What Exactly to Look for in a Best Short Scale Bass Guitar?
For guitars and other string instruments, the “scale“ is the length of the vibrating part of the strings, from the bridge to the nut. A regular electric or acoustic guitar’s scale length is normally between 24.75 inches and 25.5 inches.
Fender Musical Instruments launched the Precision Bass in 1951, with a 34-inch scale that’s become accepted as the standard for regular bass guitar. Nevertheless, a few of Fender’s opponents produced basses with significantly shorter scale lengths. These are often called short-scale bass guitars.
For a few years, short-scale basses didn’t catch on with musicians, who preferred the bigger instruments.
But why was that?
One reason is that many of those were aimed at students, so they got famous for being designed for kids. This made them less attractive to professionals, and to the wider market of players who follow them.
However, this has changed lately. Short-scale basses are considered a viable possibility, providing a unique tone and a smaller, more playable neck.
Some Benefits Of Playing a Short Scale Bass Guitar
The obvious reason to play a short-scale bass is its physical size. The shorter neck, with less distance between frets, and the more compact body dimensions, make the short-scale bass a good selection for players with smaller hands.
It’s additionally comfy for a guitarist who desires to play bass since the smaller scale more closely resembles the guitar’s size.
Because of this playing techniques that could be difficult on a long-scale bass guitar, like wide intervals that stretch the hand, or drastic string bends, are a lot easier. Even full chords are possible.
The other huge benefit of a short-scale bass is its unique sound. Defying its small size, it could produce a fat, deep sound that’s completely different from a larger bass and sits well in a mix.
How does it do that?
It’s a simple matter of physics. Whenever you pluck a string, it vibrates in a complex pattern that produces not only the basic note you need but many higher harmonic frequencies. The combination of all the harmonics provides an instrument with its unique tone color.
This mix of harmonics changes as the string length is shorter or longer in comparison with its thickness. For example, the E on the 12th fret of the E string, and the E on the 7th fret of the A string are identical pitches. But they sound very different.
Same note, different sound…
Also, tone color changes as a string have a kind of tension. When you tune the G string down to D, so it’s in unison with the D string, you’ll discover that the G string sounds very different due to the lower tension.
So, a short-scale means the strings are shorter and have much less tension than on a long-scale bass. These variations combine to provide short-scale basses with a darker, thicker sound.
Top 8 Finest Short Scale Bass Guitar In 2022 Reviews
Now that we’ve gone through precisely what a short-scale bass is, and why it could be a better match for you, let’s check out a few of the very best short-scale basses currently out there from different manufacturers and find the right one for you…
1. Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar, Brown Sunburst
The Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro bass is made with the same materials, construction, pickups, set-up, and inspection as the company’s full-size models. It has a 28.6-inch scale, which is good for guitarists who also play bass.
The “BS” in the model number refers to the black sunburst color. It’s also available in black, weathered black, pearl white, transparent red, metallic purple, metallic root beer, starlight blue, and flat walnut.
The GSRM20 includes a lightweight (6.9-pound) but strong poplar body and a slim maple neck with a 12-inch radius and 22 medium frets. The fingerboard is produced from Jacoba; a red-brown hardwood said to provide a rich midrange and crisp high end.
Perfectly in tune all the way up the neck…
The Ibanez B10 bridge features individual string saddles enabling accurate intonation. And the maximum spacing between strings is .75 inches (19mm).
A Dynamix P neck pickup is split into two sections, one for the E and A strings and the other for the D and G strings. This design gives some humbucking action while preserving the single-coil sound.
The bridge pickup is a more traditional Dynamix J single-coil design. Both pickups have adjustable pole pieces. Each pickup has separate volume control, and there’s a master tone control knob. The control knobs are chrome.
The GSRM20 comes strung with fairly lightweight round wound strings, which can buzz. We would suggest replacing them with a set of heavier-gauge flat wounds for a more solid tone.
- Same quality as Ibanez full-size bass.
- The short-scale is easy for guitarists.
- Round wound strings can buzz.
- Case not included.
