors, model... maybe a mini SG he said). I always disliked Epiphone as they really sucked when I was a kid but I wanted to look at them anyways. All this stuff is the same made in the same factory with slave, er. cost-effective modern labor nowadays.
Walking around the superstore - unfortunately an off-day from school where an annoying school-age drummer was thrashing a kit & beating my eardrums into submission - we immediately saw many "I want that one" full-size guitars. We kept looking as I explained those were all for too big and for adults. Tucked in the corner was a display area with mini-guitars... we saw the Squire Mini in red (color no good) and black (color good). The 3/4 guitar size was really good for the average 1st or 2nd grader (or older). Any younger and I think it would be unusual for them to be able to hold & play & learn guitar. The 3/4 size was not too big and certainly not a fit-in-your-pocket-toy-guitar with less playability than Guitar Hero for DS. I had not yet plugged-in or played them, but they felt comfortable, natural and good in your hands (sitting on obligatory stool). As I went to plug in, when we saw a HIDEOUS Ibanez mini that was quasi-resonator-like... black with a large round speaker grill under the bass pickup area by the upper horn. Puke... something no doubt straight from Ibanez of Japan corporate boardroom. "Hey guys, I ran out of gifts for my over-indulged son and we need to design a guitar like this for American superstore shoppers. Hoshino USA rejected it but what do they know!" (that is a parody guys so curb the PC stuff). There was also another Ibanez mini with those frikin brutal shark inlays! Damn those back to musical hell (the 80s) already!
I'm thinking Black strat w/ white pickguard is the ticket... but we decided to do a final walk around & last look before plugging in. Fortunately - randomly hung on the used rack - there was a brand new BLUE Ibanez Mikro, still with the protective coverings. The Blue is dark, not anything like the color that misrepresents "Jewel Blue" at ibanez.com (maybe it looks that light like that mid-day standing on the equator or certainly on a molten planet closer to the sun). This one, like all other Jewel Blue Ibanez guitars is dark Blue. It features a black pickguard and nice maple fretboard with dot inlays! No revenge of Jaws!
This was great because Blue was color she really, really wanted before we left. The color which I told her - before we got in the car - "there are no blue guitars in your size so pick black, red or we can order a Daisy when we get home and wait until next year or several weeks for it to arrive". Choices!