2. Ibanez 5 String Bass Guitar, Black
The Ibanez 5-string GSRM25 Mikro bass is almost similar in design and materials to the 4-string GSRM20 model, with a couple of exceptions. Most obviously, it has 5 strings, and they’re spaced more closely: .65 inches (16.5mm).
Additionally, the GSRM25 has Standard J neck and bridge single-coil pickups, which don’t have adjustable pole pieces.
And last, the GSRM25 Mikro bass is on the market in black only.
- Same quality as Ibanez full-size bass.
- Scale length is excellent for players with smaller hands.
- Round wound strings can buzz.
- Pickup pole pieces are not adjustable.
3. Jackson JS Series Concert Bass Minion JS1X Bass Guitar
The Jackson Minion JS1X additionally has a 28.6-inch scale, so it’s excellent for beginners, female players, anybody with small hands, or anybody who desires to move around the neck as easily as they would a guitar. It has a lightweight poplar body with a black satin finish. The iconic Jackson headstock and all-black hardware give this guitar a glossy, space-age look.
The bolt-on maple neck includes graphite reinforcement rods. Its Amaranth fingerboard with Pearloid sharkfin inlays comes with a 12-inch radius and 22 jumbo frets. The hardtail bridge has a black baseplate and individual string saddles.
The JS1X has two single-coil pickups, a Jackson P Style offset neck Pickup, and a J Style bridge pickup. Electronics embrace separate volume controls for every pickup and a master tone control. A case isn’t included.
- Twenty-two frets with a short scale.
- No case.
You Can Buy Jackson Dinky Minion JS1X at the Links Below!
4. Squier by Fender Bronco Bass, Black with Maple Fingerboard
Squier is Fender’s entry-level guitar line. Their Indonesian-made Bronco bass has a 30-inch scale that makes it ideally suited for guitarists who sometimes play bass, younger players, or anybody who prefers the playability and sound of a short-scale bass.
The Bronco bass has a body of Agathis, a basswood-like softwood from the southern hemisphere. This makes a really lightweight instrument, though it may be dented more simply, and a few screws would possibly turn loose in the long term. It’s available in black, Torino red with a white 3-ply pickguard, or white or Race red with a black pickguard.
The bolt-on neck is maple, with a C shape and a polyurethane finish. It’s additionally a bit shorter, with just 19 medium jumbo frets, and joining the body on the 15th fret. The fingerboard can also be maple, with a 9.5-inch radius and black dot inlays.
Other Bronco bass hardware features a 2-saddle chrome bridge and standard covered mini-tuners. It has one single-coil “special design” pickup, which is actually a 6-pole Squier Stratocaster pickup, with master volume and tone controls.
- Affordable Fender-style bass.
- A variety of color options.
- Single Stratocaster pickup is not ideal for bass.
- Basswood body is not as strong as most.
You Can Buy Squier by Fender Bronco Bass at the Links Below!
5. Hofner HCT-SHB-BK-O Shorty Electric Travel Bass Guitar
The Höfner Shorty CT is a full-featured instrument that may go anywhere, even in an airplane overhead compartment. It has a really compact one-piece basswood body, about 38 by 10 inches and 1.5 inches thick, and it weighs a mere 5.5 pounds (2.5kg). It’s available in black only. A gig bag is included.
The place is my neck going?
It features a maple neck with a 29.9-inch (76cm) scale and an exceptional 24 frets. Joined to the wide-cutaway body at the 18th fret, you’ve easy access to the full neck range. As a result of the body weight is so small, the Shorty could be prone to “neck dive,” i.e., the neck wants to continually drop unless you’re supporting it.
A chrome bridge gives individual string saddles. Tuning machines are nickel-plated with Pearloid buttons.
The Shorty CT has a single Höfner high-output humbucker pickup, with master tone and volume controls. The control knobs are black chrome.
- Unique styling.
- Very lightweight.
- 24-fret neck.
- Single pickup.
- Prone to “neck dive.”
You Can Buy Hofner Shorty Guitar at the Links Below!
6. Hofner IGNITIONSB Electric Violin Bass Guitar – Sunburst Finish
The Höfner Violin Bass is probably the world’s best-known bass guitar, ever since Paul McCartney stepped onstage with one in 1961. The Höfner Ignition Bass is based on their violin bass designs from the Seventies.
The Ignition bass has a hollow resonant body and a 29.9-inch (76cm) scale. It’s priced for bassists on a budget who crave the classic Höfner sound. With a solid spruce top and maple back and sides with white binding, it’s very lightweight, about 5 pounds (2.3kg).
The set one-piece maple neck has 22 frets. It’s relatively thin for a bass, .83 inches (21mm) at the first fret and just .87 inches (22mm) near the neck heel. It’s capped with a rosewood fingerboard with white Pearloid dot inlays.
The distinctive Höfner rosewood bridge has individually-adjustable string saddles for excellent intonation. Nickel-plated open tuners have Pearloid buttons.
Two Höfner Ignition Staple Nickel pickups, coupled with the well-known Höfner Control Panel provide a sound that’s different from another bass. Seemingly more appropriate for a guitar than a bass, the control panel has two volume knobs, one for every pickup.
In between are three slide switches. Bass On turns the bridge pickup off and cuts the treble. Treble On turns the neck pickup off and cuts the bass. And the Solo–Rhythm switch reduces the overall volume by about 30 percent and cuts the treble slightly.
Versatile and practical…
The Ignition bass comes with round wound strings, but installing flat wounds will better bring out its signature deep and penetrating tone, reminiscent of a double bass. It’s excellent for the sound of 60s pop music or a modern rock band.
Additionally, many studios use it at present for fat dance mix bass lines. Nevertheless, some bassists declare it’s less appropriate for heavier styles of music.
- The beautiful, iconic design is instantly recognizable.
- Unique signature tone.
- Easy to play.
- An unusual control panel can be confusing.
- People will compare you to Paul McCartney.
You Can Buy Hofner Ignition Pro Violin Bass at the Links Below!
7. Fender Offset Series Mustang Bass PJ MNBlack w/Tortoise Pickguard
Fender Musical Instruments, the company that invented the electric bass guitars, introduced the unique Mustang bass in 1964. It has been used by bassists in countless bands, from The Rolling Stones to My Chemical Romance. Initially a one-pickup design, the newer PJ model options both Precision Bass and Jazz Bass type pickups.
The Mustang PJ bass has an alder body. This hardwood is slightly denser than poplar but still relatively lightweight. This particular offer from Chicago Music Exchange has a gloss black polyurethane finish with a tortoiseshell pickguard. CME additionally provides other custom colors, specifically Lake Placid Blue, Capri Orange, 3-color sunburst, and Sherwood green.
Sticking with the classic design…
The bolted-on maple neck has a C shape, with the unique Mustang bass 30-inch scale and 19 medium jumbo frets. Its natural (maple) fingerboard has a 9.5-inch radius and black dot inlays. The nut is made from durable synthetic bone, which could be very durable.
The body is all chrome-plated, including a 4-bolt neck plate, a 4-saddle bridge, classic tuners, and a string tree for the G and D strings.
Two are better than one…
The Mustang PJ bass has two pickups. The middle (neck) pickup is a vintage-style Precision Bass split single-coil design, whereas the bridge pickup is a vintage-style Jazz Bass single-coil. A 3-way toggle switch selects the pickup configuration. Master volume and master tone controls and the output jack are mounted on a separate metal front plate.
- It’s a Fender!
- Varied sound with Precision and Jazz Bass pickups.
- Synthetic bone nut.
- Higher cost than other brands.
- 19-fret neck.
You Can Buy Fender Offset Series Mustang Bass at the Links Below!
8. Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Electric Bass Guitar II – Black
The Gretsch G2220 Electromatic Junior Jet Bass II provides a classic Gretsch Jet design in an instrument that is in an affordable price range. It includes a 30.3-inch scale and a 20-fret neck.
The lightweight basswood body has a deep single cutaway that gives access to the highest frets. It comes with a glossy black finish. And the black plexi pickguard bears a white Gretsch logo.
Gretch design standards…
The maple neck has a gloss urethane finish and bolts to the body on the 15th fret. It has a black walnut fingerboard with a relatively flat 12-inch radius, medium jumbo frets, and white Pearloid dot inlays. The longer neck with the small body makes it barely more prone to “neck dive.”
The Junior Jet additionally includes a 4-saddle adjustable bridge, a synthetic bone nut, and die-cast chrome tuners. It comes strung with .045 – .105 round wound strings. However, you’ll most likely need to replace them with some quality flat wounds to get the perfect tone out of this instrument.
Got to love the control knobs…
Two Gretsch High output mini humbucking pickups are complemented by a 3-way selector toggle switch and master volume and tone controls. Control knobs are Gretsch’s own G-Arrow design.
- Gretsch high-output humbucking pickups.
- Synthetic bone nut.
- Prone to neck dive more than some other models.
You Can Buy Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II at the Links Below!
Is A Short Scale Bass Simpler To Play?
Newbies bass players might choose short-scale bass guitars because they’re simpler to play. The short scale length gives a couple of benefits, for example, string tension. The shorter the scale of bass guitar strings, the lower the bass guitar’s tension might be.
By lowering the tension, short-scale basses tend to feel easier in your fingers as a result the strings don’t offer as much resistance to fretting.
The looser feel additionally makes short-scale guitars excellent for playing fast and complex lines. The very best models reward bassists that have a light touch and enjoy quick, slinky runs.
Bends are also much simpler.
Beyond the string feel, short-scale bass guitars are characteristic of smaller-sized frets. The guitar’s overall scale length makes the frets more compact, to suit the same number of frets as a full-scale bass guitar right into a short-scale guitar neck.
This makes the fretboard easier to navigate for bassists who can’t stretch their fingers as far across the scale length.
A scale bass guitar whether short-scale or full-size may also be simpler to play than an upright or fretless bass guitar. For younger musicians trying to learn bass guitar, an acoustic bass won’t be as easy, to begin with as compared with electric bass.
Body And Neck Differences
The only technical distinction between a full-scale and a short-scale bass is the guitar length.
Short-scale guitars are extremely popular with beginners and children who’re just beginning out. But, it’s not just smaller musicians preferring a more compact design, many bass players love them.
The lighter and smaller bass guitar bodies make them easier for musicians to play for long stretches. Whether you’re searching for a practice bass guitar for long classes or gig in a band, the lower weight and smaller overall profile would possibly turn out to be useful.
The necks on short-scale guitars are additionally narrower than full-scale designs on the nut. This makes these guitar styles simpler to fret. Narrower necks are stronger for new bass guitarists as a result they don’t have to reach as far around the neck to fret low notes.
Short scales also normally only are available in four-string varieties (five-string and six-plus string models are often full or long scale in design).
Does A Short Scale Bass Guitar Sound Different?
Short-scale basses aren’t fully different from full-scale basses, but they do provide unique sound quality. The main distinction between the 2 instruments is the number of overtones in any one note.
Overtones are tied with the way a string vibrates when plucked. If you play any note, it sounds like a “fundamental,” which is known as the “first harmonic.” However, the string additionally vibrates at other harmonic interval octaves above this note. Some instruments include more of these harmonics as well as the basics in every note. These notes are known as “overtones.”
Shorter guitar models emphasize the fundamental of every note you play. This means your notes sound drier and punchier, without as many overtones. While that is great for a lot of playing styles, it does sacrifice harmonic depth.
Full-size basses produce more overtones on any note. This makes their sound a bit more complex and provides some harmonic nuance. However, these basses won’t sound as “direct” or “up-front” as short-scale models do. In the end, both of those bass guitars have their advantages. It’s up to you to decide which works finest for you.
At the end of the day, you need to figure out what short-scale bass guitar is the finest for you by deciding what your personal needs are. What works for your bass guitar buddy might not be the perfect short-scale bass guitar for you.
Discovering a high-quality short-scale bass guitar on today’s market may be very difficult, as a lot of the short-scale bass guitars which are available are produced with poor-quality materials. Using low-cost materials to build an instrument goes to result in sub-par sound and an instrument that isn’t going to be able to withstand any wear and tear.
As I always say, before you make any final purchases, do your finest to go in the store and test out some short-sale basses to see which one you like the best.